Under the Skin at the International City Theatre welcomes the spring with questions that most of us would prefer not to have to consider. "Anyone got a kidney to spare?" Just what are "the boundaries of the body and the limits of love?" Does "jerking somone's chain" mean that the jerker and the jerked are connected? I had to remind myself of the term "declamatory" but a declamatory style factors in a little bit, too.
These questions and others delve into the 'business' of what makes us: maybe all of us? connected? Please go to see this play and watch for the clues that lead us to a very special ending. What playwright Michael Hollinger has created is a scenario to elevate the human spirit. While it may be slightly pedantic, the experience of four talented actors serves up seven characters, one of whom steals the show with an undeniable attitude. This is worth a trip to Long Beach! The entire evening is worth while.
I wonder why Timothy Mueller's starkly elegant monochromatic set is so far upstage? This play, because of its very intimate nature, could be closer to the audience, especially because the playwright has chosen to dissolve the fourth wall from time to time to include us all. Because the ICT is a very large space, to bring an intimate play close to the audience would be .. well.. more intimate.
Opening night energy kept the show moving a pace. We pretty much hit the ground running with exposition that fuels the conflict that keeps us guessing. Well, me, anyway.
Lou's angry daughter, Raina (Allison Blaize) has a special cell phone app that chimes to remind her.. and us? to take a moment to come to center and focus. It worked for me. The issue? Who will donate a kidney to Lou?
|Tony Abatemarco and Allison Blaize|
Photo by Kayte Deioma
Gorgeous Tanya Alexander as Marlene, Dr. Badu and The Barista transforms effortlessly from one moment to the next.
Marlene's son, Jarrell (Julian Smith also playing Nurse Hector) splits the characters easily.
Alex Reger, eat your heart out. Tony Abatemarco as Lou brings home the grit: the stuff of nuanced performance. We learn the word 'volute'.. the carved 'curlicue' at the bottom of a banister. Lou is a complex guy and versatile! Having been taught carpentry by his father, Lou has managed to build a comfortable business. It's this darned renal failure that has him and everyone in a tizzy.
|Allison Blaize and Tanya Alexander|
Photo by Kayte Deioma
Director caryn desai keeps the action moving, though a bit broad at first, we find that the mystery of this play may need that energy ... to keep us on an even keel. (she has always used lower case,okay?)
Lou Ziegler: Tony Abatemarco
Marlene Hayes/Dr. Badu/Barista: Tanya Alexander
Raina LaMott: Allison Blaize
Jarrell Hayes/Hector: Julian Smith
Set designer Timothy Mueller
Lighting designer Donna Ruzika
Costume designer Kim DeShazo
Sound designer Dave Mickey
Prop designer Patty Briles.
Casting Michael Donovan, CSA and Richie Ferris, CSA.
Production Stage Manager John Freeland, Jr..
UNDER THE SKIN
• Written by Michael Hollinger
• Directed by caryn desai
• Produced by caryn desai [sic]
• Presented by International City Theatre
Previews: April 26 and April 27 at 8 p.m.
Performances: April 28-May 14•
Wednesday at 8 p.m.: April 26 ONLY (preview)
• Thursdays at 8 p.m.: April 27 (preview), May 4, May 11
• Fridays at 8 p.m.: April 28 (Opening Night), May 5, May 12
• Saturdays at 8 p.m.: April 29, May 6, May 13
• Sundays at 2 p.m.: April 30, May 7, May14
INTERNATIONAL CITY THEATRE
Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center
330 East Seaside Way
Long Beach, CA 90802
• Opening Night (April 28): $55 (includes post-show reception with the actors) or $125 (includes pre-show Gala dinner in addition to post-show reception)
• Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays (except Feb. April 28): $49
• Sunday matinees: $52
• Previews: $37
Tickets and information: