Charlotte Second Chance

Rated 4.0

What a difference a script makes. Over the summer, actress Kim Brauer (who trained at California State University, Sacramento) had multiple, if not particularly memorable, roles in Beyond the Proscenium Productions’ Summer Shorts, a sampler of light one-acts.

Now, Brauer is back in a full-length role in the company’s Charlotte Second Chance. And her performance this time is an eye-catcher, putting her on our list of young artists we’ll watch for in the future.

Brauer plays Charlotte in this “magical realist” fantasy, which follows the ups and downs of a five-year romance. The conceit is that Charlotte is a time-traveler, revisiting critical junctures where the romance gradually went sour, seeking a happier outcome.

Most scenes are duets between Charlotte and boyfriend Finn (actor Matthew Cortez Temple, also good). They make a credible couple, no matter which way the romance is headed.

Intervening periodically is Harmony (Christa Bella), a mystic with a hypnotic gaze, offering sage advice about love and suitably dark portents about messing with the magic.

The script is a recent effort by Dennis Escobedo of Los Angeles (who hosts a playwriting seminar September 24 at La Raza Galeria Posada). Escobedo mixes in some depleted phrases to describe love and infidelity, and we wish he’d had Finn express his independence and creativity on something other than the saxophone, if only for the sake of variety; it’s an overused metaphor.

But Escobedo’s take on the initial closeness between Charlotte and Finn, as well as the slow transition into distance and distrust that follows, is effectively rendered. The playwright also spices his situations with some bright, humorous touches in the dialogue, scene structure and sound design.

Director Ann Tracy doesn’t let the story ferment on the lees for too long, as she easily could have. And E.J. Reinagel contributes an attractive set involving a large tree with colorful, low-hanging fruit.