One of the best things about a Fringe Festival is its wide open, welcoming door for work that’s still in gestation.
Artists get to put developing shows on their feet with a shoestring — and audiences get to take part in the making of art. Half preview, half workshop, it can be invaluable for playmakers and a thrilling taste of what’s in the oven for playgoers.
Case in point: Consider the Night, by The Others Theatre Company. Three theatre artists found themselves reading novels from the same historical period, and had a happy thought: What if we told these stories as plays, and wove them together?
What they’ve got so far makes 45 minutes of engaging, intriguing theatre.
Director Kate Motzenbacher (one of the three writers) physically interweaves the stories on the small stage with fluid clarity. She’s already got a firm handle on how to tell these stories. And all seven actors do a remarkable job of bringing their characters to life on short notice, without knowing their full arcs.
To the writers’ credit, the characters are strongly drawn. Strongest is the revolucionaria La Pintada (co-author Linda Serrato Ybarra), who steps from her lover’s arms into her great-granddaughter’s story to become a feisty, interfering abuelita. Also strong is the elegant Madison Shepard (the third author), a silent mournful presence who eventually unwraps a wry tale of marital betrayal, then argues civilly with her suave husband (Kamar Elliott), then explodes in physical fury.
Jenya, a political volunteer, strives to emulate her Zapatista great-grandmother. But charmed by her handsome mentor, she ignores her ancestor’s dire warnings. Pamela Laurie earns Jenya’s progress from novice to pushy pro, from starry-eyed prey to independent woman, yet keeps her inner uncertainties alive. Stephen Shore nicely alternates a would-be player’s ego and the immature lover who hides behind it.
Good, clear work also comes from Donald Lett, as a tired but jovial coroner and an abandoned husband turned street drunk, and from Julie Morgentaler, as La Pintada’s frail lover and as an Ariel-like presence who flits through scenes, sometimes silent, sometimes singing the blues.
The uncredited set and lighting designs keep things simple — clear playing areas and the bare minimum of set pieces and props, letting the stories flow easily.
This work isn’t finished. It ends unresolved, leaving us eager for more. And while its stories are interweaving well, some of their thematic resonances still wait to be found. Given what the creative team has shown us, though, there’s little doubt they’ll uncover the remaining pearls.
Consider the Night, by Linda Serrato Ybarra, Madison Shepard and Kate Motzenbacher, directed by Kate Motzenbacher.
Presented by The Others Theater Company in the Dorie Theater at the Complex, 6476 Santa Monica Blvd.
June 20 at 10:30 pm, June 22nd at 6 pm, June 28 at 7:30 pm.