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Review: HOME/SICK Recounts the Radical Politics of the Weather Underground

The West Coast premiere of a theatrical reimagining of the history of the Weather Underground, HOME/SICK was developed and devised by New York City theater collective The Assembly and members of the cast to take a look at the changing political scene from 1969 through 1973 when a group of outcasts disgusted by the Vietnam War and the government's repression of those seeking equality domestically took a stand to affect political change by seizing control of Students for a Democratic Society and reshaping it in the name of overthrowing the United States government. Believing violence to be the only means to transform American politics and society, these passionate idealists accelerated the movement to a revolutionary fervor, but let their internal fears and confusion somehow get in their way.

However timely the message, especially this year when we find ourselves in the middle of a heated political battle for the presidency, most of the play is spent with the cast loudly yelling their lines as a way of communicating their anger and frustration with the system. This tactic becomes a bit trying and repetitive, a challenge to your ability to take in how important a lesson can be learned as the play progresses and the group's tactics become more of a challenge to comprehend. Just how serious are they in affecting change - or are they just trying to make a name for themselves as activists without accomplishing anything?

What really brings the message home is the incorporation of cards filled out by audience members before the show begins, asking each person to complete the sentence "In my ideal America ..." After all, the show is about a group of six students working towards just that. On opening night, most of the responses involved wishes of equality, people being nice to each other, and everyone working towards environmental betterment. Several referenced the importance of art and political activism, and not surprisingly, many expressed a wish to get rid of Donald Trump.

The show reminded me of how radical Students for a Democratic Society was in the late 60s when their mantra of violence against the system caused an uproar at colleges across the country. While I was more of a "put a daisy in the police rifle" kind of protester, I vividly remember SDS seemed a bit too out there for my way of living. But their loud messages did get noticed, and hopefully made a difference for society in the right direction. But somehow, given how much violence there is in the world of political statements these days, perhaps things really have done a bit too far.

All that aside, The Assembly is a cutting-edge young theater collective from New York composed of talented actors committed to their art. HOME/SICK was devised and written collectively by the group marks their Los Angeles debut and devised and written collectively by the group, with their Los Angeles debut production directed by Jess Chayes starring Edward Bauer, Ben Beckley, Kate Benson, Anna Abhau Elliot, Emily Perkins. Performances continue through July 3 at the Odyssey Theatre, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles CA 90025. Reserved seating tickets run $25-$34 and may be ordered by calling (310) 477-2055 ext. 2 or www.OdysseyTheatre.com. Recommended for mature audiences.




From This Author - Shari Barrett

Shari Barrett, a Los Angeles native, has been active in the theater world since the age of six - acting, singing, and dancing her way across the boards all over town. After teaching in secondary schools,... (read more about this author)


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