Brothel is a play set in a house of ill repute, but it is about far more than the title may suggest.
It is 1929, as the Great Depression looms and the stock market crashes all about them. The play examines the life of a group of women living and working in a New York City brothel. These women are from backgrounds as varied as can be imagined and the play stays with them as they bravely cope with the hand dealt them. Drugs, gambling, betrayal, religion and redemption, the play touches on all the most human of vices.
The cast are strong and courageous, each actress unafraid of the revealing wardrobe and even more revealing dialogue. The men in the play are outlandish and colorful, flawed and revile-able, and portrayed with wonderfully realism by the ample skills of the actors. The play pays no mind to the morality of the Brothel, which is brilliant, it exists, as it always has existed, the theme of the play is really not about that at all. If anything it empowers the women who chose to live that life in that time. These women have chosen this life, if only as a means to an end. They have taken control of what they can in a time where they have almost no power in any other avenue open to them.
But the real star of this play is the story. It’s a long play, over two hours in all and yet I felt no sense of time while I watched the sometimes tragic and sometimes heartwarming tale unfold before me. The wonderfully detailed set gives a terrific sense of place, along with the stirring period music, costume, makeup and wardrobe. It is the attention to detail that makes all the difference in period plays and it really shines in this one.
The playwright, director and producer, Thomas Prossner, clearly has a love for the dramatic. As an ex-merchant seaman, he is in an excellent position to write about the lead male character, Windy Finn, a rum runner and sailor, and the love of the lead female character and the owner of the brothel, Madame Tremaine. These are the two central characters around which the other characters’ stories twist and turn.
This is a story about how even though we cannot always choose our beginnings or the course life takes us on, or ever have control over the changing world around us, hope, decency and love will always guide us through the deadliest of storms.
Brothel is a play about an era I have never before seen adapted to stage, and it’s a treat to witness it so fully realized and with such great talent.
I highly recommend ‘Brothel’ by Thomas Prossner at the Eclectic Company Theatre, 5312 Laurel Canyon Blvd., North Hollywood, 91607
Fridays & Saturdays at 8pm
Sundays at 2pm
And two Thursday performances: March 3 & March 31 at 2pm
There is no show on Easter Sunday: March 27th
Madame Tremaine - Genia Michaela
Albert Paul - Philip Sokoloff
Holland Williams - Mark Del Castillo-Morante
Fanny Sweet - Terry Finn
Duchess - Brittney Levine
Grace Lackey - Lindsey Waguespack
Cindy St. James - Nora Yessayan (Feb. 26 & 28; Mar. 5, 11, 13, 19, 25, & 27; Apr. 2) and Michelle Danyn (Feb. 27; Mar. 4, 6, 12, 18, 20, & 26; Apr. 1 & 3)
Windy Finn - Dennis Delsing Kid Twist - Scott Pretty (Feb. 26-March 13) and Michael Dougher
ty (March 18-April 3)
Birdie Goldbird - Thomas Prosser
Blackie Shannon - Rick Barreras
Rick Barreras - Production Stage Manager & Lighting Design & Set Design
Steve Green - Set Design
Thomas Foxx - Music
Michelle Danyn - Production Assistant & Program Design
MZ Runyan - Poster & Postcard Design
Nora Yessayan - Prop Mistress