YOU at the Fringe Festival Review - Yes, It's All About You

 

Previewed just before the opening of the Hollywood Fringe Festival, YOU is billed as “an in-your-face play about love, life and gratitude.” As promised, it’s in your face because these thirteen actors give it to you full frontally – some seated, some standing. Oh, you think, It’s another actors’ showcase. But then, contrary to your expectation, at rise the actors are not focused at all on you – they’re preoccupied with their cell phones. Oh, you think now, This is going to be about them. Ultimately, it should be no surprise but profoundly touching – that it’s all about them and what you (yes, you) have meant to them.

A notable performance among more than 1,500 at the Fringe (The Foley Marra Project)

Because these actors – who range in age from mature to grade-school – are telling their personal truths. It’s as if thirteen one-person soul-baring shows were carved up and then woven together with no apparent seams. When each talks in turn about “you,” he or she is (mostly) praising the powerful influence of some significant other. But they focus on you as an audience member, and they address this mysterious, influential person as “you.”

All on cell phones at rise (Author)

The actors tease you deliciously, not disclosing until late in the game what manner of person or companion or adversary it was that so moves them to speak. This coyness reinforces the notion that it might, after all, actually be you!

(L to R): Moore, Kujala, Yee, Frey, Lanoil, Adler, Galante, Larsen, Umano, Federman, Ramirez, O'Malley and Pyette (Lillian Yee)

For example, big, macho Lawrence Larsen is forceful and funny as he talks about a father figure whose word was his bond and whose golf ball never missed the green. Laice G. O’Malley speaks tearfully about someone who always took her side and spoke in his own wise voice – from a wheelchair. Angelina Ramirez fondly remembers a loving couple – were they her parents? – who were thrown together by a teenage pregnancy and then ended up losing a child who’d grown big enough to wear a dress. Laura Lanoil talks about children as if they were cloned from her – then she must endure their departure as if their flesh were being ripped from her body.

Musical accompaniment by Moore and Kujala adds to the reflective mood (Author)

Jessa Pyette was taken in by a Mormon family, where she learned both love and doctrine. Patch Moore – the guitarist who accompanies throughout – describes the horse barn his indulgent father helped to convert into a music studio. Delilah Kujala betrays her musical heritage while accompanying Moore on the keyboard and tells us about a virtuoso flutist who had the nerve to play jazz renditions of Mozart for his mentors. Patrick Frey remembers a father whose loyalty was unflagging and who advised that every new experience brings just a moment of fear followed by exhilarating fun. Jodi Adler’s reminiscences are notable in that, of all the actors, hers are tinged with bitterness: The alpha-male boss was mean and sexist, and she was challenged to be her best.

Intimate and personal and in-your-face (Author)

Georja Umano brings tears to your eyes as she tells of a love lost in childhood, only to find it again as an adult in the love of a truly exceptional nonhuman being. Eric Michael Federman remembers the stern lessons of a coach, whose life lessons were delivered with fierceness and resolve.

 

And two child actors are amazingly genuine and wise beyond their years: ViviAnn Yee credits her talents – which seem obvious – to a supportive brother who let her win at tennis. “Or was it just that I’m getting so much better?” Francesco Galante is tearfully appreciative of a stage mother who tells him every day how exceptional he is.

 

You do get that it is, indeed, all about you, and that you as a human being, with your own emotional resources, have the power to change lives. Apparently, you’ve been doing it for quite a while now.

Directors Chuck Marra and Megan Foley Marra (Matt Marra)

YOU is co-directed by Megan Foley Marra and Chuck Marra of FoleyMarra Casting, who should be credited for not only coaching heartfelt truthfulness from these actors, but also knitting their monologues together into a unified and satisfying theatrical experience. This production is under the auspices of The Lake Arrowhead Repertory Theater Company. Original music is written and performed by Patch Moore and Delilah Kujala. Understudy is Amy Benedict. The company is ably supported by stage manager Glenn Aquino and lighting technician Justin Huen.

 

The annual Hollywood Fringe festival includes more than 1,500 performances at 32 venues and runs from June 9 to 26. To view show descriptions and buy tickets, go to the Hollywood Fringe festival website

Gerald Everett Jones is the author of the recent historical novel Bonfire of the Vanderbilts and host of GetPublished! Radio.

YOU at the Hollywood Fringe Festival

One-act play, 45 minutes

YOU show webpage

 

Actors Company, The Other Space Theatre

916 N. Formosa Ave., Hollywood, CA 90046

Friday

June 10

7pm

Thursday

June 16

8:30pm

Saturday

June 18

4pm

Saturday

June 25

10:30pm

 

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