Theater & Performing Arts

Large Animal Games

When: Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m. Continues through Dec. 12 2009

Love and sex amount to a hunt in Steve Yockey’s comedy Large Animal Games, a play in which human and animal behaviors become hopelessly intertwined. Binary categories of gender don’t really exist in the animal kingdom, and they dissolve in this play, too, as the women become predators and the men willingly concede. Rose (the excellent Elissa Dunn) tries to trap a Spanish Don Juan named Miguel (Roy Landaverde) while her estranged roommate Valerie (Leontyne Mbele-Mbong) runs off to shoot gazelles in the African savannah. Alicia (Marissa Keltie) tries to control and manipulate Stan (Timothy Redmond), her whisp of a fiancé. The play’s only “civilizing” force comes in the form of a swishy lingerie store clerk (Jai Sahai), who arrives to guide all the other characters — including Stan — back to a space of feminine innocence. Director Melissa Hillman and set designer Sarah Coykendall help amplify the theme in their set configurations. Rose and Valerie’s apartment looks like a closet until Miguel emerges, widening the space between walls as he prances about in a red towel. The lingerie boutique, with its purple-and-white walls and lone rack of identical red negligees, looks stark and dogmatically female. Large Animal Games is a little discomfiting in that most character stories remain unresolved. Otherwise, it’s a clever play. Through Dec. 12 at LaVal’s Subterranean (1834 Euclid Ave., Berkeley). $12-$20.

Rachel Swan

Price: $12-$17

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