WEST COAST PREMIERE! In the dark we hear a lone electric cello. We discover a crumbling, tattered, discordant planet earth, decades after most of her original inhabitants have become extinct or moved on to greener pastures on the red planet. Those humans who remain are either hopelessly irradiated... or not human at all.
This show includes partial nudity and live gunfire - Mature Audiences Only
"PICK OF THE WEEK... inventively cinematic staging... an unusually fine ensemble... capture[s] all the nuanced terms of Dick's allegory." -L.A. Weekly
"...immediately ensconces and transports you... Philip K. Dick fans will find this show a must-see... an engrossing theatrical experience... a sterling cast... An excellent show." -ArtsBeat L.A.
"...a wondrous staging... the artistic and technical crews complement one another seamlessly in serving the story... The excellent choreography of actors, stagehands, and crew sustains the needed illusions through split-second timing... Director Jaime Robledo marshals a strong cast and crew... The one-act clocks in at a crisp ninety minutes and leaves us wanting more." -Backscatter
"Director Jaime Robledo brings his considerable talents to bear on the worthy and respectful production... fans of Philip K. Dick should find it to be a solid adaptation." -LAist
"It just about breaks your heart." -Mavervorl Media
WINNER OF L.A. WEEKLY AWARDS!
Lighting Design - Matt Richter
Projection Design - Anthony Backman, Ben Rock & Jim Pierce
PLUS SIX L.A. WEEKLY AWARD NOMINATIONS!
Production of the Year
Leading Female Performance - Kimberly Atkinson
Costume Design - Linda Muggeridge
Set Design - DeAnne Millais
Sound Design - Ben Rock
Photos by Jessica Sherman Photography
Eric Curtis Johnson as Rick Deckard
Emily Kosloski as Luna Luft
Lynn Odell as Iran Deckard
Corey Klemow as J.R. Isidore
Kimberly Atkinson as Rachael Rosen / Pris Stratton
Marz Richards as Buster Friendly
Rafael Goldstein as Roy Baty
Bruno Oliver as Bryant
Mandi Moss as Phillipa Ryan
Carlos Larkin as Rick Deckard / Roy Baty
Aviva Pressman as Luna Luft
Lauren Van Kurin as Iran Deckard
Joseph Beck as J.R. Isidore / Buster Friendly
Carrie Keranen as Rachael Rosen / Pris Stratton / Phillipa Ryan
Abraham Benrubi as Bryant
Lead Producer - Brian Wallis
Associate Producers - West Perkinson & Isaac Deakyne
Stage Manager - Bebe Herrera
Set Designer / Design Coordinator - DeAnne Millais
Music Performed & Recorded by - Michael Roth
Lighting Designer - Matt Richter
Projection Designers - Anthony Backman, Ben Rock & Jim Pierce
Motion Graphics Designer - Hat & Suitcase
Film Segment Associate - Jay Bogdanowitsch
Sound Designer - Ben Rock
Props Designer - Tifanie McQueen
Costume Designer - Linda Muggeridge
Makeup Designer - Amanda Rodil
Sheep Puppet Constructed by - Barry Weil (Evolve Company, New York)
Lead Builder - Joshua Benton
Lead Scenic Painter - Maria Bjorkdahl
Design Assistant - Elizabeth McIntyre
Stunt/Fight Coordinator - Andrew Amani
Publicity Photographer - Jessica Sherman Photography
Graphic Designer - Adam Bitterman
Any adaptation of a novel is a compromise of approximation whose objective should be to faithfully capture the spirit and ideas of the prose in a dramatically compelling way. Which is why Philip K. Dick fans, who have repeatedly suffered the indignity of having their favorite sci-fi author plundered by dumbed-down Hollywood blockbusters, will cheer adapter Edward Einhorn's 2010, high-fidelity transliteration of Dick's wryly ironic, psychedelic, 1968 hall of mirrors. The time is a war-ravaged future in which the question of what it means to be human has been vastly complicated by a band of renegade androids passing themselves off as flesh-and-blood (it's the source material for Blade Runner). Freelance assassin Rick Deckard (Eric Curtis Johnson), a man who relies on a mood device to feel anything at all, is charged with weeding the imposters from the populace via administering "empathy tests" and summary execution. Suffice it to say that nothing is what it seems. Jaime Robledo's inventively cinematic staging (on DeAnne Millais' computer-detritus set) and an unusually fine ensemble (including Lynn Odell, Corey Klemow, Marz Richards and Rafael Goldstein) capture all the nuanced terms of Dick's allegory. But the real discovery of the evening is Kimberly Atkinson and her subtly delineated dual turn as the doppelgangers Rachael Rosen and Pris Stratton.
© 2013 L.A. Weekly
Late great science fiction author Philip K. Dick's two thematic questions that ran through almost all of his work were "What is reality" and "What does it mean to be human?" While his novel The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch is an example of the former question, a nightmarish tale of drug users on the ultimate unending bad trip, his book Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? deals effectively with the latter question. Famously the source material for the great film Blade Runner, the book has been faithfully adapted by Edward Einhorn into a play which is receiving its west coast premiere at Sacred Fools. Director Jaime Robledo brings his considerable talents to bear on the worthy and respectful production, but a couple of ill-judged performances and staging issues keep the show from achieving its full potential.
In a future, postwar America, radioactive fallout has killed most animals and people are exhorted to emigrate to Mars, where androids are used as slave labor. Sometimes these androids escape, however, and it's Rick Deckard's (Eric Curtis Johnson) job to discover and kill them. Unfortunately, these androids are almost indistinguishable from humans, which makes his job tricky and dangerous. He's assigned to investigate famous singer Luna Luft (Emily Kosloski), but only after meeting representative Rachael Rosen (Kimberly Atkinson) from the android creation company. Meanwhile, well-meaning but mentally damaged pet shop employee Isidore (Corey Klemow) has to adjust to the presence of two mysterious people in his previously empty building, the seductive Pris (Atkinson) and the grim Roy (Rafael Goldstein), whose arrival doesn't portend anything good for Rick.
I understand that the character of Rick is supposed to question his own humanity in the course of the story, but unfortunately Johnson's performance never convinced me of any aspect of the role, from being a hired killer to ultimately someone looking for something to love. On the other hand, I thought Klemow gave the best performance I've seem him give in years of working with Sacred Fools. He's sympathetic and utterly believable as the genuinely moral Isidore, seeming like he walked right off the pages of the novel. Kosloski is sly and impressive as the deceptive Luna, and her singing voice is gorgeous. Atkinson does detailed and strong work as both Pris and Rachael, but Goldstein's portrayal of Roy regrettably reduces the part to a single note of repeated menace. Marz Richards is admirably overblown and obsequious as TV personality Buster Friendly, and Lynn Odell, Bruno Oliver and Mandi Moss round out a strong ensemble.
Director Robledo dexterously manages to keep focus on the many facets of the play, from the detective story to the philosophical questions of what makes one human, from creating a convincing future world to the religious and moral imperative of empathy. He also uses multimedia technology very effectively, and a sequence where Rick uses his car to travel through the town seems like a film special effects scene come to life. My only quibble is that the gaps in the action during the scene changes create a great deal of inertia, causing the play to strain to have to continually regain its momentum. Perhaps some video or other business could be used to bridge these gaps? Einhorn's adaptation manages efficiently to condense the action and all the disparate themes of the novel into a short play, but I think more time spent on some of the supporting characters such as Roy and Rachael might have increased the dramatic impact. Overall, Androids is a good if imperfect show, but fans of Philip K. Dick should find it to be a solid adaptation.
© 2013 LAist
Philip K. Dick‘s novels have led to several visually stunning, iconic films. It is difficult to imagine how his sprawling stories could be adapted to the limits of a small theatre but the Sacred Fools have pulled it off with a wondrous staging of “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” Those of us who know Dick only through film need to take Edward Einhorn’s adaptation on faith. It was a prescient work. After a dozen years of forced-marching to dystopia, we have arrived in Dick’s bleak vision for the world. The hardware androids have a little ways to go yet but the software versions are there and getting better. His predictions about mass media have been met and depressingly exceeded.
