“Daytona” is a Touching Drama With Heart

Review by Peter Foldy

The devil is in the details of Daytona, a play making its American premiere at the Rogue Machine Theatre in Hollywood. Written by Oliver Cotton, produced by John Perrin Flynn and beautifully directed by Elina de Santos, the story is set in 1986 where we meet a couple of aging holocaust survivors, Elli (Sharron Shayne) and her husband, Joe (George Wyner). Married right after the war and still trying to leave the past behind, Joe and Elli are trying to enjoy their twilight years. Joe is at the tail end of a career as an accountant. Elli loves ballroom dancing, and the two of them are currently excited about a competition the following evening.

When Ellie leaves to visit her sister, Joe is stunned to find a man ringing the doorbell of his Brooklyn apartment. It is his brother, Billy (Richard Fancy), someone Joe hasn’t seen in over thirty years. Billy had disappeared without a word, taking some of Joe’s money with him. It’s an awkward reunion and after the shock wears off, Joe demands answers.

Without giving too much away, we learn that Billy and Joe were in a concentration camp together. Since leaving New York, Billy changed his name, married a Christian woman and has been living an ordinary, unfulfilled life in the mid-west. It is when Joe learns that his brother committed a violent act of revenge in Florida, and is now on the run from the law, that the story really begins to pick up steam.

When Elli returns she is equally shocked to see her missing brother-in-law and soon it becomes clear that there is a complex family drama in play. A twisted dynamic that goes back as far as 1945. As the tension and the urgency amp up we realize that there may be no happy ending here, which is sad as these survivors certainly deserve peace of mind.

Despite some fluctuation with her German accent, Sharron Shayne is powerful as the heart-broken Elli. She wears her pain on her sleeve as she confronts what could have been. George Wyner is believable as a man resigned to play the cards that life has dealt him, his inner rage swept under the carpet long ago.

Richard Fancy’s slow delivery seems odd at first but as his story plays out, he manages to make you care. All three performers are seasoned pros and have put their hearts into this play.

Production values, like most shows by Rogue Machine, are high. Hillary Bauman’s set design, Leigh Roston’s lighting and Kate Bergh’s costume all complement the play.

Despite it’s running time of two and half hours, (including a ten minute intermission), Daytona manages to get under your skin. It deals with the loss of love, the will to survive and the difficulty of letting go, it’s tragic, fragile characters are not ones you are likely to forget.

When: Saturdays and Mondays at 8:30pm, and Sundays at 3:00pm through October 30, 2017 (no performances on Monday Sept. 25th & Oct. 2nd).

Where: Rogue Machine in The Met, 1089 N Oxford Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90029.

Tickets: $40.00 Purchase at the box office starting at 7:30pm the night of the show. (Availability is limited).

Reservations: 855-585-5185 or at www.roguemachinetheatre.com  

Photos by: John Perrin Flynn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rogue Machine Launches Season 10

Los Angeles, CA – (February 3, 2017)

Multi-award winning ROGUE MACHINE THEATRE (Best Production Award winner 2013, 2011 and 2010 – Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle, Ovation) is back for a new season in Los Angeles beginning March 4, 2017.

SEASON TEN main stage offerings will begin with the West Coast Premiere of Still Life directed by Michael Peretzian and opening at 8:30pm on March 4th. Broadway playwright and Academy Award winner Alexander Dinelaris (Birdman; On Your Feet) examines the causal link between life and death, ethics and success, art and redemption. How do we endure loss and re-find the will to make something of our lives? Performance will be at 8:30pm Saturdays and Mondays, 3pm on Sundays through April 23rd. Tickets are $40 at and can be reserved at http://www.roguemachinetheatre.com. For more information call 855-585-5185.

Founding Artistic Director of Rogue Machine, John Perrin Flynn

Lorraine Hansberry’s Les Blancs, directed by Gregg Daniels, will make its Los Angeles Premiere in late May. Hansberry considered this her most important play – This lost masterpiece had a celebrated revival by The National Theatre in 2016. A tale of exploding colonial tensions and lost fathers, Les Blancs reveals the impossible moral choices faced by individuals who must reconcile personal happiness with idealism. What happens when what we want and what we think is right is not what must be done?

