Review: ‘The Unseen’ at the Road Theatre
NORTH HOLLYWOOD – When you book a seat at The Road Theatre, you are always guaranteed a unique experience! Their undying dedication, talented actors, and fearless vision have captivated L.A. theatre-goers for 17 years. Multi-awarded and highly revered, they consistently inspire us to laugh, cry, feel or think (and sometimes confuse you), with their unique script choices. There are simply no mindless clunkers at “The Road.”
This disturbing and chillingly involving play is no exception. Written and directed with gut-wrenchingly eerie suspense by Craig Wright, the audience was collectively transfixed in a state of awe. (Directorial assistance by Scott Alan Smith and Elizabeth Sampson.) Such an unusual and hard-hitting concept, and so difficult to explainÉ I’m gonna cheat a bit by borrowing in part from the synopsis in my press release.
“A Kafka-esque, darkly humorous examination of faith in an uncertain worldÉ A psychological thriller about two tortured prisoners, incarcerated by a totalitarian regime, with no hope for escape or release.” Unable to see each other, two men communicate through cell walls, trying to keep their sanity for nine long years, by sharing horrific stories of their captors, and trying to work out a plan of escape. Curious noises and knocks between their cells indicate a mysterious new voiceless prisoner, captive between their cells, which piques their interest and heightens their hope. The only other human contact they are privy to is with “Smash,” a sadistic and violent guard who brings them crumbs to eat and empties their barbaric toilet pots.
A deeply engrossing, grotesquely unjust journey unfolds. The trio of excellent actors portraying these multi-layered roles is superb! As two solitary strangers who must rely on each other for their sanity, Matt Kirkwood as Valdez, “a regular guy,” and Darin Singleton as Wallace, “a superior mind,” give emotionally explosive performances that will linger in your mind for a long time to come. Douglas Dickerman, as the terrifyingly twisted prison guard, is also powerfully perfect! A terrific design team captured the mood with artistic genius! Desma Murphy’s stark prison set, David B. Marling’s thunderous sound, Jeremy Pivnick’s dismally dark lighting, and the costumes of Elizabeth BrandÉ all flawless! An incredible production (though not for the faint of heart), this is a must see for L.A. theatre buffs!