Friday, March 6, 2015

Nightmares Trio (review)

Spoilers ahoy!

Nightmares Trio, the four-performance show at ZJU, has its origins in last year's show Nightmares. Like that show, it pretty much epitomizes what I've come to call "Theatre of Dreams."

Intuitive in the extreme, with sudden changes of mood, a blending of elements that should not work yet somehow do, Gloria Galvan, Brett Gustafson and Jessica Weiner join musician/composer Christopher Reiner (what--you didn't expect a show explicitly called trio to have only three performers did you?) create something nonsensical yet in some weird way totally logical.

So we go from a blend of poetry and dance to comedy skits--costume changes that look like something children would put together (pretty sure that was deliberate--if not, then bravo on the serendipity), musical numbers that end up breaking the fourth wall (one of which sure to earn guffaws from regulars at ZJU), and the like.

It is really hard to describe though.

Gloria Galvan is a seemingly fearless performer I've seen time and again now, with an ever-increasing range. Apart from the fact she can be utterly hilarious, her range includes a ferocious power.  At one point in the show I actually thought to myself "Her eyes alone make me believe she rip open and eat my flesh--and part of me just might want her to!"

Brett Gustafson is a tall skinny glass of water with a real edge, as well as (for me very much a selling point in an actor) genuine command of his voice.  He, like the rest, literally keeps changing character on a dime and often with a collection of tiny changes in voice and posture and attitude that adds up to someone vividly new.  We know when he does this, and he never slips into a previous or future character!

Jessica Weiner looks like she should be a cheerleader.  Blond hair, big smile, just the right kind of figure.  Until you look closer at that smile and those eyes, seeing a just a hint of madness she takes out to play with sometimes, the depths (and heights) she's willing to go that many an ingenue balks before.  Tiny detail--of the three she's the strongest dancer.

I"ve seen Christopher Reiner before in The Raven, a show I really loved.  He's better in this one, not least because he's given much more to do, among other things showing a fine comedic timing in terms of acting (not quite the same thing as telling a joke--and vital in this kind of ensemble performance).  Let me note also not only the fine way he performed the music of the show (which he composed) but the fact he played it in sync with the performers!

Only three more performances remaining, and I urge those who want a slightly psychodelic and very imagination-expanding piece of theatre to go take a gander. Fast.

Nightmares Trio runs for Saturdays at 11pm until March 21 at Zombie Joe's Underground Theater Group, 4850 Lankershim Blvd. (across the street from KFC), North Hollywood, CA 91601.  For Reservations Call: 818-202-4120, Advance Tix at

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