Reviewed by Lovell Estell III
Hudson Guild Theatre
Through March 13
The title of this play refers to the brain’s ability to rewire or reorganize itself by forming new neural connections throughout life, especially in response to disease or injury.
In Alex Lyras and Robert McCaskill’s ambitious but highly flawed multi-media drama, the damaged brain in question belongs to an adventurous mountain climber named David (Lyras), who unexpectedly collapses because of an aneurism, and goes to the hospital in a coma.
The plot up to this point is reasonably clear, but then the structure of the play becomes horribly muddled. Once in the hospital, Lyras, performing solo, chronicles the aftermath of David’s medical episode channeling a mind-boggling gallery of characters while attempting to examine the subject of neuro-plasticity, which is horrendously complicated. The array of characters includes doctors, a nurse, David’s twin brother, a hospital tech (who raps in a club!!), the psychotherapist of David’s fiancée, a case worker, a sleazy lawyer, and some others.
The result of this gangly inclusion and intermingling of personas, combined with the continual bouncing around to different locales, is layer upon layer of unessential gabble, puzzling digressions, and a play that trainwrecks early on, then caps off with a convenient soap opera style ending.
The elements of redemption here are the impressive video schema by Corwin Evans and Matt Richter’s lighting and set design.
Hudson Guild Theatre, 6539 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles: Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; some Mon. performances at 8 p.m.; through March 13. (323) 960-7787 or www.plasticitytheplay.com Running time: 1 hour and 45 minutes without an intermission.