The Inventor and the Escort
Review by Neal Weaver
The Lounge Theatre
Through April 23
Jeffrey (Jaret Sarcey) is an eccentric but moderately successful inventor of exotic and improbable sex-toys who, though he operates on the fringe of the sex industry, freely admits he’s got no game. It seems that years ago, he was mightily attracted to a girl he saw at New York’s Jones Beach, and imagined a happily-ever-after scenario. Instead, he was rejected and rudely insulted. (It didn’t help that he was wildly overweight at the time.) Now, though he’s slimmed down, he’s still painfully gun-shy. He’s been relying on paid escorts for sex and company because that way he gets what he’s paid for without fear of rejection.
He hires escort/hooker Julia (Jessica Moreno) to act out his fantasy version of that early encounter in which love triumphs over all. To create the proper ambiance, he’s converted his apartment into an ersatz beach, complete with inflatable palm trees, a tiki bar, lawn chairs and colorful beach towels. Julia’s initially alarmed and suspicious, as he insists on fanatical adherence to the details of his fantasy — he’s even provided her with a script and a bikini costume. But she goes along since he’s generously overpaying her. At first, she’s amused, then charmed — and then attracted by his naiveté and oddities. Soon they’re becoming more involved than either one of them intended.
While this one-act by Matt Morillo is contrived, it’s a fairly amusing contrivance. And what initially seems to be a cynical comedy turns into a sweet tale, with some clever dialog as the oddly matched pair stumble almost unwillingly into a genuine relationship. As director, Murillo draws engaging performances from his actors, with Moreno in particular gaining stature as the evening goes on.
Rene Paras, Jr. created the pleasantly wacky set.
The Lounge Theatre, 6201 Santa Monica Boulevard, Hollywood. Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 5 p.m.; through April 23. (323) 960-4443 or www.kadm.com. Running time: 70 minutes with no intermission.