An existential quest – Chesapeake by Lee Blessing

An existential quest – Chesapeake by Lee Blessing

photo by Katherine Bedoian

Currently being staged by the Syzygy Theatre Group, in Glendale, is Lee Blessing”™s intriguing one-man play Chesapeake.

Charting an everyman character”™s existential quest, Chesapeake is a magical-realist fable about a New York performance artist, a conservative Southern politician with – ironically – a flair for fiery dramatics, and the dog that intrinsically unites their fates. The dog, a Chesapeake Bay Retriever named Lucky, is the beloved pet and mascot of this right-wing Senator who takes it upon himself to lambaste a solo artist”™s provocative experimental performance in order to propel himself to political victory.

It”™s the artist, a friendly and inoffensive fellow named Kerr (Mark Thomsen) who recounts the events that follow the Senator”™s interference in his life and work. When Kerr finds his arts grant called into question by the ambitious Senator, Kerr concocts a scheme for revenge. What transpires is completely unexpected and evolves into a humorous and chaotic tale of his folly.

As the play opens, we meet our hero Kerr, a “˜Joe Average”™ type, dressed in baggy khaki pants, an orange long sleeved sweatshirt and sneakers. He strikes us as a nervy character, as he recounts his nightly dream of menacing canines, all the while hounded by the echoing sounds of barking and yelping. Sometimes stomping in a stiff-legged fashion, Thomsen paces the spare stage that consists of raked wooden ramps that form a raised square platform. The space within the ramps at times serves as the Chesapeake Bay. After the cliffhanger end of part one, the play heads in a whole new direction, and here is where the play really takes flight. A highlight is a profound speech that compares artists with pioneering explorers who delve into the unknown in order to “bring it back to us.”

Syzygy”™s Artistic Director Martin Bedoian directs the play with a sure hand and Thomsen is perfectly cast as the lovable and goofy performance artist.

Chesapeake by Lee Blessing is a play with enough surprises to delight and amuse.

Runs: Thurs, Fri & Sat 8pm; Sun 2pm
Through October 31, 2009

Syzygy Theatre Group,
GTC Burbank
1111 W. Olive Avenue
Burbank, CA 91506

Tickets:     $30.00 – $40.00

(323) 254 9328

Parking is FREE at the GTC Burbank parking lot.
The entrance is on Clark Avenue (one block north of Olive). Additional street parking is available on Clark Avenue and on Olive Avenue (near the jet plane).

review by Pauline Adamek

Pauline Adamek

Pauline Adamek is a Los Angeles-based arts enthusiast with twenty-five years' experience covering International Film Festivals and reviewing new Theatre, Film and Restaurants.

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