6539 Santa Monica
Through Dec. 18
Fri, Sat. 8 PM;
Sun. 3 PM
By Allen Bacon
The Daily Bosco
I'm not sure what I was expecting when I settled in to watch Sam Holcroft's Cockroach, the latest offering by Monkey Wrench Collective at the Hudson Guild in Los Angeles.
I thought maybe I was going to see the British version of the Breakfast Club crossed with To Sir With Love or any of those fill-in-the-blank British bad boy and girl juvenile delinquent movies from the early 60's and maybe a little Stand And Deliver.
As was extremely evident from the first frenetic, intense and hectic in-your-face opening minutes of the play, there is no comparison to be made to the aforementioned and we were going to be in for a roller coaster of a ride.
The entire cast does a wonderful job bringing Holcroft's rich characters, dialogues and monologues to life. Whether it is Katelyn Gault's Leah, Kourtni Pollard's Mmoma, Kyra Kiener's teacher Beth, Alexander Price's Lee, Kevin Shewey's Davey or Adele Heather Taylor's Danielle...these are all top-notch performances by an ensemble that works wonderfully as single performers or as the sum of their parts.
In a sea of great performances here, my favorite is the performance of relative newcomer Pollard as Mmoma. I love the scene where a lonely Mmoma, who is the odd person out because everybody including the teacher is in a relationship...manufactures a love interest out of an old used and bloody army uniform and talks, dances, and sings, beautifully I might add, the theme to "Love Story" to the imagined boyfriend. So much is conveyed in that scene, brilliantly written by Holcroft. That scene is worth the price of admission alone.
I'm not going to go into detail on the intricacies of the script and the scenes because I want you to explore and discover that on your own. But here's the skinny...You take five angry punk high school kids with issues serving detention with a perturbed teacher who would rather be someplace else. Place the six people in a small confined area with a major war raging on in the real world outside. That's like a petrie dish experiment waiting to happen and it does in Cockroach.
I always marvel how Monkey Wrench Collective does so much with such a small area to work with. This play is perfect for the venue because the audience is thrust into the class room and never leaves...it doesn't have to. Great work by Director Christopher Basile at not only directing this group and creating a perfect storm of activity but for his great yet simple set design of the classroom in an intimate setting. Also, great and on cue lighting design and execution by Dan Weingarten. Not to mention a great sound track of music.
It seems like I say this every time I see a Monkey Wrench production and it bears saying it again. The group under the direction of Dave Barton, Bryan Jennings, Greg Adkins and Alexander Price really go out of their way to find the freshest, and newest plays out there for us to see. Think about it. While most other theaters in are doing tried, true, and the familiar this is the theater you come for to see something new. Outside of the UK, this play had never been seen in the US before. So kudos to MWC for taking the chance with this.