BWW Reviews: MUTANT OLIVE Reminds Us We Are All Dancing By Ourselves Through Life

By: Jan. 23, 2015

Mitch Hara breaks the fourth wall in his hilarious solo play MUTANT OLIVE about father and son forgiveness. A self-described "ADHD buzz saw looking for a two-by-four," Hara gives life to alter-ego Adam Astra, an actor whose past seems to constantly seep into his present. Astra gleefully spoons out tales of his soul-sucking childhood, monstrous substance abuse, rampant sex and crashed cars - all during the course of an audition for "Death of a Salesman" for which he is totally wrong.

The play begins as Adam arrives for the audition talking to his dad on his cell phone, in effect making him almost a half hour late. In effect, he takes his dad into the audition with him, breaking into rants about how bad his life has been, alternating with his Italian rendition of Puck's monologue from "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and ongoing calls with his dad.

We learn that Adam has a very volatile relationship with his father and basically has become the best and worst of both his parents. He takes us through all the voices in his head that aren't his own, imbuing each with their own specific physicality. His father begins each statement with a nasal inhalation and straightening his spine while his mother is always smoking like a silver screen diva. His loving portrayals will have you believing his two parents are actually on stage with Adam, given how all-encompassing are Hara's characterizations.

Even though there are many harrowing stories shared and a lot of f-bombs, it is the stories Hara shares as Adam that will pull you into this poor man's self-loathing as well as his bravado to pretend. He is truly fighting all his demons in the middle of an audition with the audience as director and producer taking it all in, even participating with him at times when a response is requested, making the show all the more personal for each audience member.

The title MUTANT OLIVE comes from one of the funniest and self-revealing bits in the show. Adam's dad wants him to wear an olive green suit to a family funeral rather than the eye-catching leaning toward gay black attire he usually wears. But since he is a fat kid, in his mind the effect turns him into a mutant olive. Certainly most of us have felt that way at some point in our lives, the outcast in a group. But Hara lets us see that being one of the special people is life and dancing through life by ourselves is really not that bad a way to live.

"I grew up in a family that raised dysfunction to Kabuki level," laughs Hara. "I see the world in my own colors. Everything is just a little skewed, a little bit off."

"Mitch is able to combine comedy and pathos in a beautiful and unique way," says director Terri Hanauer. "He brings humanity, humor and depth to a whirlwind performance."

Ultimately the show allows us to realize we all go through what we go through to turn out the way we do in life, and that we need to be brave enough to just be who we are even in the face of opposition. And even the ugliest events in our lives can be humorous, allowing us to thrive when we take responsibility for how we use the experience to become who we are. The show ends with Billy Idol's song "Dancing With Myself" during which Hara celebrates doing just that during his curtain call. It reminded me that we are all truly dancing by ourselves through our lives.

MUTANT OLIVE continues through February 28 on Thurs-Fri-Sat at 8pm at the Lounge Theater, 6201 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood, CA 90038 (just east of Vine). Tickets are $25 and can be ordered by calling (323) 960-7861 or online at Run time 70 minutes with no intermission.

Photos by Ed Krieger

Mitch Hara portrays Adam Astra

Mitch Hara portrays Adam Astra

Mitch Hara portrays Adam Astra



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