That strange, yet always dreadful toy/prank that jumps out at your unsuspecting soul and explodes in your face. It launches a range of emotions including anger disappointment and slight pleasure, because someone has cared enough to prank you. “The Snake Can” a new play by Kathryn Graf, now in its world premiere at the Odyssey Theatre in West Los Angeles, takes it name from this classic gag and covers many of the same emotions one feels when they open such a can.
The play stars Jane Kaczmarek from “Malcolm in the Middle” as one of three middle aged women facing the loneliness and unsureness that comes with relationships or lack there of. Kaczmarek and co-star Sharon Sharth bring depth and truly realistic emotion to their characters and their journeys. You can see them as real people just trying to keep afloat in the rough waters that is life. The men in the play are all rather enjoyable and complement their female counterparts well.
Where this play loses spark is in the direction and perhaps the writing. It is hard to tell the true nature of this play because the tempo was rather slow and the staging very awkward. The themes and characters in this play are charming and worth exploring, but there seems to be a missing link somewhere. The stage is a decent size and they use all of it, even though many of the scenes are very intimate and would probably benefit from a smaller setting. Director Steven Robman seems to be a little widescreen minded in his staging, which is a great distraction in this particular theatre and with this particular piece.
During the past year I have noticed a newer fad of staging. Where the actors no longer just play to the audience but they truly face their fellow actors and play to them. I have liked most of what I have seen of this method, however it can turn deadly at times, which it did during this play. A one point Sharth stood with her back to the audience and if anyone was sitting in the vicinity (which I was) their view would be completely blocked of anything except her back. This did not add anything but it did in deed subtract from my overall experience of seeing the play.
Overall “The Snake Can” has its moments and since there are four more weekends in its run, there is still the possibility of upgrading to being a rather enjoyable play. It provides a few chuckles and a few touching thoughts and with a little tweaking of staging and faster pace it could do so much more. It is a great idea of a play, but in its current state it is not too much more than just an idea.
“The Snake Can” runs at The Odyssey Theatre in West Los Angeles Thurs-Sun through February 24th.