Wednesday, 03 June 2015 08:52

Review of Idiot Box @ NoHo Arts Center

Written by Radomir Vojtech Luza - Theatre Critic
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If you are interested in a play about television, run don’t walk to Theatre 68's production of Michael Elyanow’s “The Idiot Box” running through June 27th at the NoHo Arts Center in the NoHo Arts District.

This is the story of six sitcom characters whose lives come unraveled when reality forces them to face themselves, each other and the world around them.

In language stark, electric and specific, Elyanow plows through stereotypes and expectations to give us, the audience, a mirror image of ourselves, torn yet triumphant, weak yet courageous.

Each character is fully and beautifully drawn, complete with hiccups and imperfections, but also the ability to realize his or her full human potential.

This play, which begins as an intelligent parody, then darkens into a savage glimpse at the malleable crevices of our heart, is an often tragic and alarming verdict on the nature and being of television, warts and all.

Elyanow allows us the opportunity to look at the lives of our favorite television characters and blink. He is not afraid to take risks and chances in order to get his point of view across.

The author of more than two dozen plays and screenplays is a brilliant playwright in an era where more are needed.

Rick Shaw’s direction is detailed, passionate and human.

He helps bring the characters to life with the precision of a surgeon and flare of a symphony conductor.

The direction does not get in the way of the actors, allowing them each the freedom and confidence to create their characters from the ground up instead of the other way around.

Shaw surrounds himself with a most talented cast.

Stand outs include:

Emma Servant (Stephanie Dash) who gives a touching and convincing turn. Her portrayal of the blocked romance writer looking for inspiration is both parts vulnerable and brave. Servant’s debut Theatre 68 production is a success due to the disciplined, spontaneous and grounded work she does.

Carlo Samame (Billy) gives a wonderfully courageous characterization that almost walks away with the play. As the male model struggling with sexual identity he echoes what some in society are attempting to cope with in a passionate, open, clever, and idealistic manner that compliments the remainder of the cast and play.

But it is Jonte LeGras (Omar) who steals the show in a performance both desperate and divine.

LeGras lifts the production with a dignity, honesty and integrity this critic has rarely seen in an actor on the stages of North Hollywood or Los Angeles.

LeGras’ star should be on the rise after this, his third Theatre 68 production. The emotional balance, depth, refinement and wisdom he displays here certainly will not hurt him.

This critic hopes to see him on local boards again soon.

Furthering the message of the play are James Logan’s set design, Christina Robinson’s lighting design and Ashley Clark’s sound design.

In the end, “The Idiot Box,” ends where it begins. It slaps us across our busy consciousness with writing, directing and acting so adept that only love, in its grace, grandeur and glory, saves the day.

This box has four sides, but more than four ways to question, consider and analyze reality.

All in all, this is not a box for idiots, but humanity to see itself through, and we to use for illuminating, educating and inspiring ourselves and those around us.

Television, then, is, if used in a positive, productive and prudent manner, possibly the greatest invention of the 20th century.

The play mines this idea with clarity and dexterity despite its title.

If truth be told, Theatre 68 deserves major kudos for staging two hours of this unique and strong a viewpoint.

It proves that all is well on Magnolia Boulevard, and that even more substantive fare is on the way.

Theatre 68 Artistic Director and “The Idiot Box” producer Ronnie Marmo has helped fashion a progressive, courageous and highly creative theatre company.

Only blue skies appear on the horizon for this gifted, committed and active theatre ensemble.


Show Times:
Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm;
Sundays at 7pm
Ticket Prices: $25.00
Admission/Information: (323) 960-5068
NoHo Arts Center,
11136 Magnolia Boulevard,
North Hollywood, CA 91601


Read 7274 times Last modified on Wednesday, 03 June 2015 11:20

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