Written by R. J. Colleary
This Week in Theater
Reviewed by Rose Desena
Happy face-Sad Face is an interesting concept: one story told two different ways. One is supposed to be “Sad” while the other “Happy.” Both are one acts, thank god. The Sad story opens the play with an attractive couple arguing over whether or not to have a baby. Emily Parks (Krizia Bajos) is the feisty Latin wife switching to Spanish whenever she is at a loss for words, which unfortunately is not too often. Krizia’s character was a little over the top and a real cliché. Her husband Jason Parks (Tom Christensen) is a philandering slime bag.
Meanwhile, Jason’s parents (Thomas F. Evans and Perry Smith) are in the next room, where they are trying to get up the courage to ask their son for money. After all, Jason is a successful insurance agent in a fancy house and seems to be pretty well off.
There is a knock at the door and in walks the insurance client from hell, Malcolm Summerall (Rob Locke). Poor Malcolm wants to off himself so his conniving daughter Clementine (Sarah Agor) can cash in on his life insurance. At least we are lead to believe that’s what he wants. The story moves on to reveal some dirty little secrets, betrayal and if they were all smart enough maybe, some murder thrown in.
We even have a corrupt cop (Eddie Alfano). There are a few interesting layers that unfold, but I don’t want to ruin it for those who might be crazy enough to see it. The first act “Sad” was amusing, but I was a little bored. It didn’t hit the mark of being sad and a few lines were actually funny so it threw me off.
So I waited with bated breath for the “Happy” act, hoping the play would redeem itself and give me something good to say. Nope, not a chance!
I was not bored in the second act; instead, I wanted to shoot myself. The characters are directed right over-the-top; as a matter of fact, they are so far over they fall from grace. The nagging wife nags more and more, only this time she is louder and uses more Spanish. The mother and father walk around in sexual role play outfits. The cop’s bad acting gets worse and the client from hell gets a little more indignant. The sweet conniving daughter is clearly more deranged. Everything gets completely zany.
Personally, I hate zany. Here comes the surprise that really blew me away: the actors move under a spot light and say their lines poetically, as if we were at some existential underground reading. This might have worked if it was a line or two but it was most of the act. Absolutely ridiculous!
A few of the actors were pretty good, Rob Locke and Tom Christensen were well cast and pulled off their characters but the rest just wore on me. It’s unfortunate that Sara Agor, who was really cute in the last act. couldn’t pull off the first character. She seemed awkward and uncomfortable. Krizia Bajos should stick with the Young and the Restless.
I am not sure if it was just the fault of the script. The play had a real creative aspect to it, but the outcome was a disaster. I think the direction just went too far over the top in an attempt to make a mediocre 46 minute play an interesting 95 minute play. R.J. Colleary also wrote “Cannibals”, which was also a crazy show but was just staged much better than this. If you must see this play, you will be taking a chance that your happy face might end up being a really sad face. You might walk away exhausted from it, as I did. The guest I brought with me just kept hitting his head saying, “What was that?”
On a positive note the stage set , designed by Keiko Moreno, was the star of the show. Very nice!
Happy Face-Sad face
A world Premiere Comedy/ Drama
Written by R. J. Colleary
Directed by Kathleen Rubin
Cast: Tom Christensen, Krizia Bajos, Thomas F Evens, Perry Smith, Rob Locke, Eddie Alfano, Sara Danielle Agor.
Runs, Friday and Saturday at 8pm Sunday 3pm through February 23rd
The Elephant Lillian Theater
6322 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles Ca. 90038
Reservation: 323 960 7770