The smell and sight of smoke (meaning real smoke, not just stage fog) creating atmosphere on stage is a bit of a disconcerting note to commence an evening of theatre on, but what are you gonna do?
Over at the East West Players Theatre in Downtown LA – a beautiful space within a converted church – you can catch Prince Gomolvilas”™ harrowing drama Mysterious Skin, running until Sunday, October 10th 2010. The play is based on Scott Heim”™s presumably autobiographical first novel (1996) and the story was also made into a film by Gregg Araki that premiered at the Venice Film Festival in 2004.
In the play, a young man is troubled by incomplete memories in which he is convinced he was kidnapped and tortured by aliens as a child. Attempting to make sense of his past, Brian (Scott Keiji Takeda) befriends Avalyn (Elizabeth Liang), a geeky young woman giddily obsessed with books and accounts of alien abduction.Â The more Brian talks with Avalyn, the more he remembers. Plus, Avalyn offers him a much-needed outlet and sanctuary, reassuring him with lines such as, “It”™s hard to be around skeptics – hard not to feel crazy.”
Meanwhile, another young guy Neil (David Huynh) moves to New York from small-town Kansas and experiments with prostitution, much to the dismay of his best friend Wendy (Christine Corpuz). When Brian eventually tracks down his childhood friend Neil, he learns that the truth of what happened when they were kids is more horrifying than the disturbing mystery.
Director Tim Dang directs his young cast well, eliciting some strong performances within this grueling storyline. The cast is excellent and inhabit their roles with great conviction.
Elizabeth Liang is wonderful as dorky Avalyn, perfectly capturing the awkward and bubbly innocence of adolescence with her performance and permitting some bright and amusing moments within this profoundly tragic tale.
Also noteworthy is the stylized set is by designer Alan E. Muraoka; mainly chain-link fencing and an imposing, blue full moon that also serves as a projection screen.
Mysterious Skin is tough subject matter but the purity of the story shines through.
120 N. Judge John Aiso St.,
L.A.; Wed.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru Oct. 10.
Tickets: $12.00–$35.00. Â Rush tickets are available.
Buy online or
Box Office: (213) 625-7000 x20
Review by Pauline Adamek