Wednesday, March 11, 2015

BLOOD by Michael Phillip Edwards at Theatre/Theater

BLOOD by Michael Phillip Edwards

Take the legends of a storyteller from a childhood in Jamaica, expand through a lifetime of literature and art; create a fantasy with sprinkles of Samuel Beckett and Michael McClure; fold in the gut wrenching work of Growtowski. Boil it all down to two intense actors embodying a dozen characters and stuff it into an intense sixty minutes. There you have Playwright Michael Phillip Edwards’ pithy one act:  BLOOD.

Directing his own play, Edwards has cast two terrific actors.   Phrederic Semaj a He and  Maria Tomas as She  bring his words to life. Edwards mentions in his program notes that having grown up in Jamaica he often encountered “Parson,” an old storyteller, who always had a tale to tell.  No Grimm’s fairy tales, these, but Stephen King on steroids stories that would scare the pants off the young artist and his friends.  At rise we discover “He” and “She” (Semaj and Tomas) seated facing full front with looks of quiet consternation on their faces.  He is sans jacket, barefooted in formal wear. She wears what might be described as a casual wedding dress.  Costumes by Tuesday Connor are spot on.  The stage is virtually bare but for the two red upholstered chairs they sit on. Reminiscent of Beckett’s one act “Play” He and She realize that they are in a sort of Purgatory loop and are cursed to play their situation out time and again. 

The Irish Catholic colleen, Tomas, sees a gorgeous black hunk and together they fall deeply into one another’s hearts.  It’s bacchanal and Jamaica.  It’s Love.  They seek out a local priestess to marry them.  Tomas literally becomes the priestess, smoothly transitioning back and forth from her lovely bride demeanor to the crusty witch.  The witch declares the ‘Three’ married in blood, which baffles the happy couple. It is only later when the succubus who has been included in the wedding ceremony appears in a burst of smoke and thunder to claim her ‘blood.. Blood…  BLOOD!’ demanding sex through the voices of the actors who render her speeches in unison: SEX and BLOOD. She is literally terrifying!  Her carnal cravings are insatiable that the couple unknowingly agreed to in their wedding vows back in Jamaica.

It’s fascinating to witness Tomas  and Semaj present their dance of many characters, reflecting the frustrations of a cooling affair at the same time insatiably making the beast with two backs.  Edwards’ script is tight.  Solid performances make this an hour well spent.  The visceral work alone is worth the price of admission and shows yet again, how small theatre fills a huge artistic gap in the Los Angeles theatre community.  There might be fifty seats in Jeff Murray’s Theatre/Theater black box.  The actors are inches from the audience.  It simply works.  Each drop of sweat and every articulated speech blasts the audience with the true ‘blood’ of theatre.. innovative work:  Art.  Strong acting. Uncomplicated and professionally done lights and sound.  This is the temple of the arts. Tomas and Semaj  are the shamans who deliver the goods of Mr. Edwards’ creative work of art.

Producer Jeff Murray offers a Five Dollar Discount ($5.00) if one makes a reservation only on the phone and/or mentions Onstagelosangeles at the Box Office. Not available through brownpapertickets.  
Please support small theatre in Los Angeles.  This one is worth the trip to Pico and LaBrea.  Parking may be a challenge.  Go early and enjoy Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles pre-show! Or, authentic California Mexican at Lucy’s on the corner. 

"Blood" by Michael Phillip Edwards
5041 Pico Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90019 
Saturdays @ 5pm/Mondays @ 8pm thru Mar 30 
or phone the theater direct 323 422 6361

No comments:

Post a Comment