Presented by SON OF SEMELE ENSEMBLE at the ATWATER VILLAGE THEATRE
I WOULD NEVER SEE IT BECAUSE: Another holocaust play? Wow, I’m so excited to be uplifted by such a bucket of yuks. I’d TOTALLY go out but instead I figured I’d have more fun shutting myself in the fridge and crying into the butter dish.
THAT’S NOT FAIR BECAUSE: Okay, I get it, you have a point there. The topic is emotional kryptonite and I’m not gonna lie, I was in a minefield of feels throughout.
But I’m not going out of my way to advocate this work just because it made me feel feelings again.
SO WHY SHOULD I SEE IT?
I witnessed a hauntingly beautiful evening exploring a full life circle of an archetypal Polish class, documenting the savage darkness of humanity into to which some people are pushed during extraordinary times. I saw a deeply connected ensemble explore, through the personal invocation of palpable decades of time, a rich, expressionist portrait of Polish life. I enjoyed a visceral thrill ride of the senses, fortified with music, powered by breakneck group storytelling that transcended the specificity of time and place to offer a patently relatable glimpse at the totality of life.
WHAT AREN’T YOU TELLING ME?
Yeah, it’s a bit of a long show, and I was already damn near emotionally crippled at intermission. It took some serious prodding to get me back in there to wrestle with the second half, but I felt rewarded for going along on the journey. Personally, I felt an instant kinship with the class and that made me care enough to ride along. I can see how, if you’re struggling with personal history on the topic or just don’t groove with the cast, you may be a shade out of the experience to enjoy it.
You are not presented with the option to sit quietly in the back of a dark room and quietly judge events; you are implicated from the jump, seated in a single ring of chairs around the almost gladiatorial arena where the action takes place. This may be too much for you. If I’d have known the harsh intimacy of the piece going in, it may have been too much for me. Bravery, here, is rewarded.
There still isn’t a GREAT place to eat before the show, and the parking sitch is pretty much street parking. The area (Atwater Village Theatre - NOT the SOSE space in Echo Park) is far more generous for nearby parking than, say, Theatre Row in Hollywood, but you’ll wanna get there a little early.
Your best bet for nibbles - for convenience factor alone- is the Atwater Crossing Kitchen. They have a decent selection of dinner-type fixin’s, although I haven’t eaten there in a few months. It’s an open-air cafe with a super hip vibe, almost like a San Francisco bistro gastropub. There may be spoken word performers or some music in the bar area, so, yeah, there’s that. Otherwise, you’re not horribly far away from the Red Lion and that collection of fun Glendale Blvd. bars and restaurants, which is probably where you’ll be going to drink and chat when you’ve finished crying post-show.
SO WHAT DID YOU THINK?
I was moved to tears. This is my kind of theatre, where ten people take complete control over their space and build in and around it a vital and essential story. I never noticed the time, mostly because of the brilliantly multifaceted performances, but also because of the depth of the work. I left feeling as though I’d lived ninety years through some of the darkest times in the history of a country of which I frankly knew little to begin with.
I should also mention that I have nothing to say about the cast except that they were magnificent, every one. What a brilliant group.
For more opinion, check out the Bitter Lemons review page for Our Class.
The show is closing after the next couple performances, so get out there!