|3 Views of the Same Object|
This show truly is ,as advertised " a fantastical Odyssey through the American Mindscape"
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Actress/Comedienne Sandy Brown (Hannah Montana, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Tyler Perry's House of Payne, Comics Unleashed) in her historical One-Woman show "Oh, Yes She Did!", blazes the stage "breathing-to-life" powerful legacies of bold Black Women Pioneers whose triumphs over challenges changed the course of American History through the centuries.
Blending drama, humor, music, dance, and multi-media, "Oh Yes She Did!" is a theatrical ride. Prepare to experience powerful events of Revolutionary War Slave-Poet Phillis Wheatley, runaway with Harriet Tubman on the Underground Railroad, meet World's First Woman Self-made Millionaire-Suffragette Madame CJ Walker, Global Superstar & War-Spy Josephine Baker, Backstage with Jazz Legend Billie Holiday, Bus-Ride with Rosa Parks, protest with activist Angela Davis, campaign with First Democrat Woman Presidential Candidate Shirley Chisholm.
Sandy Brown's "Oh, Yes She Did" is embraced by audiences, campuses, critics, and Community Leaders as a vibrant and exciting new cultural treasure blossoming in the heart of Los Angeles. Please join us!
"Oh, Yes She Did"
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Original scripts, new talent, some performance, some readings, some fundraisers -all made possible by your presence and a small donation. Take a chance. Every Tues is unique.
Each produced for very different results.
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Mar 27: ALAP presents
An Evening With
Robert Patrick $7
April 3: "Edward's Story"
An Evening with Edward Tillman
April 10: event cancelled
Speak to the King is one man's journey to Speak to the king. He must quell the wars in his mind; lift the veil of deception, while battling impatience and the time limit he's given God. Speak to the King is a rediscovery of one's destiny and a testament to the power of faith. "You have to face it. You can't run from it, you face it."
Directed by JAMES JAMES
Written by William Catlett
Produce by William Catlett and Edwin Walker
-- April 24: "No Chance In Hell"
Absolute Final Performance
L.A. Review: 'The New Electric Ballroom'
Rogue Machine at Theatre/Theater
Reviewed by Neal Weaver
June 18, 2012
Irish playwright Enda Walsh's one-act drama is very Irish, very surreal, and very bleak-and finally rather mysterious.
Three sisters live in a house in an isolated fishing village on the west coast of Ireland. Breda (Lisa Pelikan) and Clara (Casey Kramer) are middle-aged; the youngest, Ada (Betsy Zajko), is in her 20s. Ada has a job as a bookkeeper in the local fish-packing plant, but Breda and Clara never go out. The only outsider who ever comes in is Patsy (Tim Cummings), a local fishmonger who's fascinated by the sisters and continually brings them fish as a pretext to visit (three times in the course of an afternoon). He longs to be invited to join them, and regales them with local gossip, but to no avail.
The sisters send Patsy on his way and indulge in a curious ritual in which they dress in the clothes of their youth and reminisce about their younger days, when they were romantically obsessed with the Roller Royle, the rocker at the Electric Ballroom. Clara had no chance with him, while "bad girl Breda" fell in love with him. But their affair remained unconsummated when he took off after another girl. Eventually Breda decides that Patsy could be a suitor for Ada. She orders him to remove his clothes, Clara scrubs him down, and they dress him in a shiny Roller Royle suit. Inevitably the results are not what they hoped for.
Walsh's play is an elegiac tale of sexual frustration and blighted lives, relieved only by the lyrical, eloquent language in the prose arias and the rich local color. Director John Perrin Flynn has cast the play beautifully; all four performances are terrific. Pelikan's Breda is a domineering authoritarian, but she reveals hints of madness and glimmerings of the lusty girl she once was. Kramer's Clara is more basic, and with her losses long behind her, she asks only for tea and a bit of Breda's sponge cake. Zajko's Ada is still a young woman with hopes of escape, however unlikely. Cummings' Patsy is a volatile young man, seething so much with frustrated desire that he occasionally breaks out into moments of violence-and even bursts into a tune once sung by the Roller Royle.
Designer Stephanie Kerley Schwartz provides the kitchen, its cupboards filled with nothing but digestive biscuits, where the action-and inaction-plays itself out.
Presented by Rogue Machine at Theatre/Theater, 5041 Pico Blvd., L.A., June 16July 29. Sat., 5 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; Mon., 8 p.m. (No performances Mon., June 25, or Mon., July 23.) (855) 585-5185 or www.roguemachinetheatre.com.
"The New Electric Ballroom"
By Charles McNulty, Los Angeles Times Theater Critic
June 20, 2012
Enda Walsh's "The New Electric Ballroom" has returned to Los Angeles in a Rogue Machine production directed by John Perrin Flynn at Theatre/Theater. The play is rather hermetic in a neo-Beckettian fashion, and I don't think I fully appreciated it when the beautifully acted Druid Ireland production was presented by UCLA Live in 2009 along with its companion piece "The Walworth Farce," which I liked a good deal more.
Some plays require repeated exposures before their secret music can be discerned. And it was my hope that the intimacy of a pocket theater might provide direct access to a work that replays an old family trauma as though it were a ritualized game.
