This Week In Theatre
Written by Deanna Jent
Reviews by Rose Desena
I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to have a child who is hard to love. Deanna Jent (writer) explores this and much more in her script “Falling”.
Jent, a real-life mother of a severely autistic child, describes a day in her life as she battles to keep her child out of a institutionalized home take care of herself and the rest of her family.
Josh (Matt Little) as the autistic child will strike you hard as he plays on your every emotion. You will fear him, hate him, want to help him and at last, want to love him.
Tami, his mom, (Anna Khaja) struggles day-to-day and sacrifices herself to keep Josh safe. She accepts every part of him unconditionally. Even when Josh’s violent episodes put her in danger, she moves through it with skill as if it is just a normal everyday occurrence which unfortunately it is.
Karen Landry (Sue) is her mother-in-law visiting while her home is being renovated. Having never been exposed to Josh for any length of time, she is shocked at the difficulties the family struggles with and at the same time horrified. As an outsider to the affliction, she was uneducated, confused and a little unsympathetic, which I think is a normal reaction to anyone unfamiliar.
Tara Windley (Lisa) is Josh’s sister and as a teenager, her life has been affected as well. Fearful of his rages and unable to live harmoniously in a functioning household, she is also a victim in a victimless situation.
Matthew Elkins (Bill), the father and husband, is distraught and constantly at odds with Tami about putting him in a group home. He wants a normal marriage and a wife who is not exhausted and run down from the fight. He is sympathetic to their daughter and understands the sacrifices she is forced to make. It’s as if the family is under siege plotting and planning every move as if it were a matter of survival. They are isolated and separated from friends and a social life.
We experience one day; it’s just a day like any other day only their day is almost never without incident. I can’t imagine how difficult this is on a parent and the other family members. I am sure they both questioned their strength and the ability to continue.
Jent wrote this from her own experience, and was present for some of the rehearsals and assisted the cast along with a whole host of other professionals who helped in keeping this as real as possible.
The cast also did extensive research on autism and its patterns. It definitely showed in the stellar performances. They were excellent and a joy to watch. I did an interview with Jent, you can read it at: http://www.thelosangelespost.org/falling-rogue-machine/
I was very reluctant to see this play; I knew it would be a hard watch and most likely make me cry, which it did. However, with one of my favorite directors at the helm, Elina de Santos and Matthew Elkins, who I adored in “A Bright New Boise, I had to take a chance. It was everything I expected. Elina is a true master. I love the way she works the whole stage, and she is amazing at getting her actors to give her brilliant results, although I think, this excellent ensemble of actors lightened that load. Heck, I think she could make me look good on stage. Elina ’s style commands her signature sets, which are large and take over the entire stage, sometimes half the theater. The set was brilliant thanks to the Stephanie Kerley Schwartz.
I have never had children; I almost felt guilty that my life is so easy. Although there are many hypothetical reasons why a child gets autism but so far nothing has been noted as the one reason. It seems to be random, and it could happen to anyone.
I had very few words to say to Jent after the show, I was so speechless. I just wanted to hug her and thank her for being such a decent person. The Rogue Machine should be commended for taking this project on. It’s a real education. Go see it! If you have children give them a big hug just for being who they are.
Written by Deanna Jent
Directed by Elina de Santos
Cast: Matthew Elkins, Anna Khaja, Karen Landry, Matt Little, Tara Windley,
Runs: 8pm Fridays and Saturdays, 3pm Sundays through December 1, 2013
Special “Speaker Series” Oct 13th – Nov 10th after Sunday performances,
with autistic musicians providing pre-show music
The Rogue MachineTheater
5041 Pico Blvd., LA, CA 90019
Tickets are $30
For Reservations: 855-585-5185 or www.roguemachinetheatre.com