“Scraps”… Smaller Pieces Please.

By Ernest Kearney — The best theatre I’ve seen has been on bare stages, under looming oak trees, in gloomy, ramshackle homes.

So whenever I walk into an equity-waver house and I see a really superbly designed (and undoubtedly expensive) set it always makes me nervous as it tends to indicate the attention has been misdirected.

Speaking of the set, John Lacovelli’s work for Scraps at the Matrix is exceptional, capturing the feel of a New York brownstone while conforming to the Matrix’s problematic bow stage.

Brian Gale and Zo Haynes share credit for the lighting design which works to meet the show’s Nightmare On Elm Street demands.

Jeff Gardner’s sound score fully achieves the Pennywise Fun House requirements that arise from this production.

Costume Designer Wendell C. Carmichael succeeds in outfitting the cast perfectly.

Prop Master David Saewert manages to fill the limited demands of this piece quite well.

Even Fight Chorographer Ahmed Best does his duty by this production.

And Rigger Ian O’Connor – well that’s some damn fine rigging.

Uh….

Oh! The Actors!

Excellent!

Tyrin Niles opens the show on a high note as Delacroix, the young, angry, black stoop poet lamenting the death of his friend Forest, another young black man gunned down by the police for the crime of “running.”

Was past is prolong,” he intones with shades of foreshadowing.

Our segregation is our tradition,” he bemoans with the dead eyes of a self-blinded prophet.

Enter Calvin (Ahkei Togun), a homeboy who’s done well for himself, returning from a year of schooling abroad for a brief stichomythic repartee with the hostile Delacroix.

Enter the two sisters Adriana (Ashlee Olivia) and Aisha (Denise Yolén); both struggling in their own ways to deal with the harshness of inner city existence and the civic murder of their friend and lover.

These four actors are caught in one another’s orbits spinning, like a Danse Macabre, with the racial tensions that are ripping the very fabric of this nation; filling the air with a raging obituary, closer in nature to a Skeltonic Tumbling verse than rap…..

And right there, in the intimate Matrix Theatre, about forty minutes into Scraps by Geraldine Inoa it happens!

Wow!

Wow!

This whole show nose dives into the deep end of an Olympic sized suckpool.

Molly Savard, the public relations person writing for the press kit info sheet, informs us, “There are many reasons why Playwright Geraldine Inoa’s words have been called ‘passionate,’ ‘bracing,’ and ‘sharp’….”

Ms. Savard goes on to talk about “a history of trauma” for a bit then picks it up with “Another is that Inoa….just never learned how to properly write a play.”

Well, gang you won’t get any argument on that from me.

Now why Ms. Savard, the Matrix Theatre Company or producer Joseph Stern thinks this is a good thing is anybody’s guess, but half way through Scraps, the play has an epic warp spasm to rival that of Cúchulainn’s backwards bending kneecaps, that takes us from a pretty decent Greek rendering of America’s national “goat-song” into a third rate mulligan stew of Naked Hamlet, The Blacks by Jean Genet, and SpongeBob SquarePants on acid.

Enter Stan Mayer, a white cop like a “Deus Ex What the Fudge?” followed by Damon Rutledge, an actor whose work I have admired in the past but comes off here like Joe Besser as Stinky, the mean little kid on an old episode of The Abbott and Costello Show.

Now an excursion into the shamanistic and totemic could have been employed here effectively as a means for the defamiliarization of the societal ailment of racism to enforce us all to reexamine the issue outside of our own preconceptions.

But this isn’t what Ms. Inoa has done. Frankly, I don’t think she has a clue what she’s doing. And until she does, she should confine herself to writing dialogue for zombies.

Now if this review sounds harsh to you, good!

I want it to sound harsh, because I am tired to my bones of that unholy cabal of pretentious East Coast theaters and dim West Coast TV writers and producers foisting on L.A. audiences drivel such as this.

Stevie Walker-Webb is accredited with directing. I’m curious as to how he did it with a straight face.

Should the Matrix or Mr. Stern be interested, give me a call and I can recommend about a dozen playwrights who have “learned how to properly write a play.”

By the way, did I say what a nice set it was?

(NOTE: In featured Image — Denise Yolén and Ahkei-Togun / Photo by I.C. Rapoport)

♦   ♦   ♦

The Matrix Theatre Company

presents

The West Coast Premiere of

SCRAPS

by Geraldine Inoa

and

Directed by Stevie Walker-Webb

Runs through September 15th

Saturday @ 8p

Sunday @ 3p

Monday @ 8p


Venue:

The Matrix Theatre

7657 Melrose Avenue,

Los Angeles, CA 90046


For Tickets and Information click HERE.

or Phone

323-960-7711


 

Written by

An award-winning L.A. playwright and rabble-rouser of note who has hoisted glasses with Orson Welles, been arrested on three continents and once beat up Charlie Manson. His first play, "Among the Vipers" was a semi-finalist in the Julie Harris Playwriting Competition and was featured in the Carnegie-Mellon Showcase of New Plays. It was produced at the NPT Theater in Ashland, Oregon and Los Angeles’ celebrated Odyssey Ensemble Theatre. His following play, “The Little Boy Who Loved Monsters” was produced at The Hollywood Actors Theater, where he earned praise from the Los Angeles Times for his “…inordinately creative writing.” The play went on to numerous other productions including Berlin’s The Black Theatre under the direction of Rainer Fassbinder who wrote in his program notes of Kearney, “He is a skilled playwright, but more importantly he is a dangerous one.” Ernest Kearney has worked as literary manager or as dramaturge for among others The Hudson Theater Guild, Nova Diem and the Odyssey Ensemble Theatre, where he still serves on the play selection committee. He has been the recipient of two Dramalogue Awards and a finalist or semi-finalist, three times, in the Julie Harris Playwriting Competition. His work has been performed by Michael Dunn, Sandra Tsing Loh, Jack Colvin and Billy Bob Thornton, and to date, either as playwright or director, he has upwards of a hundred and thirty productions under his belt, including a few at the Bob Baker Marionette Theater as puppeteer. After a wild and misspent youth, which lasted well into middle age, Kearney has settled down and is focusing on his writing, as well as living happily ever after with his lovely wife Marlene. Ernest’s stage reviews and social essays can be found at TheTVolution.com and workingauthor.com. Follow him on Facebook.

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