The production very smartly uses video and a multilevel set to weave threads of freedom, faith, and the disappearing line between man and machine. Robots and humans test one another to see which is which and to determine which should live. All the while hidden powers and voices consolidate power and control ever scarcer resources on a post-nuclear earth. At the sheep level, Androids want to be equal to humans, exhausted humans are not sure whether it matters any longer.
Technology and theatre don’t always mix well with the flash often becoming an end unto itself. Here the artistic and technical crews complement one another seamlessly in serving the story. The carcasses of discarded computers, each once the top of the technological heap, lie in the public and playing spaces. Video screens and dark, static-filled projections convincingly allow the characters to be poke, prod, and investigate one another and to quickly snap the audience’s attention from one location to the next with a simple turn of the head. The excellent choreography of actors, stagehands, and crew sustains the needed illusions through split-second timing. Even the props glow, chirp, and beep exactly on cue. All of this is necessary. This could not be a radio play. Coherent visuals, sound, and design language – typical of Theatre Movement Bazaar, City Garage, and the late, lamented Collective – make or break works like this and could not have been easy. It would be interesting to know how much of this had been worked out in the 2010 New York premiere.
Director Jaime Robledo marshals a strong cast and crew with Kimberly Atkinson shining as Rachael/Pris, the robot your mother warned you about. Eric Curtis Johnson is nicely hang-dog as bounty hunter Deckard. One wonders how it may have played if he switched roles with Rafael Goldstein‘s revolutionary Roy Baty. Henry Akona‘s haunting score, heard through recordings, offer instrumentals that frame the story. The songs in the Pierrot Lunaire style sung by the appropriately named Luna Luft (Emily Kosloski) are a matter of taste but should be popular with the young people. Singling out the crew is unfortunately difficult. Leaving any of them out would be unkind, repeating the list from the website would be lazy. Seeing the play is the best acknowledgment of their efforts.
The twists and turns require the audience to prepare and stay focused. This was also the case in Robledo’s recent Sherlock Holmes outing especially with reference to the power of suggestion and memory but “Androids” offers far more to assemble and digest on the drive home and beyond. Familiarity with the novel is of course the best option. Failing that, assimilating a synopsis will be time well spent. It all goes well beyond the recursive ‘guess the robot’ game and into the heart of memory, empathy, and what we think sets humans apart from other life and mechanistic approximations of life. The one-act clocks in at a crisp ninety minutes and leaves us wanting more. A longer version would better flesh out the ideas but intermission would break the magic. The ideas are, in turn, no longer the realm of fantasy. The Tonegawa group at MIT has successfully implanted false memories in mice by manipulating the animals’ hippocampi. Their abstract chillingly concludes, “Our data demonstrate that it is possible to generate an internally represented and behaviorally expressed fear memory via artificial means.” It will not be long before the ethical issues raised by Dick will have to be confronted for larger life forms.
© 2013 Backscatter
Creating a mysterious, melancholy and futuristic world that immediately ensconces and transports you, Edward Einhorn has brilliantly adapted novelist Philip K. Dick’s 1968 existential science-noir tale for the stage. The same source material was famously turned into Ridley Scott’s iconic 80s movie Blade Runner. Not having yet read the book, I imagine this stage adaptation is more true to the source material than the movie was, so Philip K. Dick fans will find this show a must-see.
Eric Curtis Johnson plays freelance bounty hunter Rick Deckard who’s on the case to track down and eliminate some rogue androids. There’s a touch of the world weary, hard-boiled P.I. to him as he not only tries to demarcate between humans and androids, but questions the elusive nature of human existence.
Director Jaime Robledo brings his characteristically multi-layered creative approach to his staging. DeAnne Millais’ set is a bleak and dystopian clutter of video screens and detritus. Deckard is first seen cradling the large, electronic head of a sheep, sobbing as he pines for a real live pet. A new assassination contract just may get him what he desires. Michael Roth’s original music perfectly sets the mood.
