Wednesday, May 23, 2012

pool (no water) – By Mark Ravenhill

By Joe Straw

The Flight Theatre on Santa Monica Boulevard in Hollywood is a second story walkup, a long pleasant walkup.  Slightly winded (I’ve got to get to a gym), the Flight Theatre is behind the brown office-like door.  Going inside the theatre, I found it to be a marvelous quaint space and very user friendly.  

As we wait for the performance to start, I examine the photographs projected onto the wall. This is a fascinating glimpse into something that could be routine: photographs that are mirrored images projected side by side.  But, as you stare at the images, the image on the right may appear beautiful while the same image inverted looks disturbing, rather freakish, and simply out of place. Fascinating! And it’s a matter of perspective.

pool (no water), written by Mark Ravenhill and directed by Dave Barton, is a very quirky show, which I enjoyed immensely.  There is nudity, profanity, disturbing images, and adult situations so don’t bring children, still there is something here for the adult family. Through June 17th 2012, pool (no water) is produced by 22 Players for Monkey Wrench Collective.

The actors are artists or characters that act on extreme emotions.  They don’t have names only perspectives of what they are feeling and how they react to given circumstances.  

The play is about The Artist (Jessica Lamprinos) who is semi-successful and has a lot of friends who are also artists (although not as successful).  They are the hangers on.  Think Andy Warhol and his minions.

“Thank you for looking after Sally”

Sally, a member of the group, was a friend to the The Artist and the rest of the group. The group watched as Sally dies a painful and horrible death.

“Sally is gone and I could do nothing.  And death is big and we are small.”

The Artist didn’t care and wasn’t there.  Sally’s carcass was stone cold before The Artist arrived.  But The Artist wasn’t like the others, she was cold and aloof.  Some say she breaths cold and aloof. Silently, the others blamed her for Sally’s death. Well okay, maybe not, but there was a stare.  There was a cold and icy stare and was directed to the one that neglected Sally.  But, they were all equals, all artists, one for all and all for one.

“We all cared so passionately.”

And as The Artist, she uses that experience to garner fame and fortune. And with this fame and fortune, The Artist manages to sell a lot of art and is able to acquire a home with a pool.   One can’t help but think there is a slight expression of jealously, that everyone cared, that everyone felt something for one of his or her own, and yet The Artist gets all of the glory.

Nevertheless, everyone wishes The Artist success but that is not enough.  She wants to wallow in her fame and fortune. And she wants to share her success with everyone, especially her dear, dear, dear small and loyal friends. She invites them over to her house.  And they get there anyway they can, just to be with her and to experience her new pool and palms tress, and the beautiful air.  And it’s all so lovey dovey.  They hug, and hug, and hug some more, and get re-acquainted.

But as the night wears on The Artist, feeling the party is getting a little boring, gets everyone to join her to skinny dip in the pool.  Everyone thinks this is a marvelous idea and they begin to take off their clothes. When everyone is completely naked, The Artist proceeds to christen the pool and dives in.  

They hear what could only be describing as a splat, a crack, and a thud.

They creep up to the edge to see The Artist lying on the bottom of the pool (no water).  And so The Artist lies there, quiet at first. Someone notices a “slight stream of piss” coming from her body. And they just look at her at the bottom of the pool, not knowing what to do, who to call. They run around like chickens with their heads cut off.

“I’m sorry that you have to suffer.  I’m sorry there’s this pain.”

Someone finally calls the paramedics and they all rush to the hospital to be with her. And they stay with her, all wringing their hands frantically; being with her is the most important thing.  After all, they are artists, if she dies with them at her bedside, then they can tell the world they were there and they might be enriched by the whole experience!

Unfortunately, The Artist survives. This is not a good thing for them. There has to be a dead body for the living to become famous.

But wait a minute.  They are artists and they know how to create.  Someone has a camera.  They start taking pictures of The Artist being unconscious in bed and in various uncompromising positions, licking, touching, inserting, breaking, tonging, feeling, opening and closing her legs and with the idea they are making art.

All of the photographs are arranged around her until The Artist awakes and she has a reaction to the art that is her unconscious self in the state of bruises and broken bones.     

This is a fantastic play by Mark Ravenhill.  The characters have an inner monologue that they express to give a definitive truth.  They express the obvious, how they feel and why they feel. It is this exploration of truth, the boldness of expression, and the willingness to say what one feels without recriminations from ballsy accusations.  Art only comes through the exploration of the unknown until it becomes known.  That is the reason that I flat out enjoyed the play.  Everyone has his or her own perspective and that perspective is creatively explored.

This plays has many ways it can be performed and the director Dave Barton has given us only a glimpse of an idea of what he needs.  There are many more layers that the characters need to flesh out to make their objectives more specific and clear. Each individual performer has an art to express, that expression needs to be clear, and not waste time getting there.  Simply put, clean up the art, make it explicit, and express the art to move the play along.

Oddly enough, in The New York Times review of this play only five characters are mentioned. This, possibly different, version of the play has 11 characters.

In any case, there may have been too many artists to allow for each artist to be specific in their own genre. Each requires a clear definition of who they are and what purpose their art moves the story or expression along.   There is a lot of truth in their dialogue but how is their dialogue expressed through the physical expression of their art?

Peter Balgoyen wears kid-like clothes. His character of choice is Pikachu, with red shorts and white suspenders.

Christopher Basile wears the small skirt and shirt that says, “Eat my Fuck”.  Don’t know what that mean, but okay, he’s an artist.

Jessica Lamprinos, The Artist, has a sincere insincerity look on her face.  The double air kiss on the non-existent cheek, the “I’m holier than thou”, I love you but keep your distance, and here I am, an artist at work, seemed to work effectively.  I loved her expressive video on the website!

Terri Mowrey did some very nice work in the black poke dotted dress.

Alexander Price is in the plaid shorts and green glasses. Not really sure what he is all about but I liked his performance nevertheless.

Keith Bennett is in the coveralls.  Farm art?  I don’t know.

Sean Engard is in the yellow pants and blue leather jacket.  His art can be defined as something to do with computers and lights and dances to the gyrations of his own self-gratification.  Not a bad thing for an artist, but how does it move the play along?  

Bryan Jennings is the fitness instructor wearing the blue spotted jacket and spotted pants.  His art is his body and the money he can make from teaching others to get their body fit, for a price of course.

Jeffrey Kieviet is wearing a shirt with a woman’s face on it that appears to say “My Ruin”.  He has a very nice look.

Melita Ann Sagar has on the black dress, with nude leggings, red shoes, and cleavage showing.  She has a very interesting look and there were a lot of sincere emotions in her performance.  I liked her work and she has a wonderful face for film and television.

Cynthia Ryanen is in the red sweater and green pants and is not afraid to give it her all. This was a terrific performance and very enjoyable.  

Heather Enriquez did the Costume Design. Angela Ann Lopez did a nice job as the Choreographer.  Jeremy Bug Ojeda was the Lighting Designer. Jody J. Reeves was the Stage Manager. David Scaglione was the Scenic Designer and Eric A. Wahl was the Video Designer.   

Go take a friend whose art is temporarily stymied.

Reservations:  800-838-3006


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