If a play about misunderstandings, mistakes and misrepresentations strikes your fancy, make your way to the Theatre Unleashed production of Matt Ritchey's "Nevermore" running at the Belfry Stage Upstairs at the Crown in the North Hollywood Arts District through November 5th.
This is the story of a young Edgar Allen Poe and his visit to the crumbling estate of his old childhood friend Monty.
The play offers an original point of view on one of literature's most underrated denizens.
This fictional psychological thriller pushes and pulls, dashes and dances, poses and prances until we, the audience, have had more than our share of Poe and the whirlwind existence surrounding him.
Ritchey's language pokes and prods us into considering the highs and lows of the writer's life and our own comfort zones.
It has its own arc and angles. The geometry of the words forces the characters into situations they would rather avoid and victory laps they know they will never take.
The syllables are rich in longing and lusting, lingering and lunging.
They pop and drop, dip and skip and twist from lip to hip with the morose details and dangling modifiers of our time.
Ritchey's play is true to its genre and creed. It is not afraid of being different and original, and proves it throughout.
The words do not steer away from their stated purpose or mission.
Instead, they elevate the evening into a more human endeavor. The playwrighting forces us, the audience, to be all in in terms of character interaction and crisp dialogue.
If Poe is of the slightest interest to you, you cannot miss this testament to the power and talent of his writing.
The direction by Sean Fitzgerald is a wonder to behold.
It underscores Ritchey's writing and displays a deep understanding and comprehension of Poe and his work.
The direction does not get in the way of the frantic action and energy on stage, instead, it adds to them.
Fitzgerald proves that he is deftly unafraid of the subject matter or of infusing the actors with a feel for Poe's endless anxiety and suffering.
The veteran Theatre Unleashed director has assembled a gifted and vibrant cast that understands the vowels and ventricles of Ritchey's delicate Tango.
Courtney Sara Bell (Catherwood) is true to her character in posture, delivery, and temperament. The native Angeleno gives a convincing turn that sets the table for the rest of the play.
But it is David Caprita (Dudley) who runs away with the show.
In a portrayal, both parts dark and light, the radio talk show host brings his character and the rest of the play to life.
The veteran theatre actor ("Glengarry Glen Ross," "Waiting for Godot") is Dudley.
From head to toe, Caprita leaves no doubt as to who and why he is.
The motivation is clear and the performance sinister yet salient.
The longtime television and film actor ("The Specialist," "My Girl," "Walker: Texas Ranger," "Shameless") is perfectly cast and chosen for the role.
The presence, intensity and dark humor inherent in the characterization are electric, magnetic and extremely kinetic.
This critic hopes to see Caprita on the stages of North Hollywood or Los Angeles again soon.
Furthering the message of the play are the light and set design of Gregory Crafts and the costume design of Bell and Mark Bell.
All in all, "Nevermore" succeeds because of its ties to Poe, not despite them.
The play as a whole is a daunting reminder that fame and money are useful, but certainly, not all life has to offer.
Poe's trip to his childhood friend's estate is an undeniable signal that humanity must be aware of its ups and downs, need for greed and glory and bubbling cauldron of courage and conversation before it journeys to its next destination.
This is not a work for the faint of heart, but a telling sojourn into the soul and very being of this country's greatest horror writer.
In turn, we, the audience, are treated to 80 minutes (without intermission) of winning calculations and crime, dark delusions and dime and pestering decisions and doubts.
Theatre Unleashed fills the gap between what there is and what we would like there to be with rainbows and raging ripples.
The Belfry Stage Upstairs at the Crown is a welcome destination for this city's committed, sensitive and talented artists and crafts people.
Under the gentle guidance and nurturing wings of Artistic Director Jenn Scuderi Crafts, TU has unleashed its tenth season with a pit and pendulum worthy of a tell tale heart.
By Radomir Vojtech Luza
Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m.
Tickets: General Admission: $20
Information and Reservations:
The Belfry Stage
Upstairs at the Crown
11031 Camarillo St.,
North Hollywood, CA 91602
Dates of Show:
October 15 – November 19
Friday and Saturday @ 7:30PM and Sunday 3PM
5112 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood, 91601
A TIME TO KILL
Adapted For The Stage by Rupert Holmes
Based On The Classic Bestseller By John Grisham
Directed by Ronnie Marmo
Ronnie Marmo and Theatre 68 are proud to present the West Coast premiere of “A TIME TO KILL” – Based on the Bestseller by John Grisham and adapted for the stage by Rupert Holmes. This gripping drama will be the very first production for The Theatre 68 Family in their new home and will be directed by Ronnie Marmo. Opening at Theatre 68 (formally Antaeus/Deaf West), located at 5112 Lankershim Blvd. No. Hollywood, CA., 91601, on October 15th, 2016.
ABOUT THE SHOW
Carl Lee Hailey shot two men in the very courtroom where he now stands trial. But attorney Jake Brigance sees Hailey's act of vengeance against the racist men who attacked his daughter as a desperate bid for justice, and he's willing to risk everything to defend his client's life. As the trial heats up, the community is torn apart in this gripping adaptation of John Grisham's incendiary novel about race, crime, and family in small-town America that asks the question: when is it right to take justice into your own hands?
Set in a current day perspective, A Time to Kill tells the story of Jake Brigance, an idealistic white lawyer from Ford County, Mississippi, who sits in on a harrowing court case: A 10-year-old black girl named Tonya Hailey was brutally raped and beaten by two white men. Jake is shaken by the testimony of the girl’s father, Carl Lee Hailey, but when Carl takes the law into his own hands in the courtroom, the grieving father is suddenly under arrest and facing a trial of his own. Carl begs Jake to represent him, and although it’s a tough case, the young lawyer agrees to fight for the justice of Tonya, Carl and their family. With the help of his oft-inebriated mentor Lucien Wilbanks and a bright young law student named Ellen Roark, Brigance goes head to head against district attorney Rufus Buckley. As the controversial trial shakes the town to its core, Brigance finds himself—and his own beloved family—under attack.
Director/Producer Ronnie Marmo
Assistant Director Anna Yosin
Assistant Director Andrew J. Retland
Assistant Director Brittany Rizzo
Co-Producer Liz Izzo
Co-Producer Katy Jacoby
Set Design Danny Cistone
Lighting Design Mathew Richter
Jake Brigance - Ian Peterson
Carl Lee Hailey - Bechir Sylvein
Judge Omar Noose - John William Young
Ozzie Walls - Hansford Prince
Rufus R. Buckley - Greg Thirloway
Ellen Roark - Mercedes Manning
Vernon Pate - Peter Ostereli
Lucien Willbanks - Paul Thomas Arnold
Gwen Hailey - Ari Thompson
Drew Tyndale - Heidi Rhodes
Pete Willard - Jalil Houssain
Billy Ray Cobb - Steven Jones
Dr. W.T. Bass - Robert Dominick Jones
Dr. Wilbert Rodeh