Sunday, February 7, 2016


Sheila Callaghan’s rough and tumble play, BED, currently at the Atwater Village assaults the senses from the moment the house opens.  The Echo Theatre at the Atwater is a totally flexible space. It’s a well appointed black box with the ability to move the stage area and the audience to create any atmosphere.  Callaghan has said that BED is not autobiographical, but was inspired by a traumatic event in her life. The trauma is palpable as we find our seats.  The stage, strewn with everything from a toy keyboard, sheets of musical scores and articles of clothing set the scene.  That may be blood on the floor. Seating is cramped and not all together comfortable, which is appropriate because the story that unfolds is chaotic, invasive and crude.   Kate Morgan Chadwick as Holly slithers drunkenly from the slammed door, circumnavigating the huge platform on Se Oh’s post apocalyptic feeling set.     Holly’s life is about rock and roll and sex, not necessarily in that order.   
Kate Morgan Chadwick and TW Leshner
Photo by Darrett Sanders
(Click on the photo for the full effect!)

The Bed in question is enormous.  It is disheveled, as is Holly’s life.  The abandoned care with which Callaghan has constructed Holly’s character is both tender and tough.  Enter Cliff (T.W. Leshner) who takes commands from Holly becoming slightly disoriented as he has never encountered a woman like this before.  She tells him that usually, she comes pretty quickly and in a flash we witness unabandoned fucking.  The graphics are left to the imagination, but the intensity that is commanded by Ms Chadwick proves to be the wave that crests and breaks again and again in Callaghan’s well honed story.  Cliff has been told by the friend who introduced him to Holly that he’ll fall in love with her.  Zap!

Chadwick’s performance is extraordinary.  Her raw energy and acute sense of self and sexuality is undeniable.  Personally, I hate tobacco.  Period.  At one point Holly, frustrated, shreds a pack of cigarettes into her hair.  This lays the foundation for how tobacco as a harbinger of toughness emerges in the show.  Cliff and Holly do get married and do have a baby and Holly’s music bursts into the plot.  An affair with Cliff’s hunky tattooed brother, JC (Johnathan McClain) complicates things.  A fourth “character,” Jeff Gardner’s sound design, emerges and buoys the production up throughout.

Callaghan’s earthy script reminds of Oscar Winner Diablo Cody’s brilliant 2007 film script, JUNO, which examined the adventures of another young woman and sex. Callaghan even resembles Cody a bit. The playwright’s credits include a teaching career and many produced stage productions (including an upcoming show at the Kirk Douglas). She is a writer/producer on the down and dirty Showtime series SHAMELESS.  Of course, it’s the words that get things rolling and with Jennifer Chambers’ tight direction and strong performances by Chadwick, Leshner and McClain, this one is a hit. 
Leave the kids at home.

BED by Sheila Callaghan
Directed by Jennifer Chambers
Echo Theater Company
Atwater Village Theatre
3269 Casitas Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90039.
Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m.,
Sundays at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m.,
Feb. 6 through March 13.
Tickets and Information: (310) 307-3753

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