Review: THE TRAGEDY: A COMEDY Encourages Laughs During a Silly and Senseless Psychedelic Mushroom Trip
Perhaps the Ammunition Theatre Company has a built-in audience of millennials who enjoy their brand of silly and senseless humor in THE TRAGEDY: A COMEDY written by D.G. Watson and directed by Ahmed Best. Currently promoted as being "back by popular demand," all I can figure out is since marijuana is now legal, the younger audience members went out and got the best varieties and smoked a lot of it before seeing this show, then really enjoyed laughing at all the silly situations and dialogue, performed to the best of their ability by actors who enjoyed engaging the audience to play along with them.
I just sat there puzzled through most of it, trying to figure out if there really was a story to follow, other three literary/talent managers - Larry (Malcolm Barrett), Lisa (Tina Huang), and Derek (Brandon Scott), who go on a psychedelic mushroom trip, hoping they'll be struck with a brilliant idea that will save their failing business. But the entire play just seemed like a trip through the world of Watson's vivid imagination as the mushrooms reveal a chilling truth: their whole lives are the subject of a tragic play, with an audience of people watching their every move. Be sure to stay attentive in the lobby during intermission since the play also takes place there.
But this show definitely has an audience since it had a near sold-out run in late 2017 with several standing-room-only performances at a smaller venue. It is rather unique in that THE TRAGEDY: A COMEDY is a wholly immersive theatrical experience with the audience being encouraged to react by clapping loudly, clasping hands, reacting to questions from the cast during the show, and even being asked to leave your cell phone on since there is a moment in the play when you will be asked to Google information needed to forward the action in the story.
As a former teacher of Greek Mythology and Shakespeare, I did enjoy Malcolm Barrett's serious take on Larry's tragic hero image as his speech patterns echoed Hamlet's soliloquies, while Greek goddesses, self-help cults, and inter-dimensional portals all set the stage for this interactive dark comedy about characters trapped inside a tragedy. Los Angeles audiences will especially enjoy Malorie Felt as Rebecca Reese and Garrett Mercer as Ethan Cross, self-centered actors willing to do just about anything to be a star, even double-crossing the agents who got them their break-out movie roles.
For comic relief, look for Roland Ruiz as Tony, the drug dealer who trips out on his own product way too much. He was an audience favorite, garnering laughs galore as his antics got more and more outrageous. Jason Ryan Lovett portrays Ezekiel, the Yoda-like mushroom grower, with Kim Hamilton casting spells as Melpomene, the Greek muse of tragedy, and Claudia Doumit as Thalia, the red-nosed Greek muse of comedy trying to undo the damage done by her evil sister muse.
I do suggest enjoying a few stiff drinks or other legal means of altering your mental perception to enhance your experience of THE TRAGEDY: A COMEDY at the Pico Playhouse, 10508 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90064, for upcoming performances at 8pm on Thursdays April 19, May 17, and June 14. Tickets are $25, available in advance at http://www. ammotheatre.com Run time is 110 minutes with one intermission. Please note no late seating is allowed. Read parking signs carefully in the adjoining neighborhood to avoid tickets and/or towing.
Photo credit: Ahmed Best