Still Life Review - Life, Death, and Choices

Not one to rest on his laurels after winning the Academy Award and Golden Globe for co-writing the screenplay for film hit “Birdman,” playwright Alexander Dinelaris has penned the Rogue Machine’s latest entry into the Los Angeles theater scene. Directed by award-winning Michael Peretzian, STILL LIFE explores why we make the choices we do – even if the odds are not in our favor – and what makes life worth living…or not.

Frank Collison and Laurie Okin - Photo by John Perrin Flynn

Famed photographer Carrie Ann (Laurie Okin) is desperately trying to get past the death of her adored father Theo (Frank Collison). During an exhibition of her prize-winning photographs, she encounters Jeffrey (Lea Coco), a rootless man who is questioning his very existence. Meanwhile, his friend and employer Terry (Jonathan Bray) believes that he has found his calling in life and plans to get everything out of his place in the world that he can, even if it’s at the expense of others.  When Jeffrey is struck by a medical crisis, the woman he loves and his loyal friend and confidante Sean (Narkeep Khurmi) demonstrate what true friendship and devotion are all about.

Laurie Okin and Susan Wilder - Photo by John Perrin Flynn

STILL LIFE is a compilation of the haphazard and even trivial events which are strung together like beads in everyone’s life. As these events play out, they begin to encompass others’ lives – and so the fabric of existence is woven with threads from diverse and sometimes unexpected sources. How will Carrie Ann’s past experiences color her approach to new actions and people? Can people rise above tragedy? What makes life worth living? Is it possible to find new meaning in life? How do choices affect internal life? All of these issues are raised in STILL LIFE – with answers just out of reach. SPOILER ALERT: STILL LIFE explores the darker side of life, so be ready for some heavy going.

Jennifer Sorenson and Nardeep Khurmi - Photo by John Perrin Flynn

Tom Buderwitz’s set is simple and stylized, probably in order to avoid interfering with the psychological impact which Dinelaris’ play creates. Leigh Allen’s lighting and Christopher Moscatiello’s sound emphasize this somewhat shadowy but intriguing study of life. Nicholas E. Santiago’s video design is showcased with photo gems supposedly taken by photography artist Carrie Ann. Talented director Michael Peretzian keeps things moving with a certain degree of calm which may belie the turmoil underneath. And let’s not forget the cast, who skillfully and compassionately project characters looking for answers.

Jonathan Bray and Leo Coco - Photo by John Perrin Flynn

STILL LIFE is definitely a play for adults. Its pace is slow but thorough as it explores multiple issues which everyone faces sooner or later. The action picks up in the second act, but STILL LIFE still focuses on internal rather than external conundrums. This is a production which should leave the audience with thought-provoking questions long after the show is over.

Laurie Okin, Jennifer Sorenson, Nardeep Khurmi, and Lea Coco - Photo by John Perrin Flynn

STILL LIFE runs through April 23, 2017, with performances at 8:30 p.m. on Saturdays and Mondays and at 3 p.m. on Sundays. Rogue Machine in the Met Theatre is located at 1089 N. Oxford Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90029. Tickets are $40. For information and reservations, call 855-585-5185 or go online.

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