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Dark Pleasure

Gray People is all dark in the most delicious ways. Gray People pushes up the tension continually as the players psychologically explore their companions, surroundings, and the weight of their lives. Layer upon layer raw psychic strain exposed through the constant prying of Jenny (Olivia Lemmon). Through silence, action, conversation the pressure builds, until a world of skewed morals becomes the foundation stone. Once established, all things which follow draw you in ever further to this warped world where so much appears gray and dark.

Kerry Kazmierowicztrimm weaves intricate cerebral stories; pains often unseen are felt deeply while watching one of Kerry’s plays.  If you’ve ever seen a crowd groan at a hard hit on the soccer pitch, that visceral knowing of the scope of pain latches onto part of your body and you react. Gray People does this body and mind. Leaving you with a real need to catch your breath at the end.

Gray People is about those who walk between. The people going around perpetuating pain, while telling themselves they aren’t bad people, they, they might even be good people. With wit, anger, and passion these delusions are torn down while Jenny, Adam (Kyle Felts), James (Walter Kartman) go at each other. This is my second time seeing one Kerry’s plays and I’ll honestly look forward to anything Kerry writes in the future. While Wounded (which showed at Hollywood Firnge 2018) and Gray People are both very intense pieces with similar cerebral pleasure, they are different in a way which shows just how diverse a story teller Kerry can be.  While Wounded was all mental anguish of mostly stationary, Gray People has the chaotic energy of life to it’s quite mobile players. You never know when some mental pang will have James change direction in thought and body on a dime, or just when the physical tension will reach it’s breaking point. Just what is Adam’s deal, brooding, intimidating and possibly wounded himself?

When the tension snaps and the denouement winds down you might catch your breath, but you won’t possibly have seen the ends of the strings which Kerry and Sebastian are about to wrap up into a beautiful bow before you. With tense dialogue and action that snaps like a whip in the air Gray People is a fun ride and one I highly suggest you take. Kyle, Olivia and Walter brought three complex characters to life in such powerful ways, they all deserve recognition in the next round of Hollywood theatre awards.

Gray People (written by Kerry Kazmierowicztrimm and directed by Sebastian Muñoz) shows friday and saturday nights through Novemver 17th at the Belfry Stage in North Hollywood. For more information please visit fonprods.tix.com

Living History

SUNNY Fritz and LeeSunny Afternoon transports its audience to a dark day in 1963 America. Christian Levatino may as well have put a border around time and shown us a conspiratorial take on the Kennedy assassination.  Every part of Sunny Afternoon self-referential or referring back to 1936, or helped lend the illusion of something out of time. Walking into the Flight Theatre the gorgeously done stage feels like a still life cell from a security camera. The stage setting presents a perfect frame for the scenes which unfold throughout.

Things are intense from lights down, with Lee Harvey Oswald (Andy Hirsch), a lank scrawny man compared to his captors, sat facing away from the audience. The interrogation begins, with this voyeuristic overtone looking over his shoulder. Question after question it’s as if a hazy filter pushes out from the stage and you’re transported into the past. The players construct a vibrant world with idioms, anger, behavior which fit perfectly to the time and place. The subtle hostility and undercurrent of tense hatred between classes, races, jobs palpable from Bill Alexander’s (Spencer Cantrell) precise working of the levers of his authority a cog in  the systems shaded deeply by his personal cowboy outlook.SUNNY Lee with Elmer

With each personality and portrayal fitting together in a rich tapestry, Sunny Afternoon is a shaking experience bringing to life emotions of a turbulent few days with grief and anger primary shades. Darrett Sanders playing Captian Will Fritz plows a stead calm ship slowly building steam towards an inevitable end, while mixing tones of humour and exhaustion with this inertia that sweeps the play along. Fritz constant presence against Oswald’s evasive slippery ease forming this current the other law enforcement professionals move through.

Sunny Afternoon is an energetic fun ride through a dark story. Sunny Afternoon brings waves of drama crashing down in most delicious ways with a subtle voyeurism allowed through conspiracy.

