Gentle readers, here is a link to my latest theatre review for the LA Weekly, a surreal and funny play called —
Moody, mysterious and comedic – Len Jenkin’s noir fantasy takes us on a surreal trip as its central character, third-rate actress Margo Veil (Dorie Barton), endures some bizarre shape-shifting adventures guided by an ancient Lithuanian spirit statue.
Similar to Alice’s journey down the rabbit hole (Lewis Carroll’s classic is overtly referenced) our plucky heroine accepts a questionable assignment from her talent agent; assuming the identity of a mourner to accompany a corpse on the train. Instead of gaining a paid passage back to her home country town, Margo is somehow abducted into an underworld where her body is used as a shell for other persons to inhabit.
Dream-like logic ensures delightful unpredictability while the cyclical nature of the story provides a neat ending. Contemporary pop-culture references clash with the retro-noir flavor and costuming (elegantly realized by Ann Closs-Farley).
Self-conscious narration hands off from character to character and the tone swings wildly from broad comedy strokes and exaggerated acting to a more serious second half (85 mins, no intermission). Much of the humor comes from live sound effects provided by cast members in addition to John Zalewski’s expert sound design.
While enjoyable, one is left with the impression that had director Bart DeLorenzo the courage to take this material into darker, more sinister Lynchian territory, we’d have an edgier result. Colleen Kane stands out in numerous roles while Jeremy Shranko shreds a mean air guitar, redneck-style.
Margo Veil: Len Jenkin’s noir fantasy about a young actress’ surreal adventures. Wednesdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Continues through July 31. Co-production from Evidence Room and Odyssey Theatre Ensemble. Odyssey Theatre, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., L.A., (310) 477-2055, odysseytheatre.com.
Review by Pauline Adamek