“More Dark” Theatre in the Dark (Part 2)
An Odyssey Production
This week in Theatre, by Rose Desena
Do you like the dark?
Do you like the theatre?
Whether you do or not, you might really like Theatre in the Dark: Part 2. This is more performance art than theatre. Yes, there is a story and a stage, but it is not at all like theatre.
The show is a series of vignettes that are presented to the audience all in the dark. Just like in Part 1, it’s dark. Real dark! So dark you can’t see the stage, the actors, or the person next to you. So all you can do is sit there and listen.
Ah, but that’s just it! You can only listen so your imagination gets to do some work. As you walk into the theatre to sit down, there is light and what you see is a barren stage with wire strung across it. I found that to be very intriguing. I discovered later that the actors use this wire as a guide to move around the stage.
Then the stage goes dark. It’s a little hard at first, and my mind and eyes moved slowly adjusting to it and getting comfortable. Then soft voices whispering phrases open the show: Dark Phrases.
A brief romantic light flashes giving us a quick glimpse of a loving couple (Kristina Lloyd and Terry Woodberry) embracing in “Dancing in the Dark.” The stage blacks out and goes right into “The Outpatient”, (written by Lynn Manning) It’s a wonderful story of strangers interacting with each other. The conversation captures us as the sounds of a dog barking and skateboarders help move this along.
Cary Thomson does a good job as the murderer in the Tell Tale Heart by Edgar Allen Poe. Ron Bottitta gets quite a laugh as he announces he is a 50ish year old woman, who is still a virgin and wants desperately to experience sex in “Forbidden Fire”.
I know Bottitta, and I was hysterical imagining him wearing a sexy black dress and blond wig telling us parts of this story, but in reality he was wearing jeans. Sorry Ron, I have a warped imagination, maybe that’s what I like about this dark stuff.
I just thought of something that will give you a real idea of what this is like. Find someone to read the next scene to you. Here is a helpful suggestion, if you’re in a café or at work, strangers can be very accommodating. You can just say, “Hey, I forgot my glasses would you mind reading this to me?”
Now, close your eyes and just listen. There is a low gnawing sound that starts to get louder, after a few seconds you realize it’s an animal munching on a bone. (Really think about this sound) The sound builds in your head and I visualized this cute little dog enjoying a large bone. Then we hear voices. A woman asks a man about the dog that is taking bites out of her body. The dog’s owner seems to be enjoying the whole scenario. The crunching sound and the woman’s voice continue throughout the story until…! You can open your eyes now that’s all you’re getting. I don’t want to ruin it for you but now you get the picture.
The sound was so annoying and so real it was if I could see it. I have to admit I was ready to scream, “Stop!” I know what you’re thinking and you are right, More Dark gets a little dark in more ways than one.
As the show moves on there is “Beep”, which is beautifully written by Sheila Callaghan. The sound beep, beep, beep is in perfect pitch and very real. “Beep” is about a man who is living on life support, and the beeping just drills into your head.
For the perverse, there is “Sex Collage and Sex Confessions”, and I liked the sex vignettes. There is also “Cool”, which is cool, not hip but chilling. It gave me goose bumps and I shivered.
I must congratulate John Zalewski, the sound designer, he did a brilliant job and his timing was spot on. I think directing was a real test of talent, and it had to be a nightmare, moving people around and blocking the stage in the dark. Ron Sossi (founder and director of the Odyssey) directs most of the pieces; however, this whole production was collaboration with the entire cast, with all of them pitching in as writers and directors making this exclusive to the Odyssey.
After the show one of the actors asked me, “Which show I preferred Part 1 or 2?” I can’t really say, but I do agree it has a lot more impact if you see it for the first time. In Part 2, the vignettes were a little longer and I found I drifted off a bit. Whether you have seen Part 1you will enjoy this one. It’s entertaining, different and makes for a good night out. There is a bar in the lobby with drinks and snacks at good prices. Alcohol is by donation. So get there a little early and enjoy the lobby scene, it’s always a buzz before the house opens.
Directors- Michael Arabian, David Bridel, Vesna Hocevar, Matthew McCray, Theo Sanders, Ron Sossi.
Cast- Alan Abelew, Marcia Battise, Ron Bottitta, Sheelagh Cullen, Jean Gilpin, Beth Hogan, Kristina Lloyd, Anna Nicholas, Cary Thompson, Terry Woodberry.
Conceived by Ron Sossi and Sally Essex-Lopresti
“More Dark” Theatre in the Dark
Odyssey Theatre, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd. Los Angeles, Ca. 90025
Runs thru- Dec 16th, Fridays and Saturdays @ 8pm, Sundays @ 2 pm
Some Wednesdays and Thursdays.
Please check web site for tickets: www.odysseytheatre.com
Special thanks to the James Irvine Foundation, for their financial support