Sunny Afternoon (written and directed by Christian Levatino) appears at the Hollywood Complex: Flight Theatre through December 2nd. Fridays 8pm Sundays 3pm

For more information visit:

www.thebigeventlive.com

sunny-afternoon-block

Twisted Unconsciousness

URBAN_DEATH_Edinburgh_Poster_888_GIFA dark twisted sprawl, an urban mindscape of diabolic collective unconsciousness pulses and oozes its way across the Atlantic seeking to convert yet another metropolis to sadistic delights. As Urban Death heads to Edinburgh Fringe, I have to wonder if they know what they’ve gotten themselves in for. To invite more ghosts, demons, monsters, and twisted beings into the city… Ah well, Urban Death only afflicts the mind after all, I’m sure nightmares have never caused much harm. Though the twisted delights in display in Urban Death might certainly chill the blood, steal breath and seize the heart. So fair bit of warning…

On display Hob’s own cornucopia of sin & pain, a writhing mass of humanity in all its glorious unglory.  In Urban Death, you will see before you will be a collection of vignettes delving all manner of death. This life is long, and it’s inhabitants twisted by its passage, for there are all manner of ways to kill a man, or woman for that matter, while preserving the flesh… or preserve the flesh after vital energies extinguished…

As I said Urban Death is a collection, of deaths, scenes of life which could very well happen next door, down the street, or in that low rent tenant building you try to ignore. Peer too deeply into the Urban sprawl and Death stares back. Will it be decency, sanity, sexuality, or even the flesh. What deaths wait for you, you have to see that for yourself. Steel yourself though, you’ll need it.

Urban Death is beyond all an experience, an experience I won’t dilute with too much detail. This is the type of thing you really must survive first hand. Stare into the blackened mirror of society and hope you don’t catch something starting back out at you, yourself mayhap.

While experiencing Urban Death at Fringe: your breath will catch, your sensibilities will probably be challenged a few times, your neck will try to pull your eyes away, your heart will race and you will be enthralled as never before.

It’s okay to scream, many do…

Enjoy the ride.

Urban Death (directed by Zombie Joe and Jana Wimer) will be showing throughout the Edinburgh Fringe Festival for more information please visit: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/urban-death

Viscerally Real

A most painful slice of life you can’t help but wish to know more, more slices of the cake. Wounded by Kerry Kazmierowicztrimm unravels lives before the audience revealing the bare pains underneath. Wounded is the breath before bottom, half a step before you look up and hope for better.

Wounded begins with those most awkward moments of all things new, those moments you are unsure and eager simply radiate out of Samuel (Kyle Felts). Kyle maintained a tension like an overly taught string trying to loosen just enough to resonate with beauty and clarity. Such life in a character is truly what is great about theater, that energy you can feel coming from a pulse on stage modulating how you feel for the duration.

Wounded builds intensity through the whole story, while unwinding the characters and audience, pulling them deeper into these tense painful pulsing, though invisible, wounds. Tommy (Scott Kuza) physically acted with such depth you could let go of yourself and feel his wounds, his pains. The ultimate looseness compared to Kyle’s tense portrayal. All balanced between Angelica (Jessie Holder Tourtellotte). As Kyle and Scott applied the ebb and flow of polar needs, Jessie became this emotional fulcrum, supplied the energies the other triad fed upon. The men were high and low, while Angelica is the beat which sways between them.

 

I won’t say more, Wounded (written by Kerry Kazmierowicztrimm Directed by Liz Lanier) is a must see this Fringe. Go, now!

 

For more info and tickets: http://www.hollywoodfringe.org/projects/5189

Rhythmic Emotions

macbeth

Oppressive silence… movement divorced from sound… For a show based on a women’s perspective, “her tragedy”, this adaptation of The Scottish Play (Heidi Powers Directing) guts you hard from go. The good bye, the unwilling dance, oh the dance, screams unheard… traumas ignored. Macbeth-325

It never is easy putting on Macbeth, not one of his longer works, there is complexity and nuance to be conveyed in word and deed. This adaptation pulls the audience along through what would be longer bits with motion and atmospheric tone weighted like gravity. You are drawn forward deeper into the story with each passing moment.

