Capsule Stage Reviews: clean/through, The Diary of Anne Frank, Freud's Last Session, Sexy Laundry

Strong acting and a powerful script create an authentic drama, presented unflinchingly in all its measured detail.

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clean/through The new play from Houston playwright/actor Miki Johnson, a world premiere, illuminates the power of addiction, both to drugs and to relationships, as Johnson focuses on the sobering effects on participants, on companions and on family. The depiction of drug addiction here is ruthless and unblinking, without the pretense that there are compensating benefits for the ravages the addict inflicts upon himself. The addict is Nick (John DeLoach), a rock performer whom we meet just after a disappointing concert, performed under the influence of drugs, as he is criticized by his lover, Rachel (Jessica Janes), and his sister, Annie (Elissa Levitt). The production is brief — 60 minutes — but covers a huge amount of ground. We witness Nick's abandonment of Rachel for a sojourn with the young heroin addict Vee (Candice D'Meza) in a tenement hovel. There is a moment of high melodrama as Rachel's dependence on Nick, now severed, drives her to extremes. And, contrasting the seedy hovel shared by Nick and Vee, we see the domestic happiness of Annie and her two children, a welcome assurance that there is a world beyond drugs. The acting is gripping, and we come to care about the inhabitants of this world, self-destructive though they are. DeLoach is appropriately rail-thin, and his eloquent body language more than compensates for his scripted inarticulateness. Janes as Rachel finds and defines the tortured conflict between love and enabling, and Levitt as Annie opens a window into the world of sanity. D'Meza as Vee is awesome, and the children (Electra Yanik and Ginger Nunnally) are admirable in cameo roles. Jason Nodler directed flawlessly, and the entire production, which contains smoking and fleeting nudity, is masterfully professional. Strong acting and a powerful script create an authentic drama, presented unflinchingly in all its measured detail. Through March 1. Catastrophic Theatre, 1119 East Freeway, 713-522-2723. — JJT