Los Angeles Theater Review: HOW TO DISAPPEAR COMPLETELY AND NEVER BE FOUND (The Theater @ Boston Court in Pasadena)

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by Harvey Perr on May 8, 2011

in Theater-Los Angeles

HOW TO DISAPPEAR COMPLETELY
AND BECOME A STAR

If you lose your way trying to navigate the Kafkaesque journey Fin Kennedy wants to take us on in his startlingly original and thematically dense How To Disappear Completely and Never Be Found, keep your eye on Brad Culver – it’ll be impossible not to – because Culver has found the human trajectory that Charlie, the play’s protagonist, is on and has wormed his way into the character with such determined intricacy that not only will you find it impossible to separate the actor from the man, but you are almost certain to see him as a contemporary Everyman and find yourself – despite the extreme conditions he is forced to live in and with – identifying with the guy and seeing in him some part of you that you haven’t been in touch with before.

How To Disappear Completely and Never Be Found at The Theatre @ Boston Court in Pasadena

That takes some doing because Kennedy knows that playing with your head may be the only revenge for the way in which the world plays games on our heads. But in an atmosphere of cultural overload which results in more and more human isolation, Kennedy is already attempting an overview which is in danger of being what the French would call de trop. So the playwright may go too far and say too much, but there’s Culver (who was pretty dazzling in the Poor Dog’s Brewsie and Willie last year) to keep us fascinated in every wild turn the play takes by making absolutely clear the size and dimensions of Charlie’s increasing frustrations. Follow him, and the play’s confusions turn into the most coherent comments you are likely to hear on the way we live our lives today.

How To Disappear Completely and Never Be Found at The Theatre @ Boston Court in Pasadena

If Kennedy should be grateful to Culver, he should be even more grateful to Nancy Keystone, his awesomely talented director, for illuminating and orchestrating with such frightening precision his diabolical vision of a society that is in the process of disemboweling itself. Keystone has created her own set, a grey slab of a room that could be the interior of a morgue and upon which Adam Flemming has projected some vivid futuristic images, and this gives her terrific control over the drama she is trying to make sense of. And her actors –  the droll Valerie Spencer, the lovely Carolyn Ratteray, the wickedly subversive Nick Mills, and especially the wonderfully versatile Time Winters – help immeasurably in providing both a high-pitched sense of lunacy and, theatrically speaking, a thrilling sense of pace.

How To Disappear Completely and Never Be Found at The Theatre @ Boston Court in PasadenaWhen Charlie, in order to escape the fate he has in fact perpetrated, is given an out by changing his identity, we know, almost from that moment on, that he cannot run away from his true self, and the play runs out of steam a bit, but it leads to a resolution which is not totally expected and which, in fact, carries with it a grim reminder that we cannot even escape our deaths, let alone our lives. The static in our heads goes on even when we can no longer hear it ourselves.

How To Disappear Completely provides just the kind of beautifully tooled adventurous theater we have come to expect from The Theatre @ Boston Court. This time around, in addition, we have in our midst the most exciting breakthrough performance this reviewer has seen since Mark Ruffalo made a memorable Los Angeles debut in David Steen’s Avenue A almost twenty years ago, and it has been achieved in exactly the same way: not by force of personality alone but by becoming the character. It’s called acting. Meet Brad Culver.

How To Disappear Completely and Never Be Found at The Theatre @ Boston Court in Pasadena

photos by Ed Krieger

How To Disappear Completely and Never Be Found
The Theatre @ Boston Court
Boston Court Performing Arts Center, 70 North Mentor Ave in Pasadena
Thurs-Sat at 8; Sun at 2 (check for exceptions)
ends on May 29, 2011
for tickets, call 626.683.6883 or visit Boston Court

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