Theater Review: CULT OF LOVE (IAMA Theatre Company in Atwater Village)

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by Tony Frankel on June 18, 2018

in Theater-Los Angeles


Ah, what better fodder for drama is there than the dysfunctional American family? You know the ingredients: accusations hurled back and forth by the walking wounded; recriminations for offenses committed years before; and — for good measure — a reunion with plenty of alcohol and mental illness. With her Cult of Love, Leslye Headland takes that family drama genre and turns it on its head by adding the element of being raised under the umbrella of Christianity in a seemingly loving home (I say “seemingly” because love means acceptance, and intolerance abounds for 90 disturbing minutes of this one-act).

It begins with the four Dahl children and their partners reuniting at their childhood Connecticut home with their Christian parents on a snowy Christmas Eve, but soon after a joyous jamboree of von Trapp-like piano, guitars and solos in one brood, the cross-talking, finger-pointing and outbursts fray the nerves of character and audience alike. The play is a bit overstuffed with issues (homosexuality, pregnancy, alcoholism, et al.), but Headland ensures that each character gets an arc, which is most refreshing these days.

A sparkling 10-member cast beautifully navigates Annie Tippe’s pointed direction on Jeffrey McLaughlin’s homey set, festooned with Prop Master Michael O’Hara’s Christmas tchotchkes. As many times that we hear someone say they’re leaving and never coming back, how can they when this is the only kind of love they know from their family? I dare you not to have images of your own clan conjured up while watching IAMA Theatre Company’s intriguing, provocative world premiere.

photos by Dean Cechvala

Cult of Love
IAMA Theatre Company
Atwater Village Theatre, 3269 Casitas Ave.
Fri and Sat at 8; Sun at 7
ends on June 24, 2018
for tickets, call 323.380.8843 or visit IAMA

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