Playwright Ken LaZebnik dares to bring us a love story between two young people “on the spectrum” of autism. Mac and Iris, both labeled “different,” meet online and fall in love. The boy has been coached by his mother into apparent normal behavior; the girl suffers from repetitive mannerisms and uses a voice prompter to speak her typed words. When they meet, their difference is a world they share, while their similarities make them kin.
The three actors are superb. As a young man with Aspergers, Dan Shaked is totally believable; as his mother, Jeanie Hackett lets us see into her heart with strong emotional force, and Virginia Newcomb is most impressive as a desperate fluttering child trying to hold herself together while inside her mind is as strong and clear as a bell.
Director Jacqueline Schultz handles this difficult subject with no hint of condescension. Full wall videos by Jeffrey Elias Teeter transport us from the flowers and palaces in Iris’ imagination to the harsh screeching realty of a NY subway. Credits to R. Christopher Stokes for lighting; Peter Bayne for sound; John Iacovelli for scenic design, and Naila Aladdin Sanders for costumes.
“On The Spectrum” is playing through April 28 at the Fountain Theatre, 5060 Fountain Ave in Hollywood. Info: 323-663-1525 or www.fountaintheatre.com.