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Noel Coward with yoga pants

That's my review, and I'm sticking with it.

The play opening next week at the Geffen Playhouse, ''The Female of the Species,'' is a Cowardian drawing-room comedy with a touch of Feydeau, updated and relocated to an upstate New York country house, and centered on Margot Mason, a celebrity feminist intellectual author played pitch-perfectly by Annette Bening.

Margot has a touch of feminist pioneer Germaine Greer -- not surprising, because, like Greer, the playwright, Joanna Murray-Smith, is Australian. Bening makes Margot her own, not only as she stalks the stage but when she's shackled to her desk -- not merely figuratively, as all writers are, but quite literally. Sounds kinkier than it is.

I saw a preview with some women friends who enjoyed it hugely, which made me wonder whether it was the stage equivalent of a chick flick, but I kept glancing around the theater. The men were laughing too, maybe more than the women.

The play's an equal-opportunity skewerer of some of feminism's pretenses and of feminism's foes and evolutions, too, embodied in the other four characters: Margot's onetime student, Molly, played by Merritt Wever; her housewife daughter, Tess, hilariously and hysterically performed by Mireille Enos, and her perfect/perfectly awful son-in-law Bryan, played by David Arquette; as well as Frank, Josh Stamberg's testosterone hurricane cab driver and Theo, Margot's agent, played by Julian Sands, a Merchant Ivory heartthrob in ''A Room with a View.''

The play was first performed in Murray-Smith's native Australia, but its ideas and characters are chameleon enough and universal enough to translate to Los Angeles or London. Evidently it started out as a drama, but as Murray-Smith says, it stubbornly insisted on being a comedy -- thankfully.

And I'm serious about the yoga pants.

-- Patt Morrison


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Great post Pat ! I think Noel is wearing hardtail yoga pants . Simply hilarious !



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The Opinion L.A. blog is the work of Los Angeles Times Editorial Board membersNicholas Goldberg, Robert Greene, Carla Hall, Jon Healey, Sandra Hernandez, Karin Klein, Michael McGough, Jim Newton and Dan Turner. Columnists Patt Morrison and Doyle McManus also write for the blog, as do Letters editor Paul Thornton, copy chief Paul Whitefield and senior web producer Alexandra Le Tellier.

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