Beachwood Drive

REVIEW by Willard Manus

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.