Zinnia Rosenblatt

L to R: Maxine Kincora, Dennis Crumley, Alison Lustbader, Philip Goleman, Brianna Rodriguez, Dene Larson in Joe Besecker's Zinnia Rosenblatt

Joe Besecker's Zinnia Rosenblatt is one of those rare plays where every line of dialogue seems just right but you don't realize it until the actors say the words. Loosley framed as a whodunit, what's really taking place on stage is the complete unmasking of the play's six characters. At times it's as funny and dark as Tracey Letts' Killer Joe and at others serves up uncomfortable mouthfuls of Miller-esque angst. From its opening moment where a mother and daughter walk onstage into the scene of a double suicide through the next seventy  minutes, Besecker's play, very ably directed by Janet O'Hair, doesn't let loose of your attention.

It's extremely well cast: Brianna Rodriguez as the daughter Sam has a face that mesmerizes and the acting chops to make you not want to pay attention to how gorgeous she is. Her mother Lori is played by Alison Lustbader, who hits every line perfectly, even when she saying things you really don't expect, which is often. Her monologue at the end of the show is perhaps the play's best moment. Dene Larson as John is going to seem very familiar to anyone who has lived in San Francisco for any period of time- he captures the essence of a certain type that made me think "God, I know this guy" though you really wish you didn't. Dennis Crumley's Adriel is an update on the Lebowski Dude done Bay Area style and although Crumley seems a bit young to be playing Rodriguez's father, he's really interesting to watch and has perfect timing. Besides that, his character is a total hoot. Maxine Kincora's Barbara, who enters the play toward the end, makes the most of what is the least amount of lines and stage time. Phillip Goleman's Skillet is the one performance which left me on the fence, but he also has the hardest role in the play as his is a Janus character that you don't see coming at first and by the time the flip side arrives it's a bit disconcerting trying to figure out what exactly it is Skillet wants.

But in this one, the dialogue's the thing, and Penelope and I both agreed this is one brilliantly written play that happens to be extremely fun to watch.

It only plays twice more during SF Fringe, 156 Eddy St., San Francisco.

Don't miss it- strongly recommended.
Wed Sept 15 7:00 PM

Sun Sept 19 4:00 PM