Sunday, September 11, 2011

Guided Consideration of a Lamentable Deed

Building an audience is a monumental task for any theatre company, and for small companies whose resources are even more limited, it is critical. The key to success becomes using their strengths and thinking out of the “black” box, to appeal to an audience that will come back show after show because they had a really good time. NEED THEATER is proving they can design an evening to keep them engaged with their new play, Guided Consideration of a Lamentable Deed.

They have produced not only a thought-provoking play by Frank Basloe, dealing with one young man’s woefully absent conscience, but an evening of entertainment that extends before and after the show as well, effectively making Café Club Fais Do-Do a complete one-stop destination.

It begins with free keg beer for everyone before the play, lending a casual, collegiate feel to the night. Then after the show you can stay for the live indie music curated by cARTel and The Peanut Gllery Creative Unit. Music is different each weekend and the night I attending the after-party featured Hip Hop.

As for the play directed by Dylan Southard, its story will make you wonder what college students are learning during their school days on today’s campuses. Certainly not all students have such difficulty sorting out right from wrong as Tim (Ben Kurland) does but this college boy’s moral compass is sorely lacking. The night before his college graduation he goes on a drinking bender and commits a lamentable deed, having sex with an unconscious co-ed, and then spends the ensuing two hours agonizing over what he should do about it while she’s still passed out in his bed.

Our guide is Mattie Hawkinson, who, as the title suggests, serves to guide the audience through the story, alternately commenting on the action and translating the inner dialogue of the characters. Hawkinson, who “exists for the purpose of journey enhancement” fields the run-on stream of consciousness with a straight ahead delivery that is down to earth and effective, however the playwright’s use of the device is inconsistent.

In a series of mostly one-off scenes, Tim consults a mixed bag of characters with problems of their own that includes, among others, two very funny Jewish stoners (Edward Kiniry-Ostro and Terence Leclere) who offer advice based on the Talmud, his philosophic ex-roommate Darren (Ian Forester), a closeted security guard (Ronald Conner) and flirty co-ed Lily (Shiela Karls) bent on having him, a pair of lesbians who don’t agree (Abigail Eiland and Bridgette Campbell), and a professor (Kiff Scholl), his wife Marianne (Isabelle Ortega) and mistress (Rachel Germaine) that becomes its own ugly situation. Enlightenment may not come from their advice, but their ponderings do provide a commentary on the dysfunctional state of society today.

They say that once you cross a line you can never go back, though in this case, not much really happens to Tim as a result of his actions. He will still graduate and go forth into the financial world of Morgan Stanley where he will presumably find success handling other people’s money. Perhaps it’s the irony of that sad fact underneath all the other superficial trappings that is most disconcerting in Basloe’s play.

Guided Consideration of a Lamentable Deed runs through October 15 at Café Club Fais Do-Do, 5257 West Adams Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90015. Click Here for ticket information or call 323-795-2215. 

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