We Are Not These Hands
Reviewed by Terry Morgan
Rogue Machine in the Met Theatre
Through June 24
It is apparently an irresistible urge for writers of futuristic or post-apocalyptic fiction to fashion new language or slang so as to sell the sci-fi conceit of their tales. When this works, which is almost never, you get something like A Clockwork Orange. When it doesn’t, you are the recipient of such lines as “Scuzzer!” and “You wanner put your wonk in my tootie,” which come from Sheila Callaghan’s play We Are Not These Hands. Although the cast in this Fringe offering from Rogue Machine is very good, the play itself seems more like a style exercise than a finished work.
Moth (Cecily Glouchevitch) and Belly (Emily James) are poor teenage street kids, uneducated and dirty, but they still aspire to better lives. They spend most of their days sitting outside a low-rent Internet café, watching people go by and tracking the experiences they’ll never have. One day they notice Leather (Albert Dayan), a supposed academic from the tonier climes of “across the river,” and they decide to try and seduce him. Moth succeeds, and the two girls plot to get Leather to take them across the river with him.
Glouchevitch exudes sad longing as the thoughtful Moth, who says little but takes everything in as she becomes part of Leather’s higher economic stratum. James does moving work as the rejected Belly, angry at her friend for taking up with an outsider but also desperate to escape her circumstances. Dayan steals the show as the loquacious Leather, blurting out every aspect of his life in a never-ending solipsistic monologue. It’s an impressive, humorous performance.
Director Larry Biederman gets great work from his actors, but unfortunately can’t get past the shortcomings of the writing. Sheila Callaghan has written some terrific plays, such as Bed and Everything You Touch, but unfortunately Hands is a misfire. It’s talky without being particularly compelling, its setting is vague, and its conclusion is essentially an unsatisfying shrug. Combine this with an almost two hour runtime with no intermission, and the production becomes a bit wearing. The Fringe is meant for experiments, but regrettably, not all experiments are successful.
Rogue Machine at the Met Theatre, 1089 N. Oxford Ave., Los Angeles; 6/9 10 p.m., 6/15 9:30 p.m.; 6/16 8 p.m.; 6/18 7 p.m.; 6/21 8 p.m.; 6/23 10 p.m.; 6/24 5 p.m.; www.roguemachinetheatre.com. Running time: 1 hours, 45 minutes.