Daytona by Oliver Cotton, directed by Elina DeSantos, opens late September r, an American Premiere. Witty and alternately haunting, Daytona is a love story about three people who find themselves in crisis when the long-buried past returns to disturb the fragile lives they have constructed to survive. How do we forgive ourselves, and others, while living with what we have done?

I’m Gonna Pray for You So Hard by Halley Feiffer, opens in late spring. This West Coast Premiere is a dark, exhilaratingly toxic and very funny, new play. It pulls the audience into the middle of a deeply complicated relationship and sheds a disturbing new light on the eternal struggles of parents and children to find common ground in a world where success and greed are the cultures touch points. Is it a winner-take-all world?

Bled for the Household Truth by Ruth Fowler, directed by Cameron Watson, will open in the Fall. A World Premiere, Fowler is a radical writer who first came to media attention after writing several articles for The Village Voice as “Mimi.” She chronicled her life as a stripper in Manhattan while attempting to obtain a work visa. Bled is a study of modern alienation, about how difficult it has become for young Americans to trust in a broken cynical world that both forces and promotes “Me first.” Will compassion no longer redeem us?
Rogue Machine is located at The Met, 1089 N Oxford Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90029. Reservations: 855-585-5185 or at http://www.roguemachinetheatre.com

Ticketing information will be announced shortly, and will be available by visiting http://www.roguemachinetheatre.com

 

Rogue Machine Presents Plays New To Los Angeles

NOW IN THEIR NEW SPACE AT THE MET

John Perrin Flynn is well aware that, beyond satisfying our need to be entertained, finding new writing talent and plays are an essential part of creating our historical footprint, one that defines current culture. Flynn is the Founding Artistic Director of Rogue Machine, one of the top theatre companies in Los Angeles.

John Perrin Flynn

John Perrin Flynn

What is important to us now, and who are we today? Answering those questions, in part, can come from experiencing current entertainment whether it comes from books, television programming, films, or theatre. Flynn thinks Los Angeles is rich with talent that identifies how we are thinking, evolving, or failing, and he wants what you see on stage at Rogue Machine to reflect that. For the audience to ask questions. Winning “Best Production” for three Seasons (Ovation and Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Awards), Rogue Machine is known for the unique plays they present and the high quality of their productions, some of which continue on to great success in regional theaters across the country and in New York.

This year brings more success to the company, and their season has barely begun. We asked John Perrin Flynn some questions about the company and how these wonderful productions come about.

HR: You have established a 2 for 2 winning record this season for producing the plays “Pocatello” and “Honky,” having just opened. What makes you chose to produce a particular work? What was it about “Honky” that got your attention?

Flynn: Theatre is a public service. Theatre can’t support itself. So, I think there is an implicit agreement between a theatre and the community that supports it. Our responsibility as artists is to show ourselves as we are – not to judge but to question. I look for plays that tackle subjects important to who we are now, to how we live now. I think plays should be entertaining but also challenging. We could no longer afford to stay on Pico Boulevard because the owner of the building kept raising our rent. We were lucky in that Paul Koslo, who runs the Met, had a vacancy and reached out to me when he heard that we were in trouble. It’s a wonderful theatre. When I knew for certain that we were moving I sat in The Met theatre by myself and thought about the move and about how important our first production there would be. I had already read Sam Hunter’s “Pocatello” and was intending to produce it in 2017. I had a sense that it would fit the theatre very well and that we could cast it with a number of well-known Rogue Machine actors. I thought our production of “Pocatello” would speak to who we are and what we do, so that would be a great way to kick off Rogue Machine in a new location.

Burl Moseley and Bruce Nozick

Burl Moseley and Bruce Nozick

Greg Kalleres’s “Honky” was on the bill for 2016. Our literary manager, Tim Cummings, had found it in an obscure anthology of plays. He loved it and sent it on to me – I also loved it. “Honky” is a very funny play but it also makes you think, and it makes you feel just a tad uncomfortable. I asked Gregg Daniel to direct a reading – he fell in love with the play as well. After that, our main challenge was scheduling.

HR: What’s coming up for the rest of the year? Why did you decide to participate in the Hollywood Fringe Festival?

