Change Is Inevitable But Not Always Altruistic in Rogue Machine’s “can I touch it?”

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Shay Solomon is many things – but there’s one thing she’s definitely not: a pawn in the bank’s efforts to buy up foreclosed real estate.

Safiya Fredericks and Suzen Baraka in “Can I Touch It?” – Photo by Jeff Lorch

Imagine George Bailey’s family-owned small business shoved into a time capsule and popped out 77 years later in present-day Boston, MA. Add the melodic, soulful sounds of Erykah Badu’s “Didn’t Cha Know” and the essence of the beautiful, black-owned Shay Solomon’s Wig and Beauty Supply shop, and you have the vibe of francisca da silveira’s can i touch it?, at Rogue Machine in the Matrix Theatre. Shay (Safiya Fredericks) is a single parent fighting for her future, her community, her roots and most importantly, her daughter’s future. da silveira (who prefers all lower case) takes us on a journey that so many millennials have become accustomed to while growing up in metropolitan and/or inner cities through the 90’s and early 2000s. Sometimes for the better, but oftentimes with a sacrifice of the culture and origin of the community.

Iesha Daniels and Suzen Baraka – Photo by Jeff Lorch

Much to the same effect of the greedy Mr. Potter in “It’s A Wonderful Life,” Patron Bank slithers their way through attempts to strong-arm the last of the small businesses in the area by rocketing interest rates to an unattainable level. Shay is determined to protect her teenage daughter, Ruth, (Iesha M. Daniels), and dreams of her going to college while still fighting every inch of the way to keep her shop.  Shay’s single employee, Meeka (Suzen Baraka) gives us some down-right truth and honesty that inspires Shay to fight. Her witty and honest opinions are a refreshing take on the reality of the situation. Baraka’s flip as another integral character in the story, on the opposite side of things (yes, Beth from the bank!) is played out beautifully. Scott Victor Nelson transforms into several characters – from evil to good – as the story continues to unfold.

Safiya Fredericks, Suzen Baraka, Iesha Daniels – Photo by Jeff Lorch

There are several surprising scene changes where unexpecting characters move front and center in unison with “Meta”- like questions that make the audience feel like they want to fight the power with Shay. The strength of this play is when Shay, her niece and her daughter come together to become a powerful force to defy the adversity they are confronted with, proving that they can indeed make a change in the current system. Go see it before it closes on June 11th.

Where: Rogue Machine in the Matrix Theatre, 7657 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90046

When: 8pm Fridays, Saturdays, Mondays; 3pm on Sundays through June 11.

Tickets: $45 (Discounts for senior, student, and under age 18)

Pay-What-You-Want Friday, June 2: https://www.roguemachinetheatre.org/

Rogue Machine has upgraded its HVAC system at the Matrix Theatre to exceed compliance with current COVID protocols.They have installed HEPA air purifiers in all public spaces.