Stuart Rogers Studio Presents “Red Light Winter.” Written by Adam Rapp. Directed by Stuart Rogers.
“Red Light Winter” is centered around a shy, awkward and struggling playwright Matt and his aging friendship with Davis, one of those remarkably vile men who is aggressively icy, cynicism somehow enamors the right kind of people and leads to success and fortune.
Matt is his foil, his excuse to revert to adolescent games and weeks away from his wife, who, as it turns out, was Matt’s last girlfriend. Yes, Davis really is that vile. It is during one of these trips to Amsterdam that we meet them, Matt holed up in the tacky hotel room trying to write, Davis out tasting the Amsterdam night life. There is a knock on the hotel door and Matt is greeted by Cristina, a French prostitute that Davis has sent for him.
Matt is of course stricken with fear and fidgets and mumbling niceties, sweetly love-struck by Cristina. Then Davis returns in all his testosterone drenched slitherings and can’t help but describe his own encounter with Cristina in unnecessarily lurid detail, only to taint Matt’s clear and quick attachment to her.
Davis leaves them to it and, after some conversation, they end up in bed. It doesn’t take long and Cristina leaves Matt asleep, something he has been unable to do well for quite some time.
The second act takes us back to New York and Matt’s apartment and another knock on another door. It’s been months and Cristina has come looking for Davis. Davis gave her Matt’s address as his own and Cristina and Matt are left with the realization that their imaginations, their naiveté and their deep longing for real love has sadly led them to this ridiculous and totally unrequited moment.
Davis does, of course, show his horrid face and the rest is really something you should see for yourself. The play itself is brilliantly grim, although also very, very funny with generous amounts of quickly delivered banter and twisting, vicious rapport. The subject is searingly sad, as well as all the characters. Even Davis, whose one moment of poignant honesty is when he tells Cristina, “I’m not a good person,” to try and relieve her of her romantic burden…and he means it.
The actors are all truly excellent. Each inhabiting their roles with hungry precision and rabid honesty. Matt is believably insular, lost and painfully self denigrating. Cristina is beautiful, ruined, jaded and aching to be loved. Davis is steely, selfish and heading for a nasty lonely end with any luck. It’s all put together stunningly well. Each beat reached perfectly, each scene singing with recognition, each moment drenched with truth.
It’s a tricky play to do justice to I think. It’s easy to miss the point of all this emptiness and missed opportunity. But the director Stuart Rogers has managed to walk that fine line of salaciousness and pain very well. He gives the audience just enough to fall for Cristina and understand her. Matt and Davis are there to create her path really, and they both do it superbly. It’s really an excellent production of a fascinating play. Bravo!
There is some sexual violence and a tiny bit of nudity, although you don’t see much as it’s thankfully dark on stage for those few moments. No need to embarrass the audience I think. But you should be aware of the very adult content and storyline, so now you are!
I can highly recommend “Red Light Winter” at the Raven Theatre. It’s only on Friday and Saturday nights at 8pm and runs through November 23.
The Raven Playhouse, 5233 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood, 91601