Flynn: We had originally wanted to do a season of plays that examine the question of race in America, but when we had to move we had to scuttle some of our plans because the move threw off our entire schedule. We have two great pieces that we will do sometime in the near future that both have directors attached. The first is a piece called “Dutch Masters” by Greg Keller, which in some ways is a follow-up piece to “Dutchman.” Guillermo Cienfuegos, who directed Pinter’s “The Homecoming” and a glorious “Henry IV” for Pacific Resident Theatre is attached to direct. The other is a play from England called “Hang” by Debbie Tucker Green. It was done at the Royal Court and I think that we may stage the American premiere. Elina de Santos, who is our co-artistic director, will be directing it.

We decided to participate in the Hollywood Fringe Festival because The Met is a Fringe venue and because I was impressed last year with how much of an event the Fringe has become. There’s great energy there and we wanted to be a part of it.

Tasha Ames and James Liebman

Tasha Ames and James Liebman

HR: Can you talk about the two plays that you have in Fringe, and why those plays?

FLYNN: “Smoke” by Kim Davies is not for the fainthearted. If we were still on Pico Boulevard we would’ve produced it as a late-night show. It seems like the perfect fit for Fringe. It’s funny, dark – very dark – and rude, in a sophisticated way. It’s a tour de force for the actors and the director and we have assembled a great team. Lisa James is directing and Patrick Stafford, who was in last year’s production of “Cock” (winning the Lead Performer award from LADCC), stars along with Emily James (no relation). Emily was just seen in “Stage Kiss” at The Geffen. “Bull” is Mike Bartlett’s follow-up to “Cock.” It’s not the same people or the same story but it’s the same technique – a play performed without props or specific set – and every bit as much of a fight. Jen Pollono is directing the fabulous cast – including Kevin Daniels (One Night in Miami…), Josh Bitton (Dirty Filthy Love Story and Lost Girls), Lesley Fera, and Alex Whittington.

HR: Rogue Machine presents plays that are new to Los Angeles. Why is that an important part of your company’s mission?

FLYNN: Again, this has to do with how we see what a theatre should be in a community. There are many wonderful classics but they get done all too often. There are some wonderful plays that are new that were not getting done in Los Angeles and we wanted to bring them here – we thought it was important that LA Theatre goers were exposed to these plays and playwrights. We also do world premieres. Some of the very best actors in the world live here and are passionate about their art. They perform as volunteers in the 99 seat theatre community because they want to make art. There are wonderful directors and amazing designers here as well. This is simply just a great place for playwrights to work.

This community has become a laboratory, a generator. We can afford to take the risks that larger theaters cannot, and we have been very successful. Two of John Pollono’s plays, “Small Engine Repair” and “Lost Girls” have had subsequent productions Off-Broadway in New York. “One Night in Miami… by Kemp Powers, has had two major American regional theatre productions and will be opening at the Donmar Warehouse in London in October. Henry Murray’s “Treefall” has been produced six times since its world premiere here in 2010.

Matthew Hancock

Matthew Hancock

HR: Do you have a development program that allows writers to grow their new work within your company?

FLYNN: Yes. We have a number of ways that we work with writers.  Part of our mission is to help writers whether we are particularly interested in producing that particular play or not. This gets tricky; it’s a judgment call. We have to like the writer well enough or the writer has to be or have been associated with us.

Our most successful work with writers comes from intensive workshops with full casts. These are often, but not always, shows we may produce. We sit around a table reading and discussing. The playwright gets to work with truly exceptional actors and discuss the play with them. She/he writes and re-writes until we reach a point where the work has progressed as much as this process can offer and then we’ll do a public reading.

HR: How’s your outlook on theater in Los Angeles?

FLYNN: The productions I see in the small venues here in town are often staggeringly good. There’s a lot of world-class work being done here. There are five or six theaters whose work is consistently extraordinary. There are problems. A lot of Los Angeles is not aware of how great some of the theatre here is. There are people who live here who love theatre and don’t know that there’s great theatre happening here. Intimate theatre is intimate. It is like no other theatre experience you will ever have. You sit sometimes as close as 3 feet away from some of the best actors in the world. It’s immersive, sometimes unsettling and often thrilling. There is a couple that comes to Rogue Machine who fly in from Florida to go to theatre here. They see plays at 5 or 6 intimate theatres when they are here. They used to go to New York but it’s cheaper here and they say it’s better. We need to work together to get the word out. Theatre this good deserves an audience.

