Saturday, February 10, 2018

Eviction Notice (review)

Spoilers ahoy!

The Sherry Theatre is one of several charming little venues on Magnolia in North Hollywood.  Inside, roughly fifty seats rise before a fairly deep stage and a quite nice lighting/sound system. 

Currently you can see Eviction Notice at this theatre, an original whodunnit set in a not-quite-seedy Hollywood Hotel called the Henderson--the place has seen better days, but currently hosts a group of would-be artists, former stars, second rate performers, plus of course the son/heir of the late owner.  If you know much about murder mysteries, you'd probably guess correctly said son/heir will turn out to be a jerk (Bo Burroughs) and eventually murdered.  Structurally the reason seems simple enough--he embodies change at this establishment.  Things change, and as a result dominoes fall and this time one of those dominoes is a corpse.

With a cast of eleven, we end up with eight suspects (minus two detectives and of course the victim). Jacques Freydont's original script has several pluses and minutes going for it.  The biggest minus is an inherent problem in many kinds of murder mysteries--making the initial situation interesting in the shortest possible amount of time. This falls apart somewhat, because Act One proves ultimately too drawn out despite some really interesting characters and interactions going on.  For one thing, we don't have an obvious "hero" or "pov" character.  More, we are waiting eagerly for the murder so the mystery can commence.  That the obvious victim does indeed end up not breathing does not help.

Now in Act Two, we get an extraordinary piece of writing that still makes me blink.  The two homicide detectives (Ian Michaels and Adriohn Richardson) assigned to the case reveal themselves as very interesting indeed.  Both break--and use--stereotypes in compelling ways, and their internal dynamic (this marks their first case together) proves even more interesting than either seems as individuals.  Add to the fact I did not know who the killer was (which frankly is unusual), left a very positive impression.

Honestly the direction seems a bit sloppy, with vague blocking and at times it seemed some member of the cast were in different styles of play--which can work, given the types of characters, but did not quite do so. That is a nuance more than anything, though. The rest of the cast--Lara Fisher, Sonja Kovacevic, Ray Mainenti, Kelly Pierre, Thomas Porter, Lorena Rodriquez, Debba Rofheart, A.J.Sass--did a fine job, and I believed them.

Still, while the first act had problems, the second act ended up grabbing my attention and never letting go.

Eviction Notice plays Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm until February 24, with a special Sunday performance at 5pm on February 25, 2018.  The shows are at the Sherry Theatre 11052 Magnolia Blvd. North Hollywood CA 91601.

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