Theater: Defiled

By Lee Kalcheim

Harry Mendelssohn (Jason Alexander) is the ultimate anticomputer nerd. He is threatening to dynamite the library where he works if its card-catalog system is replaced by PCs. Brian Dickey (Peter Falk) is the police negotiator--Columbo raised to the nth degree--trying to talk him out of anarchy. Lee Kalcheim's play, at Los Angeles' Geffen Playhouse, sets them dueling metaphorically over the fate of modern civilization. Sometimes his targets are too easy (no more Starbucks jokes, please), but he has written fine, funny parts for the edgy, earnest Alexander and canny, counterpunching Falk. And his ending is a coup de theatre that's both...

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