Thursday, January 22, 2015

Mutant Olive at The Lounge

Mitch Hara / Mutant Olive / Photo by Ed Krieger
MUTANT OLIVE written and performed by Mitch Hara

For any actor to tackle a one person show is admirable.  It’s like walking a tight wire without a net and wire walking is what Mitch Hara is doing for  an hour and a half currently at the Lounge on Santa Monica Boulevard.  That the venue is on Santa Monica is significant, even though some of his story takes place a couple of miles to the west in the heart of   WeHo.  The Lounge is an intimate little space of about fifty seats.  The old brick walls are bare with a long black velour up right that provides for an off stage area, though Hara, as his alter ego Adam Astra, actually enters from the lobby as though presenting himself for an audition for Death of a Salesman. Breaking the fourth wall, he engages in immediate audience interaction by asking a lady in the front row to take his photo ‘to remember the moment in case he actually gets the part.’ This presents a strange dichotomy of discomfort and luring the audience into his bizarre world. 

Bulk of the show turns on the title: Mutant Olive (He was forced to wear an olive green suit as a kid).  We hear how Astra was raised by wolverines, the unkind, but apparently accurate description of his parents.  His portrayal of his drunken and abusive father and distracted mother, the whore, startles and wears a little thin, but the wirewalking is cleverly directed by Terri Hanauer.  The bare bones stage: one ladder, five boxes, three folding chairs,  create Astra’s home, his mother’s boudoir, an encounter group, a dramatic car wreck that winds from Santa Monica Boulevard to Robertson through alleys to Melrose where all hell breaks loose and a hospital where an out of body experience reminds slightly of Angels in America.

Hara’s movements are stereotypically gay as he tries again and again to present his “pizza delivery boy” rendition of Puck in a Midsummer Night’s Dream.  His impressive mime is smooth as silk, as he dances his various characters throughout the piece.  

Performing such intimate autobiographical material is daring and for the most part works.  Recounting a drunken blackout on stage at the Matrix in David Rabe’s Hurly Burly and his rendering of a believable out of body experience make the sometimes overly profane and indulgent moments worth waiting through.  This is deep digging, at times a one person pity party that over all might work even better with some judicious cutting.

Mutant Olive written and performed by Mitch Hara
6201 Santa Monica Blvd.
Hollywood CA 90038
(corner El Centro, one block east of Vine)
 Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8PM
Through February 28, 2015
Tickets and Information: 
323 960 7861

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