this spirited production right on track at Burbank Center Stage.
With its rural setting and small ensemble of outsiders and colorful
locals, "Einstein" unfurls like a winning episode of TV's "Northern
Brilliant, famed novelist Bill Allenson has fashioned a life of exile,
along with his senile, elderly father, in a stuffy old house/used book
shop where he doesn't have to deal with the public or his feelings.
Much to his surprise, and his chagrin, Bill's solitude is disrupted by
an unexpected visitor in the shapely form of Diane Ashe, a single New
York City woman whose car has broken down en route to her aunt's house.
With the snowstorm raging outside, Diane ends up spending the night
Almost immediately, these two strong personalities dance a witty jig
of repulsion and attraction, tossing scathing, intelligent barbs at each
other with uncanny precision. Old wounds are opened and new healing
begins as an unlikely love blossoms.
The evening is peppered with visits from locals, including Charlie,
who bears a know-it-all personality similar to Cliff from TV's "Cheers,"
and Helen, a doting but disheartened woman coming to grips with her
The sparks between Diane and Bill are in danger of being extinguished
as the locals begin to suspect Diane's car trouble was more planned than
"Einstein" gets its offbeat title from two subplots woven throughout
the narrative. Bill's senile father, Andrew, constantly recounts a story
about how he once met Einstein in a coffee shop, though he only gets bits
of the story out at a clip. Meanwhile, an escaped polar bear from the zoo
is being tracked by the locals, including Bill, who can't bring himself
to shoot the creature.
Lead actors Liann Pattison and David Rose fashion genuine chemistry as
Diane and Bill, finding the required comic timing in their delivery.
Lon Huber carves out an entertaining performance as Charlie the
mailman and the superb Jodi Carlisle simply steals her scenes as the
ditsy yet emotionally complex Helen.
Director Silas Cooper keeps the performances sharp and focused, never
losing sight of the tortured souls underneath the characters' quirks and
This is a fun play -- an offbeat, character-driven romantic comedy
with brains, heart and sass.
Are we all fated to find our true love? Maybe. But, as in the case of
Bill and Diane, sometimes a little strategic manipulation is required.
IF YOU GO:
WHAT: "Einstein & The Polar Bear" by Tom Griffin.
WHERE: Burbank Center Stage, 555 N. 3rd St., Burbank.
WHEN: 8 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday; 2 p.m. Saturday; and 7 p.m.
Sunday, through July 7.
TICKETS: All tickets $15.