Los Angeles Theater Review: REVELATION (Elephant Theatre Company in Hollywood)

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by Tom Chaits on July 26, 2013

in Theater-Los Angeles

RUPTURED RAPTURE

Attending the opening night of a comedy at one of the smaller 99 seat theaters in Los Angeles can be problematic. In addition to a minute smattering of critics and avid theatergoers, the audience is primarily made up of friends of the cast and Tom Chaits’ Stage and Cinema review of Elephant Theatre Company’s world premiere of Samuel Brett Williams’ REVELATION at the Lillian Theatre in Hollywood.members of the theater company.  Therein lies the rub.  Evidently familiarity breeds hilarity.  A line which would normally be greeted with a grin receives a knee-slapping guffaw.  When an actor lands a genuinely hysterical line the laugher shifts into high gear and the rafters shake.  All this hooting and hollering is a major distraction leaving the unacquainted feeling left out and diminishing their overall theatrical experience.  Such was the case with Elephant Theatre Company’s world premiere production of Samuel Brett William’s Revelation.

Rebecca (Zibby Allen) and Dan (Micah Cohen) are in the throes of passion when neighbor Brandon (Marco Naggar) busts in proclaiming the world is coming to an end.  Talk about your coitus interruptus.  At first skeptical, a look outside confirms Tom Chaits’ Stage and Cinema review of Elephant Theatre Company’s world premiere of Samuel Brett Williams’ REVELATION at the Lillian Theatre in Hollywood.that the apocalypse is in fact in full bloom and the Rapture has begun.  The worthy are being sucked up to heaven and everyone else is left to suffer a horrific demise.  Brandon’s uber-Christian father has taught him to prepare for such an event and instructed him that when the End of Days arrives he should flee NYC for Arkansas which he claims is destined to become the new Jerusalem.  So, Rebecca and Brandon set out on their multi-state pilgrimage to the promised land encountering all manner of depravity, danger, death, despair and predatory pervs (gleefully overplayed by Carolina Espiro, John Charles Meyer, Patrick Pankhurst, Chloe Peterson, Etienne Eckert and Tony Gatto) along the way.

Tom Chaits’ Stage and Cinema review of Elephant Theatre Company’s world premiere of Samuel Brett Williams’ REVELATION at the Lillian Theatre in Hollywood.Mr. Williams’ script is both clever and mundane.  The situational humor works quite well but he peppers the script with a few too many groaners; traditional set-up/punch line scenarios are so obvious they scream out for a rim shot.  His interesting cast of characters really doesn’t need such blatant displays of “gee-aren’t-I-funny-itis.”

Under the direction of Lindsay Allbaugh, the performances start out grounded in some sort of reality which suits the material well.  When the actors play it straight the absurdity of the piece can really be driven home.  Unfortunately as the 90 Tom Chaits’ Stage and Cinema review of Elephant Theatre Company’s world premiere of Samuel Brett Williams’ REVELATION at the Lillian Theatre in Hollywood.minutes unfold, the actors began to broaden their interpretations and by the end their work borders on the cartoonish, weakening the impact.  It is hard to say whether this was a directorial choice or if the actors were egged on by the audience’s raucous and ribald reactions to everything they were doing.  When spectators are rolling in the aisles, it’s easy for the cast to get caught up and go completely over the top resorting to the “if you thought that was funny… wait until you see this” school of acting.  Hopefully with a less rowdy crowd or a stern scolding from the director they can reel themselves in and show some restraint for the rest of the run.

Jeffrey P. Eisenmann’s set is reminiscent of a scaled-down version of Rent with multi-level scaffolding offering a variety of entrances, exits and performance areas.  It is an extremely raw interpretation and not at all pleasing to the eye but Tom Chaits’ Stage and Cinema review of Elephant Theatre Company’s world premiere of Samuel Brett Williams’ REVELATION at the Lillian Theatre in Hollywood.considering the world is imploding the decrepit and decaying display is fitting.  Matt Richter’s lighting and Peter Bayne’s compositions and sound design accomplish what they need to.

I am tempted to attend another performance of Revelation once the “friends and family” laugh track has died down and the actors have settled in to playing the situation and not the joke.  Mr. Williams appears to be on to something here but the overbearing opening night chuckle-fest I sat through made it impossible to tell for sure.

Tom Chaits’ Stage and Cinema review of Elephant Theatre Company’s world premiere of Samuel Brett Williams’ REVELATION at the Lillian Theatre in Hollywood.photos by Joel Daavid

Revelation
Elephant Theatre Company
Lillian Theatre
Elephant Stages in Hollywood
scheduled to end on August 25, 2013
for tickets, call (855) NOFORGET [663-6743]
or visit http://www.ElephantTheatre.org

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

John Topping August 1, 2013 at 6:39 pm

I wish every theater producer large and small in LA and NYC would read this review and take heed. In addition to overly-kind opening night audiences, there is the equally bad and often worse practice of papering a press performance with people instructed to over-laugh and display too much undeserved enthusiasm. It does more to turn one against the play than endear one to it.

Interesting that the set is so un-pleasing to the eye when the Saul Bass-esque poster is so beautiful.

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