"The New Electric Ballroom" will probably never be the most resonant play for me by Walsh, one of Ireland's most original dramatic voices, with a verbal dexterity to rival that of any English language playwright working today. But Flynn's staging throbs with an exquisite vulnerability even when the mood of the play's three sisters holed up in a small cottage in a backwater fishing village grows increasingly embittered.
There's something theatrically significant about the number three when it comes to siblings, as Chekhov famously intuited. Conflicts and alliances are more dynamic when triangular. And the actresses taking on these roles in this Rogue Machine offering seem as though they've inhabited this cramped world since birth.
As the two older sisters, Lisa Pelikan's Breda, pinched with anger, eyes pooling with old sorrow, and Casey Kramer's Clara, fleshy, sweetly bovine, a soft heart stunned by cruelty, are by turns heartbreaking and exasperating as they reenact a fateful sequence of events at the titular dance hall in which romantic fantasy turned into humiliating nightmare.
Betsy Zajko's Ada, not quite ready at 40 to resign herself to a narrative with an unhappy ending, reveals the anguish of a woman who can't tell if she's directing her life script or serving as a puppet in her family's obsessive mythology.
Tim Cummings' Patsy, a fishmonger with a slow wit and galumphing tread, returns to the cottage with the changing tide to dump off a new batch of fish and to occasionally take on a role in the sisters' deranged pantomime. Fortunately, the suit that hangs on the wall of scenic designer Stephanie Kerley Schwartz's cleverly compact set fits him perfectly, and when the need arises he can even croon a tune like a provincial Elvis in the old glory days of the New Electric Ballroom.
"By their nature people are talkers," Breda says at the start of the play. "You can deny that. You could but you'd be affirming what you're trying to argue against and what would the point of that be?"
For these sisters, "the breath and the word are interchangeable," part and parcel of human survival. They enact the past, burdensome as it is, to keep an even scarier emptiness at bay. Like Beckett, Walsh derives comfort from an acceptance of the existential void. The somber vaudevilles his characters compulsively return to aren't always easy to follow, but the emotion behind their theatrical expression is made crystal clear in this haunting production.
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Eye Spy LA
Review: LA Times CRITIC'S CHOICE
'Three Views of the Same Object' a memorable experience
· Anne Gee Byrd and Allan Miller in "Three Views of the Same Object" (photo John Flynn )
"I feel like I'm in an airplane, looking down on my life." That's a fair assessment of "Three Views of the Same Object" in its impressive Rogue Machine production. Despite the odd tonal blip and some new-play quirks, Henry Murray's tripartite study of an aging couple's suicide pact is fascinating, haunting and certain to provoke post-show conversation.
Meet Poppy and Jesse, a long-married academic pair who've hit a wall. Both agreed that they would check out early when unable to handle daily existence. Yet life and death, let alone love, are seldom that clear-cut, not least for senior citizens in 21st century America.
A Woodward/Newman award winner at the Bloomington Playwright's Project in 2011, from which Murray has revised his script, "Three Views" explores Poppy and Jesse's situation through multiple actors and outcomes that traverse designer Stephanie Kerley Schwartz's suave set with accelerating intensity.
Co-directed by John Perrin Flynn, Brett Aune and Hollace Starr, the raw yet poetic text has its flaws. The unseen daughter could stand clarifying, a supporting character's sexuality feels arbitrary, and the structure, less "Rashomon" than Rorschach, doesn't always engender easy narrative flow. Yet the net effect is overwhelming.
That goes triple for the players, a formidable cast that features some of the best character actors in town. The always amazing Anne Gee Byrd and ever-authoritative Allan Miller carry one through-line; a layered K Callan and understated Shelly Kurtz another; the redoubtable Nancy Linehan Charles a third. Along with Catherine Carlen, whose nuanced performance trumps her underwritten role, they make "Three Views," however difficult, a vivid, memorable experience.
Hollywood Reporter:Three Views of the Same Object:
The Bottom Line
Probing examination of three possible outcomes of a spousal suicide pact reveals many moving insights into our negotiations with death, with solicitude for both those who choose to terminate and those who are left behind.
Rogue Machine Theatre (runs through Nov. 4)
Ann Gee Byrd, K Callan, Catherine Carlen, Nancy Linehan Charles, Shelly Kurtz, Allan Miller
John Perrin Flynn, Brett Aune, Hollace Starr
An older couple and a terminal illness are depicted kaleidoscopically, with three different scenarios playing out for the husband and wife.
Having just seen Michael Haneke's film Amour, I was somewhat wary about attending another project about an older couple facing terminal illness. Three Views of the Same Object approaches the same subject matter more kaleidoscopically, imagining three different scenarios for the same couple playing out simultaneously, as the action flows among three different actresses playing the role of the wife, Jesse, and two actors playing the husband, Poppy.
In one, Nancy Linehan Charles as Jesse is embittered by her mate's decision to commit suicide and leave her behind alone. In another, Anne Gee Byrd and Allan Miller debate and bicker over the finer pros and cons of the choices they face (or avoid). In the third, K Callan and Shelly Kurtz find mutual support in the primacy of their bond over all other considerations. Threading through all three narratives is friend and caretaker Mrs. Widkin (Catherine Carlen), who subtly plays the role as three distinct people, mirroring the audience's varying responses to each version of the couple.
