Sunday, January 22, 2023


Oh My Goodness: 
  Kopit meets Monty Python meets Circle X with bizarre and off the wall dialogue in the Cash Flow Accounts offices where Sofia (adorable Paula Rebelo) has been hired as an Empathy Facilitator to guide the office staff of angry collection agents to be more empathetic human beings. Can this odd crew  find more pleasant ways to deal with debtors?  Together we make quantum leaps into a Bizarro World Wonderland. Long gone absurdist playwrights are smiling from the land of mermaids. 
Tasha Ames, Napoleon Tavale,
Rich Liccardo and Paula Rebelo
Photo by Jeff Lorch

This Circle X ensemble cast, thanks to director Halena Keys's deft hand and François-Pierre Couture's beautiful set and lighting with hidden surprises, hits the stage full throttle. 
At rise we meet Sofia's Mom (Rose Portillo) who has kicked out Sofia's dad.  She's leaving a hovering heartfelt message on Sofia's phone. Sofia's Mom may be headed for a vacation to swim with mermaids.
I would quote the Venus of Willendorf here, but she has nothing to do with the world of angry debt collectors who  sometimes scream like bloody murder. 
Jon, (Casey Smith), the very tall silver coifed manager of the CFA, thinks that 'empathy' might be a bird!  How absurd to think that that word might be a bird, but just wait. Just you wait!
Jordan (Napoleon Tavale
) and Howie (Rich Liccardo:), two male "shawvinist pigs," (sic) love unreciprocated sex.. as does Jon, who repeats the words 'blow job' so many times that I lost count.
In rolls the 130 year old Old Man (cameo guest Bob Clendenin), a ghost  of Eva's past.  He has come  with dog food bombs to blow up the office but is distracted by relating his past disappointments on the playground as kid. It's a fantastic monologue.
Eva (speedy Tasha Ames) sets the frantic pace and the volume of the piece: fast and loud and louder while casually complaining about being mugged on a regular basis.  Jon, the manager, says he will look into it. When asked about a restroom for women with depositories for tampons, he needs to put in a call to his assistant for a definition of what constitutes a 'period.' His being revealed the "honest truth" about bleeding on the phone, he begs his assitant to tell him it's a lie. It briefly stops the show. 
(In the voice of Rod Serling..) Consider if you will  a half waking fever dream where some things may be so very real?  Like the empathy bird?  This play is only a little like that, but just consider it anyway? What we must consider is that what dreams may come all turn on the morsel of hovering love from Sofia's mom (lovely Rose Portillo) and possibly that trip to swim with the mermaids. 

Playwright,  Mara Nelson-Greenberg, has turned Circle X upside down and just about the time things seem to make a bit of sense, we are thrust into a dreamscape or something like not a dream or even a nightmare but sort of.  You'll see.Yes, you will. You will see..
Beautifully bizarre, the fine line of reality is crossed back and forth with director  Halena Keys probably strapped  into her director's chair and holding on for dear life as this very strange story unfolds, folds up and then unfolds again.  Oragami? 

What a pleasure to be rocked back in my seat by an occasional bloody murder scream. I am fascinated  by the casual discussion of murder; revelations in an empathy exercise that seem to actually have some meaning.   Toss in a bit of Beckett, well sort of.  
From a dear pal, I have re-learned the word 'quibble.' My slight quibble with Circle X is that the effort at first blush to find an actual list of the actors and their characters for this review took a long time. Nowhere in their program do they have a simple list. The program is a QR thing that lists a lot of stuff including a sincere wecoming statement by the Circle X artistic director whose signature is illegible. Please bring back a paper program.

 On the upside?
This excellent show virtually rocks the house.
Never mind!!  Go on..Go see for yourself. Go!

Tasha Ames : EVA
Charlotte Gulezian : JANIE:
Rich Liccardo: HOWIE
Rose Portillo: SOFIA’S MOTHER
Paula Rebelo: SOFIA
Casey Smith : JON:
Napoleon Tavale
Opening weekend cameo appearance by

Bob Clendenin

  as The Old Man 

Producers – Kat Haan, Jen Kays, and Tim Wright
Assistant Director – Lee Hannah Conrads

Set and Lighting Design – François-Pierre Couture

Lighting Design – Stephen Azua

Costume Design – Dianne K. Graebner

Sound Design – Jesse Mandapat

Prop Master – Kat Haan

Specialty Prop Design – Richard Maher

Production Stage Manager – Roella Dellosa

Assistant Stage Manager – Yaesol Jeong

Box Office Manager and Front of House Manager – Jasmine Leung

Publicist – Lucy Pollak

Graphic Design – Christopher Komuro

Program Design – Rita Ikerd

Video Design – Dustin Hughes

Social Media Manager – Brandon Ganske
Do You Feel Anger? 
 Mara Nelson-Greenberg
Directed by 
Halena Keys

Saturday, January 21 @ 8 p.m.
Sunday, January 22 @ 2 p.m. through Feb. 25: 

Thursdays, Fridays & Saturdays @ 8 p.m. / Sundays @ 2 p.m. 

Cameo appearance schedule:

♦ Jan. 26-Jan. 29: William Salyers

♦ Feb. 2-Feb. 5: John Getz

♦ Feb. 9-Feb. 12: Jan Munroe 

♦ Feb. 16-Feb. 19: Tony Amendola

♦ Feb. 23-Feb. 25: Silas Weir Mitchell 

Atwater Village Theatre

3269 Casitas Ave
Los Angeles, CA  90039

(Free parking in the Atwater Xing lot one block south of the theater)

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