Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Poor Clare at the Echo Theatre

 Echo Theatre's World Premiere of POOR CLARE,  by Chiara Atik is a strong polemic that focuses on two worlds. The world of the United States today is reflected in an old world call to humility and service, these nine hundred years gone by. 

It, like, imagines Assisi, Italy, Circa 1211 or so.. It's OMG, the Middle Ages, but with like modified Valley speak as Clare (Jordan Hull) and her younger sister Beatrice (Donna Zadeh) chat and dish fashion with their ladies maids, Peppa (Martica De Dardenas)  and Alma (Carrie Lee Cartwright). The girls are all a twitter with gossip and like who is back from the Crusades. Guido Conit is so cute!

Clare and Beatrice are wealthy spoiled kids, 'K? They have not a care in the world except what to wear and whom to gossip about and how to wear their hair.  Hair is a thing in the 13th Century, evidently.  Fortunately for them, the Black Death is about a hundred years  in the future. 

Kari Lee Cartwright, Donna Zadeh, Jordan Hull,
Martica De Cardenas and Ann Noble
Photo by Cooper Bates

Decidedly saccharine .. but engaging, at last we come to some gossip about this cute guy, the silk merchant's son, who stripped naked in the village square!  He mooned the Bishop! Clare meets Francis (Michael Sturgis) and like, here in hangs, like.. the tale.

Twenty-first century issues of poverty are now laid  bare as the education and conversion of wealthy and privileged Clare slowly begins its evolution.  It's not a stretch of the imagination to...  like..  imagine that Francis is, like, maybe a forebearer of Bernie Sanders. Except, I think that Francis was most likely celibate, which could be problematic. As played by  Sturgis, Francis was probably gay.  His Valley Speak was dead on with the rest of the cast. 

An interesting departure from the somewhat glib and deliberate nod to how cavalier most of us may be when dealing with the issues of poverty and homelessness, in Act II, we meet Tony DeCarlo as The Poor who seems to break the fourth wall with a genuine plea for aid and understanding.  He declares that he's a veteran and wants to work and really just needs a leg up. The pathos of his reality elevates Dietz's entire contention: most of us ignore what's in our faces every day.

In a character one hundred and eighty degrees from The Poor, Ann Noble, as Clare's mother, Ortolana, is laser focused. This lady is, like, a class conscious medieval Beverly Hills Matron. 

Clare, in her final monologue, as she has taken her bold and irrevocable steps to follow her conscience, it must be the author's voice, in prayer, pleading for guidance and to be a better person. She may be reaching out to her audience asking for us to examine our own personal priorities.

 I often compliment Chris Fields and The Echo for their dedication to developing new works and 'trying things.' To bring this production to life in these dark days is a feat unto itself. 

The actors are: 
Alma . . . . . . . . . . . . . Kari Lee Cartwright
Clare . . . . . . . . . . . . . Jordan Hull
Peppa . . . . . . . . . . . . Martica De Cardenas
Beatrice . . . . . . . . . . Donna Zadeh
Francis . . . . . . . . . . . Michael Sturgis
Beggar/The Poor . . . Tony DeCarlo
Ortolana . . . . . . . . . Ann Noble
Super . . . . . . . . . . . . Trinity Caitlin 


by Chiara Atik

Directed by Alana Dietze

Echo Theatre Company 

Atwater Village Theatre
3269 Casitas Ave,
Los Angeles, CA 90039

October 23 - November 29. 2021

Poor Clare opens on Saturday, Oct. 23, with performances continuing on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m.; Sundays at 4 p.m.; and Mondays at 8 p.m. through Nov. 29.  

Tickets are $34 on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays; Monday night performances are $20 in advance, and Pay-What-You-Want at the door (subject to availability). 

On-site parking is free. 

Reservations and information: (310)307-3753

Proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours will be required of all patrons.
• Admittance is limited to ages 12+.
All current CDC and local guidelines regarding seating and masks will be followed at each performance. 



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