What if everyone exposed the most painful, harrowing, challenging and interesting aspects of their lives within the context of…the commencement of a political press conference? Well this is exactly how Bare Naked Angels’ latest production of Angels Unabated commences!
Culled from real life imperfections of seven actors/writers, each takes a stab at exploring pivotal moments and themes surrounding their lives through the magic of monologue writing gathered as cohesively as possible in a slice of life review all too arresting, yet familiar to behold!
“Ladies and Gentlemen please take your seats!” an actress, later revealed as The Cyclist played by a lovely and earnest Michelle Lambert will intone as everyone with a life is instructed to get even more of one and pipe down so that our fair mayor aka The Mayor portrayed by a stately, yet approachable Joe Capucini can kick off the evening’s writing/acting stylings.
It is clear this resident ruler is frustrated as he expounds upon his disappointment surrounding possible looters and rioters destroying their own segment of the city in a most candid yet even fashion. As the crowd of six surrounding him eventually disperses, we come to realize that each has their very own life force and inner monologue a-brewin’ in the shadow of his own.
David Caprita as the beguiling Baby Kaboomer is transfixed by any and every parallel centering around the nuclear bomb and the gently settling atomic grime under which he was born “dusted in fallout like baby powder” at the great ol’ age of zero in the classic year of 1953 hastening to zero hour as his very life advances as a future aspiring “Duck and Coverer”. This Baby Kaboomer can name pretty much any nuclear disaster in the history of mankind (and quite possibly alien-kind if he would only apply himself)– even those that would go unnamed–and has an almost uncanny penchant for the atomic numbers of Sodium (11), Lithium (3) and Oxygen (8) and an even eerier way of reflecting upon those numerical parallels within the auspices of his life. “My daughter was born on 03/08… My wife: Ellen Levin—sounds like eleven? The Kyshtym Disaster happened at 8:03,” truly one of the most eccentric and stand-out subjects of the evening…
The Phoenix portrayed by gentle but troubled Sarah Kelly can’t help but notice how lovely and amazing Mount Rainier looks in her mind’s eye, but today—or really on the day she recollects—only death weighs on her mind as she regards the black box–not of an airplane–but something out of which she must scatter some cherished residua and render it airborne!
The Gypsy aka Thea: a-a-double-k: “Thea, Thea wouldn’t wanna be ya,” brought to us by a lovely and pensively vulnerable Thea Grabiec has no friends, at least on her primary and elemental introduction to this planet; her parents are forever preoccupied without a moment to grant her the convivial attention she so lacks at school. Though she is a confirmed loner as a child, she might just turn this to her advantage as an adult as her character’s nomenclature decrees.
Michelle Lambert aka The Cyclist (and also the crowd whisperer as established in the beginning by urging every one of this vociferous cast to quiet down in the shadow of the Mayor’s frustrated pall) lives under the roof of a father with a double life, a Jamaican accent that isn’t there, yet heard only once, a second family that isn’t there that her father made only once; thusly setting the tone for her life as she cycles through relationships with friends or otherwise with slightly off-kilter people whom she never really seems to completely know.
A likeable and somewhat sprightly Sharon Munfus as The Plunger just wants to be a nurse—or does she? Though she seems like just the person one would want as a nurse, one senses one has seen her play this role on TV and if not, well…she should. As a result, she plunges deeply into the depths of her soul, past her religion, and her family’s societal prejudice to show them all she would make just as good of a ‘fake’ nurse as a real nurse one day—on TV, stage or any other profession including actress on the big silver screen!
Phil Talsky as the affable, sincere, and ambiently fun-loving The Uncle brings one to laughter and tears as he recounts West to East Coast flights in a directionally dyslexic jaunt just to see his favorite niece; the one who wakes him up three hours earlier than his normal rise n’ shine time from his recently jetlag infused jaunt across the Midwest to the opposite coast, primarily for any and all reasons involving fun! However, on the last few journeys the purpose is rendered ultimately to see her through her bravely premature death at the hands of a singularly rare disease. There is not a dry eye in the house…
Loved the character names. They remind me of an offbeat team of somewhat melancholy superheroes who utilize their sadness for good and actualization rather than evil a la Mystery Men. No, make that Melancholy Men. And that’s kind of what they have done with this piece as it was certainly a decided catharsis to behold!
The first act of this play was so compelling I did the unthinkable for any play reviewer—well this play reviewer anyway; put my pen down and took exceedingly limited notes. The steel line of tension amidst all these people’s lives ran thick and I only wanted to know more. To top all off, the writing was not only colorful but flowed so lyrically at times it almost seemed poetic. It was the second act, while still well penned, that I felt that steel line was broken just a trifle as none (or very few of the concepts except that of The Uncle) really unfolded into stories. As the tension had been set I realize I was bracing to take the hit of some form of notable climax within each: catastrophic or otherwise, but none ever came to pass. Moreover, I did not really see the monologues relate to one another all too markedly after the original dispersal at the Mayor’s initial speech.
Regardless, I was moved to tears more than I had been in quite some times and, all in all, it was quite a singularly emotional and more or less compelling night of theatre regardless.
Barenaked Angels: Angels Unabated runs at the Actors Workout Studio in NoHo until August 9th.
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