“DRY LAND” at Atwater Village Theatre Review – Fears, hopes and bonds of teenage girls

 

In the stark locker room of a Florida high school, the first scene opens harrowingly, with Amy (Teagan Rose) demanding that Ester (Conor Kelly-Eiding) punch her hard in the stomach, and then harder—again and again. Both teens are members of the school’s swim team. We soon discover Amy is pregnant by a boy she’s no longer dating (and who never appears), and she really doesn’t want the baby. She can’t go to a doctor and risk disclosure of her condition to her parents.

Amy, a self-proclaimed “slut”, insists Ester help her induce a miscarriage by repeatedly punching her in the abdomen, and she is increasingly doubled up from pain. Ester, a friendless loner, wants to help the more-popular Amy, and also gain a friendship that probably would never have evolved if Amy were not pregnant. Ester is also obsessively preoccupied with securing a college swimming scholarship. Amy, ashamed of her condition, has enlisted Ester rather than Reba (Jenny Soo), one of her usual cronies, who makes a couple of good, if short, appearances on stage.

The girls converse about school, friends, sex, boys, and other subjects, all this interspersed with more punches to Amy’s stomach. There is some exchange of secrets, a hint of a sexual connection, perhaps love, and many emotionally charged moments of anger and affection. Although acquiring an abortion is the ultimate aim in this story, there’s also the youthful exploration of thought, ideas, bonding, and friendship.

Designer Amanda Kneyhans beautifully captures the cold atmosphere of the after hours locker-room, where the girls discuss and practice their amateurish alternatives for abortion, gleaned online. In one scene, a clumsy improvisation has Ester awkwardly planting her rump on Amy’s stomach. Both girls are convulsed in laughter, and Amy eventually wets herself! Then, still giggling, they remember their goal is a do-it-yourself abortion. The play’s undercurrent is painful and harrowing, even in its tender and funniest moments. Very strong performances by Teagan Rose and Conor Kelly-Eiding.

Ruby Rae Spiegel wrote this insightful, gut-wrenching, humane drama when she was only 21 years old, and has literally pulled no punches! All scenes chillingly hint at a path to disaster for the unprepared teens. A rare, raw, and painful honesty prevails throughout, and the subject hints at the serious plight of young, pregnant girls with little, or no recourse to Planned Parenthood. With diminished options, many will likely resort to unorthodox, life threatening methods of procuring an abortion. This is currently a politically charged topic in the US. Certainly not a play for the faint-hearted!

Great directing by Alana Dietz, and good staging, design, lighting, and all work done by the entire crew. 

WHAT:

Dry LandEster is a swimmer trying to stay afloat. Amy is curled up on the locker room floor. The West Coast premiere of Ruby Rae Spiegel’s play, a finalist for the Susan Blackburn Prize, about female friendship, abortion and resiliency, and what happens in one high school locker room after everybody’s left.

 

WHO:
• Written by Ruby Rae Spiegel
• Directed by Alana Dietze
• Starring Connor Kelly-Eiding, Teagan RoseDaniel Hagen, Ben Horwitz, Jenny Soo
• Presented by The Echo Theater Company

 

Photos by: Darrett Sanders

 

Scenic design: Amanda Knehans; lighting design: Justin Huen; sound design: Jeff Gardner; costume design and special effects: Elena Flores; graphic design: Elizabeth Hale; production photography: Darrett Sanders; Production stage manager: Anna Engelsman. Nadia Marina Thomas is associate producer, and Chris Fields and Alexandra Freeman produce for

The Echo Theater Company.


WHEN: Performances: April 9 – May 15
Fridays at 8 p.m.: April 8 (preview), 15, 22, 29; May 6, 13
Saturdays at 8 p.m.: April 9 (opening night), 16, 23, 30; May 7, 14
Sundays at 4 p.m.: April 10, 17, 24; May 1, 8, 15
Sundays at 7 p.m.: April 10, 17, 24; May 1, 8, 15

WHERE:
Atwater Village Theatre
3269 Casitas Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90039
(FREE parking in the Atwater Xing lot one block south of the theater.)

HOW:
• Call 310-307-3753 or go here

TICKET PRICES:
General admission: $25

 

 

 

 

 

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