The Rogue Machine is a company of serious theatre practitioners who must stay in shape by finding places to park in their neighborhood and climbing cardiac stairs to their well appointed performance space at the MET Theater. The space has great history with famous names and beautiful productions attached ever since Bill Bushnell (corrections are welcome) got the place going many years ago. This is the heart of what theatre for the next generation is supposed to look like. Funky and low down. Ancient wood paneling and refreshments for a donation make for a comfortable lobby to meet other patrons before the house opens.
Still Life will only be up for a short time longer. If Sunday’s excellent performance with standby James Liebman (in for Lea Coco) as the artistically conflicted statistician, Jeffrey, is any indication of the dedication of this group, it’s a must see. Director Michael Peretzian has molded Academy Award Winner for “Birdman” Alexander Dinelaris’s modern morality play flowingly into a story for our time. Dinelaris asks deep and personal questions that each of us must address but seldom do.
Looking in the dictionary, one might see the term ‘jerk’ (for want of a broader term that has to do with pejorative body parts) and find a portrait of “Terry” depicted by Jonathan Bray, the owner of the ad agency where Jeffrey works to futurecast the wants and needs of the general public. In a strong turn, we see both truth and beauty in this character’s approach to living the wasted life. His brutish and blatant approach to getting things done, fraught with fear and loathing of himself and others is enough to put us all on notice to pay attention. Pay attention to how the ripples we send into the Universe may leave others in chaos.
Central to the story is a love affair between Jeffrey and one of the most natural actors I’ve seen on any stage: Laurie Okin as the inspired photographer, Carrie Ann. Daughter of a well known photographer, Theo (Frank Collision), she has risen to prominence for her dramatic photos, some of which depict the startling beauty of dead things. This sets the scene for the examination of what is important to the story's characters we meet and what the true value of being alive is to each of them: to each of us.
Susan Wilder as Joanne brings to life a gorgeous no nonsense agent for the down to earth Carrie Ann. Her life turns on how well she represents herself and her client. Exchanges between the two are tough and heart rending.
Every scene depicts some special conflict that we must, as individuals, also work out within ourselves to move forward with life… and death.
In multiple turns, Jennifer Sorenson shines as Michaeline, the dive bar bartender, who is challenged to examine her own personal worth by Terry's indecent proposal. She is forced to examine herself by Terry as he snorts himself into oblivion, too late becoming aware of his own distinct shortcomings.
Tania Verafield, Nardeep Kuhrmi and Alexandra Hellquist round out the cast perfectly. Tom Buderwitz’s excellent scenic design is spare and modern; beautifully set off by Leigh Allen’s subtle lighting with what are presumably more photos by Carrie Ann projected during scene changes, depicting in an astounding way, the circle of life.
STILL LIFE by Alexander Dinelaris
A West Coast Premiere
Rogue Machine Theatre
In residence at The Met Theatre
1089 N. Oxford Avenue
Los Angeles, California 90029
Through April 17, 2017
Saturdays and Mondays at 8:30PM
Sundays at 3:00PM