BWW Review: ICEBERGS Addresses Global Warming, Family Planning, and Movie Dreams Hatching in Silver Lake
Westwood's Geffen Playhouse is presenting the World Premiere of ICEBERGS written by Alena Smith and directed by Randall Arney through December 18. This biting new play is set in the Silver Lake community of Los Angeles, California, where the weather is always nice and the future looks bright...at least on the surface. This acerbic, affectionate and affecting world premiere comedy takes place on a warm November night, centering on a new generation of thirtysomethings as they navigate filmmaking, family planning, and global warming, all the while trying to put down roots before everything melts away. They cross each other's paths like icebergs, ever moving on their own currents as they melt away into nothingness.
The play takes place in the Silver Lake home of Calder, a budding filmmaker (Nate Corddry) and his wife Abigail (Jennifer Mudge) who is struggling with the couple's desire to have a baby when she fears for the world due to global warming. We meet them on the day Calder's long-time friend Reed (Keith Powell) arrives from the snowy Midwest to stay for a few days so he can enjoy the warm weather with friends while he prepares to make a presentation to associates at UCLA about how global warming during prehistoric times led to a mass extinction.
Also visiting during the same day is Calder's agent Nicky (Lucas Near-Verbrugghe) arriving to announce he has made the deal to have Kristin Durst star in Calder's upcoming movie. Of course, Calder is thrilled with the news, but his wife Abigail, who happens to be an actress, is perfect for the part. But both understand that in Hollywood, a "star" is needed to sell the movie. And besides, if Abigail manages to get pregnant, which is his first priority, she would have to drop out of the movie anyway. But that does not mean she does not WANT to star in it. Hence her dilemma whether or not to get pregnant. To assist her in deciding what to do, Abigail asks her friend Molly (Rebecca Henderson) to come over and read her Tarot cards yet again to see if anything new is revealed to assist her in making the life-altering choice today, The Day of the Dead.
As all of these loyal friends get wrapped up in the couple's struggles, scenes play out between different twosomes or threesomes, all of which reveal characters' traits into focus that let us see what is really going on with each of them. Nicky is a confident agent who is really lonely and looking for love with someone he can trust - in a town when that trait is difficult to find. Reed confesses he and his wife are expecting a second baby, and as much as he is enjoying his "vacation from parental responsibility," he really is a devoted father to his little girl and Powell lights up the stage with deep love when he gets a call from her. Molly is caught up with her new roommate, another Lesbian who she is attracted to but worried things will go incredibly wrong if she gets emotionally involved with a roommate again.
Fear and confusion seems to rule the day for all these intertwining Silver Lake denizens, but thanks to Alena Smith's optimism and Arney's spot-on directing of each scene which keeps the 95-minute play moving along at a realistic pace. In the end, everything seems to be working out for all of them, but will they stick to their choices made? Who knows? After all this is L.A. And surely those of us who live in Los Angeles, especially in Silver Lake and work in the Hollywood film industry, will recognize many references and see similarities to people we know well.
Scenic designer Anthony T. Fanning has created the perfect Silver Lake open and airy home den, perhaps in the somewhat less expensive area where beautiful grounds replace those homes on the hills with magnificent city views close to Downtown L.A. Composer and Sound Designer Richard Woodbury lets in the sound of the city as well as birds and crickets when the study doors are opened to allow the warm night air to permeate the house.
But what really makes this new play so entertaining is the skill of each actor who seems to know their characters so well, both physically as well as emotionally as they all search for purpose in their lives. You really will feel as if you dropped in on people you know, like a fly on the wall who was let in with the breeze to witness how the lives of all the people shift on the whims which flow through their lives, much as the icebergs released by global warming shift direction as forces beyond their control take over their existence. This love letter to L.A. will no doubt enchant audiences in the City of the Angels before it moves to appreciative audiences elsewhere who envy our year-round, warm weather lifestyle.
ICEBERGS performances take place on Tuesday - Friday 8:00 PM, Saturday 3:00 PM and 8:00 PM, Sunday 2:00 PM and 7:00 PM in the Gil Cates Theater at the Geffen Playhouse, 10886 Le Conte Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90024. Tickets are priced from $32 to $90 and are available in-person at the Geffen Playhouse box office, via phone at 310.208.5454 or online at www.geffenplayhouse.org. The run of ICEBERGS will feature the Geffen's Signature Series events which include Wine Down Sundays, Talk Back Tuesdays, and Lounge Fridays. Thanks to the support of Geffen Playhouse partners and sponsors, all elements of Signature Series evenings are complimentary as part of the ticket price. Please visit the website for more information.
Photos by Jeff Lorch Photography