BWW Review: In UNDERNEATH, Pat Kinevane Will Inspire You to Just Go Out and LIVE Your Life Without Fear
During the West Coast premiere of UNDERNEATH by Olivier Award winner Pat Kinevane, be prepared to be called upon and repeatedly referred to during the show if you challenge the audience's attention by unwrapping candy during his performance, drop something on the floor, or just happen to be seated in the front row. That's because Kinevane wants you to pay attention to the play's theme, that "you can never know what might be around the next corner so go out and LIVE your life," he begs of us. With his otherworldly appearance, completely covered in black clothing and face paint highlighted with gold, there is no way you won't pay attention to his mesmerizing performance on a darkened set highlighted with pieces of gold lamé which he often uses to reflect light onto the audience.
"You're invited as an audience member to come in and spend 90 minutes in the tomb of this woman whose body is decomposing, but whose mind is active and who has a vicious sense of humor and a fierce anger and a huge big heart, and is full of warmth and love," says director Jim Culleton. And while Kinevane's first appearance as a hand emerging from that tomb, I can tell you I went from being frightened to enthralled, eventually walking out totally inspired to stop worrying about what might happen and just live my life to the fullest since you can never predict what is around the next corner.
According to Kinevane, "Underneath is about a woman, now dead in her tomb, who reflects back over her life, re-imagining and reliving her journey. She remembers how society punished her because of how she looked, and how she punished herself, and that whole relationship between beauty and ugliness and life and death and cruelty and kindness and how they all ultimately mash each other up and celebrate each other, but also destroy each other."
Sticks and stones didn't break her bones, but words and pointing crushed her. You see, the woman lived a hidden life, staying away from other people to avoid being criticized for her looks. When she befriends the two "working girls" who rent the apartment above her, she learns to open up and go out in the world, finally enjoying her life. But that new openness leads to her opening herself up and allowing in a stranger who brutally takes her life and throws her into the tomb where we are visiting.
The lighting design by Kinevane and Culleton focuses your attention on various locations around the theater, using color that bounces off the gold fabric and enhances the otherworldly environment. And as you get pulled into the woman's hard luck stories about her lonely life, be prepared to wish you could have known her during her years above the tomb in Cork, Ireland. It is a blackly comic, rich and vivid tale of a life lived in secret - a testament to the people who live under the radar of others during their everyday life.
Original music for Underneath is composed by Denis Clohessy; choreography adviser is Emma O'Kane; costumes are by Catherine Condell; and the stage manager is Beth Mack. Beth Hogan produces for Odyssey Theatre Ensemble and Eva Scanlan produces for Fishamble, the company where director Jim Culleton is the artistic director and all of Kinevane's plays have received their World Premiere performances.
The limited 3-week engagement of UNDERNEATH also includes 2 performances of the Olivier Award-winning SILENT, each running 90 minutes without an intermission at the Odyssey Theatre in West LA before setting off for performances in London. UNDERNEATH is performed on Thursday and Saturday at 8pm, Sunday at 2pm, ending October 30. The last performance of SILENT takes place on Friday, October 28 at 8pm. Do not miss these Irish plays, guaranteed to open your eyes to your own life as well as the world around you.
All tickets are $25 with discounted tickets available for students and members of SAG/AFTRA/AEA. Call the theater for more information. The Odyssey Theatre is located at 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., West Los Angeles, 90025. For reservations and information, call (310) 477-2055 or go to OdysseyTheatre.com.
Photos of Pat Kinevane by Patrick Redmond