Rogue Machine Theatre, holding forth in Venice at The Electric Lodge maintains their intimate romance with productions that challenge not only their audiences, but their teams of artists, as well. Neil McGowan's World Premiere of Disposable Necessities is no exception.
|Darrett Sanders, Ann Noble, Billy Flynn and Jefferson Reid|
McGowan imagines a future where ... for a price.. one may simply slide the essence of one's self into a new body: a new 'module' and there in lies the tale. We can almost hear the voice of Rod Serling as the story unfolds. "This is the dimension of imagination. "
Once one agrees to accept the premise that in the year 2095 or so.. It's unclear exactly how far into the future McGowan has transported us... Christine Cove Ferro's clever costumes and the conceit that humans may shop at their local Life Forever Industires for new and improved "modules" comes easily to life. That "modules" may be reactivated to contain essentially the 'soul' of the shopper, we are thrust into a world that stands on the shoulders of the world we live in today. We identify ourselves to one another with a simple exchange of taps: one hand to another.
Novelist Daniel Totten (excellent Darrett Sanders)simply taps his temple to activate a projection screen and by 'swiping' with his fingers in the air, he may recall images of past modules: his family in happy times. His implanted hearing device blocks external sounds to enjoy virtually any music at any time. It's the implanted internet: always on line.
This topsy turvy world turns again when Alice Totten (Billy Flynn) arrives. It's unclear at first that this man, twenty years Daniel's junior, is actually Daniel's wife. Al is the mother of his children, Chadwick (hilarious Jefferson Reid) and Dee (angry Ann Noble) from years ago when she had a functioning female body, of course. We learn that Alice has transferred into the body of a young man for professional reasons. Why Daniel, a successful novelist with a canon of books popular some fifty years ago has agreed to such a switch is enough to make a heterosexual male squrim. Now in his current module, in his fifties, Daniel, for health reasons, has been forced to go 'on the wagon,' an issue that vaguely becomes a motivation for later events. Each of McGowan's characters is self contained and with the exception of Dee, is even blasé when it comes to simply 'youthening' by switching modules.
|Claire Blackwelder and Darrett Sanders|
We meet Philip Faine (sexy Claire Blackwelder) Daniel's long time male pal stirring the pot with his introduction and announcement that living with a healthy Trust Fund has enabled him take a flyer and spend time living as the opposite sex! He enjoys himself immensely!
The question McGowan poses is, "Who (sic) would you like to be next?" Director Guillermo Cienfuegos keeps his cast apace: all on the same page. The problem is how to resolve the issues of a troubled daughter, Dee, and to what extent is an 'eternal life' actually a good thing? The play's attempt to resolve this issue dwindles with late exposition. A troubling 'deus ex machina' is introduced to bring the issue full circle. In these days of re-examination of gender roles and self identification as male or female; gay or straight or some other self identity that may even be fluid, the idea of how important youth and power based on one gender role or another deciding when is a good day to die, crash! Then things magically reignite with what becomes, to me, a compromised conclusion. Should this story be all wrapped up in a neat little package?
Thought provoking and well done for what it is, it's up to the audience to decide if a trip to LFI might be an answer. Whom would you be next?
Photos by John Perrin Flynn
by Neil McGowan
Directed by Guillermo Cienfuegos
Rogue Machine Theatre
(in the Electric Lodge)
1416 Electric Ave
Venice, CA 90291
Opening at 8pm on December 14, 2019
Sunday 12/15 3pm,
Monday 12/16 8pm
(No performances 12/20-12/28)
Sunday 12/29 7pm
Monday 12/30 8pm
Saturday 1/4 8pm,
Sunday 1/5 7pm,
Monday 1/6 8pm
Continuing Saturdays at 5pm,
Sunday at 7pm,
Mondays at 8pm
(No performance on Monday, 1/13)
Through February 3, 2020
Tickets and information: