Miss Lily Gets Reviewed

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Be careful what you wish for and be even more careful what you pray for. “Miss Lily Gets Boned” teaches the audience that there is a lot more to learn from your actions than anything you can be told. Through the lens of absurd theater mingled with poignant self-reflections, we get a glimpse into how fragile our psyches really are. Like the stained glass window that fills the center of the stage they are beautiful in their totality but when shattered by the winds of chaos they can become the most deadly thing in the room. 

Brady Amaya and Larisa Oleynik

Bekah Brunstetter has written an engaging piece that deserves its West Coast Premiere by Rogue Machine Theatre. It’s interesting that she, possibly intentionally, leaves out Mathew 5:38-40 from the stories Miss Lily teaches in her Sunday School. It ends up being reflective of one of the major themes in the play. You get the sense that she carefully calculated every decision. For example, I was told that the character Harold’s name means “leader”. Harold is akin to Gandhi and all those who have risen up and rebelled against their oppressors. Given the circumstances and the person who names him, if it is true that the writer decided to name Harold that name for that reason then it is this level of attention to detail that I absolutely love and think more writing needs. 

Kavi Ladnier, Harold, Justice Quinn

Harold, I should note, is a puppet whose puppeteers were able to make him come alive quite impressively. At first I was a bit thrown by the design but upon seeing it closer and at different angles I was struck by how real it felt. This was all of course, thanks to the incredible dedication to character from the puppeteers Amir Levi, Rachael Caselli, and especially Justice Quinn who gets a chance to emerge from the puppet and connect beautifully with another character on a human level.

As I was leaving the theatre I couldn’t help but overhear another patron say “the puppeteers really deserve their own curtain call” and I could not agree more. Not only was Harold a star of the show but Larisa Oleynik created an endearing and lovely character in the titular Miss Lily who she was able to play with genuine charm and sensitivity. She successfully pulled off a sense of spontaneity as entertaining as one of your favorite improvisers that keeps you laughing even at the most absurd times. 

Tasha Ames and Larisa Oleynik

The absurdity, however, was a bit frustrating as it posed more questions than it answered and it too often undercuts the moment. This story could’ve existed without the illogical elements and it would have been just as compelling. There was enough absurdity in the actions of human beings that the play may not have been served by the introduction of bizarre elements including uncharacteristically choreographed scene transitions and divine interventions.

One transitional element that was a nice touch was the Shadow Puppetry which added context, backstory, and comedic relief between scenes. As a whole “Miss Lily Gets Boned” is a theatrical feat that pulls out all the stops and I do applaud that effort. It will gore you emotionally and split your sides with laughter all within the same scene and for this reason, it is not to be missed.

When: “Miss Lilly Gets Boned runs Fridays 9/27, 10/4, 10/11, 10/19, 10/25 at 8pm, Saturdays at 8pm, Sundays at 3pm, Mondays at 8pm, through October 28, 2019 (except the Saturday 9/28 performance will be a 2pm matinee, and no performance on Sunday 9/29). 

Where: Rogue Machine (in the Electric Lodge), 1416 Electric Ave, Venice, CA 90291. 

Tickets: $40, student discounts $25; $10 on 9/16, 9/27; $20 on 10/4, 10/11. Reservations: 855-585-5185 or at http://www.roguemachinetheatre.com