BWW Reviews: THE BARGAIN & THE BUTTERFLY Spreads its Wings

April 2
6:26 AM 2013

BWW Reviews: THE BARGAIN & THE BUTTERFLY Spreads its Wings

Occasionally a play comes along that, no matter how hard I try, I can't stop thinking about. Such was my experience over the weekend with THE BARGAIN & THE BUTTERFLY, inspired by Nathaniel Hawthorne's "The Artist of the Beautiful", conceived & directed by Katharine Noon for The Ghost Road Theatre Company.

Developed from devising workshops that are a kind of free-form collaborative exploration, it is an exciting and immensely thought-provoking journey into the mind and its fine line between genius, madness, and the all-consuming obsession with creation and knowledge.

Alternately detached and intensely emotional, THE BARGAIN & THE BUTTERFLY plays out delicately, yet with great weight as the repetition of specific words, phrases and ideas evoke a work of beauty when pieced together by threads of glass. And the collaboration doesn't stop with the actors and director.

Cricket S. Myers' sound design breathes subtly in the background - drops of water, the ticking of time passing, the shatter of dreams made physical in blunt abstractions that create art in and of themselves as their presence lingers in the air. These are moments that live long after the show has ended and the audience steps back into the insidious reality of everyday sameness.

Characters periodically light themselves with hand-held clip lights and flashlights that call to mind a feeling of being examined under a spotlight or microscope as they continually move into deeper levels of commentary. Ronnie Clark's lighting is exquisite throughout and Maureen Weiss's production design is a tactile presence.

Christel Joy Johnson offers a prism of unlimited colors in her portrayal of Annie, the obsessed woman who will not stop until she finds a solution for her problem. Using synchronized movements, she and Brian Weir (as Owen) express a deep emotional connection that more than once drew audible gasps from the audience. Because part of the absolute joy of seeing this play is figuring out who each character is to each other, I won't elaborate further on their relationship here. Revelations come in fragments rather than lining up linearly and that, too, is exciting, making it incumbent upon the audience to pay close attention.

As a glass blower who finds himself drawn in to Annie's world by happenstance, Doug Sutherland delivers an intricate, finely nuanced character who, like Johnson, reveals his thoughts as much in the moments he isn't speaking as in those he does. Jen Kays and Ronnie Clark complete the ensemble as Mother and Father, personifying the familial archetypes that come together to create new life while also expressing the sad inability of two loving individuals to completely understand each other.

It is an amalgamation of elements, tightly interwoven with grace and dexterity, and it creates an unforgettable night of theatre that speaks to the artist in us all.

THE BARGAIN & THE BUTTERFLY
Through April 7, 2013
Artworks Theatre, 6569 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90038
Tuesdays through Saturdays at 8:00 pm; Sundays at 7:00 pm
Tickets: $25 general admission. www.ghostroad.org

Pictured above: Christel Joy Johnson (foreground) and Brian Weir (background). Photo credit: Patti McGuire.

Los Angeles THEATER Stories | Shows  Like BWW LA  Follow BWW LA



About the Author

Get Author Alerts
Ellen Dostal Ellen Dostal is a longtime west coast editor and reviewer for BroadwayWorld.com. A self-professed musical theatre geek, she also publishes two popular Southern California theatre (read more...)

  • BWW Review: A MEXICAN TRILOGY: An American Tale: A Legacy of Letting Go
  • BWW Review: GENERATION ME Tackles Important Teen Issues
  • BWW Review: The Troubies and Getty Villa Throw a HAUNTED HOUSE PARTY
  • BWW Review: NEWSIES Continues to Win Audiences' Affection in LA
  • Theatre in Historic Places: THE LIGHT OF WESTERN STARS at El Molino Viejo
  • BWW Review: CHICKSPEARE Moves, Audience Laughs, Comedy Wins

  • BROADWAYWORLD TV

    Generation Me the Musical in Los AngelesGeneration Me the Musical
    Hudson Mainstage Theatre
    (Runs 9/16 - 10/9)
    BIG FISH
    Heritage High School
    (Runs 3/1 - 3/16)
    Finding Neverland in Los AngelesFinding Neverland
    Pantages Theatre
    (Runs 2/21 - 3/12)
    GHOST
    3D Theatricals
    (Runs 10/8 - 11/6)
    The King and I in Los AngelesThe King and I
    Pantages Theatre
    (Runs 12/13 - 1/21)

    VIEW ALL ADD A SHOW AUDITIONS

    Save $$$ on Tickets to:
    Backstage with Richard Ridge
    Back to Falsettoland w/ OBC - Passing the Torch
    Backstage Bite
    TV Exclusive: BACKSTAGE BITE with ALADDIN's Rodney Ingram!
    Turning the Tables
    Binge on TURNING THE TABLES!
      Chewing the Scenery with Randy Rainbow
    TV:-LuPone's Autobio - Lands EVITA!
    KID CRITICS
    TV: KID CRITICS Swept Away at PHANTOM
    BROADWAY SESSIONS
    BROADWAY SESSIONS Goes 'Back to School' Tonight