Los Angeles Theater Review: COMPLETE (Wilder Theatrics at the Matrix Theatre)

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by Tom Chaits on March 2, 2013

in Theater-Los Angeles

A COMPLETE WASTE OF WORDS

If you hold a doctorate in linguistics then you might (and that’s a very questionable “might”) find some interesting banter in Complete, the alleged comedy written by Andrea Kuchlewska currently making its West Coast premiere at the Matrix Theatre. If, on the other hand, the scientific study of syntax and semantics holds no particular fascination for you, you’ll want to avoid this show like the plague.

Tom Chaits’ Stage and Cinema review of “Complete” at the Matrix, Los AngelesIn just 90 intermission-free minutes, Ms. Kuchlewska pummels the audience into complacency and submission with her repetitive and circuitous script that comingles time and space between a session of “The Training” – an est-like self-help cult – and two obsessive linguists preparing to present a paper at a seminar. The author explains in an interview that she did the est training at age nine; she clearly has issues regarding her own personal experience being subjected to a “large group awareness training.” It is precisely the effect that est‘s inappropriate use of language had on her as a child which developed into an obsession in later life – an obsession which caused her to analyze the “jargon” of group-speak ad infinitum in the writing of Complete. The author, not to mention the audience, would have been better served had she chosen to exorcise those demons from the comfort of a shrink’s couch instead of on stage for all to suffer though.

Tom Chaits’ Stage and Cinema review of “Complete” at the Matrix, Los AngelesWhen a script is so totally lacking, it is difficult to find fault with the direction or the acting. Even the most valiant efforts are sure to come up short.  As my grandmother so elegantly often said, “You can only polish a turd so much.” Director Jennifer Chambers does the best polishing job she can but in the end it’s not good enough. Scott Victor Nelson manages some mildly amusing moments as Jack, the self-help guru but he can’t save the day. Meredith Bishop as Eve and Scott Kruse as Micah lose the battle to bring any sense of realism or believability to their roles. Tess Oswalt, who plays young Evie, has youthful enthusiasm and naiveté on her side and she dives in feet first but is too often left hanging out to dry.

Ms. Oswalt was thrust into the role when Hannah Victoria Stock, the original Evie, left the production after opening night. No reason was given for the departure of Ms. Stock but my guess is that after seeing the show someone counseled her to get while the getting was good. Sage advice and a warning you should heed.

Tom Chaits’ Stage and Cinema review of “Complete” at the Matrix, Los Angeles

photos by Ed Krieger

Complete
Wilder Theatrics at the Matrix Theatre
scheduled to end on March 30, 2013
for tickets, call 323-960-7822 or visit Plays 411

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