Monday, January 30, 2023


I like the title of this piece: "And, If I  Don't Behave, Then What?"   
Howard Leder, Carmella Jenkins,
Cynthia Ettinger and Debba Rofheart
Photo by Frank Ishman

The title alone by playwright Iva Brdar is provocative enough to draw an audience. Many audiences!  We are, each of us, duty bound to ask questions.. to engage Critical Thinking and so.. how is your behavior these days?  Are you a nice person? Do you take the advice your mother gave you? 
Brdar's character(s) are not named.  We get most of the story of, presumably the playwright:  one woman's narration of her mother's advice (and parking instructions from a manual) through Cynthia Ettinger.  Unfortunately, Ms Ettinger is on book for the entirety of the thirteen episodes that tell the narrator's story from birth with pretty ears to old age and...   the inevitable. 

Translated   by Ana Brdar from Iva Brdar's script, the story of an unnamed woman unfolds more or less in stream of consciousness. There are opportunities for action that are missing, with some of the story shared by two other actors.   It is a work in progress and has room to become a very engaging special piece of theatre.  
Director Beth F. Milles,  limits the movement of the three mobile actors: Ettinger, Howard Leder and Carmella Jenkins.  The fourth cast member, Debba Rofheart, sits on a platform apparently following on book.  If she was miked, her few speeches were too soft for me to hear.  Others speak on microphone from time to time.  I don't know why. 
The text describes the ages of the woman narrator in thirteen episodic scenarios that begin with her  birth and  the beauty of her ears and travels through her life in episodic  moments.  
Dreamlike:  the use of microphones is marginally effective but the sound is still iffy because of the large space that this intimate piece must fill. Set designer Richard Hoover's use of found furniture with the audience invited to sit virtually on the stage creates a sort of three quarters thrust arrangement. It would better work.. for me.. if the space was reduced to a more intimate size. 
All observational criticism aside, the text of this play holds a mirror up for all of us to see ourselves.  Are we polite?  Did we listen to our mothers? Did we find our own way? 
Please go to see "And, If I Don't..." It is in the process of beginning.  As the show works through the business of keeping the main actress fully engaged with her character and the adjuncts picking up the pace to move it all along, its potential is very exciting 
Theatre like this  challenges the audience to mentally participate. It will be a very interesting evening in the theatre.  As the play works out the kinks, the essence of the text and what ever lessons it may share that we may take away will emerge as an important addition to the world of experimental theatre. 
Impressive projection design by Gabrieal Griego on the upstage wall announces the thirteen stages of the life of the narrator.  The shortest one is probably the best advice that comes from the whole piece!
Production Staff 
Assistant Director: Taylor Bazos

 Costume Design: Mylette Nora
Lighting Design:Russell H. Champa
Lighting Associate: Sean Deuel
Sound Design: Marc Antonio Pritchett
Properties: Ina Shumaker & Bruce Dickinson
Production Stage Manager: John Dimitri
Production Design: Richard Hoover
Publicist: Lucy Pollak   

Projection Design: Gabrieal Griego

And If I Don’t Behave Then What

written by
Iva Brdar


directed by
Beth F. Milles




Cynthia Ettinger
Carmella Jenkins

 Howard Leder

 Debba Rofheart

Saturday, Jan. 28 @ 8 p.m.
Sunday, Jan. 29 @ 3 p.m.

Saturdays @ 8 p.m. 

 Sundays @ 3 p.m. thru March 4

Open Fist Theatre Company
Atwater Village Theatre
3269 Casitas Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90039

(FREE parking in the Atwater Crossing (ATX) lot one block south of the theater)

Proof of vaccination required for admission.
Patrons must remain masked throughout the performance.

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