School for Suckers Theatre Review - An Original Piece of Shameless Theatre

Currently Every Teusday & Wednesday @ The Lillian Theatre August 25th thru September 30th.

Dating.  Mariachi Music. Atheism. Self-Control. Broken Urinals.

None of these things are at all like the other, and yet this hodge-podge of non-sequitur themes has found its way into one very good comedy show currently running at the Lillian Theatre, School for Suckers.  In attendance at this “School” are five fine comedic performers, all alumni of the fine institution, the University of Southern California. Under the direction of fellow USC alum, Elissa Weinzimmer, this fun, energetic and thoughtful comedy introduces five talented kids with issues.

Each of these topics were explored in detailed – and in some cases frantic – monologues that give a snapshot play by play of how our brave heroes and heroines navigates the greatest challenges of their young lives. In vignettes that span from pre-pubescence to 20-something-hood, our intrepid comic quintet share personal journey, the same journey,  upon which road they are still travelling, seeking, questioning, as adults.

(l to r) John Dardenne, James Robinson, Ben Giroux, Juliana Tyson & Sascha Alexander are the ast of "School for Suckers"

Ben Giroux opens the show with Chapter One: Girls, the Final Frontier. Flashing back and forth from to present, Ben maps his missteps and misadventures in his continuing mission (since the ninth grade) to find his match among the oppose sex “ the one.” Julianna Tyson brings us Chapter Two: West Side Story, a tale of a really white Jewish girl who , thanks to her Nanny, grew up to have the heart of a Latina with the rhythm of the mariachi pulsing in her blood. In Chapter Three: God is Adorable, John Dardenne regales his childhood push pull between Catholicism and Judaism that evolves into a decision to not believe in a higher power at all, or does he…?  Sascha Alexander’s Chapter Four: Not Aloud is perhaps the piece that resonates most for me.  Alexander examines the phenomenon of what I like to call “Loud Girl Syndrome”. Is being a loud girl actual dysfunction, or simply a facet of identity. Resident “Brit” James Robinson closed the show with the fifth and final chapter: Maturination; a medication on the uselessness of personal integrity at the age of nine, when under the reign of a grade school sadist. To confess to peeing in the bucket, or not to confess, that is the question. (That’s all you get. You just have to go see it.)

I have to confess, I was really interested in seeing how all these personas pictured on the poster fit into a loosely cogent piece of sketch comedy. But that was not the case. While the company as a whole makes brief canoes in all five chapters, the show only features one actor at a time. The show’s chapters fused together with reoccurring tropes that are skillfully weaved into every chapter, a subtle but clever echo indicating that these very different five people are ironically at the same moment in their lives, having the same epiphany.

Sascha Alexander in "School for suckers"

                                                      Giroux, Tyson and Alexander really shine in their chapters; a fact one could attribute loosely to their impressive ability at lightning fast speech, thus making their transitions between characters more seamless and fluid. However, all the performances were entertaining, thoughtful and revealing; all of which is a testament to the fine writing skills of this ensemble.

If you find yourself with the burning need to go out on a school night, attending the School for Suckers at the Lillian Theatre would be a smart and truly worthy while choice.

School for Suckers runs August 25th through September 30th at:

The Lillian Theatre
1076 Lillian Way
Hollywood, CA 90038

Tuesdays and Wednesdays @ 8pm

Tickets: (323) 960-7822

Photo Credit: Zack DeZon

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