Theatre is dependent upon charitable donations. Most of the unearned income that keeps theaters alive comes from private donors, and even the larger theaters get most of their support from private donors. Right now there is not a great deal of awareness in the giving community that these theaters exist, that they’re doing great work, and that they are generating new work that is going all over the world. Rogue Machine and its colleagues are struggling to survive. Hopefully the continued great work everyone is doing will help, but great work alone is not enough – we must find a way for us all to work together to create a greater community awareness of the treasure that we have here in Los Angeles, the gem that intimate theatre can be.

Currently, Rogue Machine’s production of “Honky,” by Greg Kalleres, is receiving rave reviews at The Met, and a Critics’ Pick from the LA Times.

The cast includes Tasha Ames, Ron Bottitta, Matthew Hancock, Christian Henley, James Liebman, Burl Moseley, Bruce Nozick, and Inger Tudor, with Rebecca Larsen as an alternate.

HONKY runs Fridays and Saturdays at 8:30pm, Sundays at 3pm through June 12, 2016. ROGUE MACHINE is located at The Met, 1089 N Oxford Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90029. Tickets are $34.99. Reservations: 855-585-5185 or at www.roguemachinetheatre.com

 

 

Need To Know – A Play Review

By Peter Foldy

NEED TO KNOW is a play you need to see. Sharp, edgy dialogue, compelling performances and a story that bubbles with humor but gradually turns dark and menacing are just some of the welcome ingredients of this Rogue Machine World Premier by playwright, Jonathan Caren.

The story deals with a likable young couple, Lilly and Steven (Corryn Cummins and Lucas Near-Verbrugghe) who move back to New York from L.A. and soon encounter a dorky and somewhat creepy neighbor, Mark, (Tim Cummings) who lives in the apartment next door.

Corryn Cummins & Lucas Near-Verbrugghe

Corryn Cummins & Lucas Near-Verbrugghe

After inviting him in for a quick hello, they discover that Mark, like Lilly, is a novelist with a book about to be published.

Once Mark leaves, Lilly and Steven instantly hit google, finding out as much as they can about the man. As they mock his book concept, his mannerisms and his unbearable halitosis, they hear a noise from Mark’s apartment.

Are the walls really that thin? Did Mark just overhear what they were saying about him?

The proximity soon causes Steven and Lilly to tone down their conversations and become self conscious in their own apartment, even to the point of thinking twice about where they make love.

Before long there is a Facebook stalk-off, with both the couple and their neighbor compiling as much info about the other as available on line. Mark’s sharp mind allows him to accurately analyze his finding and pretty soon he has a credible concept of what Steven and Lilly are all about. It really isn’t that hard. It’s all there on line.

Mark uses what he knows to stir the pot and create tension in an already fragile relationship leading to a final confrontation that hint at dire consequences.

Corryn Cummins, Tim Cummings & Lucas Near-Verbrugghe

Corryn Cummins, Tim Cummings & Lucas Near-Verbruggheconfrontation with Steven that hint at dire consequences.

The smart script by Caren keeps the surprises coming. He also asks an important question. Can someone’s life story be accurately pieced together by following their Facebook timeline?  The answer would seem to be yes. Most of us are quick to share every aspect of our existence, manipulating our story to suit our needs, not thinking that this could be used against us.

Just how much do people really need to know? And how often are we wrong about other people, misreading something innocent on line as something more?

Performances in Need to Know are outstanding. Tim Cummings gives a brilliant, nuanced turn as Mark, finding a nice balance here. Is his character a sad, lonely stalker with bad breath, or is there a kinder gentler soul lurking inside?

Lucas Near-Verbrugghe is excellent as Steven, the temperamental yet likable yuppie with a dark back story.  Corryn Cummins as Lilly is spot on as the perfect buffer between these two men whose intensity toward each helps fuel the play.

Tim Cummings & Lucas Near-Verbrugghe

Tim Cummings & Lucas Near-Verbrugghe

Director, Bart DeLorenzo balances the tension with humor and ably guides his cast toward the surprising conclusion.

There is an impressive scenic design by Stephanie Kerley-Schwartz. She takes a tiny theater space and creates an environment that’s real and highly compliments the production.

Kudos also to Chu-Hsuan Chang’s lighting design and John Zalewski for sound.

