Theater Review: THE GIANT VOID IN MY SOUL (Ammunition Theatre Company at Pico Playhouse)

by Tony Frankel on May 20, 2018

in Theater-Los Angeles

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FILLING THE VOID IN L.A. THEATER

Neither my friend nor I were looking forward to this play — I mean, good grief, when I heard that it was about a couple of “fools” going on a journey to fill the void in one of the best friend’s soul… Well, frankly, it just sounded like forgettable, forced Fringe fare. By sheer luck, another show cancelled and I nabbed a pair of tickets with no intention of reviewing The Giant Void in My Soul. But last night, I made a daunting discovery: playwright Bernardo Cubría’s world premiere is, quite simply, brilliant. This is not only the best play in Los Angeles right now, but has filled the void in my soul caused by the dearth of great new plays. Thrillingly written, directed, and acted, it’s Beckett for the modern age, except the engrossing and funny quest for meaning and observational commentary doesn’t feel desultory or depressing, nor does it lead to suicidal silence.

Sans esotericism, this is pure existentialism, because Cubría acknowledges the absurd: His two main fools (the always surprising Karla Mosley and Kim Hamilton) are consistently seeking some sort of transcendence from the absurd itself. In this case, that absurdity comes in the form of trying to fill a void by drinking, procreation, religion and busy work. Sound familiar? This 85-minute one-act is the story of our lives.

The stage directions could easily be “Time Passes” as director Felix Solís — aided by two more remarkable fools, Claudia Doumit and Liza Fernandez in a variety of gender- and race-neutral roles — turns scenic designer Mark Kanieff’s appropriately minimalist playground (red curtains and ever-changing sawhorses) into a variety of locales (a saloon, a nursery, et al). Those who have been to the Pico Playhouse before won’t even recognize the playing area (the creative lighting designer is Lauren Wemischner).

But this is not Theatre of the Absurd, which concentrates on one’s failure to accept the absurd, leading to a lack of reconciliation. This journey goes somewhere. Humorous, insightful, and necessary, this is kind of a non-musical Stop the World — I Want to Get Off, the Newley-Bricusse show that gave us “What Kind of Fool Am I?” Don’t miss Ammunition Theatre Company’s tour-de-fools and embrace this Void. You’ll thank me. You’ll thank them. You’ll be thankful for being alive, and for theater. Plus, you’ll have a whole new appreciation for rubber chickens and red Tootsie Pops.

photos courtesy of ATC

The Giant Void in My Soul
Ammunition Theatre Company
Pico Playhouse, 10508 W. Pico Blvd
(between Overland and Beverly Glen)
Fri and Sat at 8; Sun at 7
ends on June 3, 2018
EXTENDED to June 10, 2018
for tickets, visit Event Bee
for more info, visit Ammunition Theatre

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