Sensitively written and even more delicately directed, the intricate yet always accessible piece provokes a complex response to its central moral dilemma, as each view of the situation becomes vividly believable in the hands of these actors whose existence in the moment is unflaggingly palpable. Byrd adds yet another memorable creation to her gallery of cherishable performances over the last few years, her Jesse sardonic and chimerical, capable of suggesting both emotional distance and rich caring with the same gestures. Miller complements her with his offhand, effortless projection of the thoughtfulness behind his behavior, and Charles etches her portrait of a soul abandoned with acid anger.
While the play's structure and conception may be somewhat conventionally modern, its strategy of mustering our emotional consideration of its issues in all the contradictory complexity that the subject deserves affords us our own evolving choices in evaluating those of the characters. It is never easy to contemplate the prospect of death, and if art can bring even the passing semblance of enhanced clarity, it has achieved something meaningful.
Playwright Henry Murray previously premiered his plays Treefall and Monkey Adored at Rogue Machine Theatre and this piece had been developed there as well, but after the script won the Joanne Woodward/Paul Newman Drama Award for 2011-2012, a prior production was mounted in Bloomington, Indiana, and then further revised for this "co-world premiere." While not as original or distinctive as the earlier plays, Three Views of the Same Object demonstrates a stretching of his talent to encompass a larger range of themes.
Cast: Ann Gee Byrd, K Callan, Catherine Carlen, Nancy Linehan Charles, Shelly Kurtz, Allan Miller
Playwright: Henry Murray
Director: John Perrin Flynn, Brett Aune & Hollace Starr
Three Directors Assume Command of Three Views
by Julio Martinez | September 14, 2012
Henry Murray's Three Views of the Same Object, at Rogue Machine, is now being staged by John Perrin Flynn, Hollace Starr and Brett Aune, after original director David Anspaugh left a week ago, in the wake of "creative differences".Playwright Henry Murray has had a happy relationship with Pico Blvd-based Rogue Machine, the multi-award-winning stage company, founded by John Perrin Flynn. The premieres of two Murray plays took place here - Treefall (2009), selected as one of the 10 best plays of the year by Steven Leigh Morris of LA Weekly, and Monkey Adored (2011). His third Rogue collaboration, Three Views of the Same Object. makes its West Coast debut at Rogue this Saturday, directed by Flynn, co-staged by Hollace Starr and Brett Aune. This trio replaces previously announced award-winning film/stage director David Anspaugh, who left the production last week.
"There is kind of an interesting story behind all this," Murray affirms. "I am a playwright-in-residence at Rogue, and through 2011 I was developing Three Views with the plan to have the world premiere of the play produced at the Rogue this year. Well, along the way I submitted the script for a Woodward/Newman Award. It won and that kind of changed things."
It certainly did. The Woodward/Newman Award is attached to a premiere staging of the winning work at the Woodward/Newman host company, The Bloomington PlaywrightsProject in Bloomington, Indiana. This took place last April 6-21, directed by Dina Epshteyn. "David Anspaugh was supposed to direct the production at Bloomington Playwrights Project, but he had a scheduling conflict and had to step down," says Murray. "But when John put it on the Rogue schedule and David was available, I was delighted that he would be able to do it."
Let's now harken back to an intriguing quote from an article Murray wrote for LA STAGE Times in 2010: "If the director and playwright don't see the same thing, then the playwright needs to use this new clarity to rewrite, and the director needs to use this new clarity to adjust his or her vision - or they both need to realize this isn't a good partnership. The sooner the better."
"I guess that is fairly accurate to the situation with this play," says Murray. "David is so talented, a good-hearted man whom I like very much and a great director to work with. It really just came down to 'artistic differences' and it was better for both of us to end the process. Fortunately, the transition was seamless, and we are right on schedule to open."
"I guess this is where I come into the process," Flynn says with a chuckle. "Of course there is a lot of catch-up when you come into a production that is going to open in a week. It is not an ideal situation. But one of the things that was helpful was my history with this play. I had developed this piece sort of as Henry's dramaturge for over a year. I was prettyfamiliar with the script, and I was producing it. I was involved in all the casting of the production, and I had a vision for the work."
According to a description provided by the playwright and used by the theater company in its promotions, "Three Views of the Same Object is the story of enduring love. It is the kind of love, battered and bruised, that somehow manages to survive to the end of life. Jesse and Poppy have made a suicide pact against the time when their bodies deteriorate to the point when they lose control over their destinies. But life has thrown them a curveso what does this mean for the pact? Three Views of the Same Object explores three different outcomes to this dilemma. It's a story about aging in America."
K Callan and Shelly Kurtz
Murray continues, "By telling three stories that are interwoven simultaneously, the characters are exactly the same. It is one couple, played by six different actors. It is all there on view that these individual representations have made different choices in life and so the single story comes to three different outcomes."
Murray just laughs when I ask if each of the three story lines is being staged by each of the three directors. "That's good," he chortles. "I like that. That would be an interesting thing to do for another production. Maybe I'll do that sometime. Actually, for this work, it is more of a team effort."
