Welcome to Sacred Fools Theater Company, est. 1997

Past Time

by Padraic Duffy (Beaverquest!, Puzzler)
directed by Jeremy Aldridge (Louis & Keely, Absolutely Filthy)

EXTENDED THROUGH APRIL 9!
Fridays & Saturdays @ 8pm
Sunday Matinees @ 3pm through March 20
(no performance Sunday, Feb. 28)
Previews: Feb. 12-13 @ 8pm, Feb. 14 @ 7pm

Tickets: $25 (Previews: $15)
Friday, Feb. 26: Donate What You Can (see below)
(310) 281-8337 or Buy Tickets Online

WORLD PREMIERE!  Sometimes you have to be someone else to remember who you are. Our sixth premiere from playwright Padraic Duffy is a hilarious and touching love-letter to the theatre told with many, many, many painted unicorns...

Reviews

"CRITIC'S CHOICE... charming, funny and effective... An ideal date show." -L.A. Times

"...wildly funny... The five-character ensemble are a marvel to watch under Jeremy Aldridge's smooth direction... A triple threat production: great writing, great direction, great acting! Bravo!" -Broadway World

"... a brilliant play from Padraic Duffy, exquisitely directed by Jeremy Aldridge, and superbly acted by a wonderful cast." -Discover Hollywood

"5 out of 5 stars!" -Grigware Reviews

"Performances are tight and funny, particularly (Leon) Russom’s increasingly bemused James, French (Stewart)’s sweetly sad and eccentric Lou, and Ruth Silveira, in a beautiful and touching performance as James’s pragmatic, hard-worn wife." -Stage Raw

"...two stunning performances filled with extraordinary vulnerability by Stewart and nimble comedic timing by Russom... Deeply emotional even in its whimsy, every single element of this production, every character, is perfectly crafted, staged and presented. One of the most emotionally satisfying plays you will experience this year – bar none." -Gia on the Move

"...a giggling, guffaw-inducing splash of funny... heartfelt, liberating comedy... The company has a hit on its hands." -Paul Myrvold's Theatre Notes

"WOW... deliciously quirky, often side-splittingly funny, ultimately heartwarming... Abundant laughter and charm (plus enough heart to provoke a tear or two before it’s over), Past Time has them all... a delectable winter treat." -StageScene L.A.

Read more!

Friday, Feb. 26: DONATE WHAT YOU CAN. It's "Pay What You Can" with a twist! Half of all proceeds for this performance will be donated to The Unusual Suspects, who believe every young person deserves to be seen, heard and understood. Through collaborative workshops, they work deeply to empower the hardest to reach communities to tell their stories together leading to self-discovery, a sense of belonging, and the building of stronger families and communities. Tickets that night may only be purchased at the door. Call (310) 281-8337 to make a reservation.

Photos

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Cast

Leon Russom as James
French Stewart as Lou
Ruth Silveira as Delilah
Josh Weber as Chris
Julia Griswold as Meredith

Understudies

Mark Sande as James
John Moskal as Lou
Laura Gardner as Delilah
Daniel Ramirez as Chris
Halle Charlton as Meredith

Crew

Produced for Sacred Fools by - Libby Baker
Associate Producers - Jaime Puckett & Vickie Mendoza
Assistant Director - Ed Goodman
Stage Manager - Bo Powell
Assistant Stage Manager - Zada Clarke
Dramaturg - David LM McIntyre
Set Designer – DeAnne Millais
Lighting Designer - Matthew Richter
Costume Designer - Jaimie Froemming
Assistant Costumer - Jesse Bias
Sound Designer - Dan Hoal
Prop Designer – Lisa Anne Nicolai
Projection Designer – Ben Rock
Lead Builder – Mitch Rosander
Composer - Zachary Bernstein
Marketing Coordinator - Addi Gaash
Intern - Mayah Castro
Key Art - Chris Hutchings
Postcard Photography - Geoffrey Wade Photography
Performance Photography - Jessica Sherman Photography

- Sacred Fools Company Member

Press

L.A. Times (CRITIC'S CHOICE)

CAPSULE REVIEW: As deceptively slight and hilariously quirky as a shelf of painted unicorns, playwright Padraic Duffy's intergenerational romantic comedy is generally charming, funny and effective. Director Jeremy Aldridge pulls every color from the script's metaphoric palette, and his cast — Leon Russom and Ruth Silveira, Josh Weber and Julia Griswold, and a valiant French Stewart as the functionary character who carries the seriocomic point — does yeoman work. An ideal date show.

