A NoHo Arts theatre review of Crimson Square Theatre Company’s production of “Live at The Purple Lounge,” written by Caroline Patz, Kari Pickering, Rachel Drayke, Elisabeth Tsubota and Faye Viviana (from Crimson Square Writer’s Lab), directed by Elisabeth Tsubota, and running through May 22.
There is something about stand up comedians that defies the logical minds of most of us. How can someone stand on stage, alone, night after night, telling jokes and usually deeply personal stories that may or may not get a laugh from strangers who are normally drunk and often belligerent, in the vain hope that someday someone who can change their lives will be in the audience and they won’t have to play dingy, sad clubs with sticky floors and smelly green rooms anymore?
It’s an odd thing to yearn for, and yet, many do and many many more of us yearn for them. To make us laugh, to distract us from our own sadness and stress, and to shock us into life.
Some of the world’s favourite people have been stand up comedians, and some still are. Robin Williams, Steve Martin, Jim Carey, the sublime and eternally relevant George Carlin. Now there are more and more women comedians, thankfully, Chelsea Handler, Amy Schumer, Leslie Jones, Tig Notaro, Kathy Griffin, Margret Cho, Sarah Silverman, and of course the incredible and unforgettable Joan Rivers. All utterly and gorgeously different from each other, all filled with comic genius and the balls to deliver it over and over again.
“Live at the Purple Lounge” is set at a comedy club. It follows the stories of female stand-ups, covering a spectrum of types, brash, middle aged, green, comebacks, all pounding on the green room door as they return from either a brilliant set or the worst of their lives. All with a story, a purpose and dilemma. These scenes have been developed at the Crimson Square Writer’s Lab at the Beverly Hills Playhouse and I have to tell you, each of them was as riveting as the last.
The characters are boldly drawn, they explode with truth at a moment in their lives where choices are made, revelations shared and worlds open up before them, and the rawness of these moments is beautiful to behold.
The actresses that portray each of these fully fleshed and gorgeously realised people are pretty breathtaking. Each intense story, the hilarious, the tragic and the brave is bound to them, exquisitely. They just embody them. They create a tension between us and the moment they are in and they don’t let it go. It’s impossible to really pick anyone out from this cast, they are all so bloody good. So meaningfully driven and absolutely convinced of who they are. Brilliant. Each of the comedians has her own reason for being there, but there is another character who pulls them all together – the club manager. Another brilliant woman. She is there as a centre for them to swirl around. However, she herself is worthy of her own story, and she has one, a classically beautiful one in fact. She chooses this place and her role in the world around her with compassion and grace and honor and it brings all these stories full circle, it balances them out and gives humanity to what all these disparate comedians lives.
I loved this show. Really. I am a huge comedy fan, and the lives created for these characters ring so true to me. They have a presence and weight and give this play a wonderful and significant meaning. Comedy is the ultimate truth. It’s where we find out who we really are, good and bad.
“Live at The Purple Lounge” is a play about comedians and why they do it, but it’s also about us, the audience and why we want them to. Bravo!
Crimson Square Theatre Company’s “Live at the Purple Lounge” runs for the next few weeks, until May 22, so you have plenty of time to buy your tickets and support Los Angeles theatre and burgeoning play writes and their actors.
Starring Maria Proios, Mia Christou, Isabella Olivas, Diana Murphy, Jeffrey Sun, Phoebe Pearl, James Fahselt, Laura Diamond, Allison Carmen Cervantes, and Cameron Meyer..
Produced by Crimson Square Theatre Company.
Running through May 22
Friday and Saturday at 8PM and Sunday at 7PM
Beverly Hills Playhouse
254 S Robertson Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA 90211