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Friday, September 30, 2005 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Theater Review

"Weird" play christens new theater space

Special to The Seattle Times

Theater review


"Scab" by Sheila Callaghan. Produced by Live Girls! Theater. Runs Fridays-Sundays through Oct. 16 at Live Girls! Theater, Lower Level, 2220 N.W. Market St., Seattle; $9-$12 (800-838-3006 or www.brownpapertickets.com).

Growth spurts can be painful, even when done properly. Live Girls! Theater can tell you, being in the middle of one right now.

Live Girls!, a tenacious local troupe dedicated to producing plays by women, has given up their tiny crawl-space in Pioneer Square in favor of a bigger basement dwelling in Ballard — a gutsy upgrade in a time of theatrical downsizing.

A late start, rowdy neighbors, locked bathrooms — these were all part of the first weekend for Live Girls! in their new Ballard home.

But the company's charm has never been in technicalities, and the production to christen the new space, the Northwest premiere of Sheila Callaghan's "Scab," is a victory of determination over details.

Moreover, there couldn't be a better context for "Scab," a riff on painful personal growth, than some organizational growing pains.

For in "Scab," Callaghan turns her wacky eye on two women who meet to share an apartment but end up tangled up in each other's shortcomings in more ways than anticipated.

The women are a typical odd-couple pairing: Annie wears black, Christa wears floral print; Annie flaunts her neuroses, Christa flaunts her normalcy; Annie falls in love with Christa, Christa falls in love with Annie's ex-boyfriend.

Yes, it's opposites-attract meets love-triangle, though Callaghan spices it up by bringing into this fray a heckling Virgin Mary statue, dark angels who play tiny musical instruments and relatives who poop their pants.

This magical David Lynch-esque undertow sets "Scab" apart from others in this oeuvre. Where some plays are quirky, "Scab" is downright weird; where others give closure, Callaghan opens a wound.

Live Girls! artistic director Meghan Shalom Arnette, directing the show, hits this bittersweet spirit dead-on.

As Annie, Jaime Roberts is funny as she is tragic, and Amy Conant's suburban Stepford-esque Christa charms and disarms.

As is expected, Live Girls! hasn't quite grown into their bigger environs.

The stage placement had the set interrupted by a distracting, out-of-context "Exit" sign. The sound design largely consists of someone's CD collection.

But as long as Live Girls! keeps choosing plays that suit them as well "Scab," they'll have plenty of time to grow into their new digs.

Copyright © 2005 The Seattle Times Company

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