LA isn’t a theatre town. You’ve heard this, I’ve heard this… and it is hard to dispute, much to my chagrin. There are other cities that are known for their high-quality theatre and engaged patrons and our beloved City of Angels is not counted among them. Perhaps that makes it even more special when a truly terrific show is on stage, and just a few miles from your own stoop. Ladies and gentlemen, your chance to introduce the non-theatre enthusiast pal(s) in your life to what us theatre fanatics refer to as church—with a huge potential for CONVERSION—is here.
A Parallelogram, available for your viewing pleasure at the Mark Taper Forum for the next few weeks, is flawless. If I were to gush about one aspect, I guess I’d have to choose the script itself, which leads me to Bruce Norris. He’s an award-winning playwright, best known for Clyburn Park, for which he won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. It pains me to admit; I didn’t necessarily know this man’s work. Others have said he’s a little bit Pinter, a little bit Beckett, and another part Albee or Ionesco. I’ll say he has written a gem of a play and I’ll be sure to seek out the ones that I’ve missed.
I hesitate to give the traditional mini synopsis, as I can’t seem to make it sound as appealing as it actually is…How about:
“If you knew in advance exactly what was going to happen in your life, and how everything was going to turn out, and if you knew you couldn’t do anything to change it, would you still want to go on with your life?” –Bee
Bee (Marin Ireland) meets and visits with an older woman (Marylouise Burke) visible only to her on a handful of occasions, whom we soon realize are incarnations of an older version of herself from the future. Bee 2, Bee 3, and Bee 4 not only inform her of an upcoming earthly disaster that ends the life of most of the population, but also that her husband, Jay (Tom Irwin) will leave her because she is losing her mind…amongst various other tidbits from the future. Not only does the incarnation of Bee bring news from the future, she also wields a remote control that can rewind time, proving that even when actions are changed, the future remains largely unaltered.
Although this sounds syfy-erific, it isn’t. Overly heavy and depressing? No, actually. It’s thought provoking, certainly, but not overly so, believe it or not. It’s darkly comedic… ridiculously well-acted (JJ, the lawn mower played by Carlo Alban… the last of the cast remaining to be mentioned) and deliriously well-directed by award-winning (too many to mention) Anna D. Shapiro.
The set, by Todd Rosenthal, which is never a big deal for me, had cool trap doors and revolving walls that couldn’t have worked better for this.
Is life correctable? According to A Parallelogram, not so much. But shows like this make the journey a little more worthwhile. Every aspect is a win. GO SEE IT!