Los Angeles Theater Review: RED FLAGS (Capital W at the Hollywood Fringe Festival)

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by Tony Frankel on June 6, 2017

in Theater-Los Angeles


Who hasn’t walked away from some bad dates thinking, “Jesus, that was like being in a play.” Well, now Capital W — a theater company that offers unconventional, immersive, and site-specific theater — has created a bad date for you in the aptly titled Red Flags. This one-on-one improvisational play, in which you participate with actress Lauren Flans’ downer date, “Emma”, will be different for each audience member as you will be adding information about your own life (I suppose one could falsify their past; I opted for veracity). The location of this date, set up by e-mail and text (you actually fill out a profile beforehand), is near Santa Monica and Vine. I always get some sort of thrill just before the curtain goes up, but standing in front of a bar on a busy Hollywood street I was positively giddy waiting for my “date.” But (not unlike a lot of theater in L.A.) I was ready to bolt halfway through this oddity. But not because it was a lousy show. It was just a lousy date.

Written and directed by Lauren Ludwig with dramaturgy by producer Monica Miklas (both with Flans from Lost Moon Radio), the basic structure has Emma show up after a bad day, going from shy and uncomfortable to needy and self-critical. I’ll leave out particulars (you may get different info than I did), but it’s up to you to decide how to respond to the many red flags. While some of you may get angry or sad or numb from your date, I found her pitiable — to a point. As we went well over the one-hour mark (you are warned the run-time is approximate), I found it tough to leave, or rather escape, this devalued, destitute drag. When I took her hand at one point (she asked me to) it was like clutching that of a vampire.

Weirdest of all was our location: the streets of Hollywood. At the start, Emma gave me the chance to sit and have drinks (“I have to go dutch,” she said) or walk around. I chose to stroll. As we sauntered about, the clash of gentrification with the homeless and crazy people heightened the sense of our country’s “have and have-nots” syndrome (and Emma was definitely a “have-not”). There were plenty of times that I wanted to flee out of boredom and forced niceties (at one time actually telling myself “Why didn’t you pay attention to the red flags?”) but as with weird dates from my past there seemed to be no deposit and no return.

“I have somewhere to be,” I said. As we headed to that destination, she started to drop some serious bombs about herself, which seemed odd this late in the “date”; but it added even more creepiness to both her sad desperation and my discomfort. Standing near a food truck, I heard someone shouting my name. Holy shit, a very good friend — knowing I’m in an eight-year gay relationship (anyone can go on a date with Emma) — walked up and gave me a hug. I was a little flustered as I introduced him to my “blind date, Emma.” His taken aback look was worth the price of admission. Later, when I explained I was in a show, he responded with, “Good. ‘Cause she came off as either deaf or a real bitch.”

photos courtesy of Capital W

Red Flags
Capital W
Hollywood Fringe Festival
ends on June 25, 2017
the run is currently sold out, but look for more shows and extensions
for tickets, visit Red Flags or Capital W

{ 1 comment }

Ezra Buzzington June 8, 2017 at 1:46 am


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