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BWW Review: GO BACK TO WHERE YOU ARE - Witty, Fourth-Wall-Breaking Vignettes

GO BACK TO WHERE YOU ARE/by David Greenspan/directed by Bart DeLorenzo/Odyssey Theatre/thru September 4, 2016

The west coast premiere of playwright David Greenspan's GO BACK TO WHERE YOU ARE has the pleasing benefit of having a strong cast, witty lines and a cleanly gorgeous set. Director Bart DeLorenzo firmly guides his seven-person ensemble in non-chronological, fourth-wall breaking vignettes set in the Long Island beach house of actress Claire (deliciously portrayed with big theatrical gestures to reach the back of large theatres by Shannon Holt). Claire's a thea-ta actress who's always 'on' whether she's onstage or off. The occasion for the evening's get-together requires Claire's daughter Caroline Cooking (off-stage) for her own birthday dinner.

Charlotte, the first guest to arrive, shared classes with Claire and has also ventured a career in the theatre. Annabelle Gurwitch effortlessly inhabits Charlotte as a desperate for a role (any role), annoying to a fault, but probably a more talented actress than her much more successful schoolmate Claire.

Claire's son Wally has returned from writing episodic television in Los Angeles. Andrew Walke convincingly exposes Wally's inner thoughts (only to the audience) admitting working in Los Angeles provides a very legitimate excuse to get away from his mother.

Claire's current director Tom turns up with his lover Malcolm. They argue between themselves, act civil with the other party guests and reveal their innermost thoughts to the audience. Bill Brochtrup smoothly handles his character of Tom while Jeffrey Hutchinson spars well with him as Malcolm.

In a dual role, Hutchinson authoritatively plays God (in a hoodie) sending an ancient Greek chorus boy Passalus to present time to affect only the life of Caroline. John Fleck commands the stage as the shape-shifting Passalus. To most of the party, Fleck appears as Mrs. Constance Simmons (with no costume changing). To Claire's brother (and writer of this play within a play) Bernard, Fleck becomes a promising, possible boyfriend. Justin Huen imbues his Bernard with the nervous ticks of a not-so-confident, tortured artist. Huen's able to make you see all of whatever Bernard so descriptively describes in the distance with his just gesturing and focused looks. Also sweet flirtatious chemistry between Fleck and Huen.

Ignoring chronology succeeds when new facts become known to the audience before other members of the cast, giving the audience insight of what's to happen. Clarity in the events would have been preferred with what little insight was presented.

Kudos to scenic designer Nina Caussa for her clean and functional wood-slatted deck (Claire's yard) surrounded by sand and cacti shrubbery.

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