--David C. Nichols
© 2016 L.A. Times

FULL REVIEW: Looking for love at Unicorns 'n Things? The screwball rom-com 'Past Time'

"Just because something is imaginary doesn’t mean it’s not real."

So goes “Past Time,” Sacred Fools Theater Company's inaugural production in its new home at the Lillian Theatre, a felicitous match-up.

As deceptively slight and hilariously quirky as a shelf of painted unicorns, playwright Padraic Duffy’s intergenerational romantic comedy is generally charming, funny and effective.

Transpiring in winking chapters projected atop the rainbow-hued proscenium of designer DeAnne Millais’ whimsical set, “Past Time” opens with a screwball-worthy debate between retiree James (Leon Russom, wonderfully acute) and Lou (a valiant French Stewart), the enigmatic friend who has drafted James and his den for Lou’s Unicorns 'n Things kiosk at the mall. That disturbs Delilah (Ruth Silveira), James’ wife, employed at the nearby Candles 'n Stuff.

James and Delilah’s unmoored grandson, Chris (engagingly daft Josh Weber), is preoccupied with his disastrous date -- the eighth -- with Meredith (a wry Julia Griswold), who likens their meetings to insufficiently anesthetized eye surgery.

For the initial vignettes, “Past Time” is modestly pleasant post-absurdism, if over-reliant on the arts-and-crafts imagery and Duffy’s trademark deadpan non sequiturs.

But when Chris drafts James as stand-in at Chris’ last-chance date with Meredith, Duffy tacitly raises the stakes as both couples discover forgotten/unsuspected attraction through switching generational roles.

Director Jeremy Aldridge pulls every color possible from the script’s metaphoric palette, aided by witty designers, particularly Lisa Anne Nicolai’s props, and his cast does yeoman work. Russom and Silveira are hysterical assessing each other anew from a younger perspective.

Conversely, Weber and Griswold make an endearingly mismatched duo. Their growing old together may be hastily achieved, but it's one of Duffy’s sweetest brushstrokes. And Stewart, whose somewhat functionary character carries the serio-comic point, locates an internal mournful pulse that touchingly lands by the fade-out.

Actually, the play could bear more such honest sentiment, and the theater-class analogies scream for expansion. Still, “Past Time” is consistently enjoyable and an ideal date show.

--David C. Nichols
© 2016 L.A. Times

Arts in L.A.

For patient but decidedly world-weary James, it’s past time. Something about the spark of life has flickered out as he approaches what people erroneously refer to as our golden years—that time those of us in the throes of experiencing them might more accurately call our badly oxidized copper years.

James (in a masterfully understated performance by Leon Russom) has the dead-stare aura of someone who has seen it all and is a bit relieved his eyesight isn’t what it used to be. In these late arid days of their union, Delilah, his wife of many years (a suitably continually perplexed Ruth Silviera), makes him sleep on the couch in her sewing room, which she describes as currently looking like a workshop for gay elves since it’s more overcrowded than usual. That’s because James’s best friend Lou (French Stewart, who can get away with more eccentric quirky delivery choices than any other actor in the entire history of time) has taken over the place, treating his old pal like an indentured servant to elicit his help painting ceramic unicorn figurines he intends to sell in the vacant kiosk he’s rented at the mall.

Aside from James’s frustration as Lou berates him loudly over his difficulty learning his “color wheel” used to finish off the figurines just right, he is also a tad annoyed when his terminally dorky grandson Chris (Josh Weber) wakes him on his couch at 4 a.m. to get advice. “You said to come to you when I needed something,” Chris whines. “Yes,” agrees James, “but in the afternoon.”

