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Wednesday, 06 September 2017 13:38

Somewhere in The Middle

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Luke King (Jamal), Julie Lanctot (Sarah) and Richard Van Slyke (David) Luke King (Jamal), Julie Lanctot (Sarah) and Richard Van Slyke (David) Photographs by Rainer Tischler

"Somewhere in The Middle" theatre review now playing at Crown City Theatre in the NoHo Arts District extends to October 22.

Written and Directed by Gary Lamb

"Somewhere in The Middle" is a story of a family. 

A regular, middle American family, blended Jewish and gentile, with a couple of nearly grown kids and a mother - or mother-in-law, depending on what side of the family you are.  The eldest daughter is coming home for a visit from college and the place is a buzz with excitement. Even the younger brother is looking forward to it,  though for him at least it's more of an excuse to hilariously and ruthlessly comment on the expanding chaos.

LaurenComfortsRoz
Saige Spinney (Lauren), Cynthia Kania (Roz)

What starts out as a funny homecoming drama develops into something far more interesting and challenging over the two acts. 

The story begins traditionally enough, who’s picking her up? Did they get the right cereal? Why is everyone so happy…or unhappy?  But shortly after the daughter's unexpectedly early arrival, things take a turn.

I don’t want to give too much away, or I will spoil the unravelling, but I can tell you this…often it is our foreboding of a situation that will do all the work of preparing us for the worst of people, all without any expectation of the best of them.

This play covers a lot - religion, race, ageism, sexism and the universal, terrifying rush to judgement of which we are all, at one time or another, equally guilty.  I suppose it’s a cross between “Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner” and “Argo” but without the death threats and the gunfire.

RozAndJamalShowdown
Pictured left to right Adam Simon Krist (Adam), Saige Spinney (Lauren),Richard Van Slyke (David), Luke King (Jamal), Julie Lanctot (Sarah) and Cynthia Kania (Roz)

There has been a great deal of care spent on this first production of this play by Gary Lamb, who also directed it.  The performances are clearly very well prepared and perfectly balanced and the actors are all to a fault committed, engaged and very, very good. This is a play with a lot of words, which might sound like a strange observation given that words are usually expected in a play, but what I mean is that the words used are important, very precise and all fraught with meaning.  I think the point being made is that there are many, many misconceptions flying around, some of which even the audience are guilty of making, so what is being said must be listened to carefully, by the characters, by the audience, by us all, which is a lesson.  These characters, this family, that know each other so deeply are also capable of totally and utterly missing each other's points, almost to the edge of deliberately at times, just like every family I know.  They react to each other without truly listening…a bad and potentially destructive habit, and one of which even I am accused, from time to time. But then, aren’t we all?

Here at least, on stage in the lovely Crown City Theatre, there is a safety to these dramatics. It’s just a play, these people are only characters and yet their struggles seem real and truthful and a genuinely intimate and timely mirror to our lives, to our worlds.

If you are expecting some lightweight family comedy then you may well be happily content at first but with the added twist of a serious and contentious argument on the ever expanding platitudes of pseudo education and our own narrow-minded rigidity and the general and habitual testing of our ‘cool'. 

I was ready to laugh and indeed I did, a lot.  But I was also challenged and forced to re-examine and to mull, for quite some time afterwards in fact, which was nice and surprising.  The play echoed quite a bit with me, which is the direct result of the power of not only the fine actors but of the words they spoke. It is all in the writing as they say. In short, I loved it!!

“Somewhere in The Middle” runs 

September 2 - October 22

Fridays and Saturdays 8pm, Sundays at 2pm

Crown City Theatre, 11031 Camarillo Street, North Hollywood.

https://www.crowncitytheatre.com

Cast

Adam - Adam Simon Krist

Lauren - Sage Spinney

Roz - Cynthia Kania

David - Richard Van Slyke

Sarah - Julie Lanctot

Jamal - Like King

Production Staff

Set/ Prop Designer - Joanne McGee

Costume Design- Amanda Walter

Lighting Design/Stage Manager - Had Potter

Rehearsal Stage Manager - Madison Cole Garfinkle

House Manager - Michael Pammit

Producers - Crown City Theatre

Artistic Directors - Gary Lamb & William A. Reilly

Read 1064 times Last modified on Friday, 29 September 2017 04:15
Samantha Simmonds-Ronceros

Samantha Simmonds-Ronceros is a British writer, director, filmmaker living in Los Angeles. She co-created the unprecedented project 52 Films/52 Weeks: A Year in Filmmaking, where she and her partners, wrote, directed, produced and edited a film a week for an entire year. She currently has several independent film projects at various stages of development.  

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