A NoHo Arts theatre review of the Hollywood Fringe Festival 2022 premiere, “The Lion, The Witch & The Walk-In Closet,” written and performed by Kirsty Beauvais, directed by Kamakshi Hart and running through June 26 at The Broadwater Main Stage of the Sacred Fools Theater Company.
The show starts simply enough. As audience members file in and take their seats, they’re treated to a delightfully retro opening soundtrack that sets the mood for a jovial, jazzy, mildly tongue-in-cheek story. As Kristy Beauvais enters the stage you can tell that we’re in for all this and much, much more.
Kristy instantly cements herself as a one-woman extravaganza by leading with all the talents she’s been using on stage since childhood. Dance, clever monologue, and a sharp sense of humor.
Framed within the exposed brick walls of the Sacred Fools Theater Company, Kristy takes the audience on a wild ride that starts with the hazy recollections of a troubled childhood and arcs through a lifetime filled with vivid memories and imaginative characters — where barbiturates can talk and wiffle ball bats can walk.
The fact that this is Kristy Beauvais’ debut solo act makes “The Lion, The Witch & The Walk-In Closet” that much more impressive. From the first steps she takes on stage to her bittersweet exit and fade to black, Kristy positively radiates stage presence. As we find out in the opening act, Kristy has been putting on shows since she was a toddler — and it shows.
Over a lifetime spent on the stage, Kristy has built an impressive repertoire of theatrical powers, many of which come out in full force during the runtime of the show.
Yes, she’s got great instincts for physical comedy (which see her shuffling madly around the stage and accentuating punchlines with a perfectly timed pose). Yes, she’s the proud purveyor of a host of strange and wonderful characters (the personas of which she can throw on and off as easily as she would the many costumes that adorn the titular ‘walk-in-closet’ of her stage).
But most engaging is Kristy’s ability to contemplate and faithfully inhabit the emotional truth of a moment. This is a story of a woman who has experienced some very challenging chapters in her lifetime, and it can be truly captivating to see Kristy shed her charming, quick-witted antics to delve deep into a memory that holds a heavy share of dramatic weight.
It’s moments like these that are swiftly followed by a hair-pin turn that sends us careening down a twisting pathway that’s filled with vibrant vignettes, curious characters and dance scenes that burst with youthful vigor and poise.
This is a cycle we see play out many times throughout the show, driving the pacing like an emotional engine. Some of Kristy’s memories verge into the dark and disturbing, taking on elements of the psycho-drama — only to be offset by an intentionally jarring whip-pan back to one of Kristy’s colorful alter egos. It’s an impressive feat to see these moments of light and dark so well-balanced — an achievement that director Kamakshi Hart ought to be proud of.
“The Lion, The Witch & The Walk-In Closet” is a fantastical romp through the ages and stages of one woman’s life that is equal parts charming and moving. From the first, audience members are bound on a journey that charts the transformation of a fearful young girl, destined for showbiz, to a wry, witty woman who’s seen it all before (and then some).
It’s filled with graceful movement and out-of-pocket absurdism, all working in harmony to create a total act of on-stage surrender by the barefoot and brave Kristy Beauvais.
Meet the memories and the mirrors, and support the arts by booking a ticket to “The Lion, The Witch & The Walk-In Closet” today.
June 12 at 5:30pm
June 26 at 1pm
The Broadwater Main Stage of the Sacred Fools Theater Company
1078 Lillian Way, Los Angeles, CA 90038