On Friday evening I had the pleasure of watching Irving's Tiara, presented at Theater 68 on Lankershim Blvd. in our lovely NoHo neighborhood.
This dark and comedic production has offered a new approach to what audiences might like to experience in live theater. It is a story set in a recreation room-office within a local park that takes an unexpected turn to the very dark side of humanity with humor, salty language and loud hand gestures. The actors romp and yell around the stage with twisted stories that are hard to swallow. This is the basis for this dark comedy and it is worth seeing, exploring and sharing with your friends.
Cast (L - R): Jacqueline Misaye
In the first and only act, we are presented with three very rough, tough and unsophisticated women who find themselves together in this makeshift office.
Lydia (Theresa Ireland) is the unchallenged leader with her aggressive New York gangster style voice that commands obedience. She believes she is the boss and has all the answers to everything. Of course we come to find out that her vision of correctness is far from the truth and might get them all into serious trouble. She continually yells at the cleaning-janitorial person Tommy (Jacqueline Misayne); a misguided and slow-thinking young woman that has quite unusual dreams of her own. The verbal jabs at her and her half-sister, Rachel (Brittany Rizzo), often go over the top with sarcastic insults at everything they are and everything they do. Tommy takes most of it in stride and lets Lydia know that despite winning the lottery years before and giving all her money to a girls place in Nova Scotia, her life is still a happy work in progress. Rachel is a bit feistier and bucks at Lydia’s outlandish ideas or alternative facts to almost everything. Although her choices have often been unhealthy and destructive, Rachel has dreams and ideas of her own. Eventually, they are unable to stand up to Lydia’s demands and all three women embark upon a robbery plan that involves stealing a Jewish Princess' tiara, a senior citizen named Irving, and a final question about whom has a moral base in this crooked threesome.
Cast (L - R): Brittany Rizzo, Theresa Ireland, and Jacqueline Misaye
Everything is thrown into this play. Watching dark comedies with a slapstick component is always interesting and questionable.
Starting out with a dead referee on the playground, it progresses to conversations that include misinformation about social media hype, foreign relations, and popular personalities. Let’s not forget the discussion of Obamacare, Bruce Jenner and lesbian sister love.
All are fodder for these characters. The audience must decide if this is funny, dark or just silly. In this case, it is a bit of all of them. A mystery man, Big Al, is constantly brought up as the one who knows all the answers and is usually wrong. The most laughable discussion was about the existence of a Jewish Princess. Of course, they do not exist and it is not part of Jewish religion or history. However, given the current free flow of various informational untruths and unreal facts of today’s world, it is easy and sad to understand what people believe. Since this play was written prior to this current climate, it is ironic how pertinent it is today.
Every one of the three actors is very good and is able to handle the challenge of excessively long and quick dialogue.
Theresa delivers her lines hollering throughout the entire play. Jaqueline and Brittany speak much softer and rely upon nonverbal body language to show character anger and frustration. The acting is above average by all of them. It is difficult to portray a fake reality and make it believable, but here it mostly works. The staging is simple and effective thanks to the production crew and especially Dany Cistone, the set designer. One caveat, perhaps at 90 minutes a few stories could have been shortened, it was a lot of ranting to keep the audience always interested.
Ronnie Marmo is the artistic director of The 68 Cent Theater Company and produced this show. It is written and directed by Sam Henry Kass as well as the other production showing here Lusting After Peipino’s Wife.
NoHo Arts District gladly welcomes Theater 68 to the neighborhood and hope we will see more of its fine shows.