There’s a stunning performance by Lilly Holleman currently onstage at South Coast Repertory, but you’ll have to sit through a long and less than satisfactory play to see it. Beth Henley’s “Abundance” (though Nov. 15), a revival of a quasi-historical drama that debuted there in 1989, is an example of the emperor-has-no-clothes school of playwriting—the author’s so well established that apparently no one at SCR dared to question the abundance of bizarre and implausible choices she made in the writing of the play.

Henley’s hit-and-miss saga, set in the wide-open territory of Wyoming in the late 1800s, follows the adventures of two women, Bess (Holleman) and Macon (a vivid Paige Lindsey White); much of the action focuses on life with their husbands, a brutal jerk and a one-eyed dullard. The play itself is never dull, a by-product of its often absurd plot development. Call (714) 708-5555.

Ireland is the perfect setting for Martin McDonagh’s gallows humor, as evidenced by “A Behanding in Spokane” at The Costa Mesa Playhouse through Nov. 15. McDonagh’s first play set in the U.S. takes place in a seedy hotel room in small town America and revolves around the lives of four quirky characters. With the Irish element removed from the equation, this absurdist farce is more akin to Edward Albee or Sam Shepard than it is to Samuel Beckett.

Peter Hilton, who anchors the play, is flawless as Carmichael—a desperate character who’s searching for his missing left hand. Jeff Rolle Jr. and Zoe Fiske are fine in support as a pair of dimwit burglars but Angel Correa is way over the top as a manic hotel clerk. Michael Serna is otherwise assured in his direction, and his decadent hotel room set is first-rate. Call (949) 650-5269.

Author: Jordan R. Young

Jordan R. Young is a journalist, show business historian, playwright and theatre critic. His work has appeared in The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Christian Science Monitor, Los Angeles Magazine, Westways, AAA Tour Books, and The People’s Almanac.