So, I went to see Defending Against Eros: Three One Act Plays at the Complex, one of the plays in the Hollywood Fringe Festival.
The whole premise of this series of productions was that each playwright had to write a one act play based on Adolphe William Bouguereau‘s painting A Young Girl Defending Herself Against Eros. The painting is beautiful and I personally find inspiration to write from seeing paintings, so I thought I’d go so this show.
The show didn’t live up to the hype that I created in my own head. The first play in this series is Eros, written by Bryy Miller and directed by Gwendolyn Dreyer. It features four greek gods visiting earth to view this painting.
It was quite bad.
The actors were lackluster and didn’t know their lines, dropping their speech and back tracking as they remembered their words. The script itself seemed phony, with jokes that didn’t work and filling in the dialog with too much exposition about each individual god. Furthermore, there’s no goal, no driving force that carries the plot along. The direction was OK and the costume design added a delightful touch with having an owl-print t-shirt on Athena and Dionysus wore a wine-colored silk shirt.
The second one act was Interrogation, written by Nicholas Doan and directed by Joshua Grant. This play features two police detectives interrogating a Suspect for killing 8 people on the 3rd Street Promenade with arrows. This production worked better for me than Eros, but still just didn’t do it for me. The script itself was fairly well done, working with issues of love and acknowledging that you are indeed worthy of love. The direction didn’t really work for me, with the actors just kind of standing there reciting their lines and no sense of suspense as you watch this crime-drama play out. The acting was fairly two dimensional, but a vast improvement than the first play. There were only a few dropped lines, but then again one dropped line that is noticed by the audience is too many.
Just at this point, I was honestly wishing I had sat next to the aisle so I could ninja my way out. Then the last play, CODA, performed, at it was good. Really good.
CODA, written by Cynthia Glucksman and directed by Vincent Tula, is about four people in a Co-Dependency Anonymous (CODA) meeting. The four characters, Brian (Scott Cooper), Craig (John Cragen), Diana (Nancy Solomons) and Jillian (Cady Zuckerman) sit on chairs, surrounded by the items which drive them in life. As the play unfolds, Cynthia Glucksman bends time and space. Each character is talking about the same co-dependent relationship, some during the relationship and others years later. It does a great job of working in the painting by focusing on the theme of wanting a love so badly, yet forcing it away because it’s unhealthy.
The entire cast did a great job and the direction was spot on, but I do have to single out Cady Zuckerman. She was simply brilliant and being a young actress I am excited to see how her career grows.
The house manager wasn’t bad, but pretty inexperienced. Not too friendly greeting the patrons, but not rude. She ushered guests in late, which really did disturb everyone else.
The directors were actually standoffish. It’s no that I introduced myself or anything, but they didn’t seem happy to have people in the audience. The crowd was pretty big, but I think it was mostly people they knew. Young directors: if someone you don’t know has paid money to see your show, please be nice to them. Those are the people you want to see.
Both Eros and Interrogation really could’ve benefited from a few more re-writes and more rehearsal time. The premise was there for both of them, but the productions really lacked. CODA, as I mentioned, was really good. If you see it being produced near you do yourself a favor and see it.
The Complex is kind of a nice space. It’s several, maybe a half dozen, theatres in one building. That’s nice because you could, hypothetically, go there as a destination and find a show to see. The spaces themselves are cramped and stuff like concessions and bathrooms that won’t get you pregnant are non-existent.