Motion is key, this adaptation of Macbeth is fluid, alive, palpable with motion. Dance, movement, of course fighting, and emotion all swell ebbing and flowing in beautiful currents. The Play starts quite quickly with an attempted escape via dance. Alwayse subjective, the choreography by Heather Lynn is beautiful and painful to watch. Lady Macbeth (Cyanne McClairian) conveys an ache on stage with such depth as to show the Queen in a light I hadn’t seen before. Too often The Lady Macbeth is cast in poor light, some greedy power hungry witch herself manipulating her good Lord and would be King.

Macbeth-262Showing things in new light is entirely the point of this adaptation, and new lights illuminate cycles often unseen in our own society. Patterns of repetition, generation to generation, pains passed on over and over.

Ever present through this version is dance, be it the social dance of avoiding persons or the beautiful dancing of Cyanne a fluid energy permeates this version of Macbeth. Dance, movement is the unspoken, language of Women.  Movements unending: making ourselves smaller, or moving quickly to the hand of a girl friend to avoid a horrid man. All of a woman’s life is a dance, and this shows in Macbeth, personified especially in Lady Macbeth.

Macbeth-73Fluidity of life’s pulse isn’t the only fluid element to this adaptation. More than ever the two faced natures of every character shown in multiple scenes becomes apparent. Macbeth (Brendan Weinhold) pulls off the manic swing of his “affliction” in beautiful fashion. The mania of a world dropping away to your own mind while needing to be present at all times shown through strains of face at switch. With one drawback in delivery at times Brendan confuses volume with pains inexpressible. When dealing with dialogue hard to follow as The Bard’s Plays often are, sudden spikes, over crescendo, to inaudible may convey pain but not the emotion of it. The spikes almost like a crack in a beautiful illusion. Such volume emotive issues, a minor thing in a strong delivery from, curtain to curtain, Brendan in a beautiful version of Macbeth with a depth of character a joy to witness.

The entire play, flows beautifuly, each recurring character shows sway and rhythm a change from scene to scene. Highlighted via double casting, each actor stretches and shows multiple facets of talent. Corinna McCoy as the Stranger brings a puckish delight to a strong archetype of a Witch. Spinning this into drunken irreverence when serving the castle unseen by the main players, but highlighted by her mirth and general put outed-ness by the general state of affairs to which they find themselves subjected. Esther Mira appearing as Maiden to Lady Macbeth a stalwart friend who would stand by her Lady until the end. The Mother (Josie Adams McCoy) brings a warmth to the role in a way that would cut any too close to those she would protect.Macbeth-197

Each part of the show brings a smile to remember in the writing of this review.

 

Macbeth His story Her Tragedy (directed by Heidi Powers, Written by William Shakespeare) appears Friday Saturday through April.

For Tickets: survivingmacbeth.brownpapertickets.com

For more info:www.facebook.com/events/1481258821996259

Infectious Smiles

Flu Season

A beautifully sad twist of life plays out on stage in Will Eno’s The Flu Season. Managing to be non-linear in a linear way, you’ll find yourself pulled into the interplay of narrative present with contemplative hindsight. An intricate mechanism, complications of a watch spinning beautifully, pulled off by a completely captivating & charming Epilogue brought to life by Anna Evelyn.

Taking place just before and through a cold winter, Epilogue provides a biting harsh cut of reality. Epilogue; cold recounting of events as immutable fact. Through this more somber role Anna brings sweetness to the personification of a literary device. Each scene will end precisely the way it should with Epilogue guiding the events as they unfold.

With Epilogue serving as a controlling back stop, each scene is free to start off with as much emotion as needs be to capture the essence of what is to come. Serving this kick off just right is Prologue (Nick Moss), be it manic gibberish or mournful airs Prologue is free to set any needed tones with Epilogue there to rein in any wild ways.

While Prologue and Epilogue play out their delicate dance, we are left to this beautiful art house slice of life. Many scenes within the whole playing on the fullness of life experienced by all, even when we are unable or unwilling to see and hear this fullness in the lives of others. A piece of Sonder pie as it were, a rich complex tapestry magnified until the interweaving threads become visible. An absent minded Doctor (Mark Hein) and a well-meaning Nurse (Heidi Mendez) go about the business of trying to help an introspective Woman (Brooke Markham) and a self absorbed Man (Joe Sartee) put their individual lives back together. As often happens, threads, of life, splice together forming new patterns before coming apart again.

