"Sweet, melancholy... a memorable cast!"
-L.A. Weekly (Recommended!)

"Breath-catchingly tender." -BackStage West

Sacred Fools Theater Company presents
the Los Angeles Premiere of

by Adam Rapp
directed by Aaron Francis

Assistant Director:  David LM Mcintyre

Clockwise from top left: Joe Jordan, Scott Thewes & Ed Goodman An Existential Rock & Roll Comedy
Brandon Clark,
Joe Jordan,
Ed Goodman,
Maggie Marion,
Frankie Martinez
& Scott Thewes
Understudy:  Michael Hampton
It's good to feel
like you're a part
of something.

JANUARY 13 - FEBRUARY 19, 2005
Thursdays @ 8pm
Fridays & Saturdays @ 10:30pm
plus Monday, Jan. 31 @ 8pm

Opening wee
kend, Jan. 13-15: All shows @ 8pm
No performance Thurs, Jan. 20

Tickets: $15

Reservations: (310) 281-8337

Purchase Tickets Online!

L-R: Ed Goodman, Scott Thewes

Produced by Eric Werner & John Wuchte

e Manager: Hans Gelpke
Set Designers: Matt Scarpino & Aaron Francis
Sound Designer: Mark McClain Wilson
Lighting Designer:  Jason Mullen
Graphic Designer: Todd Francis
Publicity Photos: Desi Doyen


L.A. Weekly (Recommended!)

What to make of a play in which the two main characters (Scott Thewes and Ed Goodman) spend most of a winter night watching TV with three bowls of colored pills sitting before them, while a third (Michael Hampton) lies comatose on the floor in his undershorts? Adam Rapp’s sweet, melancholy one-act begins as a stoner-dude comedy but moves into the sadder realms of flattened dreams and fatal visions. Aaron Francis directs a memorable cast.

(See feature article below for more from this critic)

-- Steven Mikulan
©2005 L.A. Weekly

BackStage West

Voice-of-a-generation plays seem to appeal to their generations. But, boy, can they annoy the rest of us. Adam Rapp's tale of wasted lives, isolation, and drug use among the millennials probably does no less than Eugene O'Neill's and Edward Albee's did for their generations, but when we watch young lives wasted for absolutely no reason, it's all we can do not to yell at the onstage characters, "Take a shower and get a job."

With that admission, it's apparent that in this case the director and actors have done their jobs to perfection. We never doubt that the three, maybe four, young men occupying a filthy apartment are real, that they have lived in squalor and their drugged states for far too long. Director Aaron Francis takes a huge chance in allowing the piece to build slowly, in letting actors pause realistically before speaking. Once Ed Goodman, as the sped-up Staples, gets going, though, there's no stopping his fidgety, finger-snapping delivery, apparently precipitated by Staples' addition to "the pink pills." Staples can't step off the mucky sofa, which he shares with the slowed-down Scott Thewes as Chase, who is addicted to "the blue pills" and who can barely get a sentence together. Huge handfuls of these pills are hospitably served from large glass bowls. These two fancy themselves musicians; band practice must be a work of the imagination, however. Joe Jordan plays the violent, masochistic Lynch, taking delight in the pencil stuck through his foot. Michael Hampton's Speed lies on the floor throughout the play, rising only to pee against the living-room wall. Brandon Clark is the even lonelier nerdy neighbor. And Maggie Marion plays an 11-year-old girl who thinks she can change men just by coming up to their apartments and giving them hugs. Ouch. 

Actors throw themselves physically into the work: Marion roller-skates into the coffee table and falls hard on her rump. Tiny directorial touches add hugely to the production: An empty chips bag carefully placed in front of an armchair crackles revoltingly when an actor steps on it to be seated. That the band comes together in the penultimate moment--a fantasy scene showing either the "what if" or the "has been" of this group--is breath-catchingly tender; it seems unfair that these actors also have musical skills.

But somehow some of us are left humming, "What's the matter with kids today?"

-- Dany Margolies
©2005 BackStage West


L.A. Weekly

Dude, Where's My Life?

