Monday, February 10, 2014


Echo Theatre Company has landed at the Atwater Village Theater.  It may be a crash landing with Tommy Smith’s sexually charged “Firemen.”  It’s the Nineties in rural Washington State.  Ben (Ian Bamberg), a high school wrestler, has come under fire and held in detention for leaving a lascivious note for Susan (Rebecca Gray), the high school secretary.  Dialogue is ponderous and leads us down a dangerous path.

“You know I’m a kid, right?” Ben asks Susan, having finagled his way into her office. The question of vulnerability is well delineated. We ask ourselves what would our reaction be if the adult was a man and the under aged student was a girl?  

A play with odd twists and turns, Firemen, is, evidently, linear in time, strangely violent and psychologically challenging.   It’s a question of decent acting in a meandering script.  It may be clear to director Chris Fields and playwright Smith what this sad and uncomfortable scenario eked from the headlines is all about, however... 

For whom do we cheer in this sordid mess? Why stay for the second act?  Honestly, I really can’t say.  Morbid curiosity and filling in the missing pieces leaves us with an inevitable conclusion, again, taken from real life.  How do we deal with tragedy in our lives and resolve our issues?

Bamberg,  delivers teen angst and is the inevitable victim.  The odd connection between Ben and Susan takes shape uncomfortably.  Susan’s son, ten year old Kyle (Zach Callison) falls victim, too.  An implausible connection between Detention Counselor Gary (Michael McColl) and Ben’s mom, Annie (Amanda Saunders), is only credible in a work of fiction. 

Angel Herrera’s crisp multifunctional set with vertical blinds adds to the somewhat stark atmosphere.  The real mystery for me is why? Why produce this piece? What is the audience supposed to take away? Where can we find some resolution for the ordeal of aberrant sex and twisted morals we didn’t know we were in for?   

A World Premiere :  FIREMEN by Tommy Smith 
Echo Theatre Company
Atwater Village Theatre
3269 Casitas Avenue
Atwater Village, CA 90039
February 8 through March 16, 2014
Fridays and Saturdays at 8PM
Sundays at 7PM
Tickets and information: 310 307 3753
Free adjacent parking

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