Tuesday, October 17, 2017

An Accident (review)

Spoilers ahoy!

One random incident.  The culmination of a thousand thousand such.  Such makes up our lives, for good and ill and all things in between.  Is there meaning there?  Or do we create meaning? Does that even matter?

An Accident is the second show I have reviewed by the Griot Theatre, and hopefully will prove nowhere near the last.  Both times I've felt deeply moved, as well as startled by the vision presented.

Even the set sucked me into the world of this show.  I walked into the theatre and nearly stopped dead in my tracks to look at the stage.  A hospital bed on one side, with what looked like an earth and root system hanging above, as if a hospital room were underground somehow.  On the other side, a garden complete with raw soil in a box, with a bench.  Above this side, an abstract of what looked like wallpaper shredding/blowing away, in a paisley pattern mirroring the hospital bed sheets.

In between, a small pedestal holding a pretty blue glass bottle.

Could not take my eyes off it.  What this might mean, I hoped and trusted the performance to reveal (and kudos to designer J.R.Bruce for this impact).

Soon enough, we begin to meet the characters.  Libby (Kacie Rogers) wakes up after a terrible accident.  She was hit by a car then run over.  She cannot move.  Her arms and legs will not obey.  For the moment she is broken.  Perhaps forever.  As we meet her, we see the powerful will and imagination she clearly possesses, and courage as she strives to remember anything, even her name.

Next we meet Anton (Kent Faulcon), the history teacher who ran her over.  A somewhat timid man, and a far from bad one.  No one knows who "Libby" might be.  No one has come forward.  She has no visitors.  Well, no one but Anton, who feels a need.  The police do say this was an accident.  No one's fault.  Anton and Libby both accept this, intellectually.  They struggle mightily with feeling it.

Here is much of what gives this play its impact, the deeply personal struggle of both to live with and process what has happened and is happening.  In fact both have the same goal, healing.  Both always want Libby to walk again, to regain her memories, her former life whatever that may be.  Along the way we get little if any sentimentality.  Libby comes across as an interesting person, a remarkable one.  But hardly a kind of beautific saint or martyr.  She's angry!  Sometimes.  She can be petty, terrified, sublime, cruel, childish, enraged, sarcastic -- all within a few minutes.  Trauma doesn't mold one into a plastic shape of an angel. 

Instead she remains wonderfully, frustratingly human -- as does her opposite number, who needs some healing of his own.  A good man, but again in no way some caricature of what some say humans should be.

No, like Libby, Anton remains a person we recognize, to whom we listen and can understand, such understanding helping us see ourselves.

That captures the dynamic of the play.

I don't usually care for plays that seek to answer questions.  They all too often become rather crude polemics.  An Accident avoids this trap by exploring a question rather than simply answering it.  That question "How do we heal?" of course has many answers, and the play shows us a few -- not formulae, not pat stereotypes urging us to shut part of ourselves off, not thoughtless truisms.  Rather shows us two people healing.  And in touching our hearts maybe helps us heal a bit too, from the individual aches we all endure, whatever the details.  I left the theatre very touched, very moved, and very impressed.

An Accident plays Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm, Sundays at 3pm until October 29, 2017 at The Lounge Theatre 6201 Santa Monica Blvd (one block east of Vine) Los Angeles CA 90038.  Captioning available on Oct 21.

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