EST/LA Writers Strut Their Stuff

Leigh Kennicott Reviews - Theater
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EST/LA’s second series of one-acts begins with one of EST’s more renowned playwrights while introducing a young group of playwrights to strut their stuff. One cannot beat a play by Tom Lazarus; in this instance, helped along by edgy Lizzie Peet as Dana, with the inestimable Michael Mantell as Mitch. You must see it to really appreciate the subtlety of The Unraveling.

Sores by Stacy Osei-Fuffour is sabotaged by director Michael Shepperd, who doesn’t provide a third actor, no matter how inert that actor would have to be. The sensitive play confronts our shifting attitudes whenever a loved one enters the last stage of his or her life, and we must bear witness. Elijah R. Reed plays the young Arthur to Kimleigh Smith’s Ma as the two sit in a vigil to await a patient’s return to consciousness.

Dying love on the Rodeo circuit is the unusual theme of Cowgirls, by Mildred Inez Lewis, directed by Rachel Berney Needleman. The play is a meditation on cross-values that can thwart many a relationship. Ashley Romans is strong as rodeo performer D’Andria, and Sofia Correa plays her lover Lisette.

The Skateboard Play by Gabriela Ortega and directed by Shaina Rosenthal has a pair of teen boys feeling their ways through budding emotions. Anthoniy Garcia plays Luca and Marcos Ramirez Garcia is Andrew. Presumably, to get the parts, they both had to know how to skateboard.

The Long Drop by Astor Bonder and directed by Spoken Word artist, Hutchins Foster, is one of my two favorites in this grouping. Symbolic of the human need for connection, the setting is a porno theater over 20 years hence, when two men grope their way toward comfort with one another.  Ben Huth plays Philip and Clayton Farris is David.

Producers Christopher Reiling and Heather Robinson help the production staff work with a minimum of set pieces, properties, and lighting (Bradley Bentz). Costumes, helped by consultant Maggie Clapis, are efficient, and sound by Aaron Lyons proves to be essential.

EST/LA One-Acts continue weekends through June 10th; Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 P.M., Sundays at 2:00 P.M. at Ensemble Studio Theatre/LA, 3269 Casitas Ave., Atwater Village 90039. Reservations and tickets: $25 -17 (Students must show student ID at the door) at www.estlosangeles.org.