FUTURA by Jordan Harrison – Boston Court – Los Angeles (Pasadena) Theater Review

by Harvey Perr on October 30, 2010

in Theater-Los Angeles

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It takes a lot of brass to write a futurist play about a not-so-distant time when print is dead and it is necessary to learn to write again. It takes even more brass to start the play with a thirty-five minute lecture on the history of typography and the mysteries of the font. And it takes even more brass to segue into a melodrama that includes, generally, all sorts of  mayhem, but, specifically, kidnapping and torture and murder. And still more brass to close the play on a note of ruminative poignancy that delicately acknowledges the significance of a smudge.

But that is exactly what an extraordinary young playwright of enviable promise, Jordan Harrison, has done in his boldly innovative play Futura, which is getting the kind of snazzy Boston Court production every good new play deserves but rarely gets. That means that Jessica Kubzansky’s direction is smart and unerring, that the design elements are simple, pithy and perfectly in tune with the demands of the play (I especially liked the witty costumes by Leah Piehl, the projections by Hana Sooyeon Kim – who should be hired by all lecturers – and, above all, the magnificent set by Myung Hee Cho, which goes from a lecture hall to a nasty kitchen in an abandoned house on the outskirts of some urban hell to a bunker this reviewer is loath to describe because, like the play itself, it should take one by surprise, and by Cho’s lighting director, Jaymi Lee Smith, who goes from clarity to murkiness and who then creates what can only be called theatrical magic in that final scene).

It means, too, that the acting standards are high, and that the best performances are of even higher quality. Edward Tournier – who was so awful a species of human being in Supernova that one concluded he must be a good actor to risk being so damned unpleasant – is, in the much more sympathetic role of a young criminal with moral underpinnings, absolutely luminous. And Bonita Friedericy, as the typography lecturer who is holding onto a dream of maintaining literacy in a world going madly illiterate, is remarkable, a tower of strength in a maelstrom of intellectual weakness. Friedericy and Tournier play that final scene so beautifully, it becomes amazing, once again, to discover how on the edge of our seats we can be in the midst of the purest kind of poetry.

All this is a way of saying – without telling too much – that The Theatre @ Boston Court is doing more yeoman work on yet another play that is fresh and genuinely relevant, that should be seen by every single discriminating theater lover.

harveyperr @ stageandcinema.com

photos by Ed Krieger

scheduled to close November 7 at time of publication
for tickets, visit http://bostoncourt.com

{ 1 comment }

Michael November 4, 2010 at 2:52 pm

FUTURA has been extended through November 14!

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