Theater Review: SCINTILLA (Road Theatre Company)

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by Maddalena Beltrami on May 1, 2023

in Theater-Los Angeles


Every generation has its gap. Currently millennials are annoyed that baby boomers wrecked the planet and baby boomers are annoyed that millennials are, well, annoying. Add to the mix the annoying offspring who see their role as having to be the boss of an aging parent and you have the ingredients for the new play Scintilla at the Road Theater in North Hollywood.

Krishna Smitha, Kris Frost

Written by Alessandro Camon and directed by Anna Hearn Tobolosky, Scintilla is set in a California wine country cabin with yet another raging forest fire looming nearby. Stephen Gifford’s set with beautiful wooden beams, the forest outside the windows, and pretty pines on each side of the stage is a marvel. Michael (a terrific Kris Frost) arrives from the city with his girlfriend Nora (adorable Krishna Smitha) to try and talk his artist mother Marianne (Taylor Gilbert) into fleeing the area. Marianne’s neighbor and former lover is Stanley (David Gianopoloulos), a Vietnam Vet with a bunker mentality — and a real one, too.  A knock on the door and enter a stranger Roberto (a deft Carlos Lacamara) who is a houseless person, not a homeless one, and his matter-of-fact traipse through his various jobs will teach you the difference. Marianne won’t leave her home despite the fire; what ensues is family secrets revealed and healed, especially her keeping a secret about Michael’s father.

David Gianopoulos, Krishna Smitha, Taylor Gilbert

Road’s Founding Artistic Director Taylor Gilbert takes a character and makes it her own with insight and humanity, just as she did in Beloved, which also played the Road. She sparkles with an internal light that is mesmerizing. Marianne’s argument for how one chooses to live when death is no longer an abstract concept is made emotionally raw by Gilbert.

Carlos Lacamara, Taylor Gilbert

Scintilla offers not only perspective but facts from all sides. In this cancel culture world we live in, Camon’s writing is a breath of fresh air, teaching us that we don’t always know where someone else is coming from — and that goes for global events as well as personal ones. It touches on deforestation, or lack thereof, and its role in the never-ending fires that have become so common place in California. With superb acting, the play is both funny and poignant, ratcheting up pressure like the fault lines which run under wine country. When a play can make you both think and feel, that’s as good as theater gets.

Carlos Lacamara, Taylor Gilbert, Kris Frost, Krishna Smitha

photos by Peggy McCartha

The Road Theatre Company
NoHo Senior Arts Colony, 10747 Magnolia Blvd. in North Hollywood
Fri and Sat at 8; Sun at 2
ends on June 4, 2023
for tickets, call 818.761.8838 or visit Road Theatre

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