Though there were no credits given, the music cues between scenes, and the underscore during the play also worked well to lift the tension and create emotion as needed.

 Need to Know is a fast paced, highly entertaining piece of theater. It runs Saturdays at 5pm, Sundays at 7pm and Mondays at 8pm.

 Where: Rogue Machine Theatre, 5041 West Pico Blvd. Los Angeles 90019, (855) 585-518

Tickets: $34.99 for Saturday performances, $29.99 for Sundays and Mondays. www.roguemachinetheatre.com

Scheduled to End: December 13, 2015

Photos by: John Perrin Flynn

 

 

 

Luka’s Room At The Rogue Machine Theatre: A Review

August 4, 2015

LUKA’S ROOM HOLDS A SECRET–DON’T GIVE IT AWAY

Review by: Peter Foldy

All Luka wants is be a normal college kid–but in Rob Mersola’s excellent new play, LUKA’S ROOM, directed by Joshua Bitton, that is not quite how things work out.

After his father runs out of money due in part to a nasty divorce, 19 year old Luka is forced to transfer from Arizona State to a Valley College and move in with his eccentric Grandma Franca, a lady in the early stages of Alzheimer’s. Luka is surprised to find that his recently paroled Image 1Uncle Nick, a sleaze bag who went to jail for credit card and identity theft, is also sharing the house.

Movie star handsome yet somewhat naive, Luka is a horny young lad who has yet to fully find his footing with members of the opposite sex. When one of his uncle’s acquaintances, a free spirited young blond called Angie, comes on to him, Luka is surprised to find that this little hottie is willing to jump into bed with him. But that’s exactly what happens. What Luka doesn’t realize is that this is not some random hook up. There is greed and manipulation in the air and as this sordid, dysfunctional tale unfolds, our young college student is taken for a wild ride that will more than likely change him forever.

As the weeks pass, Luka finds that his winning streak with women is unstoppable. His conquests seem way too easy. Before long he starts to think that making love with someone you care about, (in his case, Angie), trumps his many one night stands.

It would be unfair to reveal more than that because the twists in Mersola’s play are what make “Luka’s Room” so much fun. The clues are there, but do yourself a favor and don’t look too hard. Just enjoy the surprise when it comes.

Mersola manages to push the envelope with this family dramedy as he exploresImage 2 not only Luka’s situation but also touches on our current state of openness.

If you think about it, we know more about our friends than any other generation in history. We have seen photos of their wives, girlfriends, kids,  pets and appendix scars. We are told about their fun times as well as their losses and humiliations. And many of us are just as willing to share our private moments too. In this Twitter, Facebook, Instagram world, our lives have become an open book–and this is the playing field on which we find ourselves in “Luka’s Room.”

Nick Marini is excellent as “Luka.” He is given a lot to work with here. A solid arc that sees him change from an innocent college boy to being hardened in more ways than one.  As the center piece of the production Marini handles his role with charm and confidence. He is a likeable young actor who should have a great future ahead of him.

Alex Fernandez as “Uncle Nick” is loud and brash as a low level yet imaginative petty criminal who seizes an opportunity no matter who gets hurt in the process. Fernandez is the source of a lot of the humor in the play and his energy helps keep the piece moving. I only wish he wouldn’t slam every door on stage with such force.  Image It rattled the set each and every time it happened.  It’s a small complaint but I had to say it.

Joanna Lipari as the confused F-bomb dropping “Grandma Franca” lands a few big punchlines throughout the play. It’s no easy feat keeping a pace with Alex Fernandez and Nick Marini’s banter, but Ms. Lipari goes the distance here, even giving us one jaw dropping scene that had the opening night audience howling.

Sarah Scott as “Angie” finds a nice balance between her character’s hyper-sexuality and delicate vulnerability. She has an exhilarating sense of abandon during her naughty little strip-tease performance and like Luka, she is given a satisfying arc where, in some small fashion, “Angie” is able to come to terms with herself.

The set by John Iacovelli is exceptionally detailed as is the intricate video design by Nicholas Santiago. Kudos also to Leigh Allen for Lighting Design and to Michele Young for her costumes.

“Luka’s Room” is a compelling production that takes an episodic approach to a timely subject. With it’s talented cast who deliver spot-on performances, it is edgy theater that definitely should not be missed.

