I caught two local opening night productions on the weekend … totally different in style and content, but both worthy of your time….
The Water’s Edge
The Road Theatre troupe, one of the best in Los Angeles, never fails to astound their audiences with their script choices. Whether humorous, dramatic, shocking, or mind-boggling … one can always expect to be entertained here, as they peer in on the offbeat, outer edges of life. The performances, direction, and technical visions are always top notch. This dark, involving look at family dynamics and human frailty is no exception. David Elzer’s press note states: “… a searing family drama about loss, grief, revenge … with a shocking twist.” It is all that and more! On a stunningly beautiful set, by Desma Murphy, the story unfolds. Written with soul searching realism, by Theresa Rebeck, this is a mesmerizingly haunting family drama. Under the edgy and focused direction of Sam Anderson, this gifted cast soars! An absentee father returns home to his ex-wife and grown children after 17 years of no contact in a remote and woodsy lakeside area of Massachusetts. Albie Selznick brilliantly portrays the wealthy father. Bringing along his much younger girlfriend, Lucy (a heartfelt performance by Lauren Birriel), he drops a devastating bombshell: He wants his childhood home back! Angrily greeted by his family after years of absence, the long lived emotional results of his abandonment explode. Paris Perrault is ferociously feisty as his angry daughter, Erica; Nicole Farmer is sizzling perfection as Helen, the rejected wife; and Patrick Rieger, in an award-worthy performance, is gutwrenchingly effective, as his emotionally unstable son, Nate. Behind the scenes, kudos to Kathi O’Donohue (lighting), Jocelyn Hublau (costumes), and David B. Marling (sound). I won’t tell you more, in fear of spoiling your experience … but I highly recommend that you book seats for this compelling drama, today! Running through March 10 at The Road Theatre located at 5108 Lankershim Blvd. in NoHo. For seats, call (866) 811-4111.
SkyPilot Theatre is currently offering their second annual set of “one-act plays” in one grounded location. Written, directed, and performed by their company members … each get a creative opportunity to “shine.” Taking place in an American airport terminal, this diverse collection … (some stronger than others) showcases 10 situations and conversations. The evening takes us into the private lives and personal challenges of a variety of characters, played by 29 actors. This type of production is tricky for a reviewer to cover, due to column length requirements. I can’t possibly summarize every act, and mention each contributor … so my only option is to credit my “favorites.” Some of the scenarios are a bit “heady” and confusing to follow … but the acting all around is worthy of praise. Linked by several recurring solo scenes titled “On My Way,” hilariously played by Dante Dumas, and written/directed by Jeff Goode … a variety of people meet and/or connect, while waiting to board a plane. Some scenes are funny, some serious, some sweet, and some “trippy.” My favorite was called “Reel People” (the only musical scene) — written flairfully by Chana Wise and Jonathan Price, who also directs. We view two mouthy “entertainment biz” types, hyping their own importance. The bored, unimpressed woman sitting between them cleverly beats them at their own game. Fun! Well played by Ashley Fuller, Amelia Rose, and Jason Kobielus. “Diane Miller, Please Press ‘9’ on the Red Courtesy Phone” — written by Julianne Homokay and directed by Morry Schorr. It was undeniably difficult to fully follow this Twilight Zone-esque piece … but Chera Holland’s performance was excellent, supported by Amelia Rose and Kareem Cervantes. “Terminal 1” – written by Brett Neveu and directed by Eric Curtis Johnson. Bob Rusch (“SkyPilot’s” Artistic Director) is a swishy riot in a wheelchair, flying back home with his boyfriend, after prostate surgery (Frank Ensenberger). Mackenzie English was a constant delight as the flight attendant in “this” and other scenes! “Don’t Believe the Truth” – eerily written by Mike Rothschild and directed by Dave Florek. A shrill and manic woman (Jennie Floyd), threatens the ticket agent with a bomb (Joanna Kalafatis), demanding to speak with an airport official (J.R. Esposito). An entertaining evening of quirky airport stories overall … Fly to your telephone … and book a first class seat! Running through Feb. 26 at T.U. Studios located at 10943 Camarillo St. in North Hollywood. Call (800) 838-3006.
There you have it…. My personal gems of creative opinion…. As always, more to come soon. A self-titled “Chatty Patty,” one thing I never run out of is words!