“Create yourself being” is a phrase that would drive linguists insane, yet it is one that many self help professionals use. It is the idea that you are responsible for your life and how you react to things. For example you do not blame another for what they have done to you, for you alone are in charge of how you respond to such actions. “Complete” written by Andrea Kuchlewska now in its West Coast Premiere by Wilder Theatrics, asks these such questions through the interwoven story of Eve (Meredith Bishop) and Micah (Scott Kruse), their love for language as PHD Linguist students, and as both having experienced “The Program” which is based off of the 1970’s-80’s fad EST.
The story itself is interesting, yet where it loses momentum is in the way it is laid out. Filled with much repetition and time jumping, it easy to get bored and lost. Because of the jumping back and forth,and side to side in to different time frames, it takes a minute to realize in which time frame the scene is taking place. Though it is followable, it distracts from the overall plot of the play and could perhaps be arranged to flow more smoothly. Another distracting part of this piece is the repetitiveness. Some scenes are played more than once in their entirety and I just do not see the need for this. Others are first described within a scene, as a character is referring to what had happened previously. Than later on in the play that aforementioned scene is then played out. It is not needed, you do not have to describe an entire situation and then show it. If many of these scenes were cut the, 90 minute length of the play would be closer to 60, which would probably be better for holding the attention of the audience.
The saving grace of this play is the acting. Though a difficult piece of material to work through, the three leads do a phenomenal job. Kruse brings warmth and immense character to Micha, making him adorable and extremely likeable. You feel for him as he does the only thing Eve would hate for him to do just to be able to tell her that he loves her. Bishop is psychotic and afraid as Eve, a not-so-proud graduate of “The Program” who resents it for telling her that she is to blame for how her father’s abuse has impacted her. Their chemistry is perfect for their characters and their wildly heated arguments are hilarious to watch.
Overall “Complete” has a lot of good potential; it contains an interesting story and a fascinating topic. However, perhaps it is trying to cover too much. Their is so much behind the personal stories of Eve and Micah and yet they are barely covered, because the focus is “The Program” and how it has affected Eve and Micah. If the play was reconstructed, I truly feel that it could be a powerful piece of work. If this is ever done, then I would go back to the actors cast in this current production, for they bring an electricity to this odd and rather chaotic piece of theater.
“Complete” is being presented by Wilder Theatrics at The Matrix Theatre in Hollywood until March 30th.
With genius and popularity there always seems to be negativity and usually arrogance. No one embodies this more than Steve Jobs. He has been the star of much praise and ridicule, for no one has changed the world while being such a bully more than Jobs. So it should not really come as a surprise that Jobs and the practices of his legacy, Apple, is now being performed as a one man show which is currently appearing in Hollywood at the Theatre Asylum. “The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs” was actually created by Mike Daisey in New York over a year ago. Daisey is an avid technology geek and therefore a huge Apple fan. However his view of Apple was changed when he visited Foxconn in Shenzhen where pretty much everything we Americans buy is made.
Daisey created a monologue that combines the rise of Apple and a brief bio of its mastermind with the horrors that is Foxconn and how they are able to mass produce 50% of the worlds electronics including many Apple products.
Daisey was highly criticized for his performance of his monologue in New York because of some embellishments that he added to his story. Now, the monologue has been tweaked and has been published online for public use. Alex Lyras has taken this piece and decided to perform it as his own in a one man show platform.
After experiencing this bio/rant being performed by Lyras acting as Daisey, I can say that it is not very effective. It feels more like a presentation at a conference, yet in reality it is an acting piece. Lyras doesn’t help the impact of his performance any with the various missed slideshow cues and awkward spotlight changes. As a simple, but long winded one man show there should be a little more rehearsal, for if you are going to be in someone’s face telling them that what they spend most of their life doing is supporting sweat shops and suicides, then you better be very precise.
Overall this is not really a night of theater. It is a night of soap-boxing, and a poor one at that. I will say that it did make me think and the slide show format is powerful. Using pictures of the workers who make the iPhones and MacBooks by hand and the story of the Foxconn employee suicide rate, did make me stop and ponder about what else is happening around the world. Because of this, I do think Daisey’s words should be heard, however I think they might be more suited to a book than a night of theater. But then again, I am typing this on my iPad mini and editing it on my iMac, so perhaps I am the wrong person to ask.
In life there are many uncertainties, yet one certainty that many people turn to is family. Something many people assume everyone has. However, in today’s society it is very common to have a dysfunctional or completely non-functioning family. The Echo Theater Company presents such a family in the World Premiere of Gary Lennon’s “A Family Thing”. The three Burns brothers maneuver their way through life the best they can, after being partially raised by a drug addicted hooker of a mother and a murderous father. Two of the three follow in the footsteps lain before them, Jim (Johnny Messner) is fresh out of jail and has it out for his boozing, snorting, hooker loving older brother Frank (Saverio Guerra) who let him down so many years before. Both brothers are at a complete loss as to what to do with the youngest brother Sean (Sean Wing) who is a homosexual with an African American boyfriend.
This racist, unconventional, abandoned “family” struggles through their reunion after years of not speaking. They are forced to face each others problems while finding that most of them stem from the same reason: a lack of understanding and a feeling of never really being loved. This play is vulgar, a bit slow paced at times and overall contains very strong subject matter. Dealing with homosexuality, drug, alcohol and sex addiction, the cobwebs of one’s past, the uneasiness of new relationships, the heartache of old ones and the reality of death. There is a lot of heavy material in this play that it guarantees to be a conversation starter.
This piece is brutal and it grabs you by the collar and makes you pay attention. In order to do this it needs the right actors, which Echo has. A bevy of young talent from the stage, small and big screens, these performers are no strangers to a daunting script. Wing brings heart and despair to the youngest brother Sean in his search for understanding life. His interactions with his new found life coach/boyfriend Joe (Darryl Stephens) are truthful and touching. Stephens is equally as impressive in his attempts at understanding his new attraction and the family he comes from. Messner is frightening and yet there is something about his portrayal of Jim that leaves the audience feeling that there is something more than meets the eye to the jail-hardened middle brother. Guerra is the weakest link of the three brothers with his portrayal of the drowning eldest, Frank. Though you feel the desperation thriving deep in his character, Guerra often swallows his lines and it is ultimately hard to understand most of what he says.
The direction of this play is only slightly flawed. Chris Fields has taken this huge new piece of work and has made it his own creation. Certain scenes drag on too long, and some could probably be cut altogether. However, there is a lot to be thought of when one sees this play. It has a great story and one that many people will find they relate to. There are many back stories and several story lines, which at times can be hard to follow but the true arc of the play is family or lack there of and that is something anyone can understand. So as long as you are not offended easily and you want to strike a few chords within you, then head down to Stage 52 and delve deep into the reality of “A Family Thing”.