James is soon wide-awake, though, as Chris desperately begs his granddad to help him win over Meredith (Julia Griswold), whom he describes as being a “bit sour but in a nice way, like duck sauce.” Since their last eight dates have come to remind her of all the fun of eye surgery, especially the one where he performed a suggestively erotic puppet show for her on the food court table creatively utilizing the salt shaker and one of his socks, the prospect of romance is definitely not going well.

Chris wants to be everything Meredith could ever want him to be: sweet, sensitive, and with a stomach he romantically describes to her as “full of small things that want to die.” He then comes up with the play’s game-changing bright idea, suggesting James do a Cyrano and show up playing Chris on his next date, like in one of the improvs he must have learned while studying introspective water aerobics at the local pool. Meredith has told Chris he is not mature enough for her, so what better solution than to substitute his geriatric grandfather?

What ensues is surely improbable but with a moral-revealing hook. As James rediscovers his youthful passion, his new lease on life also invigorates his own life and that of Delilah, whom he had stopped looking at amorously, one might assume, about the time Richard Nixon resigned the presidency. But as James’s world is energized with newfound incredulity, the play returns occasionally to poor Lou, standing in front of his kiosk, trying to peddle his unicorns, which he never had much use for before the untimely and unexpected death of his wife who loved the little suckers.

Duffy has written a charming, hilarious, yet ultimately gentle play, his rapid-fire, idiosyncratic sense of humor a lovely match for director Jeremy Aldridge and his endearing band of actors. The peerless moments generated between Russom and Stewart, as James’s exceedingly frustrated friend tries not to explode as he explains the variances between squeezing paint from the tube labeled Pink and being really creative and applying the more subtle Papaya Whip, could be a routine delivered by Laurel and Hardy or Abbott and Costello. And just when one might wonder what has happened to Stewart’s character as other relationships are neatly sewn up in and out of Delilah’s sewing room, Lou returns for an amazing emotional rollercoaster 11th-hour monologue.

In clever Fool-ish style, beautifully inaugurating the prolific company’s new home at the Lillian, James and Delilah’s sadly claustrophobic little home workroom is brought to glorious life by DeAnne Millais’s whimsically cramped set, impressively complemented by propmistress Lisa Anne Nicolai’s massive collections of candles brought home from Delilah’s part-time job at the mall, as well as the kind of other kitsch sold in the pages of TV Guide, and, of course, piles and piles of lonely-looking ceramic unicorns.

Aldridge’s austere staging and this glorious company of actors collaborate to seamlessly paint Duffy’s quintessential portrait of what can easily become a dusty afterword to our otherwise chock-full lives if we all don’t continuously work our asses off to keep appreciating and reinventing the joy and wonder available to us.

--Travis Michael Holder
© 2016 Arts in L.A.

Broadway World

After a series of breakthrough plays such as Stoneface and Louis & Keely Live at the Sahara, which went on to larger venues and are still waiting in the wings for Broadway, the brilliantly innovative Sacred Fools Theatre has moved into the remodeled Lillian Theatre on Santa Monica Boulevard. With the opening of this brand new space comes the world premiere of Padraic Duffy's Past Time, a wildly funny comedy about finding happiness and the beauty missing in one's life. The five-character ensemble are a marvel to watch under Jeremy Aldridge's smooth direction through March 26.

Make no mistake, when you see that French Stewart is on board, expect the unexpected, as his crazy comedic flair takes center stage, at least part of the time. When you paint, "you've gotta piss glitter and shit rainbows!" He plays Lou, an unhappy man, who wants to open a kiosk called Unicorns 'n Things. Unicorns were his wife's passion, and now that she is deceased, he tries to make them his and pulls in his friend James (Leon Russom) to help him and Delilah, James' wife (Ruth Silveira), who runs a shop called Candles 'n Stuff right behind the kiosque. Delilah feels sorry for Lou, but is not at all pleased that he will be disrupting her candle business. Chris (Josh Weber), James' and Delilah's grandson is a dear, misguided young man in his twenties and still lives at home with them, as they serve in loco parentis. He is unlucky in love with a girl named Meredith (Julia Griswold) who would rather have a tooth pulled than date him. Sound like a motley crew? Yes, they are, but still winning in spite of the abnormal circumstances.

