The “50-minute Hour,” written by Robert Lindner, is a psychoanalytic case study of patients on the edge, and has served as a stepping stone to various creative interpretations on man’s search for mental health and wellness. The Write Act Repertory Theatre in Hollywood presents emerging playwright David Zimmerman’s “The Coffee Club,” a one and a half hour staged production of a group therapy session, where the ensemble cast awaits in anticipation of psychiatrist Dr. Sands, their fearless leader. One can’t help but allude to Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot,” where the 2 characters in this classic play wait expectantly and unsuccessfully for Godot (perhaps, God) to arrive.
Just as “life happens, when you’re making other plans,” in the good doctor’s absence, each cast member (therapy client) shares his/her personal story, divulging intimate secrets, as their peers tap into inner intuition to offer clarity and insight. There are so many powerful moments in the show, where the audience is induced to tears, as they witness the extreme angst roiling beneath the surface and emotional catharsis playing out.
In Los Angeles, “la la land” (a place where therapy is not only a privilege, but often a necessity!), this play particularly resonates with so many, and deals with timely, topical sensitive issues ranging from depression, post-traumatic stress, addiction, alcoholism, relationship woes, infidelity, to foremost, death, dying, loss, and grief. The play touches upon Elizabeth Kubler Ross’ 5 stages of grief: anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance, death, and bereavement counseling. Probably the best moment of the show is the final scene, the climactic denouement, when Andrew (played by Steve Oreste), who’s been a somewhat chirpy, upbeat character, breaks down, reading from the precious journal of his late wife, and showing he’s not quite the songbird he first portrayed.
Zimmerman, with much influence from his mentors and training at the Lee Strasburg Theater and Film Institute, keeps “The Coffee Club” in the moment, from beginning to end—truly the highest form of acting and artistic expression.
“The Coffee Club” plays now through March 6th (Monday-Wednesday, 8 p.m.; Saturday, 3 p.m.; and Sunday, 5 p.m.) at The Write Act Repertory Theatre (6128 Yucca St., Los Angeles, CA). For more information, call (323) 469-3113.