Last evening was an unexpected and interesting experience at the Actors Workout Studio on Lankershim Boulevard in NoHo.
I was invited to watch Force of Nature’s latest production of talented actors in a macabre play called “Fallen Saints: Salem.” This enticing play written by Kerry Kazmierowicztrimm highlights the fears in all of us. As this timely story unfolds, we get to witness firsthand the destruction that lack of convictions brings to everyone. In response to the truths before our eyes, we see how unknown fears can be manipulated with disastrous results. As the audience bears witness; fear, anger and trust take over everyone’s souls.
The stage is set modestly in a style befitting the late 1600s America, probably as the title suggests, in Salem, Mass.
This story eerily resembles the infamous story of hysteria in Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible.” Or perhaps it is a metaphor to the realities of current hysteria and blame happening in our lives today. Whatever the underlying and not so subtle message here, observing this production is an exhilarating process to take in fully.
The theater is small and this story begins with young daughter Betty getting ready for sleep. It is a dark and simple room befitting a modest family. Cuddled into a single bed, unknown voices and unseen entities attack this poor child nightly. Betty is hysterical. No one is sure why or how this is happening. She is the preacher’s daughter and he will not stand for this nightly ritual of torment and ungodly attacks. Samuels’s brilliant solution is to gather all the ‘good’ townspeople and see who is putting this dreaded curse upon his innocent child. God speaks to him and directs him to do the bidding for the faithful and he is aptly prepared to fling out the retched and evil ones.
With a bit of intrigue after the first scene with Betty, the audience is then ushered into another small theater adjacent to the first. Here is the makeshift church where Samuel will find out once and for all who is the witch or witches that have done this to his family. His fear of evil ignites the moments where innocent people are perceived to be guilty, and those that commit real evil are accepted as necessary. Many are punished for their perceived guilt and Samuel does nothing to help find the truth, just directing payback under the umbrella of righteousness. His unverified convictions of innocent people are unfortunately helped by others who are willing to sacrifice the truth. In the end, few survive and we are left to wonder if Betty stops her nightly attacks or will the blame continue.
This play is wonderfully acted by a strong ensemble cast that features Allegra Rodriguez (Betty), Jerry Chappell (Reverend Samuel), Heidi Appe (Elizabeth), Kyle Felts (Giles), Noeleen Acosta (Martha), Gloria Galvan (Bridget and The Darkness), Brie Zepeda (Sarah) and Jeffrey Boulton (Thomas).
Allegra Rodriguez who plays Betty does a great job feigning physical spasms of unknown origins. The Reverend Samuel, played by Jerry Chappell, is cast perfectly in his role. One could imagine that his day job is actually preaching to a congregation about fire and brimstone. The direction was good by Sebastian Munoz.
Unfortunately, this show only ran through October 12, 2019. It is worth seeing and hopefully will return later for more audiences to experience. I would recommend checking out their future performances as well. Get to know Force of Nature. https://www.fonproductions.com/
Actors Workout Studio is at 4735 Lankershim Blvd, North Hollywood, 91602