Sunday, June 26, 2022

The Beautiful People / Rogue Machine Theatre at The Matiix

 Why the "A" in the logo on the poster for Tim Venable's "The Beautiful People" is the graphic red Circle "A" becomes evident as we spend some time in  1999 with Alex Neher as "(1)" and Justin Preston as "(2)." 


At first blush they are a couple of typical teenagers  chilling in (1's) basement in a middle class home south of Denver.   The guys are pals, but the struggle for dominance may erupt, serving up a little more than ear snapping.
   David Mauer's immersive stage design has our audience literally in the room.  It's a grungy basement with (1's) bed, a sofa and another sofa and a television set and a computer desk and a Nerf basketball hoop and a mirror.  The boys.. and they are just boys.. challenge each other; punch each other; discuss philosophy.  (2) does an imitation of President Bill Clinton denying his connection to Monica Lewinski.  He then gives Clinton on TV the finger.
There is an "undertaste"... an undertow,  as the boys jockey for power. "Undertaste" comes from Roman Polanski's film "Rosemary's Baby."  In fact, director Guillermo Cienfuegos, may have been channeling Polanski a bit as the uncomfortable placement of the audience makes the fourth wall pretty much inconsequential.  I have some issues with Cienfuegos's physical staging, but in Polanski's film, we are physically drawn into the intimate space shared by Mia Farrow: her story... in a similar way. 
Alex Neher   & Justin Preston  
 Photo by John Perrin Flynn 
There is little objectivity as the boys fight and make up and do the stuff that all kids do: chug a burny soda or fall victim to a really hot pizza roll fresh out of the microwave: too hot!

The story moves sequentially, episodically to its inevitable conclusion.   Neher as (1) plays his mercurial character with love/hate aplomb.  He's honest one minute and a fucking liar the next.  (The language of the play is filled with shits and fucks and sex, so this is fair warning.) Preston plays (2) to out do Neher and in one very dramatic "show and tell" seems to be the champ. 

The beauty of this difficult play is that we are drawn in. We get to know the kids. We care about them in various ways. (1) is a manipulator and (2), try as he might, is still a second banana.  We see this in all groups:   The Alpha runs the show. Others may challenge, but as often as not, the Alpha  is always in charge.    

(2) reads a chilling essay that turns on the violence that the pop music of the nineties: Marilyn Manson and Nine Inch Nails made millions with.  The play's title comes from Manson's "The Beautiful People."
(1) says, "I live by a different code. I have like, a mission. A purpose. And I don’t give a shit where I go after I die." 

Artistic Director John Perrin Flynn and the Rogue Machine Theatre are still working to make The Matrix Theatre a destination for new ideas. The BeAutiful People is an important World Premiere.  Sticky with socially challenging subject matter, we are reminded that Theatre can change the world. We come in and sit down and when we leave, what matters may stick with us.  This one sticks. 
This one sticks.
 The BeAutiful People
Written by Tim Venable
Directed by
Guillermo Cienfuegos
Rogue Machine Theatre

@The Matrix

7657 Melrose Ave

Los Angeles, CA 90046

Opening 8pm on Saturday, June 25, 2022

Schedule: 8pm Fridays, Saturdays, Mondays

3pm Sundays
(No performance July 4)
Closing: July 31, 2022

For reservations call 855-585-5185 



 Please copy and paste if the danged link is not working. Go to see this play!





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