“A or B?” by multi-award-winning Ken Levine amazes in its world-premiere mounting at the Falcon Theatre. Levine’s script is full of pithy and witty one-liners, as to be expected of one whose creativity contributed to “MASH,” “Cheers,” “The Simpsons” and other TV hits. Andrew Barnicle firmly directs the pair of likeable, talented, easy-on-the-eyes actors at a fast clip. However, presenting the conceit of “A or B?” by alternately showing both version A and version B, scene by scene, proves problematic and slightly confusing.
Abby first meets Ben in a bar to be interviewed for a position in Ben’s marketing firm. Scenes of version A (Abby wearing a red dress) alternate with the same scene in version B (Abby wearing a blue dress), with subsequent scenes following in the same pattern. In the second act, version A is delineated by red backlighting, while version B is in blue backlighting.
Bravo to Jason Dechert as Ben and Jules Willcox as Abby for each playing the dual schizophrenic roles so believably. Kudos to switching characters at the drop of a hat, or in this case, at the change of a light cue.
One version has Abby as the more sensible of the two, not wanting to mix personal with business. In the other version, Ben decides not to mix sexual with business. I forget which version was which.
Scenes are too brief and abrupt, as once you get involved in the current Ben and Abby conversation, their story changes and you’re jolted out of your commitment to their just-established relationship when the conversation gets replayed instantly.
Possibly, instead of alternating both versions of each short scene, Act One should be the complete storyline of version A and Act Two the total version B; with the existing coda at the very end.
What a workout it was keeping the two versions straight. But if the whole purpose of this piece was to illustrate the very thin, unclear line between making a right or wrong decision, then Levine and company have greatly succeeded.
—Gil Kaan, Culture Spot LA
Performances continue through Nov. 16 at the Falcon Theatre, 4252 Riverside Drive, Burbank 91505. Show times are Wednesdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m., Sundays at 4 p.m. For tickets, (818) 955-8101 or FalconTheatre.com.