It is a show that will remind you of the perseverance of the human spirit bundled with a lot of soul. Starring two wonderful and very talented actors in the demanding leading roles, the action never stops. Chas Mitchell and Samantha Mallory shine independently and together. This is a production well worth the price of a ticket.
Set in 1980s London, the stage is filled with mismatched furniture pieces from a time when video games and punk music ruled. Their very basic working class flat is in keeping with the time period which also includes an old television and definitely no cell phones. An elderly British soldier with nightmares and delusions left over from his time in a WWII Japanese camp shares this meager space with his perky granddaughter. They both suffer from loneliness and sadness that often come with incomplete dreams. In a nice twist to this tale, the grandfather (the POW), has his long ago secrets uncovered by the granddaughter (the girl), which may start the healing process. After all, they are not only related but share a unique and unfulfilled existence together.
It is a great tragedy for the POW, who missed his chance to wed his sweetheart when he was captured and held prisoner. She tried to wait, but couldn’t. He lives with those regrets and sorrow in nightly dreams that haunt his daily existence. Today one would call this severe PTSD. His granddaughter is straddled with keeping an eye on him as a wish to her dying mother. Her goal of becoming a paramedic is not considered a ‘ladylike’ occupation by the crotchety grandfather. He berates her constantly as he compares her to the women he knew and their place in society from a time long ago. But this is the 1980s, and a great time for womanhood in England. On the other side of this semi-autobiographical tale is the young girl, Sarah. She is not particularly interested in his story and wishes to be somewhere else. She has her own pain. Thankfully, she likes music and displays a natural curiosity towards his Glenn Miller albums. Eventually, they work through anger, frustration and a multitude of threats to find common ground.
The Sherry Theater is a small and dark-walled theatre. Approximately 40 seats is the perfect size for this production that is written and produced by Katrina Wood. This play needs to be seen in an intimate setting to catch all the wonderful nuances and movements by the lead actors. And boy do they deliver. This is not a comedy, but like all successful shows, comedic moments do come into play. Direction by Trace Oakley works well and the music from both time periods sets a tone that heightens the reality of this production. In fact, music is integral to the lead characters and its storyline.
The performances by Mr. Mitchell reconfirms that talent is plentiful in this town. It is obvious that he has had many years of experience both off and on the stage. Ms. Mallory was natural and believable as ‘the girl’ Sarah, bringing a true-to-life innocence to her character. Rounding out the rest of the cast is Lucas Helmersson, Natalia Bilbao (perfect in both parts as the ill mother and the lost girlfriend Alice), and Jeffrey Gibson. Off-set talent includes; set designer Aaron Glazer, choreographer Averi Quinn, costume designer Natasha Aldridge, and stage manager Matt Steele.
Having never ventured to this theatre in the heart of the NoHo District before, I would definitely put it in my booklet of places to keep in mind for great performances. The only part of this show that didn’t really match for me was the attack on Sarah by a bully kid. It might have highlighted her vulnerability and naïve nature, but seemed an unnecessary point. Otherwise, this play is solid and moving. I recommend seeing this play and take note of the underlying message of courage despite tragedy.
Previews are January 25 at 8:00 PM. Opens Saturday, January 26th, 2019 and runs through February 16th, 2019. Reservations 800-838-3006 The Sherry Theater, powandgirl.com
11052 Magnolia Blvd., North Hollywood 91601