“Polaroid Stories”

A NoHo Arts theatre review of Theatre of Arts' production of “Polaroid Stories” written by Naomi Iizuka, directed by Melissa Chalsma.

A NoHo Arts theatre review of Theatre of Arts’ production of “Polaroid Stories” written by Naomi Iizuka, directed by Melissa Chalsma.

Theatre of Arts (TOA) is Hollywood’s longest-running acting conservatory. “Polaroid Stories” is inspired by Ovid’s “Metamorphoses” and was based on interviews with homeless youth and runaways.  Mixing those timeless stories with a mythological spin, the play follows several people’s lives, all set in an abandoned pier on the outer edges of a city.  It’s a dirty desolate place, a perfect backdrop for characters fleeing their lives or people, or just trying to get lost somehow.

Iizuka’s gorgeously poetic language gives a magical quality to the epic lives these young people live. 

Dark and difficult, driven by something many of us don’t recognize easily, they travel on the margins of our life. We pass them every day, dusty, together and alone, they shiver past us as they inhabit their alternate reality.  Couples in love, a woman running from her obsessive boyfriend, someone looking for a fix, a thief, a hopeless romantic. So many different perspectives and so many sad stories. What links all these characters is their need, even if they don’t really know what that need even is. 

It’s a wonderful opportunity for actors who can dig deep and avoid cliches and these particular actors can do this and much more. They vibrate with the energy of truly knowing their individual roles. 

As if they have walked this path and worn these shoes before. It’s so much more magical isn’t it, when you can believe everything you see laid out in front of you. As the actors slide across the stage, one story leads on to the next, like trains in a station, each door opening onto a new reality, another persons pain or journey or heartache.

Melissa Chalsma’s direction of “Polaroid Stories” is deft and subtle and vivid and trusting in the talents of these very fine actors. 

I absolutely loved “Polaroid Stories” and the truly exquisite performances by these young and discerning actors. Lovely lilting diatribes spoken with all the edges rounded off. Nothing obvious or overly dramatic, each unfolding and beautifully balanced, profoundly real. Mythic prose and slamming style mixed with an urgent fluid energy and sweet faces you wish you could hold on to for a little while to keep them out of the danger you know they are ultimately drawn to.  It’s a really wonderful production and I wish it was up for longer! 

TOA is impressive and I hope to see more from them soon.

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  • D: Victor Frausto
  • Echo: Deiatra Mizell
  • Eurydice: Taylor Holder
  • G: Daniel Pett
  • Narcissus: Aaron Rife
  • Orpheus: Kendrick Denose
  • Persephone: Marlene Ramirez
  • Philomel: Mikalea Murkett
  • Skinhead Boy: Andrew Sirko
  • Skinhead Girl: Polina Vasylenko
  • Understudy: Sarah Fanous