by RS Bailey
Aftershocks, which closes the Lyric Theatre’s 2012 season, is the story of two 50 year old women, who escape their lives in Cleveland to fulfill a dream of being in the movies in Hollywood. The two best friends wind up living in a trailer in Valencia, where they scrape by, making a meager living working as extras in the movies. It beats life with the violent, drunken husbands they left behind.
Daphne, the most star struck of the two, dreams of being a star while Olive keeps the practical aspects of their life together. Then one morning a stranger appears on their doorstep. It turns out to be, Beth, the illegitimate daughter Daphne had when she was 17, a little incident she never mentioned to Olive. And so begins to unwind what turns out to be an interesting but predictable story about what it means to be “family” even through, according to the program notes it is about adoption.
The cast does their best with what are essentially characters written with only a modicum of depth. Dorrie Braun as Daphne spends most of her time portraying a bad actress acting out imaginary scenes with her favorite movie stars. It is a thankless task to ask anyone to play a bad actress even in the name of humor. Thankfully Braun brings home a solid performance when the playwright allows the character to become honest with herself. Julia Silverman turns in the best performance of the evening as Olive, the level headed pal who is helping her closest friend fulfill her lifelong fantasy of movie stardom. She gives Olive believable nuances and levels that lead her to question the validity of a lifelong friendship. Summer Harlow gives Beth a somewhat naïve quality as the young woman seeking the truth while shrouding her true intentions.
All that being said, Doug Haverty’s “revised” script holds no surprises and certainly nothing shocking. He throws up huge literary road signs that point the way to the end of each act. Ultimately it seems as if the playwright is working against the actors by exposing the background to the story well into the second act. His attempt to have Daphne dramatize life with her husband in Cleveland as a character playing a scene in a film is ultimately unsuccessful, leaving the play with a weak climax. Also very questionable is the attitude presented about women having children out of wedlock in 1980. The mores seem to fit 1960 at best.
JC Gafford has ably directed making full use of the trailer and front yard often running multiple actions simultaneously and letting us see that everyone hears everything in a trailer park. The production values; lighting design by Ryan Schull, costume design by Hunter Wells, and sound design by Craig Jessen, are solid across the board. Set design is not credited in program.
Aftershocks continues through June 16
Friday and Saturday evenings at 8:00.
Tickets are $20 and may be purchased at www.plays411.com/aftershocks, www.LAStageAlliance.com, www.Goldstar.com,or by calling (323) 960-1055.
The Lyric Theatre is located at 520 N. La Brea Avenue in Hollywood (between Rosewood and Clinton.) Street parking is available.