Though none of the young women, whose ages would appear to range from their early 20s to early 30s, has much nice to say about mom, by the end, they have at least come to regard her as less than a monster. Since Demmary introduces no other characters to the stage, their judgment serves as the moral guide for the audience.
Yet it's the developing bond between the three, forged through more tears than laughs that is most affecting in "Seatbelts Required". Having gone through an emotional hell, they are now capable of having a love for one another that was not possible with their dear mother around.
Other than the fact of her promiscuity, we don't learn much more about mom, who is given neither a name, place of birth, nor face. The home offers some clues; a box filled with albums by the Beatles, Rolling Stones, and Bob Dylan, a 1970s-era couch of gaudy colors and mismatched pillows, lots of canned food, and a sombrero, probably acquired during some south-of-the-border party cruise. She is defined by sex, rock and roll, and things.
The daughters are a diverse trio, though all of them bear names more appropriate to America during the first half of the 20th century. Agnes (Cynthia Manous) is blonde, pert, and the one who was with the mother most at the end of her life. Janet (Elizabeth Kimball) is married with children, hypercritical, and seemingly under control. Maggie (Chelsea Pitillo) arrives latest, in the play and on earth, and sports trendy clothes and bright red lipstick. By common consent, the two older half-sisters proclaim that the youngest was mom's favorite.
The exchanges between the women are more cutting, funny, and poignant in the second act than the first; Tequila proving better than beer at loosening tongues. If anything, John Barker's direction in both acts is at times too composed for the material. We want the characters to speak a little louder, and behave a little crazier, even uptight Janet.
Among the actresses, who are each fine, Pitillo deserves special mention as chief designated weeper, including perfect handling of a never enviable scene of solo tear-shedding at the front of the stage -- in a small theater, no less.
Brian Graves's set design is a neat mishmash of cut rate stuff commonly associated with lower-rung suburbia. Walking into the theater, we already get a good sense of the woman whose passing drives the play.
"Seatbelts Required" continues at the Actors Workout Studio through February 12th. The play runs Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., and Sundays at 2 p.m. Tickets are $15 for general admission, and $12, seniors and students. For reservations, call 818-506-3903. Actors Workout Studio is located 4735 Lankershim Boulevard, North Hollywood.