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Review: THE OXY COMPLEX at IAMA @ The Pico Playhouse

The Oxy Complex, A View from the COVID Void

Review: THE OXY COMPLEX at IAMA @ The Pico Playhouse

The Oxy Complex, A View from the COVID Void

As this review is being written, much of the country either has or will in the coming weeks gain access to the COVID-19 vaccine. This writer personally took the Johnson & Johnson shot two days previously. There's a malaise slowly lifting as people are getting closer to seeing friends and family members who have, for more than 365 days, been as far as a zoom camera will show you. But imagine if these vaccines had never come to fruition. Ponder how individuals would be cracking to bits being locked in their tiny, lonely apartments for an additional 4 1/2 months. Anna Lamadrid's one-person comedy The Oxy Complex explores humanity reaching its breaking point after 500 days with zero human touch.

Viviana (LaMadrid) reevaluates her life while locked in a prison of her loneliness on the 500th day of Covid lockdown. She hashes over old, fizzled romances and resorts to hook-up apps to deep dive into that underdeveloped need for connection. Several characters played by LaMadrid (Viviana's mother, her influencer friend Saavi) help Viviana work through her quarantine blues while also forcing her to recognize that her melancholy is not purely pandemic based. Though this sensory deprivation has pushed her to the edge, it also has given her clarity of what she wants and how her past has forced her to repeat bad patterns.

Writer LaMadrid juxtaposes the insanity of this last year with humanity's constant struggle to connect to others. This is not a new problem, nor one caused by COVID-19, only exasperated by it.

LaMadrid's best character, both in dialogue and characterization, is the imaginary Dr Oye Me, who, like Bill Nye, The Science Guy, teaches an unknown room of students the mechanics of the love hormone Oxytocin, how modern science supposedly meant to empower women actually only free men from burden, and the death of courtship due to dating app etiquette. Dr Me's scenes are hilarious, fresh, and filled with wisdom.

Viviana's sequences lack substance or something new to say. The bar flashbacks and Viviana's inner-monologues offer few insights that haven't been seen in other texts. Just last week on CW's teen-gothic Riverdale, a character revealed he engaged in dangerous sex to fulfill a need left from an emotionally withholding parent. All of Viviana's issues are universal and warrant being explored through art, but with a fresher perspective, it may have resonated more fully.

Director Michelle Bossy features seamless editing when two characters played by LaMadrid engage in a conversation. Though both sides of the dialogue had to be filmed separately for obvious reasons, the scenes at the bar are well composed so the audience forgets LaMadrid is both sides of the conversation.

The Oxy Complex started with a thrilling premise. If we're all crawling out of our skin after 365 days of isolation, what fresh hell will we suffer 135 empty days later? But instead, the play never explores the dystopia the concept suggests.

The Oxy Complex, an IAMA production, was filmed live at the Pico Playhouse. It is available to stream at until April18th for $15 a household.

Photo by Shay Yamashita/TAKE Creative

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