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Gerald Carpenter: Elite Theatre Co. Puts Couple on ‘Life Support’

The two-character romantic drama runs through Dec. 18

Santa Barbara’s Deborah Bertling stars with Joe Boles in Elite Theatre’s Life Support.
Santa Barbara’s Deborah Bertling stars with Joe Boles in Elite Theatre’s Life Support. (Devon Cass photo)

From Friday through Dec. 18, the Elite Theatre Company of Oxnard will offer the dramatic romance Life Support, written by George Tricker, directed by Howard Leader, and starring Deborah Bertling and Joe Boles.

Life Support is basically a two-character drama involving people who meet in the lounge of a large hospital. If this were a Hollywood romance, we would say the couple “meet cute” — brought together in unlikely circumstances by an outrageous coincidence — but although Tricker has written a great deal of comic dialogue for television, his purpose in this play is much more serious.

Alan Warner’s wife is in the hospital for exploratory surgery (and I think we can all guess what they are looking for). Carol Stewart Brennan has just brought her husband to the emergency room as a precaution.

The romantic entanglement that ensues is based on a phenomenon most of us have experienced, although we don’t have a name for it. We might expect fear and anxiety to raise and tighten our defenses, but they usually cause us to lower them to a dangerous degree, making us vulnerable and susceptible.

A glance at their respective CVs would not suggest that Alan and Carol are meant for each other. Carol is educated, wealthy, beautiful and perfectly groomed; Alan is a scruffy school dropout, barely scraping by as a house painter. Yet their anxious emotional volatility, perhaps inevitably, translates by degrees into a co-dependency and thence to a deeper, more inconvenient relationship. It could happen to anybody, and probably already has.

Life Support plays at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and at 2 p.m. on Sundays. Tickets are $17 for adults and $15 for seniors, students and those with military ID. For reservations, call 805.483.5118.

— Gerald Carpenter covers the arts as a Noozhawk contributing writer.

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