BWW Review: A UNIQUE TALE THAT HIGHLIGHTS THE AFFECTS OF ABUSE - THE RESCUED at The ROAD Theatre Company
Quite the novel way to expose the damages of abuse. It is both sad and funny as the Cast of
THE RESCUED plays out an afternoon at a certain dwelling and backyard on a street in Anytown, USA.
Julia Marie Myatt, the Playwright, has crafted a different way of viewing how verbal, physical and mental abuse can affect someone their entire lives, and yet as these characters begin to share their backgrounds and stories with each other, it begins to help them heal and deal with the disappointments and tragedies of life and find contentment and acceptance in the present.
At the top, we first meet Harold (turning a year older today; an elderly soul who is in a state of reflectiveness in his life), played eloquently by J. D. Hall, in a backyard, hangin' with his friend Buster, (Leandro Cano) a sort of lost soul who has been through a lot in his rocky life and is trying his best to come to terms with it all. Buster, with much bravado, has a lot of classic statements he imparts. He often sums things up at the end of a conversation with Harold, although Harold is the one with the insight to look at things with a different and wizened perspective.
We also meet Jason, played wonderfully by Patrick Joseph Rieger, who is in extreme emotional crisis and very confused about his own feelings and observations. He strikes out in anger a lot because he can't let go of his tortured past, and is afraid to trust any goodness he comes in contact with. Jason and Harold sing a duet with the lyrics "God help the Beast in Me," while Jason accompanies on guitar.
One by one, the characters reveal themselves and their scars, phobias, obsessions and deep-gut feelings. They confide in each other, usually ashamed about their past, with guilt and remorse and shame in their hearts, and a longing to be loved, accepted and heard. There is a wonderful variety of character types, and each one reveals themselves in their own way, in their own time.
Julia Marie Myatt has come up with a brand new look at how abuse affects one's essence. It eats away at your spirit, and it is not easy to buck that and move forward and try to be happy and satisfied. Directed by Marya Mazo, each scene melds together with deft switches in mood and a reveal in explanation of what is subliminally happening. Interspersed with a great variety of songs that each character uses to expose their inner feelings, the familiar songs they sing are subtle hints to the hidden reality. I enjoyed the choice of songs chosen for the different characters to sing to accompany their personal journeys.
The Scenic Design, by Sarah B. Brown is quite clever, in that it utilizes the space to it's maximum effect, and manages to help us visualize more than what's there. The Costumes were also clues to each character's persona, cleverly designed by Mary Jane Miller.
Meeghan Holaway is delightful as Candice, a tortured soul who only wants to disperse love to someone else. She goes back and forth between playing coy and aloof, and stalking and obsessed with her decided target.
At this point, we begin to realize that these characters are actually personified as people, but are actually stray, abused or neglected animals. They look like people, talk and somewhat act as people, but we begin to be aware of little signs that they are actually unlucky stray animals, with basic wants and needs, and being imprisoned in the past, are revealing their innermost feelings about their past and current situation.
Kacie Rogers, as Lola, is a most provocative character, who can't help but be alluring, yet hides away in a closet most of her existence. She has a lovely voice and gives a strong, complex performance that touches your heart.
An absolutely delightful and entertaining character is Darrell, who is OCD, hyperactive, and constantly wanting to please everyone, worrying he is annoying everyone else all the time. His crazy, creative rendition of "Just Don't Wanna Be Lonely," singing into his yellow highlight pen, which he keeps, with a row of others, in his front shirt pocket, because he is addicted to writing every single thing that happens, down, in a very specific way. He's a bundle of energy, dancing madly all over the stage, selling it as if he had a whole crowd of people watching him. Rahul Rai is splendid and very endearing in this role, as it is slowly revealed he is probably the most abused of them all. He talks non-stop to himself, telling himself to stay positive, always in perpetual motion and ecstatic that "they" will be home soon.
Harold, the eldest, reminisces about his past, how his mom, after having 10 kids, (of which he was the "runt") left him parentless at an early age; going thru a hurricane, bucking the wind and rain; being picked up by a stranger in a truck, who took him to McDonalds and gave him 4 hamburgers one time... "the best meal I ever had;" and spending a year in a shelter. Jason, at one point, reveals he spent three years in a box, where he could only see one inch of light through the box .
We go through arguments, confrontations, discoveries and mending of feelings with these misfits, with heavy realizations and growing in understanding of each other's story. The comedic touches all throughout keep the play light and moving along briskly.
As the afternoon comes to a close and they are gathering to celebrate Harold's birthday just before the owners of the house come home (by now, obviously, the rescuers in this tale) a tragedy occurs. How they, as a group, handle it and move forward in gratitude, is a perfect ending to this story of "The Rescued."
Produced by Katie Witkowski, Amy Stoch and Maurie Gonzalez. Other notable credits are to Derrick McDaniel for Lighting Design, Sound Design by David B. Marling and Props by Megan Moran. The many subtle touches and musical selections added a lot to enrich the story and provide details in learning about the character
THE RESCUED plays at the Road Theatre Company through November 11th, located at 10747 Magnolia Blvd. In North Hollywood 818.761.8838/ROADTHEATRE.ORG
Photos by Brian M. Cole.