Where: Rogue Machine Theatre, 5041 W. Pico Blvd., LA, CA 90019

When: 8pm Fridays and Saturdays, 3pm on Sundays through September 20, 2015
(No Performance on Saturday, August 22nd)

Tickets: $30 – $35.

Reservations: 855-585-5185 or at www.roguemachinetheatre.com

(Photos by: John Perrin Flynn)

 

 

 

Actors Go Rogue For 2015 Nude Calender

Los Angeles, CA:  January 6, 2015

Trust the Rogue Machine Theatre in Los Angeles, producers of edgy, provocative plays such as Mike Bartlett’s award winning, “Cock” and the world premier of L.R. Gordon’s “Uploaded”Image 2 to come up with a sexy way to raise money for their up-coming 2015 season.   They’ve gone rogue and have just released a new calender featuring nude photos of cast members from Rogue Machine’s various productions.  And it isn’t just cheese and beefcake.  Testing the notion that brains and brawn sells, the Bard Laid Bare Calendar features notable death and battle scenes from Shakespeare’s greatest plays as portrayed by associates of this innovative theater company.

It seems most of the actors had no qualms about stripping for the camera.

“I’m not a huge fan of taking my clothes off for strangers. In fact, this is a first,” stated Justin Okin who portrays Brutus from Julius Caesar.  “I did this because Rogue Machine has shown me time and time

again that diving off the edgeImage 1 without knowing what is on the other side is truly the most ambitious and rewarding way to tell stories.”

And Burt Grinstead who recreated Hamlet for the photo shoot say he agreed to get naked because, in his words, “what better way to make it in Hollywood than to show a little skin.”

No doubt Grinstead isn’t the first to come up with that concept.

Proceeds from the sale of the calendar will go to support the Rogue Machine Theatre, primarily to purchase new light and sound equipment.

Participants of "The Bard Laid Bare" Calendar from Rogue Machine

Participants of “The Bard Laid Bare” Calendar from Rogue Machine

Considering the fine quality of Rogue Machine’s productions the selling price of $20.00 is more than a worthwhile investment.

You can order your copy of the Bard Laid Bare Calendar HERE or pick one up at the theater which is located at: 5041 West Pico Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90019

Calendar Photos by: Jeff Lorch

 

 

“Uploaded” Is the New Religion at The Rogue Machine Theatre

Review by Peter Foldy

Can a slacker, a young drug dealer and a free thinking hippie girl find happiness by starting a new religion in the middle of the desert?  That’s the question L.R. Gordon’s new play attempts to answer at the Rogue Machine Theatre’s Off-The-Clock World Premier presentation, “UPLOADED.”

When his dad finally cuts him off financially, Daniel (Jeff Lorch)  a 30 something layabout, goes on an angry, cocaine fueled, kinetic rant about the world and everyone in it.  As Daniel’s friend and local drug dealer, SamQuastOdomLorch (Eric Odom) continues to help him get him wasted on a new concoction Sam calls “the screwdriver” (half cocaine, half adderall), Daniel has an epiphany.  He suddenly comes to the realization that what he really needs to do is become a prophet.  To start a new religion.  And why not?  In this world of instant fame, (no talent or experience required), Daniel is a worthy candidate.  At least in his mind.

For reasons unknown, Sam initially plays along  as Daniel fleshes out the kinks of this new religion that he is now calling “Uploading.”   Basing his “brilliant” idea on something we all have, DNA, Daniel convinces Sam to accompany him to the desert where Daniel can begin preaching his genius.

At a sleazy Grand Canyon motel a couple of days later Sam is surprised when Daniel returns with his first believer, a beautiful young woman, Anikka (Suzanne Quast).  Tattooed and open minded, she tells the lads that her wealthy father loves to invest in schemes and just might be willing to finance a new one.

This is music to Daniel’s ears.  HeOdomQuast HiRes and Anikka quickly become lovers and get right to work on making a baby together.  But that doesn’t keep Anikka from also flirting with Sam, letting him catch a glimpse of her naked.  Before long, Sam wants what Daniel is getting.  To do that he has to prove to Anikka that he can make a commitment–that he is willing to go along with the program.