Both Aune and Starr have been involved in the production from the beginning. Aune served as artistic director of HorseChart Theatre Company in Denver, Colorado for six seasons, producing more than 20 shows including a month-long new works festival. Starr was featured as a thesp in Rogue productions of MilkMilkLemonade and Yard Sale Signs and co-helms an original play festival at Antelope Valley College.
"Hollace was actually a cast member of Three Views, performing in a small roll that has been cut from the play," says Murray. "She was playing the role of a problematic daughter who is unable to support herself. The character still impacts the play with a few phone calls here and there, but we decided she doesn't need to be a physical presence on stage. And Hollis has been serving as an assistant director right from the beginning and has stayed with the production."
"The truth is, I needed help," interjects Flynn. "I couldn't do everything myself with one week's notice. "You know, I am already in rehearsal as a director for the next play at the Rogue, which is A Bright New Boise by Samuel Hunter. It won the Obie last year. So, of course I am excited about that. At the same time, I am so excited to be creatively involved in Three Views. It is such a wonderful play and, boy, do we have an all-star cast."
Catherine Carlen and Nancy Linehan Charles
That might be an understatement. The ensemble for Three Views of the Same Object reads like a page from a Who's Who of the LA stage community. For the sake of bringing this article in at less than novella length, I am forgoing listingtheir innumerable credits, awards and honors. The cast includes Anne Gee Byrd, K Callan, Catherine Carlen, Nancy Linehan Charles, Shelly Kurtz and Allan Miller.
"I couldn't be in a better situation than I have with the Rogue," Murray affirms. "The talent in this place is so amazing. Aside from being a playwright-in-residence, I have initiated a play development program within the Rogue. We hope to have eight plays in development that we can consider for next season.."
Three Views of the Same Object, Rogue Machine, 5041 Pico Blvd., LA 90019. Opens September 15. Plays Fri- Sat. 8 pm and Sunday at 3 pm. Through October 28. Tickets: $30. www.roguemachinetheatre.com. 855-585-5185.
Winning the prestigious Woodward/Newman Award for best play, while being developed at Rogue Machine for their 2012 season, brought with it a fully funded production mounted at the Bloomington Play Project in Indiana. It turned out to be one of their most successful projects to date. A Holland New Voices Award came shortly afterwards, and now playwright Henry Murray is ready for its close-up at Rogue Machine, known for staging new works. This will be a World Co-Premiere in one of the country's most vibrant cities for new plays, Los Angeles.
THREE VIEWS OF THE SAME OBJECT is the story of enduring love. It is the kind of love, battered and bruised, that somehow manages to survive to the end of life. Jesse and Poppy have made a suicide pact, but life has thrown them a curveso what does this mean for the pact? Three Views of the Same Object explores three different outcomes to this dilemma. It's a story about aging in America.
THREE VIEWS OF THE SAME OBJECT runs Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 PM, Sundays at 3:00 PM through October 28, 2012. ROGUE MACHINE is located at 5041 Pico Blvd., LA, CA 90019. Tickets are $30. Reserve your seats by calling 855-585-5185 or visiting www.roguemachinetheatre.com
Henry Murray (Playwright) first garnered critical acclaim at Rogue Machine when the world premiere of his play Treefall was presented in 2009. LA Weekly included it as one of the ten best plays for that season, and it is now being taught in the MFA playwriting program at the University of Southern California, with over five regional productions. His plays Down For The Count and Dog Is Dead were both finalists for the Heideman Award at The Actors Theatre of Louisville. Monkey Adored was honored at the Kennedy Center's Page To Stage readings, and subsequently tapped by the Inkwell Theater in Washington D.C. for a workshop, before making its World Premiere debut at Rogue Machine. Annotations In The Book Of Love is another of Murray's newer works, now slated for production. Henry Murray is author of numerous poems and short stories. He is a member of The Actors Studio West Playwrights Unit, The Dramatist Guild of America, The Alliance of Los Angeles Playwrights. While being developed at Rogue Machine, Three Views Of The Same Object won the Woodward/Newman Drama Award and the Holland New Voices Award.
John Perrin Flynn (Director) launched this years productions of The New Electric Ballroom (director) by Enda Walsh, and Where The Great Ones Run by Mark Roberts (both-LA Times CRITIC'S CHOICE), last season's WORLD PREMIERE production of John Pollono's hit play Small Engine Repair (BEST PRODUCTION-Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle, LA Weekly, Ovation, and Garland Awards) and the Los Angeles premiere of David Harrower's Blackbird, recipient of numerous awards. He is Rogue Machine's founding Artistic Director, garnering the LA Weekly Career Achievement Award in 2012. John recently directed the critically acclaimed Los Angeles premiere of The Sunset Limited, (CRITIC'S CHOICE-LA Times; GO LA Weekly, CRITIC'S PICK-Backstage, Ovation RECOMMENDED) which ran for six months. He directed the award winning World Premiere of Henry Murray's Treefall (published by the Dramatist Play Service in 2010), Monkey Adored, and the critically acclaimed Los Angeles premiere of Rogue Machine's inaugural production, Compleat Female Stage Beauty, by Jeffrey Hatcher. He helmed the Craig Lucas' hit Small Tragedies at The Odyssey Theatre and the world premiere of John Pollono's Lost and Found. John was the Executive Producer and director of Lifetime's long running award winning series Strong Medicine, has produced two other series and 14 television movies or miniseries including the Emmy nominated Burden of Proof.
