Saturday, September 26, 2015

ICU at The Atwater / Circle X

Circle X is a favorite company in the intimate theatre business at the Atwater Village Theatre.  They try new ideas and this new effort, “ICU” written by Fielding Edlow is a journey into not only physical intimacy, but emotional depth that is more than the sum of its parts.  If typical Jewish mothers connive to marry off their forty something daughters to doctors, we have that.  If typical Jewish fathers judge their children and tell off color jokes, we have that.  If typical middle-aged Jewish daughters constantly joust with their parents.  Again: a good dose of that.  Toss in a ringer in the waiting room, Doug Sutherland as Kevin/Kevyn? who says he must see his old friend, Brian (Tony Decarlo) who is the reason we are all gathered in the slightly grubby St Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital waiting room featuring outdated magazines and terrible coffee. 
Dagney Kerr and Ericka Kreutz photo credit Jeff Galfer

Stir in Charge Nurse Kate (the wonderful Ericka Kreutz) whose arc in this dark comedy is a catalyst that helps the story gel.  Add, handsome and overly patient Dr. Garber (Shaun Anthony) and the cast is set;  the stage is ready for a quickly paced overlapping back and forth that challenges the audience to stay apace.

Designer Amanda Knehans’ spare tennis court setting is a tiny arena no bigger than a large living room allows for only about forty audience members. Everyone is in the front row!  It’s tight and works well.  Act II in the ICU itself is equally well done. Brian Schnipper’s direction is generally effective, however, remembering site lines is lost by the actors briefly from time to time.  

 In the ICU Waiting Room in Act I, the cast hits the stage full speed ahead.  Brian, the son of Siggy (Joe Pacheco) and Ruth (bombastic Caroline Aaron), has suffered a heart attack.  The parents are in denial regarding their son’s drug and alcohol abuse.

Edlow’s play is part situation comedy and part Albee’s Virginia Woolf.  Not that that is a bad thing. But, because the play starts on a relatively high energy level, the escalation of the shouting becomes as much about the noise as where we are headed with concern for Brian. 

Kevin, who sits quietly beside his huge teddy bear and is drawn into the maw of angst shared by Brian’s worried  family,  says he’s there to offer an ‘amend’ to his former friend.  Spin class instructor Jenna (Dagney Kerr) has her own problems and becomes the guardian at the gate protecting her ailing brother.   
Ericka Kreutz, Tony DeCarlo and Doug Sutherland

Photo Credit Jeff Galfer

Caroline Aaron and Tony DeCarlo photo credit Jeff Galfer
Dark comedy that is literally ‘in your face’ though the fourth wall remains intact evolving to big laughs and major tsuris upon which  some Jewish families may thrive.   Never resolved is Jenna’s forty day menstrual period and the d√©nouement of the piece is a bit confusing. Excellent performances and frantic pace with attempted control by Kreutz’s wonderful Nurse Kate brought the audience to their feet.   

Excellent tech possibly by Jeff Gardner including vital statistics monitor and iPhone business is impressive.  
ICU is a theatrical whirlwind that deserves an audience. 

ICU  by Fielding Edlow

Circle X Theatre Company

Atwater Village Theater

3269 Atwater Village, CA  90039

Thursday – Saturday at 8PM

Sundays at 7PM

Through October 31, 2015

Tickets and Information: 

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