REVIEW by Willard
BEACHWOOD DRIVE, the
edgy new play by Steven Leigh Morris, is the theatrical equivalent of
a film noir. Los Angeles' sexual obsession, vice, pornography, police
ineptitude and murder are explored by Morris (and director Jon Lawrence
Rivera) in bleak, moody fashion. What elevates the play from the B-movie
category is the way it probes the social and psychological forces gripping
the play's characters. With the exception of 11-year-old Katerina (Zoe
Rogers), all of them are not only pressured by the
present but haunted by the past (as revealed in direct address to the
audience). Rocky (Michael Irby) is a descendent of Tongva indians, southern
California's indigenous people who were annihilated by the invading Spaniards;
Nadya (Lena Starostina), is a hooker from Odessa whose parents were killed
by Stalin; Hansonia (Felecia Bell Schafer) is an African-American novelist
just a few generations removed from slavery; Cromwell (Weston I. Nathanson)
is a veteran detective who took part in a lynching as a child; Vera (Lynn
Odell) is a hardboiled Russian madam who believed in the American Dream
but was not only betrayed but corrupted by it. Morris weaves all of these
disparate elements into a narrative that cracks open the glossy shell
of our society and reveals the blight beneath.
Theatre of NOTE, 1517 N. Cahuenga Blvd. through May 4.
Call (323) 856-8611.