The 60’s defied convention as rebellion against the established order became not only a statement but an ordinance. The Graduate is based on the juxtaposition of old-world morals versus youthful morality. The irony is that even during the political and social upheaval, people are basically the same; only their perspective changes. West Coast Ensemble’s production of The Graduate utilizes the familiarity of the story (adapted by Terry Johnson) well-known from the film, and induces a super-charged sexual energy with a frankness that defies even today’s social morays.
The story is that of Benjamin Braddock (Ben Campbell) and what he is to do with his life after graduating college. Benjamin is a bright student but naïve of the dark realities that have been hidden from him. His parents (Jerry Lloyd and Cindy Yantis) are devoted and kind but have no clue who their son is. Mrs. Robinson (a striking Kelly Lloyd) gives Benjamin the kind of education that is not taught in any classroom. Benjamin gives in to the clandestine arrangements but soon falls for her daughter, Elaine (a convincing Michelle Exarhos). The drama unfolds when Benjamin breaks the unholy alliance with Mrs. Robinson and pursues Elaine.
Director Jules Aaron captures the angst and delusional spirit of the early 60’s. He coaxes the performances that come across honestly without forcefulness. And, kudos must go to costume designer Shon LeBlanc, for giving the audience a glimpse of the dress and outfits of the time. Although all performances were excellent, Jim Kelly as Mr. Robinson commanded the stage like no other. The show reminds us that redemption can be found in even the most hardened spirits. Recommended.
“The Graduate” is playing at the El Centro Theatre located at 800 N. El Centro Ave. in Hollywood through April 5. For more information on tickets, please call (323)-460-4443 or visit www.tix.com.