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ROGUE MACHINE'S TREEFALL @THEATRE THEATER - A BRILLIANT NEW WORK FROM HENRY MURRAY
By Mike Buzzelli
08/03/2009 09:19:41 AM


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Playwright Henry Murray posits the question, “What makes a family?” in his bold new world premiere play, Treefall.

August (West Liang), Flynn (Brian Norris) and Craig (Brian Pugach) are living as a family in a one room cabin in the Pacific Northwest. The world is dying around them. Dead trees are falling. Plagues, dirty bombs and global warming have overcome the Earth.

Flynn and August pose as father and mother to young Craig, respectively. Flynn has been taking care of his family unit since his mother’s disappearance when he was a young lad of ten.

They are nave boys in men’s bodies, still playing house to survive. When Bug (Tania Verafield) enters their lives, she upsets the dynamic, and everything changes.

August is sick of playing mother to whiny Craig. He wants to get out and see what’s left of the world. Bug is a traveler. She hasn’t stayed in one place for very long, and August wants to leave with her.

Bug’s arrival opens up a love quadrangle. Flynn is in love with August. August wants Bug. Craig wants Flynn. Bug doesn’t want to be bothered.

Though it’s billed as a post-apocolayptic science fiction, it’s really about human relationships. There is nothing science-fictiony about this play. Do not let the words “sci-fi” or “post-apocolayptic” dissuade you from seeing this amazing show.

It’s a brilliant new work from Murray. There is a deep layered story with deep layered performances.

Norris, much praised here in Rogue Machine’s play, Bingo with the Indians, does another stellar job. He brings a beautiful nuanced performance.

August opens up to Bug as the two of them get hammered on a bottle of whiskey; it’s an amazing performance from the two actors. Liang’s sullen, angry character gets to have a few goofy moments and it’s a joy to watch.

Verafield is a surprise. It’s hard to match her headshot with the performer. The beautiful woman is unrecognizable as the androgynous grimy Bug. After many productions of As You Like It, seeing women dressing up like men is never very believable (Lucille Ball dressed like a dude and always kept the red lipstick on, what’s up with that?). Verafield is a fine exception to the rule; she wears the man drag convincingly.

Pugach is a talented young boy. He is intense and charismatic. It’s a tough role, but it would be hard to imagine anyone else playing it. See him now and you will be able brag to your friends, “I saw him before he became a star.”

Director John Perrin Flynn breaks the mold. He is talented and humble (in Los Angeles, you will rarely see those words together).
It would be impossible to write a review about this play and not mention the set. Stephanie Kerley Schwartz Mad Max meets Swiss Family Robinson Tree house design is spectacular.

To quote John Perrin Flynn from a recent LA Stage article, “Some people believe theatre is dyingl the audiences are aging, new audiences are not being developed; theatre has lost its relevancy yet, across America, there are theatre companies that inspire excitement in their communities, some of these theatres have even achieved national prominence.”

Rogue Machine is always pushing the envelope, exciting audiences, and should be hitting on national prominence any minute now.

Fall into a seat at the Theatre Theater on Pico and catch the compelling new work, Treefall.

--Mike Buzzelli

Treefall runs from July 30 to September 6 at Theatre Theater, 5041 Pico Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90019.




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