This week in Theatre
Review by Rose Desena
I have fond affection for the The Eclectic Company Theatre; they’re a good group of dedicated stage crew and thespians. Normally, their script selection is decent, and they take chances running new work, which in my book means a lot. Their stage sets are professional and use the space they have very well.
However, the current production is unfortunately very disappointing. It was uninspired from the start. Definitely not up to their usual standards.
The first scene opens with an elderly man in a wheelchair, (Grandfather) and, based on his acting, I was not quite sure if he was supposed to be suffering from Alzheimer’s or stage fright. His granddaughter (Laura Michl) enters unannounced after a 7 year absence, which should have startled him since his back was turned and he was supposed to be sleeping. Instead, he acted as if he was waiting for her with quick senseless banter that lacked cohesiveness. The conversation, rapidly moving back and forth between them, was meant to be endearing and funny but it never quite hit the mark.
The story is simply about reconciliation between a young woman and her father. Both father and daughter share an unusual bond: they are brilliant with numbers. Interesting plot point but poorly used or maybe just badly executed.
Mary (daughter) used her talent for good while Dad (Edmund Wyson) decided his time would be better spent at the tables in Las Vegas. There were some references to the number seven that are never really explained. Mary not only comes home to rekindle the relationship with dear old dad, she also wants him to meet her loser fiancé, and, of course, her dad has to try to talk some sense into her. There are a few good surprises that pop up like an unknown brother (Tyler Derench) and a floozy girlfriend (C. Ashleigh Caldwell) but they just make it worse. They are cartoonish characters that were taken too far over the top.
The actors seem to lack any sort of stage presence or emotion. For instance, when the father sees his daughter, he says in a flat dead tone, “What are you doing here?” Really? Come on! No emotion, blank, dead, no hug or at the very least “What in the hell are you doing here!” The line was weak, and Wyson might as well have been dead because his delivery certainly was.
It could have been a particularly bad night because not only was the acting off but they kept stumbling over their lines. This happened more than once, and instead of moving on, they did the unthinkable, and repeated the line. Yikes! I couldn’t figure out if some of the choices were directional, or if it was just lack of rehearsal time by the whole ensemble. It seemed as if the actors forgot to engage with each other. They spat out their lines like they were reciting at a reading. It made me crazy.
Paul North, the author, should use this as a workshop. In my opinion, it was not ready for the stage; it was very predictable, full of clichés and lacked depth. It has some funny lines but they seem to get lost.
Hopefully, the performances will get a little better with time. It might have been suffering from the holiday break blues. Otherwise, I say to The Eclectic Company Theatre and Paul North, “You can’t win them all and better luck next time.”
The World Premiere engagement of
The Gambler’s Daughter
by Paul North
Director: Brian E. Smith
Cast: John Dickey, Laura Michl, Edmond Wyson, Tyler Derench,
C. Ashleigh Caldwell, J. R. Mangels, John Dickey.
The Eclectic Company Theatre
5312 Laurel Canyon Blvd.
Valley Village, Ca.