Rogue Machine recently picked up seven LA Weekly Awards including one for BEST PRODUCTION for Small Engine Repair by John Pollono. The company has garnered recognition for their work in upwards of 45 awards and nominations, including the Polly Warfield Award for Excellent Season in Small to Mid-Size Theater, funded by the Nederlander Organization, and the BEST PRODUCTION Award (two consecutive years) from the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle, Ovation, and Garland. Since 2008 Rogue Machine has produced 3 Los Angeles Premiere (BLACKBIRD, COMPLEAT FEMALE STAGE BEAUTY, and STOP KISS) 9 West Coast Premiere (WHERE THE GREAT ONES RUN, FOUR PLACES, THE WORD BEGINS, WISH I HAD A SYLVIA PLATH, BHUTAN, MilkMilkLemonade, AMERICAN DEAD, BINGO WITH THE INDIANS, and HALF OF PLENTY), 1 American Premiere (NEVERLAND), and 6 World Premiere productions (the multi-award winning SMALL ENGINE REPAIR, MONKEY ADORED, YARD SALE SIGNS, RAZORBACK, SHORTS & SWEETS, and the award winning production of Henry Murray's TREEFALL. Last year Rogue Machine worked extensively with multi-award winner Steven Sater (SPRING AWAKENING) in developing his play NEW YORK ANIMALS.Design Team includes Leigh Allen (Lighting-LADCC Career Achievement Award, Garland), Stephanie Kerley Schwartz (Set-LA Weekly Award, Garland Award), and Christopher Moscatiello (Sound-Ovation nom, Kennedy Center, Associate Artistic Director Boston Chamber Ensemble).
Three Views of the Same Object
Also see Sharon's review of Year of the Rabbit
Anne Gee Byrd and Allan Miller
It's a play about aging-Stop! Wait! Don't turn away! It's an honest, frank-and-sometimes-funny look at people making difficult life decisions at a time of life when their conversation focuses just a bit too much on bodily functions.
It's a look at three couples, long married, their children grown. In each family, the husband has a difficult diagnosis: cancer. And while the details aren't revealed to us, we know that the condition is painful, the fight has been long, and there's a real issue of whether it is worth it to keep fighting. Each couple faces the future differently. One, the happy couple, still deeply in love with each other, makes their decisions hand-in-hand, together. In the second, less happy, couple, the husband ends his fight, leaving the wife alone. The third and most interesting couple is somewhere in between. Held together by a realistic combination of affection, frustration and inertia, they argue and drink their way into an uncertain future.
And they're all the same couple. Three View of the Same Object follows three versions of the same couple through the very same period of time; each version differing only by the decisions they've made that have brought them to this place. Henry Murray's play rather elegantly makes the point that it really isn't the cards you're dealt, but the way you play them, that matters.
Rogue Machine's production features a dream cast. K Callan and Shelly Kurtz are Jesse and Poppy "2"-the Jesse and Poppy who are still adorably in love and playfully horny. Kurtz is downright cheerful when delivering a line like "I poop better when I have vegetables." Callan and Kurtz are just so darned cute you expect them to rub noses any minute. And it's clear that their optimism and togetherness have better enabled them to weather the storm than the other Jesses and Poppys. It's apparent in how gently Callan's Jesse broaches the subject of maybe giving up the car, in how annoyed (yet amused) they are by the unnecessary attempts of a friend, Mrs. Widkin, to check in on them and bring them food, and even in their dress. Stephanie Kerley Schwartz (also on set design) dresses her actors in costumes that illustrate how much, or how little, they still make an effort.
At the other end is Nancy Linehan Charles as Jesse 3, the one left alone. She is heavily dependent on the assistance of Mrs. Widkin. Her Jesse is alone, unhappy, and weak. She messes up her apartment when looking for something, but it isn't that she's mentally unhinged, she just doesn't care anymore. Charles plays the Jesse bereft of her Poppy, and when she says, "Hating someone is sometimes how you know you still love them," you know exactly what she means.
But it is Anne Gee Byrd and Allan Miller who have the meatiest roles, Jesse and Poppy 1-the couple not quite in love and not quite in hate, but clinging to each other in a relationship having been made all the more interdependent by declining health. Murray's writing is at its most realistic with Jesse and Poppy 1; their words sound like the petty arguments, lacking any real venom, which come out of the mouths of people together so long they've forgotten there are other ways to communicate.
Three Views of the Same Object is a good play, with top-notch performances, which addresses a subject that isn't often addressed. I hesitate to whole-heartedly recommend it to everyone, as one of its main plot lines is a suicide pact between Jesse and Poppy, and how the couple responds to the pact when Poppy, but not Jesse, has become ill. ("Mom, Dad, there's this great play I want you to see; but don't get any ideas.") I'm mixed on the message of the play-to the extent Murray is saying that being hopelessly in love with your spouse is the best way to survive aging, I very much want him to be right. But to the extent to which he seems to be endorsing mutual suicide as a happy alternative to the difficulties of growing old alone, I have some concerns. And yet, the fact that the play makes you genuinely think about these issues makes it a very worthwhile endeavor.
