Lost Angeles Theater Review - A Must-See Production at the Lillian Theater

If you know it, sing along:

One was Celine ( Kristen Ariza) on her first myspace date.
Two is Beth ( Ashleigh Sumner) the date that thought she looked too great.
Three was Anna ( Ruth Livier) the mousy girl who goes out with homeless guy
Four was Marin ( Porter Kelly), the friend who just can’t understand why.
Five was Julian ( Kevin Hoffer) the homeless guy who is actually an MIT geek
Six was Charlie ( Daniel Billet) whose failed proposal to Marina makes him freak.
Seven is Tom ( Seamus Dever) the golfer jerk Anna is trying to forget
Eight is Hernan ( Alejandro Cardenas) the caddy who now puts up with Tom’s shit.
Nine was Suela ( Sandra Cevallos) is Hernan's sister who’s fooling around with Tom.
Ten was Reese ( Adam Donshik) the dude that runs the Starbucks on Pico any way he wants.

You can take your pick, which relationship you want to root for, because they are all different and rich and interesting. There are two relationships at the beginning: Celine and Beth, and Anna & Julian. Beth is convinced that someone as beautiful and intelligent as Celine would ever be interested in her, so she immediately tries to find a way to sabotage the relationship before it has a chance to take hold and eventually break her heart. It remains to be seen if Celine can make her understand that taking chances is what life is all about.

Can you really find love on myspace?

Anna just goes out with Julian to make ex-boyfriend Tom jealous. But when you have a guy saying things like “You remind me of my nuclei. I just want to protect you.” Well, this can turn a girl’s heads. And it does turn Anna’s head. And eventually, Julian’s otherness beacons Anna’s otherness and compatibility begins to blossom. Julian is decidedly not a serial killer. So when best friend Marin calls to check in, Anna has no need for rescue or extraction or code words. Now Marin on the other hand… but that comes in a minute.

Tom finds out that love hurts

The relationships on the middle are perhaps the only threesome of the ensemble: Tom and Hernan and Suela. Hernan silently caddies for bigoted pretty boy Tom. He listens silently as Tom drags him from one end of the dark golf course to another, spewing every backhanded racism remark you can think of for the sake of bonding and being real with Hernan. “One day there will be a Taco Bell in your village, and they will let the children in even those they don’t have any shoes…” Tom is certain that the break up with Anna is not his fault, though technically he left Anna. He does not miss her and he is happy to be boffing Hernan’s sister Suela because she “understands” that they are having a purely physical, unattached tryst. A kiss, man to man, a punch in the stomach and a shot to the head with a bebe gun tangle this triangle further as two of the three of them try to decide whether or not to leave this warped co-dependency.

Date prep

Marin and Charlie may be at the end, which is ironic considering that he wants to marry her. The problem is Marin spends so much time managing the affairs of her girlfriends that she can’t get off the phone long enough for high-strung Charlie to propose to her properly. Charlie finds his way to the Starbucks that Marin got thrown out of earlier that day. Reese, the same manager that tossed Marin, is more than willing to help ease Charlie’s pain at losing his “wife”, with selections from his “collection of narcotics”.

This play is really twisted, but in a great way. All the characters we meet have their own set ideas and perceptions about the world and the people in it and even how they see themselves. But in the course of just one night, their young lives all becomes wonderfully unraveled. By the end every characters becomes miraculously, organically and credibly transformed or set on a new path. You can try to figure out how all these stories will eventually fold into one another, but you won’t. The writing is that smart and fresh.

Starbucks - when you need new drug

Loved the cast. Loved all of them. Everyone did such a terrific job; I can’t name just one. Loved Celine’s (Kristen Ariza) speech about choosing to believe that relationships can work. Loved Beth’s (Ashleigh Sumner) slow realization that maybe she does deserve a relationship with someone like Celine. Loved that Marin (Porter Kelly) didn’t turn into a squeaky girl when she saw the engagement ring. Loved that Charlie’s (Daniel Billet) idea of a perfect marriage proposal begins with an Altman Bros. Concert. Loved everything about Julian (Kevin Hoffer) – his cadence, his openness. (I know several Julian’s in real life, I’m a nerd geek.) Loved to hate Tom (Seamus Dever) and when Hernan (Alejandro Cardenas) finally spoke, the eruption took my breath away. I loved that Suela (Sandra Cevallos) came up with the name Hope, and the idea that there are other Starbucks guys like Reese (Adam Donshik), dispensing “justice” on behalf of the little guy. The “Acid Trip” was brilliant! Finally, I loved when Anna says about Julian: “He’s giving me a chance to be myself.” That was deep. 

The staging and lighting were astutely managed, making great use of th fairly small space. Kudos to director Joe Camareno for leading this talented cast in a finely tuned, well paced piece of magic.

Strange birds of a feather

The word that keeps coming to mind as I writing about Lost Angeles is organic. People by nature are not eloquent. When they express themselves, it’s messy and awkward, especially if they feel passionately about what they are trying to express. Expressing one’s feeling adequately takes time and courage and luck that you find the right words. Every character in this piece struggles to find the right moment and the right words to express how they feel to someone who thinks and communicates differently from themselves. And that is the quintessential challenge of being in a relationship. Yet we do it, because we are inexplicably drawn to one another as humans. The voices in this piece felt sincere and authentic, and playwright Caroline Treadwell even snuck in some poetry. Well Done.

I have to stop writing at some point, don't I?

Simply put, this play is spectacular. It's a hillarious and heart-felt piece filled with flawed, affable, recognizable characters.  Lost Angeles is lightning in a bottle. So give yourself a real treat and catch it before it’s gone.

Lost Angeles is running now thru November 18, 2007.

Thursdays-Saturdays @ 8pm, Sundays @ 7pm 

Lillian Theater

1076 Lillian Way @ Santa Monica Blvd.

Hollywood, CA 90038

Reservations: 323-960-7774

Photo Credit: Magic Beans, Inc.

www.plays411.com/taco

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