Narcissus & Echo
This modern adaptation of the Narcissus and Echo myth blends it with current environmental issues surrounding clean and accessible water. Written and directed by Elizabeth Lanier and original music by Ian Michaels and Jetta Juriansz, this crew has created a show that is both humorous and affecting.
Echo (played Jetta Juriansz, who displays a gorgeous voice) works as the marketing director for Watair, a synthetic water company owned by Zeus. Hera, Zeus’ wife, owns a rival synthetic water company called Rainsip. Consumed by jealousy, Hera takes away Echo’s voice leaving her only able to repeat what’s said to her. Needless to say, this affects her ability to do her job marketing Watair. She returns to the forest where she meets Narcissus (a fervid and charismatic Ben Horwitz), an idealist young man determined to find the fresh spring and save the environment. Thankfully, Lanier has updated the myth showing a mutual adoration between the two young lovers. Thus, when they find the spring and Narcissus falls in love with his own reflection, Echo’s heartbreak becomes far more authentic and touching.
Overall, the entire ensemble has tremendous musical talent and comedic timing. Lanier has them morph, like drops of water, from one scene to the next. The beginning could have a bit more clarity as it takes some time to follow exactly what is happening, but once the show finds its feet it becomes a delightful musical romp in Olympus. I’d love to see a full production with a stronger visual aesthetic, but this is definitely a group of artists to watch.
25% of the play’s proceeds go to the Flint Child Health and Development Fund.
Complex Theatres (OMR) 6476 Santa Monica Blvd, Hollywood; http://www.hollywoodfringe.org/projects/4718; through June 24. Running time: 50 minutes.
Taking all of the tropes of “a band of misfits come together to save the day”, Robot Teammate has created another musical that — although committed — doesn’t take itself too seriously. Set in 4242, this group of Earthlings must race the far-superior Martians around the sun with a ship made out of tuna cans. Needless to say, the odds are against them.
Having created the show based on their musical improv, this show combines energetic rock music with catchy and witty lyrics in a tightly woven 55-minute story arc. Not afraid to get more serious, there’s a surprisingly touching a capella song about not wanting to die, which also displays just how talented these vocalists are. The main complaint about the show is their sound mixing — the show begins on a rough note as it’s nearly impossible to hear what they are singing, and there are mic issues throughout. This piece needs to be in a better space that can properly handle live mixing and musical work. That being said, the cast all give stellar performances. I’ll be the first to sign up next time these guys enter an intergalactic space race.
Sacred Fools (Main Stage) 1076 Lillian Way; http://www.hollywoodfringe.org/projects/4557; through June 22; running time 55 minutes.
A Steady Rain
Written 10 years ago, A Steady Rain by Keith Huff is still salient today. Chicago cops and lifelong friends Denny and Joey find themselves down a rabbit hole after a disturbance call becomes life and career-shattering. This conventional but tightly woven script, with themes of loyalty and self-destruction, is given full life with nuanced performances by R.J. DeBard as the hot-tempered but gregarious Denny, and Andy Hoff as the calm and thoughtful Joey. Denny is the flashier of the two characters as his larger than life personality drive the plot, but Hoff holds his own, making Joey a steady vessel in the ceaseless rain.
Director John Kirby utilizes the space wisely and keeps the pace steady. Comprised of direct address monologues intertwined with in-the-moment scenes, we can visualize the other characters due to the sharp performances and staging. We’re taken from location to location through monologues, aided by striking projections on Mike Flannery’s effective set, Aaron Lyons’ haunting sound, and Donny Jackson’s evocative lighting.
John Kirby Studio 1510 N. Las Palmas Ave; http://www.hollywoodfringe.org/projects/4769; through June 23; running time 2 hours with an intermission.
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