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|A CurtainUp Los Angeles Review
By David Avery
N. Richard Nash is a well enough known figure in theater, most famously for The Rainmaker. In doing research on him for this review, I noticed that Echoes, now being shown upstairs at the Coronet Theatre, is never mentioned. I probably should have taken that as a sign.
The show opens with a practically empty stage (only a chair and a small, box-like end-table are present), and two people waking up from what appears to be a good night's sleep. Tilda (Tanna Fredrick) is the first up; she wanders around the room, peers out a window (facing the audience), looks alarmed, and furiously scrubs at it. She then wakes Sam (David Millbern), who appears disoriented at waking up. They discuss decorating their Christmas tree, and engage in a game of baseball. Tilda is unhappy with her appearance, Sam has had the same nightmare he's had for many nights.
As directo: Neno Pervan has taken noticeable pains to obfuscate most of the play's developments, I'll stop here with the plot description. Suffice to say that none of the above is really what is going on.
The play is about what is real and what we think is real, what we do to maintain our beliefs and what the world thinks of those attempts. The audience is kept off balance as the details of the situation are slowly revealed. . A great many questions are posed, both by the characters and by the situation but very few of them are answered. There is nothing wrong with unanswered questions except if the questions and the ideas raised fail to engage us.
The production's chief assets are the two main actors. Frederick and Millbern process difficult, wordy material. Even thought he actors have almost nothing on stage to work with so that most actions must be pantomimed, we don't doubt for a minute Tilda's instability, or Sam's disconnectedness. Unfortunately, their characters don't generate any empathy. It doesn't help that the first fifteen minutes of their conversation is staged with them as an overly lovey, insipidly babbling couple. The childish interplay comes off as annoying rather than cute or funny.
One of the more interesting characters is the ominously monikered The Person (Julius Noflin). His entire role is done without vocalization. Some heavy handed lighting and sound are used to make sure we understand that something odd is happening when he enters.
Overall, Echoes comes off as more of an acting workshop more than a fully realized play. It's the Henry Jaglom's Rainbow Theatre Company first production , and judging by the acting, there is some talent to be found amongst its players. Hopefully they will find more sitable material next time.
Links to Other Reviews of Work by N. Richard Nash:
The Loss of D-Natural
110 in the Shade -- musicalized version of The Rainmaker
Retold by Tina Packer of Shakespeare & Co.
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At This Theater
Leonard Maltin's 2005 Movie Guide
Ridiculous!The Theatrical Life & Times of Charles Ludlam
6, 500 Comparative Phrases including 800 Shakespearean Metaphors by CurtainUp's editor.
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