Monday, October 31, 2016


 UNBOUND by D.G. Watson
Michael (Chris Gardner) and Kate (Laila Ayad) Photo: Dean Cechvala

Kate (Laila Ayad) and Michael (Chris Gardner) awaken in a strange hotel room with no memory of how they got there and with no idea who the other person is.  Sprayed radical slogans on the walls and the growing kinship of the two young people lead to some helpful exposition; some rough sex and totally unexpected violence.  Rebellious Kate is a self declared revolutionary. Michael is duty bound to aid in the reformation of the Black Panther Party. Excellent acting does all it can to bring the piece to life.  The quick pace devolves to explosive action.

Kate’s mother, Dana (Gates McFadden),  a potential Presidential candidate, arrives in Act II where we learn that she is the product of far Right Wing politics.  Her confrontation with Ellis (Ellis E. Williams), the Black Panther Party leader who has just been released from prison after being incarcerated for 36 years,  becomes a confusing dance of power.  Mr. Williams has trouble with lines from the beginning, struggling to keep up as the surreal collaboration of these two former enemies grows more and more unbelievable. 

The character of Ellis may be a take on Eldridge Cleaver and the work the Black Panthers did on behalf of their community in the 1960s.  The ridiculous notion that Dana would go to such extreme lengths to protect her daughter, includes an odd discussion of demonic possession and Ellis’s notion that the dead return to haunt us, takes the argument of the piece into the absurd. Prop failures lead to unexpected laughs. Indeed if some of this idea had been presented as a dark comedy, the laughter might have saved it.

Director Jennifer Chambers, whose direction of the beautifully absurd Bed at The Echo Theatre, impressed me to no end, has her hands full with a completely unmanageable text.  Ahmed Best, who choreographed fights for The Echo’s brilliant Blueberry Toast, creates strong physical moments but it’s not enough to make this world premiere anything but an overly long disaster.

I love Gates McFadden.  How she got involved with Unbound is a mystery and a travesty.  How IAMA Theatre Company wrangled these talented actors to participate in this thing is a question that will go unanswered.

IAMA Theatre Company presents
 UNBOUND by D.G. Watson
A World Premiere
6539 Santa Monica Blvd at Hudson
Hollywood, CA 90028
October 29, 2016 8pm   
Through Sunday, November 27, 2016
 Saturdays at 3:00pm and 8:00pm 
 Sundays at 7:00pm.
Tickets $30.00  

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