Jeff Smith 12:01 p.m., March 29
Some of San Diego's better theater groups don't have permanent homes. The La Jolla Playhouse's new Resident Theater Company program - thanks to artistic director Christopher Ashley - has given Mo`olelo Performing Arts a place to stage its awareness-raising works. The inaugural drama, by Susan Yankowitz, goes inside the mind of a woman suffering from aphasia. Anna teaches astronomy: infinite space, dark matter, black holes. An auto accident damages her left brain, the language center: she can't match a word to an object or a thought (at one point a speech therapist illustrates the anguish by asking audience members to pronounce their names backwards). The subject arrests, especially if you know Yankowitz based it on theater legend Joseph Chaikin's communication disorder (years ago, Chaikin came to Sushi and read his and Sam Shepard's War in Heaven as best he could, unforgettably). The text, however, has gaps and, frankly, bad writing (the husband-wife relationship feels forced both ways: the ardent loving couple and the "bitch/loser" tirades don't connect with each other; frequent lectures on the wonders of space hammer home the obvious). Like Arthur Kopit's Wings, about a similar phenomenon, the story's predictable. Mo`olelo wrestles with the script, which earns, then loses dramatic tension. The production has a big plus, however. Seema Sueko puts you inside the mind of "Anna Aphasia": the horrific shock, frustrating therapy, lacerated dreams, living hopes, and, most of all, how it feels to be so cut adrift in one's inner space that words feel as far away as stars in the night sky.
Worth a try.
When: Ongoing until Sunday, September 21, 2008
- Sundays, 2:30pm
- Fridays, 7:30pm
- Saturdays, 7:30pm