The new Breakdown Productions decided to perform Samuel D. Hunter's play A Permanent Image as their premier production. Easy enough to see why. One set. Three characters on stage, one projected onto the wall. Modern dress.
All well and good but what really struck me was the raw power of the piece. Like a haiku, it packed a multi-faceted emotional and philosophical punch.
In essence we begin with a video recording of the man we soon come to know as Martin (Robert Clenenin). He's trying to say something, something he evidently finds important but uncomfortable. Off screen we hear the voice of his wife, who comes across as a bit of a nag.
Which they both already did. With, to be fair, plenty of good reason. Martin and Carol, we learn, were not particularly good parents. Not horrible in terms of physical abuse or neglect. But distant. Difficult. Obnoxious and demanding at times. Even shrill, when there. One can easily imagine the two overwhelmed kids trying to find themselves amid the neuroses locked in that house.
But after a time, one sees them as no less neurotic.
Disturbingly, they came to a conclusion based on it. On it, and on the lives they'd led, how little control, even importance they've felt.
This play seems far more akin to Edward Albee, his existential exploration of human questions. Who are we in this cosmos? What decisions and reactions emerge from the mysterious alchemy which makes up our lives? How much can one person's answers be of any aid to anyone else? And amid all this, one of the very last lines in the play resonates in to my soul and out to the stars. "I wish we knew each other better." Even thinking of it now, brings a tear to my eye and for a legion of reasons. Which stands as a fine testimony to the author, the genuinely talented (and courageous) cast, as well as director Genah Redding.
A Permanent Image plays Fridays at 8pm, Saturdays and Sundays at 6pm until January 20, 2019 at the Skiptown Playhouse, 665 North Heliotrope Drive (at Melrose), Los Angeles CA 90004.