|Christian Telesmar and Rori Flynn|
"On the Other Hand, We're Happy" by Welsh playwright Daf James debuts in a West Coast premiere that employs more characters than we have actors. The device of fewer actors lends a dreamlike tone with a term that I had to look up.. "TARDIS" (Time And Relative Dimensions In Space). Indeed we travel back and forth through Time and Space as the characters morph from one to another smoothly and mostly successfully.
We meet Abbie (Beautiful Rori Flynn) and Josh (Christian Telesmar) slipping forward and back in time while coming to grips with the fact that Josh can't have children. The discussion that Abbie and Josh engage in may be one that many couples have had. Shall we have children? The exchange between Abbie and Josh: banter, if you will, is fraught with anxiety; while at the same time skirting on hope.
There are questions. Now and then, the fourth wall vanishes as the audience is included. At one point were any parents here concerned that their child might stab them to death while they slept in the middle of the night?! The guy next to me raised his hand.
As luck would have it, on the radio coming home from what is actually a very enjoyable production over all.. I caught the tail end of a delightful eighty year old British woman. She is psychologist who was telling a story on The Moth Radio Hour. There are dialect specialists who could tell you from what part of England she came. She was delightful.
Then KPCC presented Weekend Edition with Scott Simon interviewing Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith, the guys from Tears for Fears. The eighties rock stars are together again after fourteen years apart. Their British accents were crisp and genuine.
The contrast of American actors attempting English accents and the relaxed lilt of native speakers was overwhelming. I was bothered by the actors' work and hearing genuine native speakers clinched my bias.
For this production, enunciation and projection need work. That said..We come back to Cameron Watson's purposely disjointed and beautifully choreographed staging of On The Other Hand to find:
Elegant Alexandra Hellquist as a prim counselor. Later she pulls out the stops with her rendition of Kelly, the troubled mum who is giving up her daughter, Tyler, to give the kid a shot at a better life. THEN.. Hellquist brings it down to play several ages of Tyler. Daf James gave her some very good stuff.
|Alexandra Hellquist and Christian Telesmar|
Stephanie Kerley Schwartz's bare stage surrounded by ruggedly molded screen door material and Jared A. Sayeg's lights virually become aother character, transforming the open space with three simple toad stools to life. The transforming episodes in the lives of the characters are amplified by the dramatic changes in lighting accompanied by Christopher Moscatiello's sound design.
Watson makes use of the new tennis court style Matrix stage to advantage.. My issues with English accents notwithstanding, this deliberately provocative and energetic production takes us where theatre really must go to fulfill the promise of tackling issues and deliberately exciting the audience while in the process.
Production photos by John Perris Flynn.
ON THE OTHER HAND, WE'RE HAPPY
by Daf James
Opened Saturday, February 26, 2022