Three views of life presented in season opener at Malibu Stage Co.


“Life X 3,” a dark comedy by Tony-winning French author, actress and playwright Yasmina Reza, will kick off the Malibu Stage Co.’s spring season with a four-weekend run beginning April 3.

By Ward Lauren / Special to The Malibu Times

The story of “Life X 3” “revolves around two couples and one dinner party, played out on three different nights with explosive results,” Jackie Bridgeman, president of the Malibu Stage Co., who described the play authored by Yasmina Reza.

Reza, who lives in Paris, has written several novels and plays, most notably her prize-winning comedy-drama, “Art.” A classic story of life and art and friendship, it has continued to be played in many languages on stages throughout the world since its first production in France in 1994.

The renown of the author is one reason director Don Reiker, a 37-year veteran of television, stage and motion pictures, chose “Life X 3” for his directorial debut on the Malibu stage. “It’s also a magnificent play,” he said, “very timely and wonderful for actors.”

The premise of the play revolves around a couple, Henry and Sonia, receiving unannounced dinner guests, Hubert, Henry’s boss, and his wife, Ines, on a particular night, as Henry is trying to put their 6-year-old child to bed, while his wife catches up on work. Henry is told that a similar scientific paper to one he has been working on is about to be published. The situation is replayed three different ways, with alternate outcomes and reactions.

Michael Billington for The Guardian Unlimited in 2000 wrote, “Yasmina Reza’s new play is an elegant enigma with triple variations … behind the 90-minute bourgeois comedy lies the suggestion that everyday life, like the universe itself, is made up of dark, invisible matter.

“If farce can be defined as the worst day of your life, then this is a mini-classic of the genre,” Billington continued.

Reiker is a veteran of stage and screen. He and his wife, writer Patricia Jones, have been involved, often as a writing team, in television production throughout their 33 years of married life. The two created “Bronx Zoo,” a one-hour TV drama starring Ed Asner, which ran for two seasons. They were also writers together on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.” Reiker’s recent theater credits are “Angels In America” and George Lucas’ “Reckless.”

Explaining his love for stage work, Reiker said, “There’s so much more freedom on the stage to develop a character, to go deeper. In film there’s always the time limit. On stage you can have weeks to hone the material. You can stay with your vision without interference from the network or the studio.”

A member of the Malibu Stage Co. board of directors for the past three years, he was pleased to be directing his first play in the theater.

“Malibu Stage Co. has done some first-rate productions and has gained a reputation for solid professional work,” he said. “It’s such a pleasure to have this rare theater in our midst.”

Despite its growing reputation, however, “it’s tough to get reviewers to come out here,” Reiker said. “But since ‘Life X 3’ has only been produced once before in Southern California, we hope to get some of them out here for this one. We don’t depend on them for a successful run, though; we have a loyal following of fans here in Malibu.”

The ensemble cast of “Life X 3” includes Michael Bayouth, Alison Lees-Taylor, John Henry and Cory Volovar.

Following the current bill at the end of May, the company will present David Mamet’s “Oleanna,” with a surprise cast to be announced, Bridgeman said.

Performances of “Life X 3” begin April 21, at 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, and at 3 p.m. on Sundays.

Tickets are $20 and can be obtained by calling 310.589.1998.