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BWW Review: Sacred Fools Continues REPRISE Streaming Series With THE VALUE OF MOSCOW

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Centers on three grown "adult" sisters who are thrust back into living together as a last resort after their various lives have fallen apart

BWW Review: Sacred Fools Continues REPRISE Streaming Series With THE VALUE OF MOSCOW

Sacred Fools Theater Company, the resident theater company of The Broadwater, 1078 Lillian Way (Santa Monica Blvd. and Lillian Way) on Theater Row, is a non-profit, ensemble-run theater company founded in 1997, committed to the development of new plays and projects that challenge traditional expectations of the theatrical experience. But with no live theatre being presented, while finding ways to stay busy during the pandemic, the Sacred Fools Theater Company is continuing its REPRISE series of streaming "enhanced" readings or performances of recent productions.

And they have done so brilliantly with the online streaming of "The Value of Moscow" by Amy Dellagiarino, directed by Carrie Keranen (originally presented onstage in Sacred Fools' Season 22, in late 2018), which was recorded in advance and premiered via YouTube Live on Thursday, August 20 at 5pm Pacific, with re-broadcasts continuing to be streamed through Monday, August 24 at 5pm at http://www.sacredfools.org/mainstage/20/reprise/ or on YouTube at https://youtu.be/SKd_9qEgmQA

Unlike last month's presentations of "Antigone, Presented by the Girls of St. Catherine's" and "Waiting for Waiting for Godot," which featured readings live online, "The Value of Moscow" is being presented fully staged, with actors off-book and featuring full scenic, costume and prop elements similar to those used during the staged production. Thus, the actors had an advantage in infusing the dialogue and modified blocking since their characters and their personal relationships as actors developed over time allowed for their strong emotional bond to shine through from moment-to-moment.

BWW Review: Sacred Fools Continues REPRISE Streaming Series With THE VALUE OF MOSCOW"The Value of Moscow" offers extra relatability to our time now when so many of us are in close quarters with our loved ones, "maybe too close!" said Co-Artistic Director Adriana Colón. "It was an honor to present the world premiere of this show, and the team has now embraced the opportunity to share it with a wider, possibly global, audience." That is a great value of online theatre right now in that audience members from around the world can watch streaming performances together at the same time, sharing thoughts and comments via the live chat going on which does not interrupt the show, as well as during the Q&A taking place with cast and crew after the performance.

"The Value of Moscow" centers on three grown "adult" sisters (Emily, Rose and Clara) who are thrust back into living together as a last resort after their various lives have fallen apart. To enhance the reality, the backdrop in each of the actor's locations consists of many cardboard boxes awaiting unpacking, all of which have been recently delivered to the apartment by a moving company. But this trio can't even agree on how to unpack their stuff much less their relationships and pasts. And before they can finish the bottle of vodka they found in the kitchen, everything goes from bad to worse, to a lot, LOT worse, after a pizza delivery goes terrible awry.

BWW Review: Sacred Fools Continues REPRISE Streaming Series With THE VALUE OF MOSCOW

Andres Paul Ramacho (Jimbo), Madeleine Heil (Rose), center, and Julie Bersani (Clara) in the original staging of THE VALUE OF MOSCOW by Sacred Fools. Photo by Matt Kamimura.

The sisters, portrayed to realistic perfection by Tiffany Cole (Emily), Madeleine Heil (Rose), and Julie Bersani (Clara), have all decided to move in together for various reasons - all about the men in their lives. Emily's husband Steven wants to "take a break," Rose's boyfriend Paul turned out to be married, and Clara's "Irish mafia" boyfriend Jimbo (Andres Paul Ramacho) threatened her life. But can they set aside their grievances long enough to work together and save themselves? Probably not. But with acerbic wit, an ill-fated encounter with the pizza deliveryman (Gregory Guy Gorden), and a surprise visit from Jimbo, these three sisters must work together to prove there's no place like home... especially when you have to work together to hide a few unintentional murders!

BWW Review: Sacred Fools Continues REPRISE Streaming Series With THE VALUE OF MOSCOW

(L to R) Madeleine Heil (Rose) and Gregory Guy Gordon (Pizza Delivery Man) in the original staging of Amy Dellagiarino's THE VALUE OF MOSCOW directed by Carrie Keranen for Sacred Fools Photo by Matt Kamimura.

Playwright Amy Dellagiarino has infused her script with the type of sisterly jealousy and one-upmanship banter that will recall your own family gatherings! Certainly getting along with family members is always a challenge, and Dellagiarino allows us to see both the good and evil ways these sisters know how to push each other's buttons or count on each other when the going gets tough.

BWW Review: Sacred Fools Continues REPRISE Streaming Series With THE VALUE OF MOSCOW

Taken during the Q&A session following THE VALUE OF MOSCOW online performance on August 20. Photo by Shari Barrett

With a keen eye for the most well-coordinated staging of any online production I have seen to date, director Carrie Keranen has expertly adapted the blocking from the staged 2018 play to make it appear the socially distancing cast members appearing in individual boxes are actually in the same apartment together. Surrounded by a multitude of moving boxes with the appropriate sister's name emblazoned upon them, unpacked items are handed off between blocks, with several props thrown between the squares with perfect aim and timing. Not to mention blood appearing on the boxes, perfectly timed to the gruesome action.

BWW Review: Sacred Fools Continues REPRISE Streaming Series With THE VALUE OF MOSCOW

Taken during the Q&A session following THE VALUE OF MOSCOW online performance on August 20. Photo by Shari Barrett

Actors knew exactly where to turn and look at the other actors as if really standing on a stage together, with exciting, physical struggles staged in close-ups to make them seem all the more real, creating a true blend of television and live theatre combining online. Truly this production is at the forefront of a new creative challenge, and I cannot wait to watch as online theatre brings the world closer together through the Arts.

"The Value of Moscow" title refers to a theme in Chekov's play "The Three Sisters" in which the three sisters speak about Moscow as a dream place they wish to reach. But these three more modern sisters soon realize their "Moscow" may lay a lot closer to home and within their own hearts if they can learn to trust each other to survive together. So even though the play ends with the audience wondering what is going to happen to them, you can't help but hope they will work together so no harm comes to any of them - as impossible as that seems with two men laying dead in their apartment as a loud knock is heard at their front door at the final blackout.

For more information about Sacred Fools programming or the company itself, visit www.sacredfools.org.

For information regarding The Broadwater, please visit www.thebroadwaterla.com


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From This Author Shari Barrett