This impromptu love triangle ultimately leads to a violent finale, one that may inadvertently see Daniel’s “Uploading” concept take a small step forward.

Actor, Jeff Lorch brings his Daniel close to the top, if not quite over it as the the new prophet in training.  Eric Odom is initially monotone and merely reactive as Sam, his purpose and intention not quite clear, but it is ultimately Sam’s character that has the biggest arc in the play, and by the end of this twisted story, Odom ably steps it up a notch from his earlier scenes.

It is Suzanne Quast as Anikka,LorchQuast-4 however, who manages to ground the show and raise the stakes in “Uploaded.”  She is the prize worth fighting for.  Sexy, comfortable and always in control, Quast is the center-piece of the production.

Clocking in at 75 minutes, “Uploaded” moves at a clip with Mark L. Taylor’s fast paced direction.

Performed on the set of a different play that runs at the Rogue Machine, the creatives makes good use of what is available–but it is also the imaginative image slide projections designed by Nick Santiago, as well Stephen “DJ Baba Earl” Nichols excellent sound design that further help to set the appropriate mood.

This high energy, satirical glimpse into Generation Y’s narcissistic pursuit of easy-come fame is a compelling piece of theater.  “Uploaded” is well worth the price of admission.

“Uploaded” plays at the Rogue Machine Theatre, 5041 Pico Blvd., Los Angeles.

10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Ends Nov. 22.

Reservations: (855) 585-5185 or roguemachinetheatre.com/wordpress/show-info/uploaded/.

Photo Credit: John Flynn

 

 

 

“Cock” – A Review

by Peter Foldy

An impressive cast and a talented director bring the provocative, award winning playCock” to life at the Rogue Machine Theatre on Pico Blvd in Los Angeles.

Written by Mike Bartlett, “Cock” tells the story of a young man named John who has been living with his male lover, “M” for the past seven years.  Their relationship is passionate and comfortable, though “M” often belittles John and they ultimately break up, though neither expects the separation to be permanent.

The Cast of "Cock"

The Cast of “Cock”

During their time apart, John meets a young woman named “W” and much to his surprise, they become lovers.  The fact that he is able to perform sexually and even enjoy this new relationship with “W” puzzles but pleases John and before long he realizes that what he has with his new female companion is perhaps more gratifying than his life with “M.”

“W” also falls hard for John and the couple soon starts planning a life together, despite the fact that John is not entirely sure this is what he really wants.  Though he has enjoyed his flirtation with heterosexuality, he seems to be missing “M” and their life together.

“M” feels great pain at having lost John and invites him and “W” to dinner, surprising them with the fact that “M’s” devoted father, “F” will also be joining them.  “F” is a traditionalist who initially had trouble accepting his son’s sexuality. In his day men were put in prison for being homosexual but he has had to come to terms with “M’s” lifestyle, and now “F” wants only one thing.  For his son to be happy.  He has shown up at the dinner with a low-keyed determination to keep John and “M” together.

Rebecca Mozo and Patrick Stafford in "Cock"

Rebecca Mozo and Patrick Stafford in “Cock”

There are no sets or props used in “Cock.”  The production utilizes only a small, circular stage where the action unfolds.  The audience sits looking down at the performers, much as they would at a boxing match—or a cockfight. This tight environment creates considerable intimacy.  The actors pose, prance and spar, circling each other as they face off, the words, all delivered with a UK accent, roll out of their mouths like kicks to the groin or stabs to the heart.

As the often humorous dialogue drives the action forward, the emotional stakes keep mounting.  At times “W” seems to have the upper hand, calling “M” and “F” out on their hypocrisy, all the while John’s confusion growing deeper.

The question is can we blame John?  Does a successful sexual encounter with the opposite sex make a person one thing or another?  Does one really need to choose a lifestyle based on that encounter?  Should anyone even care?   The characters in “Cock” certainly do, and for ninety minutes on opening night, so did the audience.

Only a highly talented group of actors could deliver the play’s potent message, and the cast at the Rogue Machine is all of that and more.  They manage to bring heart and pathos to this psychodrama, making the audience relate to their struggle–perhaps even find a connection with at least one or more of these characters.

Patrick Stafford as “John” is both fragile and vulnerable as he navigates the emotional minefield he is forced to cross. Through John’s surprising discovery Mr. Stafford let’s us witness his second coming of age and the angst that accompanies it.

