Honoring the Day of the Dead while creating a frightening vision, Theatre of Note’s production of “Skeleton Stories” features impressive staging and fine acting. It tells the story of a young girl who attempts to make peace both with the living and the dead, while finding the meaning of her existence.
On Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), teenager Maya (Nina Harada) mourns her dead mother Corazon (Lorianne Hill) and longs to see her again. Will Maya find a peace and resolution that helps her resolve the past and prepare for the future?
Playwright Delondra Williams posits ambitious themes, but weaves a story that blends too many elements without a coherent center. At one moment gore, another lowbrow comedy, it can’t seem to decide what it is. There are fine moments and insightful lines, but instead of celebrating life, the work tends to revel in horror.
Director Bill Voorhees and staff create a beautiful staging of the play, with superb design work that forms a harrowing yet sumptuous hell. Excellent lighting effects, colorful costumes, gorgeous sets, and imaginative animation, graphics, and sound produce an elegant yet frightening underworld.
A fine cast brings a touching humanity to the piece, particularly Keith Allan’s sarcastic, preening Mitch and Nicholas S. Williams’ vulnerable, grieving Christopher. Harada gives Nina a pleasing innocence, yet seems too tentative in scenes of passion and intensity.
“Skeleton Stories” contains excellent staging and fine acting in its confused look at family roots and stories and moving on.
Theatre of Note presents “Skeleton Stories” Friday and Saturday nights at 8 p.m., Sundays at 7 p.m., with special performances Thursday, October 28 at 8 p.m., Sunday October 31 at 2 p.m., and Sunday talk-back with the playwright after the 10/10 show through November 6 at Theatre of Note, 1517 N. Cahuenga Blvd. in Hollywood. Tickets cost $22, $18 for seniors and students, with a limited number of half-price tickets available at stubdog.com and/or lastagealliance.com. For reservations, visit www.theatreofnote.com.