If you”™re even slightly reluctant to travel for theatre in Los Angeles, for fear you”™ll be wasting your time, I highly suggest you find the quickest way to the Santa Monica Playhouse. Playwright Todd Susman”™s Locked and Loaded guarantees something original, hilarious, and well worth the mileage!
Review by Tracy Lynn Schafer
When Irwin Schimmel (Paul Linke) and Dickie Rice (Andrew Parks) find out they share the same terminal misfortune, they decide to make a pact to take death into their own hands, making sure they go out with a bang – one way or another. From within a plush hotel suite, dressed to the nines, catered to like kings, and drinking from a well stocked bar that could drown a fish, Irwin and Dickie begin what should be their last night on earth. More eager than his new friend Dickie, Irwin takes the lead in finding appropriate company for the two of them. Yet before Irwin can even make the telephone call, or Dickie can successfully protest, there is a knock at the hotel door. From almost out of thin air we quite magically meet Catorce Martinez (Terasa Sciortino), a veteran in her profession; she is instantly enamored with Irwin and claims her stake. Dickie”™s “date” for the evening, Princess Lay-Ya (Tarina Pouncy), arrives just mere moments later in the same fashion, with an unexpected knock on the door and a surplus of attitude and “professionalism.” In the midst of chaos, the four uncover and reluctantly divulge untold truths about one another, illustrating that life might even be crazier in the midst of death.
Using the word “˜original”™ to describe what Todd Susman has created with Locked and Loaded seems to do no justice for the true essence of this play. It possesses such an incredible balance of humor and darkness. Not to mention, the intelligence infused dialogue and subject matter almost entirely helped restore my faith in the true creative process – writing to truly reach and affect an audience, not necessarily writing for the audience. While many writers attempt to place comedy into their work, to lighten up the drama, Susman actually works comedy into the heaviness of the drama. I found myself laughing from start to finish, even with the dismal reminder of mortality.
I cannot imagine Locked and Loaded being what it was for me, had such wonderful artists not been chosen to create this ensemble cast. Paul Linke, asked to deliver a number of schmaltzy Jewish jokes, did so with ridiculous timing and never erred on the side of slapstick, one-liner comedy. He was a joy to watch, and laugh with/at. Andrew Parks brought to the stage a sophisticated, quietly tormented Dickie Rice – a character, which had to be handled with a delicate, yet bold approach. Parks held all of Dickie”™s secrets with dignity and really brought this misunderstood man to life.
While the story centered around the male leads, the two women on stage, Tarina Pouncy and Terasa Sciortino, truly exercised a rare talent when it came to playing multiple roles. Pouncy, a beautiful young African American woman, did one of the bestÂ “˜nagging, old, Jewish mother”™ routine I have ever heard. All the while, Sciortino”™s thick Spanish, Catorce accent was so convincing, that it was almost jarring to listen to her weave in and out of the many characters she was portraying. The chemistry on stage between the four was just right – never waning, always waxing.
Prepare yourself for entertainment and enjoyment. Currently playing at the Santa Monica Playhouse, Locked and Loaded closes on Saturday, April 16th, 2011.
Locked and Loaded
1211 4th Street (between Wilshire & Arizona)
Santa Monica, Ca. 90401
Runs until Saturday, April 16th, 2011
Friday and Saturdays, 8pm
Approximately 85 minutes, with no intermission
$26.00 Friday and Saturday
$21.00 Sunday (matinee)
Purchase tickets here or call (310) 394-9779
Review by Tracy Lynn Schafer
About the theatre:
The magic of live theatre, as it entertains, enlightens and educates, that is the Santa Monica Playhouse. One of the country’s most respected intimate theatrical centers, the Playhouse is the only theatre of its kind to have produced continuously for half a century, and the first to have state-of-the-art technology without compromising the true spirit of the European Repertory theatre. Under the artistic direction of Chris DeCarlo and Evelyn Rudie, the Playhouse has been honored with LADCC’s Margaret Harford Award, the Drama- Logue Publisher’s Award and twelve Mayors’ Commendations. Looking back on more than 500 dynamic classic, contemporary and original productions and looking forward to more exciting theatre, the Playhouse is celebrating its 50th year with a 24-month theatre festival of 50 plays and special events.
A.ctors’ R.epertory T.heatre, the award-winning resident performing company at Santa Monica Playhouse, brings to brilliant life our rich heritage of playwrights, from Moliere to Strindberg, from Ionesco to Sholom Aleichem. In addition to its thriving performance agenda, the Playhouse enables thousands of young people to build self-esteem and social consciousness through intensive workshops, public performances, and a unique outreach program to educational institutions and youth organizations worldwide.
The Playhouse has presented nearly twenty thousand actual performances for close to two million audience members. Its Family Theatre offers a multigenerational exchange of ideas and experiences. Artists-in-Residence teach weekly theatre classes in the public schools. The Playhouse concept of self-and-community-awareness through drama has been expanded to incorporate an international conservatory program encompassing theatrical workshops, performances, and cultural exchange.
With critically acclaimed World, American and West Coast Premieres, pioneering advances in educational theatre, and international tours, Santa Monica Playhouse continues its battle to raise cultural consciousness and fight for the survival and growth of the creative process, reaching out to make live, intimate theatre an active force in our community, and in our world.
Santa Monica Playhouse,Â a not-for-profit 501 (c) 3 educational corporation founded in 1960, provides exciting and entertainingÂ dramatic and comedic, classic and contemporary live theatrical productions, Family Theatre musicals, birthday and tea parties,Â year-round and summer theatre workshops and educational programming for young people, teens and adults,Â create-a-play classes and Mommy and Me events for pre-schoolers, daytime and after schoolÂ enrichment classes and in-service in public and private schools, cultural exchange, international touring, and community outreach, as well as theatre rental space for productions, seminars, solo shows, concerts, recitals, lectures, meetings and more.