In the midst of worries about 99 seat houses in Los Angeles threatened by the Actors Equity Association, The Road Theatre, founded by Taylor Gilbert now produces in two tidy little spaces, tending to the business and the Art of theatre. The newest of the production spaces now occupied by The Road on Magnolia features a functional lobby with snack bar, what appears to be revolving art on the walls and a steeply raked house with well equipped proscenium stage. A friend has pointed out that I tend to mention the tech in many of the shows I review. It’s true. The ‘professional’ look of impressive lights and sets create the space for the play. This is not to say that the facility is more important than the actual work, but it’s a first impression. In spite of the slightly cramped seating, there are no bad seats and Kaitlyn Pietras’s set and projections as well as Pablo Santiago’s lights create a professional atmosphere.
Lucile Lichtblau’s The English Bride, directed by Marya Mazor tells a story that should be engaging and enlightening. As our days are filled with news of angry militants who want to blow everything to pieces in order to have a world order that suits them, we meet a swarthy young guy Ali (Steven Shub) turned terrorist who has seduced a slightly dowdy young English barmaid, Eileen (comely Elizabeth Knowelden) and without her knowledge will send her to her death carrying explosives in plane full of unknowing innocents.
The soft steady breathing of a gentleman seated near me contrasted with enthusiastic responses from much of the opening night audience. A simple set with industrial “Navy” chairs on a platform and impressive projections to change the scene are right in line with engaged performances by the cast of three. We hear that an El Al flight has just been cancelled. Dov (Allan Wasserman) interrogates Ali to get the story of how his English wife to be evolved into an instrument of death and destruction carrying explosives in her luggage. His story and Eileen’s do not completely jibe. As the ninety minute one act moved on, there were moments of exposition in various accents that should have elucidated the importance of why we might care about these three people. Each actor was involved and focused.
As an acting exercise, the piece moves along well. These actors have professional credentials. The nagging question is, what makes this a theatrical to spend an evening with? Director Mazor says that it’s about the “questions of truth and storytelling…” Neither held much interest for me.
THE ENGLISH BRIDE by Lucile Lichtblau
West Coast Premiere
West Coast Premiere
(in repertory with THE OTHER PLACE)
The Road on Magnolia
NoHo Senior Arts Colony
10747 Magnolia Blvd.
North Hollywood, California 91602
Through April 26, 2015
Thursdays at 8PM, Saturdays at 3PM and Sundays at 7PM
Tickets and Information:
www.roadtheatre.org or 818 743 8838