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|A CurtainUp Los Angeles Review
Lydia in Bed
By Ariana Mufson
Kiyomura creates a fractured structure and plot with Lydia (Millie Chow) and her boyfriend Bob (Kioymura, in an understated and believable performance) at the center. Lydia finds herself intrigued by Bob's father, Grave (Phil Ward) and they embark on a secret sexual relationship, despite Bob. The key to the drama is in the structure of repeated scenes. At times, we move backwards, although ultimately we find ourselves watching an evolving story.. Although parts, including the ending, remain confusing, the fractured nature of the plot serves its purpose of making us question our own relationships and emotional truths.
For the most part the casting works. Kiyomura proves himself not only an adept playwright but an excellent actor. Millie Chow's Lydia at first seems a little old to play a college freshman, with habits that seemed almost teenaged (like biting her hair) in an effort to appear younger. However, as the play progresses so does her stage presence.
Dialogue, especially between the younger couples, is a strong point for Kiyomura . At one point Lydia and Bob are in bed, flirting as young lovers do, and Bob can't quite think of the right words, as college aged boys often can't. "You're great," he tells Lydia. Realizing how silly that sounds he adds, "Very passionate." She quickly responds with a grin and "I'm Latin." Moments like these ring true, and hit at the core theme-- how hard it is to find real emotional intimacy.
The humor present throughout is a testament to Kiyomura's writing. For instance, when Grave pressures Bob to smoke more weed he protests "No more-I'm too high" and Grave drolly,replies "It can't happen, Bob." It's to the playwright's credit that he recognizes the humor in disturbing and dark subject matter and uses it to make the material more accessible to those who might be repulsed or shy away.
As noted in the program, this play is for adults only. Strong language and drug use are present. There is also constant nudity which not only catches the viewers off guard but forces them to examine their own reactions. The nudity also reveals the characters' vulnerability of the characters. Still, exposed to nudity as excessively as we are here, we almost became numb to it. Had it been used more sparingly, it would have captured our attention and feelings to a heightened degree.
Kiyomura still has some kinks to work out. The length of the scenes could have been more varied. Longer moments would have helped the audience make a deeper connection to the characters, especially in adding more scenes between Lydia and Bob. We do not fully get to know the characters in the first act, which prevents us from being drawn in emotionally. The character of Reesa (Lauren Letherer) is never quite developed, nor is that of Janeane (Alina Phelan or Heather Witt). Furthermore, the ending leaves us unsure about some of the characters' motivations.
Despite the extreme situations, the humanity of the characters shines through and the play's ambitious intent is admirable. Kiyomura forces us to wonder about our own lives. As I heard one audience member whisper to a friend, "Aren't you glad we're in normal relationships?" The subtext to his question, in light of the play, was obvious: we may not be so sure.
Retold by Tina Packer of Shakespeare & Co.
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