"I think of doing stuff sometimes? But I get tired."

To the unschooled ear this cri de coeur may sound like a California translation of French ennui, but those familiar with the sentiment will recognize it as a universal expression of dudespeak. This is the Esperanto of stoners, surfers, skateboarders and, in Adam Rapp's play Finer Noble Gases, of a pair of erstwhile musicians glued to a couch that is parked in front of a TV. It is a wintry night in New York's East Village, and Staples (Ed Goodman) and Chase (Scott Thewes) are frying on pills - specifically, from the three bowls of blues, pinks and yellows that sit on a table before them. We don't know much about these, except that the yellow ones are called pissers and all three pills are mighty powerful. Ask their roommate Speed (Michael Hampton), who lies glassy-eyed on the floor in his underpants, arms outstretched, a semi-comatose Christ.

Like Vladimir and Estragon (or, if you will, inert gases), Staples and Chase are rooted to one locale by their own choice, but are periodically visited by others. Lynch (Joe Jordan) is the more mobile of the four roommates, a brooding mountain man who looks more like he stepped in from a Norwegian folktale than off the F train. His foot is slowly going numb, but he still kicks in the TV on a whim. This creates what dramaturges like to call a "turning point" - a crisis that forces Staples and Chase, who have been languidly speaking in juvenile non sequiturs, to make decisions that will bring another TV to them. Their most immediate opportunity arrives in the form of Grey (Brandon Clark), a downstairs neighbor, who, in his Hush Puppies and brown suit, looks like Webster's definition of "square" and ripe for the robbing - even as he maintains a collection of throwing knives and the belief that he is some kind of secret agent. Later, the peripatetic Lynch brings home Dot (Maggie Marion), a waifish 11-year-old who's been left alone in a park and only moves about on roller skates.

Visually, Finer Noble Gases is familiar terrain - a frat-boy apartment landscape of moldy dishes and pyramided beer cans. This, combined with a drug-addled, Furry Freak Brothers worldview and Spicoli-inflected dialogue, presents the kind of bohemian send-up that pop culture has gleefully indulged in since TV took aim at beatniks. The dudespeak can get a bit thick at times - if, say, a character announces he's been in a nearby park, another needlessly clarifies by saying, "As in, the park park?")

However, playwright Rapp, whose haunting meditation on guilt, Nocturne, played at the Black Dahlia Theater last year, merely uses this grungy milieu as a backdrop. His story, when you push away the sight gags and his characters' slack-jawed sophistry, is really a sad eulogy for the dreams of youth. For Staples, Chase, Speed and Lynch were once all part of a rock band. They still have their instruments, which, huddled in a corner, silently mock their owners - near play's end, the men "rewind" and replay a moment from the past when they were lucid and playing their guitars and drums.

We never know what went wrong with the quartet to bring them to their near-catatonic state, but suspect that too much success didn't play a role. Perhaps the drugs brought them down, or maybe those bowls of pills came after the fall. Regardless, complaints of amnesia abound (Staples: "I used to . . . know a lot more stuff") along with confessions that the men feel they are turning into robots. Such feelings describe, though don't explain, their increasing detachment from the outside world. Staples and Chase, the two main characters, seem isolated even within their tiny apartment, marooned on the couch which they are loath to ever leave.

Director Aaron Francis works magic with a solid ensemble; even the smaller parts of Marion's doll-like Dot and Clark's frazzled Grey command our voyeuristic attention when Rapp focuses on them. My one quibble with this Sacred Fools production is that Rapp's dialogue for Staples and Chase is clearly written for characters younger than Goodman and Thewes, who simply cannot pass for the kind of kids - even burnt out as they may be - that their naive conversation marks them for. (There is no way Staples' and Chase's wide-eyed wonder about the most ordinary things would survive past their 20s.) Still, Goodman and Thewes are the soul of this production, and few moments in recent theater have been funnier than their efforts to re-orient their tattered couch toward a new TV - with Goodman straining to stand on the floor while Thewes "helps" by trying to levitate off the sofa whenever his friend pushes.

-- Steven Mikulan
©2005 L.A. Weekly