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Rose is such an emotional shut in it doesn't take Cliff long to ask, "Do you believe in life before death?"

He's an extroverted truck driver. His rig's down for repairs in Philadelphia. He's come to Rose's studio apartment for what he hopes is some neighborly "wham, bam."

That her one window's boarded up should be a sign. As should her talk about the previous tenant: a poet who attempted suicide, changed her mind during the act, and succeeded in killing herself. Just about everywhere Rose looks, she sees the skull beneath the skin.

Cliff persists. He tells jokes. Has witty sayings ("Well, that's how Niagara falls"). But the more he does, the more it's clear in William Mastrosimone's The Woolgatherer that, while opposites may attract, exact opposites are another kettle of fish.

Woolgatherer (1979) plays like a warm up for Mastrosimone's brutal Extremities. It's an exercise in free-form dialogue: some of it sharp, other parts fumbling for the next opening. And the conclusion's as wistful as Rose's dream of a perfect man.

In effect, it's an actors' play. And Ion Theatre has the actors to make it go. Deftly directed by Glenn Paris, Brian Mackey and Rachael Van Wormer do a dance of attraction and repulsion. Their tandem work is excellent.

He's got the "Joysey" accent down pat, along with the patter. In a nicely modulated performance, and not always aided by the script, Mackey moves from four-letter superficiality to something resembling tenderness.

Van Wormer's Rose acts as if neutron-bombed. Starkly internal, hyper-sensitive to the merest of stimuli, Rose has withdrawn into fleecy shells. It's hard to imagine the fragile, trembling character done better.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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