Reviewed by Jeffrey R Smith of the San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle

What? Bohemians living in Alameda? And, Thespians? Right here in River City?

Alameda’s own Laura Lundy-Paine is currently starring in a double-header at the Phoenix Theatre on Mason Street in San Francisco.

MS Lundy-Paine, a first class actress, has formally studied acting at Pomona College and has classically trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London.

She has graced west coast stages from the Portland Shakespeare Festival, to the Oregon Stage Company, Stinson Shakespeare and our own Rhythmix Cultural Works.

Presently at the Phoenix, the accomplished MS Lundy-Paine shares the Klieg Lights with John Steen; they open with George Pfirrmann’s AROUSAL followed by Harold Pinter’s THE LOVER.

In AROUSAL MS Lundy-Paine plays the sintering Albena: an exotic therapist of sorts; she is severed from her native Ukraine and for a small fee, she is willing to help Clifford, via very unconventional therapies, to overcome the isolating social handicaps associated Asperger’s Syndrome.

Albena proves that you don’t have be handicapped, to have a handicap; a turbulent history in a ruthless, lawless, post-Soviet wasteland and a family swine circus is more than sufficient.

At the end of her rope—okay extension cord—Albena finds that a human connection, rather than on-line Scrabble, might provide her a reason to go on living.

In THE LOVER, Lundy-Paine ratchets up her intensity, nearly setting off the smoke alarm with sangfroid sensuality.

She plays Sarah: a married woman trying to infuse a ten-year marriage with the brio, élan and endocrinal rush that it had back in the early days.

Sarah and Richard, mired in the doldrums of middleclass suburban London, fantasize the way most people do, only they share their fantasies to spool up marital intimacies and save on their heating bills.

This is high-intensity theatre in an intimate setting; no one is more than three rows from the end of the stage; you can almost smell Albena’s rot-gut vodka and cheap perfume.

MS Lundy-Paine is a resident member of the award winning Virago Theatre; the company includes Robert Lundy-Paine and Eileen Meredith, also from Alameda.

For a tantalizing and provocative evening visit www.ViragoTheatre.ORG.

The Phoenix Theater is on the 6th floor of 414 Mason Street in San Francisc