Los Angeles Theater Review: TO QUIET THE QUIET (Elephant Stages in Hollywood)

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by Eve Meadows on August 29, 2012

in Theater-Los Angeles

THE ACTORS SHINE IN A CLOUDY PLAY

Playwright Christy Hall comments about her play To Quiet the Quiet, “I am most interested in the complexities of the human condition,” and in her work she truly draws fine character studies. But there is some difficulty in the plot development. In an effort not to give away too much too soon, the underlying objective which should propel both character and action becomes so clouded that suspense and emotional build is lost. We lose the spine of the production, and it becomes impossible to determine if the climaxing events are premeditated or spontaneous, an important factor in our understanding. I imagine experienced and capable director Barbara Bain gave much thought and effort to this problem, but it was not satisfactorily resolved. Ms. Bain’s magic shines most clearly in the mastery with which she leads her actors to listen, respond, and focus.

The provocative title of the play refers to the desperate need of a delightfully charming, eccentric, older woman to somehow contain the mental suffering brought on by isolation, desertion, misunderstanding, and mental imbalance. Kathy (Lisa Eve Meadow's Stage and Cinema L.A. review of TO QUIET THE QUIET at Elephant StagesRichards) cannot be alone: “Stop the silence before it eats me up, swallow it before it swallows me,” she pleads to the young man who coaches her on how to handle an imminent and dangerous confrontation. In one of the most haunting moments of the play, Kathy describes a would-be dinner guest as a woman who sits all day with her door open watching those who enter and exit the elevator; but later we discover that she is describing herself. Ms. Richards’s performance is exceptional, particularly in the beginning. Her kinesthetic responses are breathtaking as when she embraces the sleeve of the jacket of her guest reflecting her need and the hopelessness of her desire for human contact. Ms. Richards, however, keeps her eyes closed too much on stage, and ultimately, I did not see the depth of pain or passion necessary to provide this petite woman with the strength and cleverness necessary for the final culminations of her anguish. Still, her fine performance is the cornerstone of the production.

Eve Meadow's Stage and Cinema L.A. review of TO QUIET THE QUIET at Elephant StagesHer guest Quinn (Michael Marc Friedman) appears at first to be some sort of “dirty cop” with his stiff, muscle-bound, wide open stance and monotonous tone. He shows the concern of a relative, yet remains detached. He has a truly beautiful and human moment when he speaks of his mother, but it is not until he exits the stage backwards that we realize he is not a relative, a legal counselor, nor a cop; his backward exit foreshadows the trajectory of the plot.

Eve Meadow's Stage and Cinema L.A. review of TO QUIET THE QUIET at Elephant StagesEnter Todd (Stephen Mendillo) to illuminate what is real in the situation, tie up loose ends, and bring resolution. Mr. Mendillo is so relaxed, subtle in his feeling, nuanced in his reactions, poignant and believable that he is a splendid counterpart to Ms. Richards.

Joel Daavid’s set is perfectly minimal, with invisible walls and alluring cut out gables reminiscent of a house that has importance to the main character. Matt Richter’s lighting and sound were subtle and appropriate.

photos by Joel Daavid

To Quiet the Quiet
presented by Sean Thomas at Elephant Stages in Hollywood
scheduled to close on September 1, 2012
for tickets, call (323) 960-5773 or visit plays411

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