Writer/director Paul Tully pulls absolutely no punches with his gritty play Replica, on stage at NoHo’s Theatre 68 on Lankershim.
Not for the prudish or faint of heart, Tully’s work is in-your-face, with adult themes, language and drug use — realistic enough to bring a hush over the crowd as intravenous “mainlining” is portrayed. Needle-phobes may want to sit this one out.
Our solitary set is a seedy motel room inhabited by our lead, Micky (Jeremy Luke, reminiscent of a young Robert De Niro), welcoming visitors ranging from childhood friends, to meth-dealing mercenaries, to temptress dope fiends. And as the (meth) smoke clears we see a tale of trust, friendship and sacrifice. As Micky opens up to Tonya (a charming Gisla Stringer), fresh off the bus with stars in her eyes, we learn about the pain and trauma that makes him tick, revealing the frightened inner child beneath the muscled and jaded exterior. Micky’s best friend Paul (a lovable Daniel V. Graulau) also must confront his own life choices and actions that lead him to risking their lifelong friendship, ultimately ending up with a gun to his head.
But is the gun even real?
Incredibly well-acted, the cast wore their roles like a familiar hoodie, including fantastic perfomances by Leif Gantvoort as Dino, Graham Sibley as Merry-Terry, Johnny Cannizzaro as Felipe, Carissa Tajudeen as Amanda, Lynn Adrianna as Anna and Cynthia Murell as Sandy.
Despite having a surprising amount of hearty humor sprinkled throughout, watching Replica was an intense experience. To quote my theatre guest at evening’s end, “That was heavy duty.”
Paul Tully’s “Replica” runs through Saturday, November 24 at Theatre 68 located at 5112 Lankershim Blvd. in North Hollywood. Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm. General admission is $20. Tickets can be purchased at Replica.brownpapertickets.com.