It has been said that there are indeed a finite number of stories out there. I happen to believe that’s true. All ideas and plots have their origins in about seven basic premises. So, for me, it’s never a question of whether a new play is original per say, so much as, what’s the new twist. Folks, let me tell you, writer/actor Timothy McNeil and director David Fofi do a hell of a job in creating a story that is original and new with the Elephant Theater Company’s season opener entitled Anything.
Early Landry (Tim McNeil) is a simple, small town widower from Mississippi. His sister Laurette (for this performance payed by Cheryl Huggins) has relocated him to Hollywood after his fourth failed attempt at suicide. The shadow of a man deep in a drug induced haze, we like him immediately because he has not lost his sense of humor, even if his sister has.
Early is in an apartment just off of Santa Monica Boulevard between Vine & LaBrea, that is surrounded by colorful characters. Above is a guitar duo that jams constantly, but stops whenever Early pounds the wall. Outside is an alley filled with broken bottles where sirens can be heard constantly. And alongside his apartment is where the couple scream and fight every night.
This night in particular, the fighting sounds bad and Early hears crying through the wall. Early knocks, but no answer. The next day Early discovers that his neighbor next door is tall, miniskirt wearing, junkie transvestite prostitute Freda (Louis Jacobs). She has come looking for a new mark since losing her old one the night before. She comes to borrow a cup of sugar, while stealing things when Early is not looking, only to stay, intrigued by the man’s soft-spoken nature and kindness and a fascination for the love letters from his dead wife.
Somewhere in the course of the borrowing of sugar, Freda’s wild, enormous persona and non-stop sexual innuendo go from boiling over to a simmer. She is drawn in my Early’s “creepy warmth”. He slowly turns from just a mark to the one who can calm her restlessness, the one she wants to calm her restlessness. Although finding contentment in the stillness is alien to her, she resists it as much as she struggles to embrace it. But Early is a patient man.
Act Two finds our “couple” battling Freda’s addiction withdrawal together. The venom and pain and support shared between them is a clear example that they are now a couple. The level of Early’s understanding and tolerance and humor only comes out of couplehood. They are getting through the hard parts together, revealing demons, baring souls.
Exceptional performances are given by McNeil and Jacobs. Timothy McNeil has written himself a gem of a part and he performs it exquisitely. The actors credibly portray two people who have an intense affectionate relationship with comfort, familiarity and safety in primary position, and the physical in second position. Love for these men is, “the way that you’re in love with the person that will talk to you”. Kudos to Director David Fofi who navigated this piece from extremely funny to extremely heartfelt, to extremely tragic at all the right moments. Well Done.
But leave it up to the perverted eye of the outside world to see it as something rank and gross in nature, as Laurette did when she and her family came to visit Early and met his girlfriend. The irony for me was the entire time of Laurette’s tirade; it was obvious how different she and her own husband were in their opinions. Why is Early not allowed the same privilege that she enjoys of choosing to be with someone completely different from himself. Oh, wait, it must be the anal intercourse that she can’t get past.
OK, maybe this play is not exactly an original. It’s a May-December romance, an Opposites Attract love story, it’s classic Boy meets Girl (Sorta). My prevailing thoughts surprised even myself: to every thing there is a season. True love is not necessarily eternal love. So be grateful for the gifts the Universe sends to you, because nothing gold can stay.
Anything is now running December 1st through January 13th, 2008
Fridays & Saturdays @ 8pm, Sundays @ 7pm
The Elephant / Lillian Theater
6322 Santa Monica Blvd.
For more information: www.plays411.com/anything or call 323-960-4410