We are well over half-way through the 2012 Hollywood Fringe Festival. So far, there have been some great shows, but we expect nothing less. Today, we review three shows: Richard Parker, INTERNment and Love Is A Battlefield
by Tony Bartolone~
The ultimate indication that Richard Parker is a brilliant play is the feelings it incites. After the play two impulses were prevalent above all other thoughts: 1. I need to see this play again immediately. 2. But I am afraid.
It was once said that a good piece of art is one that raises more questions than it answers. After watching Richard Parker, I say the only answers that exist end with a question mark. Existential reasoning becomes playfully unreasonable in this meticulously-crafted masterstroke. Purpose… destiny… coincidence… What, if any, consequence do these things have in our lives? Random chance creating patterns disguised as some meaning that floats in the ether with us. Does circumstantial familiarity hold any weight in the world? Is there some sort of synthesis to the fortuitous phenomenon? And if there is, what does it all mean?
Seemingly random references to coincidental happenings create a synthesis in this taunt exploration of life and death and the interactions of strangers. Simultaneously extravagantly and economically written, Owen Thomas’ words are swiftly played out by sensational acting efforts. Minimalistic staging let this wonderful, philosophical dialog speak for itself.
Richard Parker plays June 20 at 4:30pm, 21 at 5 pm, 22* at 9:30pm.
*The June 22 performance is at Fringe Blackbox at NOTE.
by Tracey Paleo~
Stratification. No Compromise. Sacrifice. Karma. If this doesn’t sound like a day in your life as a casting director, actor or anyone else pursuing a fantasy in the Hollywood entertainment industry, then you simply haven’t put enough time into your career! From dog eat dog to downright vicious, INTERNment is a razor sharp and not so nice in-depth examination of the chaotic and ironically hilarious world of primetime television casting.
After sitting through this 60 minute singular episodic, one might decide on movies or stage as gentler careers. Internment asks the very in your face question, “how much are you willing to sacrifice to pursue your dream?” And sacrifice you will — freedom, friends, integrity, self-esteem, even your actual career for the one shot at getting into the A-pile.
Written and performed by LA Weekly Nom, Joe Mahon, this show begins literally ‘on fire.’ The dialog is lightening fast, as CSA, Jack Dempsey sorts out the nitty gritty for the new interns in the mailroom , where they ‘belong’ and where they will stay. It is a riveting performance.
However, by the time Mr. Mahon begins mouthing off as the Brownsville, Brooklyn intern Riddick, it gets muddy through the often incomprehensible accent and difficult character work. And when London intern Charles wisks in for the 3rd installment of this mini-series, the conversation gets far too pulled back and repetitious.
It’s a program that has all the dynamo to go but gets caged in the middle. Never-the-less, Internment is a fearless effort.
Now playing at The Elephant Studio Theatre, 6322 Santa Monica Blvd., 2 performances left: Tuesday, June 19 @ 6:00pm, Sunday, June 24 @12:15pm
by Tony Bartolone~
Intriguing, poignant and full of angst, Love is a Battlefield achieves an air of nostalgia while pulling us into a story of star-crossed lovers. Part Paul Thomas Anderson, part Saved By the Bell: The College Years; the “battle” here is one of contrivance vs. creativity. The winner? Storytelling.
Every so often we get too comfortable with the world and human progress in concerns to prejudice. Then something happens to remind us that the world is full of hate, and there is always growth to be made. This interesting, little play acted as a catalyst against the mind of complacency. When realizing what the play was about, I must admit the thought occurred, “Oh, its one of those.” (Which is a prejudice against preachy entertainment.) But moments after that, the character’s relationship-spider-webs woven through flashbacks and flash-forwards became compelling, despite my reactive reservations. And the entire story became a metaphor for the gay rights movement. The movement is in its collegiate stages. Celebrating its freedom to exist, its pride, if you will. Becoming educated in the ways of the wide-open world. However, still unsure of itself, fighting for its identity, galvanized by amorphous hatred and definite love.
In the end, you’re left with a piece that is creative enough, fascinating enough, good enough to enjoy. Beyond that, it has a lot a to say.
Love is a Battlefield plays June 21 at 3:30pm and 23 & 24 at 12:30am.