Los Angeles Theater Review: HERMETICALLY SEALED (Katselas Theatre Company at the Skylight Theatre)

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by Harvey Perr on November 2, 2011

in Theater-Los Angeles

WHAT’S COOKING IN HER KITCHEN?

In the bracingly intelligent and potentially powerful Hermetically Sealed, playwright Kathryn Graf has set out to explore the ways in which families deceive themselves and how, in order to protect each other, they somehow manage to effectively destroy their own lives. Since each secret is revealed as it might be in a mystery, it is perhaps unfair to even hint at what those secrets are. Why, however, once the secrets are revealed, does the author run away from ambiguity, and decide, instead, to tie everything together into something approaching a neat package? It explains why the Hermetically Sealed by Kathryn Graf – directed by Joel Polis – Los Angeles Theater Review by Harvey Perrpowder keg – which is what the play, in effect, is – never fully explodes. But if Ms. Graf looks again at those final moments and the anti-climaxes they create, she will have a play that could indeed have a rich theatrical afterlife. And, though the director, Joel Polis, does a perfectly respectable job with the cast he has, this is a work that requires the sort of performances that, in its current presentation, is represented primarily by Gigi Bermingham’s beautifully sustained portrait of Tessie, a woman on the edge. Everything she does has an air of authenticity that keeps you riveted on her every move, whether she is making raspberry tarts or lemon bars, whether her sudden attacks are based on memories she can’t make sense of or whether she is suffering from some serious physical ailment, the source of which she is keeping from everyone. There is so much recognizable depth of feeling oozing through Ms. Bermingham’s pores that everyone else, who is not on her plain, looks as if, by comparison, they are merely acting. Hermetically Sealed by Kathryn Graf – directed by Joel Polis – Los Angeles Theater Review by Harvey PerrNicholas Podany as her video games-addicted son acquits himself with real passion and Brendan Patrick Connor brings a touch of humanity to a desperately venal character, but the play is seriously hampered by Julia Prud’homme’s unfocused and one-dimensionally vulgar turn as a woman who buys the pastries Tessie prepares; this is a great part, as written, that needs an actor who knows how to turn a character’s innate vulgarity into something we can identify with, rather than be appalled by. We must want, as she does, for the truth to be ferreted out; instead, the confrontation between the two women is reduced to melodrama, in which only one character holds our interest. Jeff McLaughlin’s set is excellent. It includes a kitchen in which we, too, could make raspberry tarts and lemon bars and then wash our hands to remove the excess flour that clings to them. It makes it easier for Ms. Bermingham, whose life seems to center on the kitchen, to be so damned real.

photos by Ed Krieger

Hermetically Sealed
Katselas Theatre Company at the Skylight Theatre in Los Angeles
for tickets, visit http://www.katselastheatre.com/
scheduled to end on November 20
EXTENDED THROUGH DECEMBER 18, 2012
EXTENDED THROUGH FEBRUARY 12, 2012

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