[NoHo Arts District, CA] – A NoHo Arts theatre review of “Brick-By-Brick” written and performed by Amanda Casarella, directed by Kimleigh Smith, and produced by Embrace Your Cape Productions as part of the Hollywood Fringe Adjacent – A Festival of Solo Shows.
“Brick-By-Brick” is one of the most brilliant and inspired solo shows I have seen. Using the insanely clever theme of “The Wizard of Oz,” Amanda Cassarella has created a show about her life told as if she were Dorothy traveling the yellow brick road to get to the wizard. The story is filled with lions and scarecrows and tin men oh my…ruby slippers and all. Even Toto makes his always supportive appearance. “The Wizard of Oz” is of course an analogy for change…interpreted by all of us in our own unique ways, like the very best stories are always able to do for us. But I wonder what epiphany made this particular writer make this choice. Whatever it was, I am grateful. This show is a gift to those of us that yearn for the special kind of connection that incandescent storytelling brings.
Amanda stays in her ‘Dorothy’ character throughout. Which is wonderful, because we believe her. It’s not some ruse or device to carry us through something. She belongs to this character, just as her audience already belongs to the architecture of the story. It’s that truthful connection that elevates a solo show from something fun or entertaining to something revelatory and literally life changing.
What are we if not vessels for art. Truly, I believe more and more that what we bring into this world through our gifts, regardless of good we are at them, is our legacy. More than children even and certainly more than work or money. Our ability to tell our stories to others and to see the transformative effects in their faces as we do it is absolutely everything. As an active and prolific audience member, I can gain no greater joy than to leave a play different than when I arrived. Solo shows and their raw intimate immediacy are almost magical in their effectiveness to do this. This funny, highly inventive, deeply thoughtful play with an absolutely mesmerizing performance by Amanda is astonishingly beautiful.
“Brick-By-Brick” is a touching, genuine, heartfelt play about a young girl moving through her life as best she can, finding her strength, facing her fears, and becoming the home she so dearly sought.
I loved this piece…so much. I’m not even certain exactly why really, there are so many unique and almost mystical elements to it. Amanda Cassarella is a wonderful, vivid actress and the words she has written and the gorgeous way she has crafted this show, with the help of the brilliant Kimleigh Smith, is utterly genius. But there is something else here, something indefinable. Something so wonderful that it seems strangely hard to explain… I guess you will just have to see it to believe me…
“We each have our yellow brick road to walk down. Hopefully, my journey can shed light on some of the hidden battles people can be fighting and remind those fighting they’re not alone.” Amanda Cassarella