One can imagine that this type of performance really brings a cast together throughout the process. The four Silberman siblings in the world premier of “Walking In Space” at THEATRE WEST are a perfect fit for each other despite what they think. The zingers and retorts fly back and forth with the greatest of ease. The self deprecating humor and verbal sparring matches make for a delightful night reminiscent of watching the final taping of a multi-camera sitcom.
Set in 1972, Writer GARRY MICHAEL KLUGER has constructed a family based on his own deeply personal experience and his care for each child is evident. His script is quick with a joke as it aids each personality to find their unique voice amidst some pretty stifling circumstances. Director ARDEN TERESA LEWIS has developed an ensemble that really feels like a family. They listen to each other despite the urgency and stay connected despite the stakes.
The Silbermans don’t have the luxury of living in 2023 and are on the razors edge without precedent to follow. It falls on the youngest Silberman “Lori” played by LIV DENEVI to be the stalwart custodian. She handles it remarkably well, which is a testament to having a strong nucleus that only contains a sister and two brothers. She is as wise beyond her years as she is mischievously clever. Her sardonic wit dissects the tension created by the mounting chaos her family faces. She is a grounding force in what sometimes could be the frantic pacing of the show. When she speaks we listen. DENEVI has the remarkable ability to take charge with every word.
The oldest Silberman sibling “Patti” played by MARY ELISABETH SOMERS should be the adult in the room but we find her overwhelmed by having to step back into the life she escaped. “Patti” is wound tight as tight as can be throughout the first act. Her shoulders threaten to pop her head like a zit and everyone who crosses her gets theirs bit right off. It looks exhausting and I can imagine it would be to act as well. SOMERS is put through an endurance test few can handle. In the second act she is finally able to regain the grace we could all sense was buried in there somewhere. SOMERS background as a dancer shimmers through in the second act as her guard comes down and she elegantly sneaks in a playful seduction of her long time on again off again beau. Seeing her open up is one of the biggest gifts we get during the show.
Another gift to theatre and to the world premier of “Walking In Space” is the second oldest sibling “Kirby” played by CECIL JENNINGS. Honestly, after watching JENNINGS originate this role I don’t think I can ever picture anyone else doing it. Serendipity in casting is rarer than you think but everything here fits. It’s one of those performances that feels so natural it’s as if it was created alongside him. From the acerbic wit to the counter culture beard he blends elements of each family member together so well it’s astonishing. He really is at home in this role.
Rounding out our nuclear core is the third sibling “Matty” played by HOGAN MASON. “Matty” can be a bit of an enigma at times. He has the propensity to bottle up emotions and reminded me of a brooding “Hamlet”. However, when he does end up taking action it almost feels out of character. There must be a maelstrom of conflicting desires inside of him and since everything is kept so close to the vest maybe the show lets them out too soon. We can tell “Matty” has a keen mind but lacks emotional maturity. HOGAN juggles this dichotomy well even though the play occasionally throws him some curveballs. For instance, there is a moment where he second guesses himself immediately after achieving something downright heroic. We saw him fight so hard for a win only to see him shift so abruptly. It seemed to end the moment on an odd note.
“Walking In Space” can definitely throw you for a loop especially if you are familiar with the “real antagonist” of the show. Like the road of life it has its twists, turns, forks, detours, and cliffs without guardrails. Heck, we find all of those in the Silbermans mother “Francine”, played by KATHIE BARNES, as she struggles with that aforementioned antagonist. There are speed bumps and potholes, and maybe a bit too much reminiscing about past events, but what makes the journey worth it is the time you have with the company you are in. If you buckle up and steel yourself for this two hour trip down memory lane you will surely enjoy the ride.
Theatre West presents the world premiere of Walking in Space.
• Written by Garry Michael Kluger
• Directed by Arden Teresa Lewis
• Starring Kathie Barnes, Andrew Cereghino, Liv Denevi, Cecil Jennings, Hogan Mason, David Mingrino, Mary Elisabeth Somers
• Presented by Theatre West
September 8 – October 8:• Fridays at 8 p.m.: Sept. 8, Sept. 15, Sept. 22, Sept. 29*; Oct. 6
• Saturdays at 8 p.m.: Sept. 9, Sept. 16, Sept. 23, Sept. 30; Oct. 7
• Sundays at 2 p.m.: Sept. 10, Sept. 17, Sept. 24, Oct. 1**; Oct. 8
*ASL interpreted performance on Friday, Sept. 29 at 8 p.m.
**Sensory-friendly performance on Sunday, Oct. 1 at 2 p.m.
3333 Cahuenga Blvd. West
Los Angeles, CA 90068
(across the street from Universal CityWalk, between Barham and Lankershim)
• Metered street parking
• Paid lot ($10 cash only) available across the street from the theater
• $35 online with advance purchase
• $40 at the door
• $30 tickets available for students, veterans and members of the military
Recommended for mature audiences ages 14+
TheatreWest.org (323) 851-7977