Des Nicole’s personal ‘Hope Vs. Life’ offers heartfelt knockout punch

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Whitefire Theatre Solofest continues with one-woman tale of struggle and triumph

Based on a true story, Hope Vs. Life offers an inspiring and adult take on never giving up in the fight to overcome obstacles to find peace. Combining slickly produced audio/visual elements with a powerful message, actress Des Nicole’s solo show offers a knockout punch in showing how to remain strong and hopeful.

Moved by the life of her eldest sister, Nicole blended elements of her sister’s situation and those of friends to create a character (“Hope”) and a show symbolizing her struggles with men, teen pregnancy, poverty and addiction while offering hope for a better tomorrow. It’s built around the concept of a boxing match with “life.” She reveals 12 moments or rounds throughout Hope’s life, from childhood through her late 20s, as she battles to overcome demons and troubles.

Nicole’s pacing is somewhat tentative, growing in strength along the way, revealing everything from sweetness to rebelliousness, fierce anger and vulnerability. She shines when she movingly responds to her grandmother’s death, shedding true tears of sorrow.

Director Jessica Lynn Johnson structures the production like spokes on a wheel, moving each round from one set piece to another as Hope grows up in front of our eyes, intercutting filmed segments between sections to add nuance and texture. These well made pieces spice up proceedings, revealing Hope battling Life in the boxing ring, dodging bruising jabs and potential knockout punches to stand in victory.

Hope Vs. Life combines heart and hope in how to succeed in the game of life.

“Hope Vs. Life” played Thursday, January 18 at Whitefire Theatre Solofest. Whitefire Theatre is located at 13500 Ventura Blvd. in Sherman Oaks. Visit WhitefireTheatre.com.

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