La Jolla Playhouse: At The Old Place

More plays like this should be produced

Heidi Armbruster is“Angie” Photo Jim Carmody.

La Jolla Playhouse had its world wide premiere of At The Old Place, written by Rachel Bonds, and directed by Jaime Castañeda, La Jolla Playhouse Artistic Director.

In times where there is a need from people and artists to write scripts that entail nonconformity or a form of unique expression, comes the play  At The Old Place, in a precise moment where the stage is also in desperate need of fresh air that includes a different motion. When I say -different-, I mean a simple topic that is universal. A topic with no cultural, geographic or age barriers. One which anybody could identify with.

Marcel Spears is“Will” and Brenna Coates is a“Jolene”. Photo Jim Carmody
This piece has four characters.  Heidi Armbruster is Angie, a poet that has lost her mother and comes to find that her brother has put their childhood home for sale. Angie lives in another state and decides to go back to the place where all the memories live. The house is a one- story that I consider, symbolizes the typical old school American home. With a front porche and lawn. When Angie's mother was alive, she would let the young neighbors Jolene (Brenna Coates) and Will (Marcel Spears) hang out in the lawn and even bring the party with alcohol and cigarettes. Angie has been at the house for a couple of days breathing the heavy nostalgia air. She hears the loud laughs and decides to go out to the porch. The teenagers work in a mobile company making it obvious to not be their great accomplishment. Jolene and Will have one another. She is the one with the strongest personality and defends Will showing a responsibility to protect him.
Marcel Spears, Heidi Armbruster and Brenna Coates. Photo de Jim Carmody
When Angie comes to the porch to question the racket, Jolene goes into defensive mode and is very apathetically rude. Will tries to calm the situation and apologizes. Angie feels tenderness for him and lets them continue with her mother's tradition, to hang out in the lawn and even joins the party! That moment marks the unfolding of the plot. Angie's problems come about and they go beyond the loss of her mother or her childhood home. At the same time, we see the story of each character. Jolene bares with abuse of authority from her boss but, decides to tough it out because she needs the job. Will is awaiting his brother's trial who is in jail for punching another kid that made fun of Will's homosexuality.
Harrison is a Faculty co-worker of Angie's and arrives surprisingly to find out what is to come next in her life and if he will be a part of it because, Angie is married. 

Lauren Helpern's set design is majestic. The house is...well, a house! The patio, perfectly set and the road to 'the street' which you cannot see but totally 'hear' due to a trail of rocks that the actors use to walk back and forth giving it the perfect effect of crossing or changing streets. All of this is thanks to the Direction of Jaime Castañeda, taking everybody's strengths and creating this complete package that is At The Old Place.

At The Old Place does not divide nor is a story that talks about a specific culture. (a tendency that is turning into a bad habit in today's theatre world). Anybody in any part of the world, can see themselves in this play, see their story onstage because it shows universal topics: Struggles at the workplace, with family, nostalgia as you grow up and move on, adult choices, etc.

A note needs to be taken in regards to the essence that  At The Old Place brings. That is what theatre is really about and what the language in theatre should be.

Heidi Armbruster is“Angie” and Benim Foster is a“Harrison”photo Jim Carmody

At The Old Place is playing until Sunday July 30th. Tickets start at $35 dollars and there is a lottery for $10 dollar tickets. For more information please click here.

If you would like to read this review in Spanish, please click here.

No comments:

Post a Comment