a kate west review
written & directed by Theresa Chavez & Rose Portillo
from the novella by Norman Klein
at Shakespeare Festival/LA
1238 W. 1st Street, Los Angeles, Ca 90026
contact www.aboutpd.org OR (800) 595-4849(4TIX)
running October 23 - November 22, 2009
"Bleeding Through" is a nostaglic oldies Angelino noir piece that, in spite of the retro cool set pieces and costumes (thanks to Akeime Mitterlehner and Pamela Shaw), just doesn't hold interest. It is very busy though. Co-Writer/Directors Theresa Chavez and Rose Portillo work up some uniquely intricate staging by having the actors appear in scenes behind the audience and to the sides, as well as on the main stage. Add the orchestra up there too, and an awful lot is going on all at once.
David Fruechting heartily narrates this story of intrigue and murder, but by the time he's through, no one cares anymore. The play is long and involved and a bit self-important, although there is some solid acting. Lynn Milgrim and Elizabeth Rainey trade off playing older and younger versions of each other, which is an interesting device and they are both quite good. Not all of the acting is spot on, however, particularly Ed Ramolete's rather plodding Ezra, neighbor to Molly and mostly meant to spur on her old stories. The rest of the cast (James Terry, Brian Joseph and Pete Pano) is fine.
Also, for some reason, Molly's past life and past lovers appear on the screen behind the actors in a black-and-white film, where she's portrayed by yet another actress (Kikey Castillo). Someone gets killed, men appear in raincoats in dark parks, Molly can't decide between two men and the narrator soaks it all in. Suffice to say, the film noir takes just don't all fit together. Meanwhile, the audience members may get whiplash turning around every five minutes to follow all the action.
None of these devices have particular motivation in connection with the actual plot and while it is all interesting to look at, and delightful to touch (during intermission you will get a chance to go on stage and see and touch some of the fabulous props), it does not add much to the story. Unfortunate, since Angelenos need more good, solid and classic pieces of historical tales. More of the story would be revealed here were certain viewers able to stay awake for the whole thing. Apologies.