This week in Theater
Written by John Pollono
Review by Rose Desena
John Pollono, award winner for “Small Engine Repair,” does it again with another brilliant play that depicts the trials and tribulations of teenage girls, family history, mistakes one makes and deep-rooted anger that we seem to hold on to until it’s all we have.
In Lost Girls, he adds the dynamic of a stressed-out single mother who is forced to take a look at her own mistakes and misfortunes. Maggie (Jennifer Pollono) is under constant pressure, raising a teenager alone, trying to keep up with the financial obligations of a home and helping out her mother who is also their house mate. Her income, limited by a mediocre job and an unsympathetic boss just furthers her struggles, add deep seeded anger towards her bad chooses she seems to make consistently; you have a woman on the verge.
Maggie’s old Honda is missing from the driveway. Their small town in New Hampshire is in the middle of a brutal snow storm, and her boss wants her at work a.s.a.p. Her ex-husband who is a cop stops by to take the report even though he was off duty, which would be nice but his relationship with Maggie is less than amicable, and he happens to have his new wife with him. Oh boy, not pretty.
Pollono does an outstanding job at keeping the audience captive by mounting anticipation. What I truly love about his last play as with Lost Girls is he keeps surprising you, never letting things fall into an overly predictable territory. He sincerely hits home when it comes to examining families pushed under, exploring personal and emotional pressure and growth.
As always, the Rogue Machine has great sets, and this one is fantastic thanks to David Mauer. Jeff Mclaughlin (Lighting) pulls some interesting effects that move us through the scene changes. John Perrin Flynn directs most of his talented actors with precision; Jonathan Lipnicki (“Jerry Maguire”) is adorable and works very well with troubled runaway Erica (Ann Theoni DiGiovanni). Peggy Dunne (Grandma) and Kirsten Kollender (the new wife) are stellar as the protagonists.
The only flaw for me was Jennifer Pollono who’s over-the-top acting was distracting and at times monotonous. I understand she was exposing a hostile woman full of rage, but it seemed one-note and would have worked better had her frustrations been allowed to build. I think it would have been more effective if her character and the source of her anger built slowly, as the story grew more intense. Instead, she emptied the emotional gun, firing all the bullets from the get go which left her with a flat character arc that seemed more nervous and scared than deeply damaged and angry. She also played a similar exasperated character in Dirty Filthy Love Story, but it worked better in that production. I am very surprised Flynn didn’t see it, but maybe that’s what he was going for.
Nevertheless, don’t let that deter you. It’s an excellent production, and I think you will find the script as compelling as I did, including moments of genuine humor, which worked to soften the emotional edges.
As always, the Rouge Machine has a lot going on in the lobby pre show, so get there a little early and enjoy the buzz as well as a snack or a glass of wine from one of their chatty bar tenders.
Saturdays @ 5pm, Sundays @7pm, Mondays @8pm Closes Nov.4th
Written by: John Pollono
Director: John Perrin Flynn
Cast: Joshua Bitton, Ann Theoni DiGiovanni, Peggy Dunne, Kirsten Kollender, Jonathan Lipnicki, Jennifer Pollono.
The Rogue Machine
5041 Pico Blvd. Los Angeles Ca, 90019
Check site for info, www.roguemachinetheater.com