BWW Review: READY, STEADY, YETI, GO at Rogue Machine Theatre
Being a child is tough enough, but add an act of racism to your young life while living in a small town and one grows up rather quickly.
In the aftermath of a hate crime, 7th grader Goon (the mesmerizing Ryan Brophy) befriends Carly (a powerful performance by Jasmine St. Clair), one of the victims. Their youthful romance blossoms. As the town organizes "The Assembly to End Racism Forever," the two must navigate the pitfalls of falling in love while dealing with the town's prying eyes. Bad parental advice and ill-informed gestures of kindness create a white guilt perfect storm, threatening to push the course of true love down a very rocky road. The political climate is similar to what is going on in America, today, and art imitates life in this production.
In David Jacobi's 2016 ensemble play, life goes by rapidly and performances are strong yet divided. Standouts include the above mentioned Brophy and St. Clair who have some electric scenes (especially St Clair when she recreates a conversation as her parents). It would be fascinating to see more from these actors in other productions as they have wonderful chemistry. Another standout is Kenney Selvey who plays younger brother, Gandry. Selvey brings innocence without being campy and youthful intelligence without being over the top.
The other performances from Randolph Thompson, Rori Flynn, and Morgan Wilday are strong, however they seem to be misplaced. Where the performances of Brophy, St. Clair, and Selvey are performances chock-full of truth and personalization...the performances of Thompson, Flynn, and Wilday (who is brilliantly utilized as pre-show curtain-warmer and set mover) come from a caricature-based acting. Both styles are wonderful and all actors are those of quality, but this reviewer felt as though one was watching two separate productions.
Is that a directing issue or a script issue?
Regarding the script, the performances sail above the often meandering script that makes some strong points and allows the actors to have some wonderfully strong acting moments. However the ending left this reviewer wondering "what is the author trying to say"?
Director Guillermo Cienfuegos (and Movement Director, Myrna Gawryn) keep a nice, crisp pace throughout the entire production with fluid stage movement, and (even though performance styles are divided) performances are strong and clear.
Kudos to scenic designer David A. Mauer and prop master Dan Cole, for such a varied and unique array of objects strewn around the club-house set. There was much for the audience to discover.
"Ready, Steady, Yeti, Go" plays through July 29, 2019 at Rogue Machine, in Electric Lodge, 1416 Electric Ave. Venice CA 90291. Run time: Approximately 100 minutes (no intermission).