Underneath Review - The Ramblings of a Corpse

The West Coast premiere of UNDERNEATH features Olivier Award winners Pat Kinevane and Fishamble: The New Play Company. An Irish native of Cobh in County Cork, Kinevane has worked as an actor in theater, film, television, and radio for 27 years – and as a writer and solo performer for three acclaimed shows, “Forgotten,” “Silent,” and the current UNDERNEATH. “Silent” won the 2016 Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement following its run at London’s Soho Theatre. Ben Brantley of the New York Times called Kinevane “a monologist of untrammeled imagination,” a tribute to Kinevane’s keen and quirky look at the world around him.

Pat Kinevane and Jim Culleton accepting the Olivier award in 2016 - Photo courtesy of the Olivier Awards

Directed by Jim Culleton, artistic director of Dublin’s Fishamble and director of Kinevane’s two earlier solo shows, UNDERNEATH is a stylistic tale about a woman, now dead in her tomb, and her reflections about society and her life. You might consider this “Kafka meets YouTube,” and you wouldn’t be far off. Kinevane’s tale of this “outlier” joins thematically with his other two works about people living on the fringes of society. With drama and wit, Kinevane is in his element as he swirls and sweeps across the stage, lilting Irish poetry blending with earthy, tongue-in-cheek observations about contemporary life. Kinevane draws the audience into his fantastic world with ease and humor.

Pat Kinevane is Underneath - Photo by Patrick Redmond

UNDERNEATH is black comedy at its best, exploring both what is on the surface – and what lies underneath. From the moment that our heroine rises in tatters from her dark tomb, the stage lights up with Kinevane’s shenanigans. Thanks to Catherine’s Condell’s costumes, Emma O’Kane’s choreography, and Katelan Braymer’s lighting, the nearly empty stage comes alive. Clever draping blends with flashing lights to introduce fire into the proceedings. The glinting and twinkling drapery also lets the audience know in no uncertain terms that there’s life “underneath.”

Pat Kinevane - Photo by Patrick Redmond

UNDERNEATH is a highly stylized and creative production, but it may also be an acquired taste. For those expecting a linear production going in a clear-cut direction, this play may prove confusing. But if you’re up to it, UNDERNEATH is clever and, in its own idiosyncratic way, gripping. And it would be impossible to fault Kinevane’s brilliant performance as he masterfully lets us into this lively lady’s very private world.

Pat Kinevane - Photo by Patrick Redmond

UNDERNEATH runs through October 30, 2016, with performances at 8 p.m. Thursdays and Saturdays and at 2 p.m. on Sundays. “Silent” will be presented on two Friday (10/21/16 and 10/28/16). The Odyssey Theatre is located at 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90025. Tickets are $25 with $10 tickets on October 20 (UNDERNEATH) and Friday, October 28 (“Silent”) available at the door two hours before curtain. For information and reservations, call 310-477-2055 or go online.  

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