Robledo has fashioned an engrossing theatrical experience where the excellent technical specs are matched by his well-selected and talented cast.
Portraying singer and celebrity Luna Luft, Emily Kosloski sends thrills up the spine with her soaring operatic arias; they are atonal, modern and her phrasing is exquisite. Corey Klemow as the nervy loner Isidore is superb, too. Kimberly Atkinson gives a brilliant performance playing doppelganger androids with the right balance of delineation and ambiguity. Rafael Goldstein as the menacing Roy was fantastic, too. It’s a sterling cast.
An excellent show.
© 2013 Backscatter
Wisdom from A Chicken-Head
When we get past its dystopian, tech-heavy filter, science fiction becomes a mirror. It tells us a lot more about our own dystopian, tech-heavy present than it ever could about the future. In the west coast premiere of Edward Einhorn’s stage adaptation of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, bounty hunter Rick Deckard chases himself as hard as he does those canny Nexus-6s.
Deckard (Eric Curtis Johnson in a performance appropriately uninspired by Harrison Ford) tries to find meaning in his own life while “retiring” the lives of several androids. Yet the ‘droids (“skinjobs” and “replicants” in “Blade Runner,” “toasters” in the reboot of “Battlestar Galactica,” “machines” in “The Matrix”) possess less self-doubt than Deckard; it makes them less human but more alive.
Wife Iran (Lynn Odell) abuses her mood-altering organ, dialing it down to Depression to feel…anything. The couple is drifting apart — Rick can’t afford an electric goat, much less a new synthetic one, so he accepts work hunting down androids; Iran finds no empathy in her husband.
Design Coordinator DeAnne Millais’s set comprises five discrete locations on Sacred Fools’ small East Hollywood stage, with nine projection screens and a Mac Classic thrown in. The screens provide color commentary, a smart way of conveying the complex data dump that is Philip K. Dick’s original novel: the screens hip us to Luna Luft’s Mercer Arias (Emily Kosloski is a doomed android chanteuse, singing the praises of Mercer, the martyred philosopher-god of the post-World War Terminus citizenry) and augmenting the non-stop commentary of corrupt TV juggernaut Buster Friendly, played brilliantly by Marz Richards in a whirlwind of Huell Howser, Merv Griffin, and Martin Short’s Cat in the Hat.
While comparisons with Ridley Scott’s “Blade Runner” are expected, that adaptation, too, said more about 1982, with Ridley Scott moving the action from San Francisco to Los Angeles and replicants looking like severe Duran Duran video minxes, not to mention Tangerine Dream. But Mr. Johnson (and director Jaime Robledo) give this Deckard a deeper world-weariness than Harrison Ford needed for his turn in the role; our Deckard is as filled with doubt as he is with rote answers to uncomfortable questions.
“Would you like to have sex with me?” the superb Kimberly Atkinson as a kind of android Katherine Hepburn asks him.
“I’m married,” Deckard says.
“That’s not what I asked.”
Post-show, unofficial dramaturge Richards reminds the audience in a Q&A session that Philip K. Dick wrote “Androids” over a 10-year-period while living in Southern California squalor.
“Buster Friendly was what TV looked like to him,” Richards says.
And in Corey Klemow, who plays radiation-addled “chicken-head” Isidore like a tragic post-apocalyptic Charlie Gordon, we find Dick’s on-stage stand-in.
Whereas “Blade Runner” — coming as it did at the dawn of mainstream A.I. dread that gave way to the Terminators — helped us sympathize with weeping, dove-cradling replicant Rutger Hauer, Einhorn’s “Androids” places our sympathy squarely on the humans; Klemow as Isidore is everyone’s sad-sack friend, Odell as Iran is the woman who finds grace through surrender (it doesn’t matter if her husband is an android — at least he’s her android), and Curtis’s Deckard, trying to define himself through his job, is the loneliest of all.
Explaining his character, who works in a synthetic pet shop and subsists on android sloppy-seconds, Klemow says “We all need someone to love.”
It just about breaks your heart.
© 2013 Mavervorl Media