I Stand Before You Naked Review - Sexy Strong Performances

Eight women star in this brave portrayal of women dealing with specific issues of our time, from sexual abuse to insanity, yet goes beyond current topics to intimately explore universal themes such as aging, death, love and hope. The acclaimed Joyce Carol Oates collage presents the women each in different circumstances that expose their souls to the audience.

Cast of "I Stand Before You Naked"

The show’s monologues begin with Shyla Marlin.  Her “Little Blood Button” sets the tone quite well.  Risky, dangerous, yet alluring. Her delivery is almost poetic, yet the words so ugly.  This is the beginning of a recurring theme for the evening. The ugliest words can have such a pretty delivery, and vice versa.

Shyla Marlin

Amanda Mayen’s “The Boy” is a sultry delight.  Her hands do so much of the work for her as she squeezes and pulls at every seem of her clothing as well as her body itself.  She bends and contorts allowing the viewer to visualize every beat of her body as she works herself into this fine mess.  And by the end, her stillness shows the evolution of it all.  Frozen as ice.

Deborah Austin delivers an unwavering performance.  It begins with a simmer. As her story unfolds, her presence and comfort hold the audience tight, but by halfway through, a twist unfolds which delivers audible gasps from within the audience.  Tones change, characters twist in unpredictable ways. But Austin’s character keeps going, same pace and tone.  She holds strong.  By the end, she receives the first full-on applause of the night.  But her message is clear: hold on tight. This is a rollercoaster ride.

Amanda Mayen

Cindy D’Andrea’s “Good Morning! Good Afternoon!” is the next piece to catch your attention. Her energy is undeniable and her passion for the character is audacious to a comic effect. Everyone knows someone like the character and the audience both related and had a cathartic release.  But not D’Andrea.  She’s not in on the joke.  Just the opposite.  She doesn’t even realize this is a joke.  Even by the end.  Her strong performance is something to behold.  

Krysten Klein is absolutely mesmerizing.  Many performers can reach the notes that it takes to tell a story, even ones as risqué as this.  However, Klein’s unflinching bravery and raw vulnerable put her in a league of her own.  She deserves kudos.

Klein’s story simply grows darker and darker.  The coloring that was once sexy, turns shades of sad. Sad dissolves to dangerous.  But Klein never once backs away.  Rather she finds every gritty moment and details and exposes herself to it.  By the time her story unravels unto a stringy glob, James Regent appears as a gentleman suitor of sorts.  As they reach climax, they manage to successfully mix so many themes that it’s a potpourri of emotions and visual sensations.

Krysten Klein with James Regent

The production certainly encounters many potential problems.  Handful of women on a nearly-bare stage.  But Producer Krysten Klein achieves.  Eddie Kehler’s direction is nimble and he orchestrates well, utilizing the full stage.  Alethea Root’s set brings texture and dimension.  Rachel Bowman’s choreography is minimal but effective.  But Kathi O’Donohue’s lighting is a star on its own.  She adds flare with each and every shaft of light.  She creates and allows emotion to paint onto the actresses and bring the performances almost to a cinematic level.  

I Stand Before You Naked plays through August 17
Fri and Sat at 8pm, Sun at 6:30p
Tickets $25
Playing at the East Theater at The Complex, 6468 Santa Monica Blvd.
For tickets and more information (323)960-5773

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