This week in Theater
by Dale Griffith Stamos
Review by Rose Desena
Judith Knight (Michelle Danner) is a celebrity psychic who needs help writing her memoirs. Seeking publicity, she asks Teresa O’ Neill (Jane Hajduk), a hard-nosed, cynical investigative reporter, to tell her story. Judith claims she is the real thing, and righteously honest in helping people contact their loved ones from the depths of the graves.
She considers herself a freak of nature; someone who is born with a gift. O ‘Neill is not only a skeptic but she is out to prove the psychic is nothing more than a carnival act. This creates a polar conflict particularly when the story adds Alex Rimbaud (Rob Estes) to the mix.
Alex is a longtime friend of the investigative reporter, who also wants to expose Judith. Alex has pegged Judith as a con-artist and fake, and he plans on using his television program to expose her.
Rimbaud and O’Neill were lovers in college, and their old flame is rekindled, He is concerned about the growing relationship between Judith and Teresa. Judith, as the psychic, is determined to help Teresa come to terms with a deep, dark secret that lurks around the recent death of her farther. Estes is only interested in proving himself right for the sake of his TV viewers and getting back the women he once let slip away. Dale Griffith Stamos, explores grief and guilt in an interesting tale that allows the characters to dig deep into their intellectual side of their acting brain.
Rob Estes and Jane Hajduk are great together. They really brighten the stage with their acting skill and strong stage presence. Estes commands your attention with his perfect pitched stage voice while Hajduk pulls out her confusion and frustration she feels as the conflicted reporter with great ease.
To my disappointment Michelle Danner, a seasoned thespian, seemed to be struggling and was no match for her co-actors. I don’t know if some of her choices were directional or were simply staged for her own comfort but her constant pacing and fidgeting on stage with props like tea sets, wine glasses and cupcakes was very distracting to watch and did little for her stage presence. I am surprised an accomplished director like Deborah La vine did not see that. It was as if Danner was co-directing from the stage. I know she teaches and directs so maybe it was difficult for her to hand over the reins.
That being said, this is a great script and it’s a decent enough production that I am comfortable recommending it. The Edgemare is a pleasant theater with a good bar next door; its Santa Monica location makes it a good choice for Westsiders.
Photo Credit: Sandis Babauskis
Writer: Dale Griffith Stamos
Director: Deborah La Vine
Cast: Rob Estes, Jane Hajduk, Michelle Danner
Edgemar Center for the Arts, 2437 Main Street,
Santa Monica Ca. 90405
Runs Friday/ Saturday 8pm Sunday 5pm through June 23rd but please check for a few blackout dates.