Sunday, January 31, 2010


Geography of a Horse Dreamer

The Moth Theatre presents Sam Shepard’s 1974 oddball take on dreams and playing the horses in a tiny hole-in-the-wall just west of Los Angeles City College. I mention the location because if you are a Sam Shepard fan and are stout of heart, this little band of players has hollowed out a store front where back stage is the front of the store and finding your way to the box office in the back may be a challenge. Don’t park in the colorful parking lot just east of the massage salon and the coin laundry. It’s not nearly as dicey as it looks and the up side is a cast that hits its marks and brings Shepard’s show to life.

Shepard has a reputation for gritty theatre and Horse Dreamer is no exception. Beaujo (John Markland) and Santee (Scoot McNairy) are the keeper/kidnappers of the unfortunate Cody (Kris Lemche) whom Fingers and his gang have discovered somewhere in Wyoming for his ability to dream the winners of horse races. Cody is shackled to a bed, all watched over by Beaujo and Santee: designated to record his dreams of winning horses and relay them to Fingers who places the bets and they all clean up. Well, except for Cody, who is pretty much a slave.

Unfortunately, Cody’s off his game. If it was up to Santee, he’d brutalize the kid until his dreams began paying off again. Santee's got a 'rod' and he ain't afraid to use it! Miraculously, the syndicate decides to switch their betting to greyhound racing and Cody, in spite of his unfortunate situation, is, apparently, back on track, dreaming of winning dogs.

Jamie Wollrab’s direction is solid, given the limited space of the dingy little hotel room, which evolves a few months later in Act Two to classier digs because of Cody's successful dreams. Fingers, played by Dov Tiefenbach, makes his entrance in cape and attitude and briefly stops the show. Accompanied by the mysterious Doctor (an imposing Thurn Hoffman) the story escalates to a whole new level. Shepard’s story telling is often visceral and bizarre and the twist in Act Two is no exception. The payoff is a huge surprise that makes little sense, but certainly is a payoff.

The members of the Moth Company met through director / acting coach Susan Seacat, who in the 1980s developed “The Way” (not to be confused with The Tao) based on the analysis of dreams as discussed by Carl Jung. Jung’s dream theories regarding deep feelings risen from the subconscious by analyzing one's dreams is melded in what sounds a little like The Method that Stanislavsky developed at the Moscow Art Theatre in Russia in the late 1800s. Evidently, it binds the company together.

The beauty of Horse Dreamer is that Wollrab has been able to corral the cast and their dreams into a solid production, a little mumbly (on stage is not on camera) and over the top at times (loud and mean can sometimes be low and intense) but the company’s efforts pay off.

Fridays and Saturdays only at 8PM through March 6, 2010
Moth Theatre
4359 Melrose
LA, CA 90029
213 666 2296 for reservations and information
Good luck parking and finding the entrance in the back!

No comments:

Post a Comment