Three Views of the Same Object runs at Rogue Machine through November 4 at 5041 Pico Blvd., in Los Angeles. For tickets and information, see www.roguemachinetheatre.com.
Rogue Machine Theatre proudly presents the world co-premiere of Three Views of the Same Object by Henry Murray. Scenic and Costume Design Stephanie Kerley Schwartz; Lighting Design Leigh Allen; Sound Design Christopher Moscatiello; Property Design Hazel Kuang; Assistant Costume Design Kellsy MacKilligan; Technical Director Richard Dominguez; Production Manager Amanda Mauer
Love, aging and death contour Henry Murray's multilayered play Three Views of the Same Object. Academic professionals Poppy and Jesse (Allan Miller and Anne Gee Byrd) have had a long, fruitful marriage but now are in the waning stages of life. He is suffering from terminal cancer, while booze and prescription drugs assuage her crippling physical and emotional maladies. "If I felt like you look, I'd be asking for a couple of aspirin," Poppy quips in a moment of wry humor. At the heart of this bittersweet story, however, is their suicide pact, and it is the painful (and often funny) working out of this solemn agreement that galvanizes the piece with emotional resonance while offering a haunting portrait of the grim reality faced by many senior citizens. This play uses multiple actors in three parts, each disclosing different perspectives on and dramatic chemistry of the couple's bleak circumstances.It's the savvy direction of co-directors John Perrin Flynn, Brett Aune and Hollace Starr that keeps the action flowing smoothly on Stephanie Kerley Schwartz's handsome, meticulously appointed set. Performances are all terrific. Complementing Byrd and Miller's stellar portrayals are K. Callan, Shelly Kurtz, Nancy Linehan Charles and, as caretaker Ms. Widkin, Catherine Carlen. Rogue Machine Theatre, 5041 Pico Blvd., Fri,-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; through Oct. 28. (855) 585-5185. (Lovell Estell III)
Pick of the Week
The angst of youth and culture of celebrity are not the focus of Rogue Machine's theatrical productions. Instead, they create serious, original, award-winning theatre featuring characters who live full lives, played by actors who've done the same.
Helping playwrights develop new works is one of Rogue Machine's missions. Henry Murray is playwright in residence and one of several success stories. This is his third Rogue premiere, including "Treefall," which was named by LA Weekly as one of 2009's top 10 plays and has subsequently logged five national productions.
Dubbed a world co-premiere, "Three Views of the Same Object" was developed at Rogue Machine. The script won the Woodward/Newman Award for best play, which brought with it a fully-funded production mounted at the Bloomington Play Project in Indiana; it went on to win a Holland New Voices Award before being produced here by Rogue Machine.
"Three Views of the Same Object" unfolds in parallel time and space. Three actresses portray wife Jesse, two actors play husband Poppy, and one plays their loyal friend, Mrs. Widkin. Three different realities unfold, but in each of the simultaneously played-out storylines a single decision alters the relationship and the outcome.
The plot revolves around a suicide pact the couple made to avoid the indignities of aging at the end of life. But they've been thrown a curve ball, Poppy's cancer, hastening the moment they must make a decision about honoring the pact.
It's a complex play and a little confusing at first, until it becomes clear we are looking at contrasting versions of the same story. The solid maturity and professionalism of the actors help us move through these complications to a plane of deeper understanding.
"Three Views of the Same Object" takes place at Theatre/Theater, 5041 Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. on Sundays, through Oct. 28. Make reservations at http://www.roguemachinetheatre.com or call (822) 585-5185.
In Theater-Los Angeles
Los Angeles Theater Review: THREE VIEWS OF THE SAME OBJECT (Rogue Machine Theatre)
by Samuel Bernstein on September 19, 2012
THREE DEGREES OF SEPARATION
A woman asks for a martini in a highball glass and accuses her husband of peeing in the sink again. He doesn't cop to it, but doesn't deny it. The couple seems long married, used to one another, and not particularly happy-probably in their 60s or early 70s. She's nursing a hangover-an event that appears to be numbingly normal in this couple's life.
Then a disheveled woman comes in, apparently unseen by the couple; she destroys a painting and hurls it outside. A neighbor checks on the first couple and she brings an unwanted casserole. The disheveled woman has another episode of violent behavior and again, the couple does not see her. The neighbor returns. Now she doesn't see the couple, but sees the disheveled woman. Her relationship to this woman is similar to her relationshipwith the other woman in the first couple-but different. Now the neighbor seems more of a caretaker. Next, a loving, rather exuberant couple comes home, dressed in formal ware. The neighbor appears again, this time focusing on the new couple. Her relationship with this couple is similar-but different-from her relationship to the first couple.
Now all six characters are onstage at once. The pieces are in place, and you realize they are all the same characters-but in three separate realities-who have chosen very different roads in their lives. The women in the two couples and the single disheveled woman are all variations of Jesse, played by three actresses who don't look particularly alike or unalike. The two husbands are Poppy-a man we learn is quite ill-and here the two actors look almost nothing alike. The neighbor, Mrs. Widkin, is played by the same actress in all the intersecting realities, and we realize that when Jesse is in her disheveled incarnation, she is mourning the recent suicide of Poppy-which is why there are three versions of Jesse and only two of Poppy.
If any of this seems confusing here, it's entirely down to me, since there is great clarity and purpose as the story unfolds onstage in Rogue Machine Theatre's production of Henry Murray's new play, Three Views of the Same Object. There is mystery, certainly, and that requires a bit of patience-a quality sometimes lacking in those of uswho scurry about multi-tasking ourselves into a fractured sense of what it means to actually focus, or think, or listen-activities that take time-and time is what fascinates Murray here. Time (and the lack thereof) is at the heart of these characters' dilemmas; yet Murray is also quite concerned with how little time modern audiences have for narrative complexity. That led him to imagine a play where the surprises and intricacies of storytelling can all happen at once-a kind of literary instant gratification.
The tone of the piece is every bit as exciting as the form. Murray's language is matter-of-fact and smart-never content with merely being clever. "You're a china shop in a bull pasture," is his kind of line; the wordplay is stylish and satisfying, but it cuts to the bone because of its authenticity and specificity.
The cast is remarkable. Anne Gee Byrd is a Los Angeles theater treasure, and her work here as the Jesse of the highball martini is sharp as a machete-which makes her journey into self-pity and surrender as heartbreaking as it is inevitable. Nancy Linehan Charles tears into the character's fury in a different way. If Byrd is enraged with the entire world, Charles plays it as a woman whose rage has turned inward-deluging her with bitter hopelessness. K Callan's version of Jesse is of a woman of grace, humor, and a keen ability to love who sees and accepts her own frailties. But what exactly does she gain from this self-awareness? All three views of this story come to a close without anything that could remotely be construed as a happy ending.Allan Miller and Shelly Kurtz both bring qualities of pragmatism and a sense of mission to their respective views of Poppy. Miller is all regret and quiet acceptance, while Kurtz-who plays the happier of the two versions-gives Poppy more to lose, and thus, more to fear. Both actors shine in their parallel takes on very different kinds of despair. Kurtz's Poppy despairs that his life with Jesse is almost over. Miller's Poppy despairs that he is so ready for his life with Jesse to end.
Catherine Carlen brings real nuance and intelligence to her three variations on the same character. Small changes in her physicality speak volumes; she raises an eyebrow while essentially repeating the same line, and somehow, the meaning seems quite different. It's not a showy role-but Carlen's is no less an accomplishment.
There is obvious symmetry to the fact that this play, with its three concurrent views of the same reality, has three directors: John Perrin Flynn, Brett Aune, and Hollace Starr. Yet I confess to feeling a certain dread at the thought of such a collaboration. Creating by committee is rarely satisfying; for the creative artist nor for the audience. I've no idea how these three worked on the piece; whether they rehearsed separately and then combined their efforts, or what, but this is a superblyfluid production; it is a single whole elegantly fractured, and whoever did whatever, the directors have formed a magnificent partnership.
Three Views of the Same Object is very much concerned with death, but it's full of life and energy; muscular without being bulky; and it manages to be uplifting without a hint of treacle. And it's a brilliant piece of theater. Any and all versions of me think so.
photos by John Flynn
Three Views of the Same Object
Rogue Machine Theatre in Hollywood
Eye Spy LA
"THREE VIEWS OF THE SAME OBJECT" A TOUR DE FORCE
By M.R. Hunter
09/21/2012 11:59:34 AM
With the rise of baby boomers comes increasing concerns over Social Security and Medicare cutbacks, outliving retirement nest eggs, slashed pensions and grown children moving back with mom and dad during their so-called Golden Years. This is the current climate for anyone who receives AARP brochures in the mail. While these grim realities will no doubt be buzzwords and speech fodder in the upcoming presidential debate, what isn't discussed is the subtext between these strata of strains-the fear of living beyond one's vitality.
The question this anxiety poses is tackled by playwright Henry Murray in a Greek structure that presents three stories with two main characters grappling with a mortal decision in three startling and devastating conclusions. Inspired by an elderly couple Murray observed years ago struggling to get their mail, the subject of aging in America and the stoic suffering it can bring is handled with profound care, reverence and without a whiff of patronizing sentimentality. This isn't your grandmother's doily laden puff piece about getting on in years gracefully. It is raw, vicious and multidimensional in its versatile form. Murray hits this one out of the ballpark.
Examining the shades of physical decline that includes a fear of falling, being unable to afford living expenses, being unable to drive, dependency, loneliness, and death takes on monumental proportions but Murray strikes an elegant balance in the various stages of three couples' commitment to each other and ultimately, themselves. A pact between husband and wife lends itself naturally to differing results that are each powerfully climatic in their gripping portrayal even though it is the final scene whereby the actual act is hauntingly revealed.
