Monday, October 21, 2019

The Fountain Between Riverside and Crazy at Normandie!

Pulitzer Prize winning "Between Riverside and Crazy"is neither fish nor fowl. Set in a formerly posh apartment on Riverside Drive in New York City with a view of the Hudson, the play opens with a bang that reminds us of a trying too hard sitcom.  Oswaldo (Victor Anthony) is a live-in druggie who touts Ring Ding and baloney sandwiches while rattling off at hyper speed the reason why they make a meal.   He sits with Walter (Pops) Washington (Montae Russell), a retired cop who has been holding out for a big bucks settlement from the NYPD after being shot six times by a white cop but living to tell the tale.

Archie Bunker and Fred Sanford have nothing on Walter, who is now a widower but takes care of his son Junior (Matthew Hancock) and Junior's hot to trot girlfriend, Lulu (Marisol Miranda) .. all of whom live in Walter's rent controlled digs that has seen better days. 
Marisol Miranda and Montae Russell
Photo by Jenny Graham

Director Guillermo Cienfuegos, seems to have set fire to his cast as the old addage "Bigger, Faster, Louder, Funnier (or more Dramatic)"  calls the tune for the show. 

Sit-com dialogue interspersed with shouting matches involving almost every member of the cast  tries our patience.  Why BFLF comes strongly into play may be opening night adrenaline .. or just very enthusiastic acting. 

We meet NYPD Detective Audrey O'Connor  (Lesley Fera) and her fiance, Lt. Dave Caro (Joshua Bitton) who stop by for a social visit that turns ugly as Caro attempts to secure Walter's  signature to end the eight year battle for a settlement.  Audrey was Walter's rookie charge when he was a training officer and they happily recall their time working together. The thirty thousand dollar engagement ring that Caro has presented to Audrey factors in later.

We learn that being shot six times can mess you up in many ways. Walter explains that for the past eight years while waiting for the big settlement that should keep him and his little family comfortable for a long time to come, his ability to become aroused to satisfy his wife, Dolores, has vanished with his injuries.

This information factors in with moments that actually have some build and charm. The unexpectedly sexy Church Lady (Liza Fernandez), a Brazilian with exotic healing powers, stops by for a visit.  The Church Lady's arousing remedy is way too much for Walter and has it's "impossible" benefit even as he falls to the floor with a heart attack, declaring, "This is the greatest moment of my life!"

The writing waffles from comedic moments to serious drama with an ending leaving us with unanswered questions.

David Mauer's multi-purpose set and Matt Richter's lights are excellent.
Between Riverside and Crazy
by Stephen Adly Guirgis 
The Fountain Theatre
5060 Fountain Ave.
Los Angeles CA 90029
Plays through Dec. 15, 2019
Fridays @ 8 p.m.
 Saturdays @ 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. 
 Sundays @ 2 p.m.
Mondays @ 8 p.m  
Tickets and information:
(323) 663-1525 

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