Saturday, November 16, 2013

Why I died, a comedy! By Katie Rubin

Katie Rubin - Photo by Michael Lamont

By Joe Straw 

Why I died, a comedy! by Katie Rubin and directed by Victor Bumbalo is now playing at The Hudson Mainstage in Hollywood until November 24, 2013.

Katie Rubin is a stunning statuesque evanescent gorgeous creature who brings an abundant amount of creative physical life on stage.  But, it is in the quiet moments where we see her true strengths in her acting abilities. This is a very clever presentation that may be slightly autobiographical. It certainly fits with the bio presented in the program.

And the extraordinary thing about this show is that it grows on you after you have left the theatre.  Most remarkably what stays with you is Rubin’s compassion, an emotional empathetic human being who feels as deep connection not only to herself but also to those around her.  

But is it funny? Well Stan her producer wants her to be even funnier. 

Katie (the character) has other ideas.  She needs to get away, live a productive life, and not worry about the almighty dollar. Stan on the phone doesn’t like it at all.

“Futz, Futz, Futz, Futz.” – Stan

“What’s that sound?” – Katie

“That’s me cuming and farting at the same time.” – Stan

“That’s so gross.” – Katie

Okay so Stan’s not really interested in her having any outside life whatsoever and wants her to dedicate her life to write funny because, well, nobody’s getting rich without product, and funny sells.  

Now Katie is in conflict, between wanting a better life, and writing material that will bring in significant coinage. So she writes. Katie plays a desperate apologetic mom who, pointing a gun, tries to rob two young men of their worldly possessions. Nicely telling the young men to wear warmer clothing.

But her heart is not into this kind of writing.  We get the impressions it’s not the stuff she wants to do.  She wants to let go of, everything.

Katie is stuck.  Her life is grounded by a triangle of cement: carbs, sugar, sex with men she doesn’t like.  Her life’s improprieties have caused her to make a dramatic shift. And that triangle of cement is weighting her down, up to her neck, choking her.  Running out of options she runs to her psychiatrist and the doctor places her on all kinds of meds for everything she doesn’t have, or has now because of the prescriptions’ multiple side effects. So, the only thing left was to ask God for help.

And, right away, Katie fells better.  She would leave the carbs, the sugar, and sex with men she doesn’t like, and explore her other life’s prospects.

But to do this she needs money and it is at this point of her journey she absorbs three miracles that come to her.  These miracles happen and they are unexpected forces guiding her and opening her world to other opportunities.

“I need pages!” – Stan

Katie Rubin, the writer, presents us with a lot of very interesting characters in this play.  Some are fictional (like the robber mom) and others may be recreations from her real life.  But the interesting things about these characters are their physical and spiritual inclinations.  They are not in line with their teachings and therefore Katie’s life is opened to another awareness, their awareness.   

I’m not crazy about the title. What does it mean? Is she reborn? And when did she die? Is dying funny? One is not sure how this fits the character’s life quest. Comics at the Improv use to tell me they “did killer sets” not their sets died.  It has a completely different meaning. The title needs work.

And Stan wants funny.

Katie Rubin is a gifted physical actor who gives us characters that awakens another light to our conscience being. Stan, her destitute Iranian woman, and southern nasty reality star are wonderfully portrayed.  But, that said, choices need clarification.  At times we don’t know when we have gone in or come out of a writing assignment until it is clarified through monologue.  Solution?  Find a spot on stage where these things are created and use that as a starting point to create. Also, with some of the characters her breathing was labored (excited) when Rubin needs to relax and find a strong characterization to relieve that excitement.  She’s a writer, she never picks up a pen, and I suppose writes on her computer but we never see that. Give us an action to show this. These are only minor delicacies that will only add to a marvelous performance.

Victor Bumbalo, the director, does a nice job guiding his actress.  The problem is finding the strong through line, which is represented in the title (Or change the title.). We know she is going through a life’s journey, conflicted by work, and life. But, how do all the little tidbits add up?

Nicely produced by Laura Hill.

Set Designer, Evan A. Bartoletti, gives us a sleek looking set, with a circular curtain on the upstage wall, a few feet downstage a white curtain was presented as a wall, but oddly enough was not used in the performance.  Also, there were five corrugated cardboard tables that were used very effectively.

Johnny Ryman’s effective Lighting Design made full use of the set and set tremendous moods for the actor.

Other members of the crew are as follows:

Sound Design – Matt Richter
Musical Supervision – Chris Raymond
Production Stage Manager - Jen Bendik
Assistant Stage Manager – Christian Shirm
Marketing Representative – C. Raul Espinoza
Press Representative – Ken Werther
“Behind the Music” – Music by Avinash Muse
Graphic Design by TN
Program Layout – Brad Steinbauer

Also, I don’t understand why Miley Cyrus is on the program.

Run and take someone who is going through a life’s crisis.

Reservations:  323-960-7780

OCTOBER 26 — NOVEMBER 23, 2013


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