If You Want to Know What's Wrong with Society, Go See Quack

Leigh Kennicott Reviews - Theater

Anybody remember in the comic Pogo when he said, “We have identified the enemy and it is us”? Now playwright Eliza Elliott skewers our celebrity culture and its empty totums in Quack, where we come face-to-face with our own culpability in creating them. CTG Associate Artistic Director Neel Keeler helmed this fast-moving production, which boasts a top-notch cast beginning with Dan Bucatensky as Dr. Irving Baer, a “Dr. Phil” like TV celebrity.

Now at the top of his game with TV ratings through the roof, Dr. Baer boasts a busy wife (Jessalyn Gilsig) and a sexy assistant (Jackie Chung). Life could not be sweeter, until a damaging article about him breaks. The trouble is, some of the accusations are true. The mystery deepens as Dr. Baer searches for the source of information provided to River (Shoniqua Shandai), the journalist.

As the mystery unfolds, Dr. Baer steadily incriminates himself due to his towering narcissism and unwarranted confidence. Finally, his plans to justify his actions go awry when he aligns with another self-help guru, Brock (Nicholas D’Agosto). Throughout, both his wife, Meredith, and his assistant, Kelly, react to him in different ways: Meredith is defiant while Kelly is obsequious. Only when the River arrives, do we begin to see reality behind everyone’s facades.

Eliza Clark writes with subtlety, shining the light on the penchant to center our actions from the standpoint of our own self-interests. But she also brings a theatrical sense to the play when Dane Laffrey’s deceptively simple one-set design takes an extraordinary turn that fills in what the text cannot provide. Costumes by Raquel Barreto place the characters firmly in their television milieu, while lighting and sound by Elizabeth Harper and Robbin E. Broad, respectively, pull the totality together.

Quack continues through November 18S, 2018 at the Kirk Douglas Theatre, 9820 Washington Blvd., Culver City CA. Performances run Tuesdays through Fridays at 8:00 pm; Saturdays at 2:00 and 8:00 Sundays at 1:00 and 6:30 pm, Tickets, $25.00 to 70.00. Phone (213) 628-2772 or online at  www.CenterTheatreGroup.org.