L.A. Theatre Works' presentation of Guare's Obie Award-winning comedy is first-rate. It takes place in the early 1960s in New York City on the day the pope is coming to town. The characters and the action run the gamut from desperate nuns, a political bombing, a GI headed for Vietnam, and a woman who strikes a bargain between sex and great cooking to a zookeeper who dreams of making it big as a songwriter and his schizophrenic wife, who is destined for an institution. Sharon Gless, Jessica Walter, and Ron Leibman deliver strong portraits of flawed characters - some funny, some despondent, some frustrated, and some hopeful. Their vocal characterizations - full of vitality - provide bittersweet glimpses into the lives of these unfulfilled characters.