The beauty of The Flu Season is in the complex interplay of journey on stage. What seems like an impossible to write piece, plays out with the beauty of a well written orchestral number. A huge part of a complex piece of art coming off well is a great first chair, holding to analogy, in Anna Evelyn. Truly any number of scenarios could have been coming towards the end and Anna would have wrapped them all together beautifully in real time. A mournful, sweet tragic soul in Epilogue given beautiful life through Anna.

The Flu Season may leave you feeling a bit sad, but it is a journey worth the ride, worth checking out.

 

The Flu Season (Directed by Doug Oliphant Written by Will Eno) shows at The Pico in Los Angeles Friday & Saturday nights at 8pm

For Tickets: https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/3378926

Beautifully Complex

Love

Never before have I seen a show capture as many of the converging divergent facets of love, as Love has.

Language, particularly English is so severely lacking in depth when it comes to the ephemeral concepts. For a Germanic/Romantic language hybrid, we seem to have come up short on both the “romance” and preciseness of language itself.

What language alone could not accomplish Force of Nature Productions brings to life in the exquisitely simple beauty that love, actually, is. Each piece fitting together like so many infinite fractal facets of an indiscernible thing we call love. Each as true as the previous and proceeding, each a reflection into ourselves through a mirror we may not look through often.

Using every tool of the emotional spectrum, including their own selves the ensemble approached the rapture of the divine perfection of all love feels like. Brian Hilarious, strong on stage each time I’ve seen him perform, walks you down a road you know not the destination until it smacks you in the face. The ability to love yourself for who you are, shed the pains society, and yourself, placed upon you. Burdened no more to know who you are truly, and love that person. From altering center of being shown through body and deep micro expressions the show starts with a beating heart we all need to find and love through one man. On a stage, alone but not alone…

That’s just how the show starts past the prologue. What follows is a torrential diluvial wash, shades of love seen and unseen. Where, how does one begin to use language to describe something on stage which took full sensory onslaught to gently pull you under its spell.

Speaking of spells, Love revealed a truth of FON Producitons which I’ve felt lightly, only to feel the full impact of its force through Love.

Sound, music inspires Sebastian and those he works with, it’s easy to see. Love, takes that to the next level, Love is scored to a film festival winning emotional roller coaster. The songs pull you in as much as the dance, frantic pains, beautiful prose. You sit fully engaged in something else, something wholly complete. Love was amazing and would have been no matter the score, it was dance and score of Stoneczko which finally made the tears pour down my cheek, a silent release of a beautiful knowing.

Lest you think love, and Love is deep and heavy all the time, there is humour to be had in Love. From an overly polyamorous promiscuous Tinder app in a support group for dating apps led by “Tom”. If you’re too young to understand who Tom is, well that’s okay too. Mayhapse a musical number just for the women, Total eCLIT of the Heart had me in stitches and reliving fond memories…

If you are in anyway introspective and self-analytical see how much of yourself is altered, added to by Patchwork Doll. A moving piece diving into the ocean, trying to discover who you are for all you’ve been shaped by.

There is a flow to Love, starting with loving yourself moving on through anxiety, falling in love, and pain of isolation. The cycles go on and on, love grows and dies and grows anew, this rise and fall is seen in Love, if you sit back and see all the pieces as the beautiful gem for which it is.

 

Before closing this review, I feel I must mention Whiskey Eyes, an original song by Tom Jones. The 13th piece of Love, 14 may have been the nail which broke the dam, Tom’s song was the lead up, the set up. I will alwayse be a daddy’s girl and miss my Pa daily. I was his little tomboy and he knew the real me. Whiskey Eyes nearly brought tears to my eyes for all the things I know my Pa can only see from a faraway place I can’t perceive. Stoneczko made me cry in theatre, Whiskey Eyes made me cry writing this review… Why I hid it at the end.

There is something for everyone in Love playing a small theatre above a church.

 

Love (directed by Sebastian Muñoz) has two more showings. March 29th and April 5th at 8:30 pm, The Belfry Stage in North Hollywood (behind the Petco Unleashed)

For more information visit: www.fonprods.tix.com