Mathew Elkins, (also a producer of the play), as “M” is quirky and manipulative as the jilted lover.  Elkins finds a strong balance between being somewhat campy and being the adult in his relationship with the younger John.  His strong ability to deliver comedy is a source of considerable laughter in the piece.

Rebecca Mozo is powerful as “W,” perhaps the most grounded of the characters.  Mozo transitions nicely from the young woman who, like John, is also experimenting, to a woman in love, determined to keep her man.

George Itzin shows up in the latter part of the play and brings an understated performance as “F.”  Though he does have a dog in this fight, Itzin is the chosen arbitrator of the conflict and manages gives “F” the ability of underhanded manipulation, making that his weapon of choice.

Cameron Watson’s fine direction drives the piece at a clip while maintaining its clarity.  The ninety minutes fly by and you almost wish you could see what happens after the curtain goes down.

Technical credits are impressive.  Jared A Sayeg’s creative lighting design is a useful tool in telling this story.  Stephen Gifford’s scenic design is bold and well compliments the set up.  Kudos also to Kate Bergh’s costume design and Christopher Moscatiello’s sound.

As the promo material states, “Cock” has no intermission, no retreat and no surrender.  It’s a play that is well worth checking out.

COCK

Rogue Machine Theatre

5041 W. Pico Blvd.

Los Angeles, CA 90019

 Reservations: 855 585 5185

 Opened: September 13, 2014

Schedule: 5 pm Saturdays, 7 pm Sundays and 8 pm Mondays

(No performance on 10/20, 11/2)

Closes November 3, 2014

 $30.

www.roguemachinetheatre.com

Photo Credit: John Flynn

Frozen Lives Begin to Thaw In Paternus

Theater Review: by Peter Foldy

What if you’ve never been able to say the things you needed to say to someone you love.  Not till it’s too late.  And then you realize that you might even have to make the ultimate sacrifice for that person, but that act of selfless courage may or may not be enough to save their life. Darrell-Larson-and-Timothy-Walker-in-PATERNUS-at-Rogue-Machine-Theatre. That is the basic premise of Daphne Malfitano’s new play, “Paternus,” making its world premier at the Rogue Machine Theatre in Los Angeles.

Darrel Larson as “Steve” and Timothy Walker as his son, “Stephen” portrays a father and son embarking on a four hour drive to visit family when they are blindsided by an intense snowstorm that that finds them trapped in their RV and potentially dooms them with little hope of survival.

The story launches with it’s climactic high point and gradually unfolds in a series of flashbacks, each character peeling back the layers of what we discover to be a strained relationship.  And yet there is love and caring on both sides.  Steve is a tough dad, a military man who has seen the brutality of war.  His son, Stephen a typical teenager who resents having to accompany his father on this unexpected journey.  Both men soon struggle to come to terms with the need toPaternicus_Flynn do whatever it takes to survive.  For the father it is a chance to vindicate his part in this unrealized relationship.

After giving away the ending in the first few moments, writer, Malfitano, takes us to somewhat familiar territory as the father and son recap their past differences.  How to make this compelling is the challenge that Malfitano faces.  Fortunately her talented cast rise to the occasion.  An empathetic Timothy Walker is excellent as a boy struggling with his brutal reality.  One senses his innocence, his desire to survive as we gradually discover his character’s inner voice.

Darrell Larson grounds the play with his strong performance.  His character makes a choice to open his heart, his love for his son no longer buried under the macho façade that has kept these two from any meaningful communication.

Ably directed by Mark St. Amant, the play has a cinematic feel, the production employing black & white film clips of the location in which the action takes place.  Produced on the set of another production that runs at the theater, the out of kilter set design, or lack of one, is not hard to get over.  Brendan Han’s original score and sound design most certainly compliments the piece.

Running at a brisk 45 minutes, “Paternus” is intense and thought provoking.  A well performed two hander that is certainly worth a look.

Rogue Machine Theatre, 5041 Pico Blvd. (near La Brea Friday and Saturday at 10:30 pm (added performance July 31 at 8:00pm).

Scheduled to end August 9, 2013

For tickets call (855) 589-5185, or visit www.RogueMachineTheatre.com

Photos by John Flynn