Phobias, disorders, depression, oh my! As a line in the play, The View from Here, at Actors Workout Studio, states: “You read an article on affective disorders, and then slap a label on yourself.” There are many steps in the healing/recovery/rehab process, and theatrical expression and catharsis is probably the best medicine of all. The View from Here, a comedy by Margaret Dulaney, is based on four people, enmeshed in each others’ lives, co-existing, and co-dependent, as it were, in agoraphobic Fern ‘s safe haven of a home/child care center — set in Kentucky, mid ‘80s.
Entering the mix are Maple (Katherine Browning), depressed over infertility issues; neighbor Arnold (Derek Houck), whose wife left him and newborn, due to post-partum depression; and best friend Carla (Sasha Carrera), a superstitious, sexy “loon”, afraid to drive on the new moon.
Each, in their own world, with their own minds troubled or afflicted in some way, do their best to comfort dear friend Fern (Debbie Jaffe), as “like takes on like”, with their severe dysfunctions enabling each other on stage.
Although the play takes place in the deep South, some 20 years ago, it is a true microcosm of the whole world, in contemporary times, our topsy-turvy “Prozac Nation”, “la-la land”, where therapy and pill popping is rampant, where an attempt to get through any given day is sometimes a mere miracle! Each issue, neurosis and psychosis presented by the colorful characters seems an abstruse deviation from the norm, but for the
person facing it, it is quite overwhelming, giving the audience a new view and enlightened perspective on the world of psychiatry. A cast of sophisticated actors use their range of dialogue and dialect to optimum performance, a quite impressive feat; however, the plot is a little contrived and predictable, each waiting for the ultimate cure and solution to their problems.
The sharp contrast between innocent babies, with clean slates, vs. adults with jaded views on life and a myriad of psycho-social problems, makes for a compelling story and gives hope for one to be pro-active in facing life’s many challenges. Actor/Producer Debbie Jaffe believes that “by looking at these disorders with compassion and through a lens of humor, it goes a long way.”
The View from Here runs through June 12 on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 7 p.m. The Actors Workout Studio is located at 4735 Lankershim Blvd. in NoHo. For more information, call (818) 506-3903 or visit www.actorsworkout.com.