In a town where growing old is treated like a crime, there isn't a trace of vanity or self-consciousness in the Rogue Machine's outstanding cast: Anne Gee Byrd, Allan Miller, Catherine Carlen, K Callan, Shelly Kurtz, and Nancy Linehan Charles. Byrd's bittersweet marriage tinged by alcoholism is beautifully matched by Miller's selfless enabling tenderness. Callan and Kurtz are perfectly delightful making their final act all the more overwhelming. Charles performance as an abandoned widow sizzles and crackles like a live wire and she commands the stage with riveting and explosive dynamism. Carlen has the most challenging role as she appears in all three relationships with slightly differing but similar roles. Her phone call monologue, while difficult, shines luminous as she maintains control without losing heart.
This is a play that is best served cold, without preconceived notions or misconceptions. To reveal more threatens to undermine the chilling effect and the joy in the surprising twists and turns both in the characters final choice and the structural interweaving. It is definitely one of Murray's and the Rogue Machine's finest aptly directed by John Perrin Flynn, Brett Aune and Hollace Starr. Treating each set of couples as its own play, these three seamlessly merge the virtual one-acts into a complete picture that takes three views into one mesmerizing object.
There is good reason why Murray's play won the Woodward/Newman Drama Award and the 2012 Holland New Voices Award and with its further development at the Rogue Machine, more awards are sure to follow. For anyone who appreciates seasoned acting, fine directing and a brilliant script that is gut-wrenching as it is wryly humorous and savagely real, this is a show that lasts three times as long after the two curtain calls and is one impactful and vital production.
"Three Views of the Same Object"
Runs through Oct 28
5041 Pico Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90019
life in la
Three Views of the Same Object
by Gregory McLellan
Coming into Three Views of the Same Object by Henry Murray, I had no idea what to expect. I soon found out the play is about an elderly couple with a Kevorkian-
Shelly Kurtz (as Poppy 2) and K Callan (as Jesse 2)
esque suicide pact. As if that weren't enough to give me pause, different actors and actresses play three different versions of the same couple, sometimes appearing on stage simultaneously.
This defining element of the play straddles the line between being a brilliant storytelling device and existing as a mere gimmick. At times this device exposes some truly poignant moments comparing the different roads that a life can take. Other times, it seems completely unnecessary and takes away from the story as a whole.
But no matter which side of the divide you're on, you're likely to be impressed by how vastly different the three versions of the main characters Poppy and Jesse are. Each Poppy is a biology professor forced to retire due to old age. His wife, Jesse, is an aspiring author whose career was cut short due to the birth of the couple's daughter, Amanda, while they were both undergraduates. All the couples made the same suicide pact early on in their marriages. And all three husbands are afflicted with terminal cancer. But this is where the similarities between the three story lines end.
The first Poppy, played by Allan Miller, never seems to really leave his job as a professor. He has a penchant for making broad philosophical postulations and delivering soliloquies on the specificity of nature, in lieu of personal feelings. The first Jesse, played by Anne Gee Byrd, bitter from a lost career and poor relationship with her estranged child, becomes an alcoholic-a martini in a highball glass is her cocktail of choice. Poppy, while disapproving of his wife's habit,
Catherine Carlen (as Mrs. Widkin) and
Nancy Linehan Charles (as Jesse 3)
still pours her all the drinks she wants. They're unhappy and cantankerous, trading passive-aggressive verbal blows, but trace amounts of affection still show through the cracks of their cynical sarcasm.
The second, much more affable, version of the couple is played by Shelly Kurtz (Poppy) and K Callan (Jesse). They are loving, kind to one another, and still laugh at each other's jokes. Though unrealistically pleasant in their every interaction, this Poppy and Jesse stand as a perfect foil for the different versions of themselves, and even for their own dark past. This idealistic relationship may not be entirely believable, but the effortless chemistry between the actors breaks up the dreary subject matter so well that it's impossible not to smile when they're on stage.
The last Jesse, played by Nancy Linehan Charles, has no husband to quip or sneer at. This Poppy, who we never get to see, took his own life years prior, leaving Jesse behind. A pair of old loafers that Jesse carries with her stands in as Poppy's surrogate. This Jesse often wanders aimlessly on stage with either of the other couples, yelling at herself, the shoes, or no one in particular, haunted by the ghosts of what she and her husband could have been. She holds up her end of every conversation without any response, except from the Poppys of alternate realities. But it isn't until the only scene where this Jesse appears by herself on stage that we see just how desperately lonely she really is. She has spent years feeling abandoned and worthless. At times, it's hard to remember that none of these characters, despite all sharing the same stage, are even on the same plane. And Charles's performance serves as a stark reminder of this fact.
Anne Gee Byrd (as Jesse 1) and Allan Miller (as Poppy 1)
Overall, what strikes me the most about this ambitious play is the unique interaction between the couples. Whether it's within smug jibes or loving compliments, the dialogue accomplishes the extreme familiarity and comfort that comes with many years of marriage. Sometimes frustrating, sometimes touching, and always with an edge of dark humor, Three Views certainly has a lot contained within its two hours.
Three Views of the Same Object opened on September 15th and is due to close on October 28th. Performances are every Friday through Saturday at 8 pm and Sundays at 3 pm during the run of the show.
The Rogue Machine Theatre is located at 5041 Pico Blvd., Los Angeles 90019. Tickets are $30. To order, call (855) 585-5185 or visit www.roguemachinetheatre.com.