This is a kind of Moonstruck. Out of the blue, something hits all of the characters and makes them want to change in spite of themselves. Lou really wants his unicorn business to succeed despite the overwhelming odds that no one will care. He is willing to go to any extremes, to pull out all the stops to make things click. James and Delilah are at the age where they have lost that loving feeling between them, but when Chris asks James to role play and go on a date with Meredith posing as him - Chris - things take a bizarre turn for both couples. The older couple start to reminisce about the beautiful moments of their past and the younger couple see older age as carpe diem, a chance to grab onto one's happier memories and make every current moment count.

Playwright Padraic Duffy uses the image of the color wheel to great advantage. Lou sees the unique beauty in the unicorns and wants to use vibrant colors; for example, for the mane and hooves. Lou drives James crazy trying to teach him how to paint the little figurines with long feathery strokes. The whole idea of utilizing bright, unusual colors figures in as the symbol of change that they all so desperately need to improve the quality of their lives. "Without colors, the past all blurs together." Delilah's mistrust of the unicorns is fear, not really for her candle sales, but for herself; she's afraid to change, to let go.

Under Aldridge's steady, even pacing and fluid staging, the ensemble are a dream team. Stewart is so good at pushing down, concealing Lou's grief. His outbursts and crazed efforts belie a terribly lonely man who wishes to recapture the stimulation of his wife. He is so effective at the end where he gives a unicorn to Meredith and asks that she pass on the relevance of the colors to her mate. Russom, through a gruff exterior, shows quite clearly and brilliantly how James once had an interior spark of fancy and love, bringing out the true pussycat in him. Silveira doesn't overdo anything, and that is the beauty of her acting style. Her frustrations with James and their pitiful existence together is totally pulled in, but she makes us feel her immense pain. Weber is a real find as Chris. His look, his demeanor are unique and he brings a sweetness and sincerity to the man, not always easy to see in a tall, gawky lad...but he achieves it. Griswold is completely real, blase as Meredith, and it is truly lovely to see how she transforms her beliefs when James works his magic while role-playing Chris. The whole concept of role playing and going into the closet for costumes, etc is a delicious ode to all things theatrical. Duffy alludes to this little by little throughout, and it does indeed work magic over all the characters. There's a true suspension of disbelief, where relationships are indeed theatre.

Go see Past Time! It is a sweet, lovely piece that really makes you care about people and that they find true happiness. A triple threat production: great writing, great direction, great acting! Bravo!

--Don Grigware
© 2016 Broadway World

Culver City News (Stage Page)

‘Past Time’ proves sometimes you have to be someone else to remember who you are

When the Asylum multi-theater space closed last year, it was a real blow to the Los Angeles theatre scene along Hollywood’s Theatre Row, where the annual Hollywood Fringe Festival takes place. Languishing for months, when it was announced the space had been purchased by Sacred Fools who planned to make it their new home, I was overjoyed. So imagine my excitement when it was announced Sacred Fools Theatre’s inaugural production in their new home at the Lillian Theater was going to be “Past Time,” Padraic Duffy’s World Premiere comedy, directed by Jeremy Aldridge. On Friday, Feb. 19, I attended the Grand Opening of both the space and the play, and both were absolutely spectacular.

“Past Time” is Sacred Fools sixth premiere from Playwright Padraic Duffy, managing director of the theatre company. It’s a hilarious and touching love-letter to the many colors of life, told with many, many, many painted unicorns on the totally re-configured space inside the Lillian Theater, now with 88 seats facing an up close and intimate proscenium stage. It’s an amazing feat of transformation, given Sacred Fools last production ended at their former location just 63 days ago. “Check your shoes for wet paint,” we were warned before the performance began. But even if the paint was not quite dry, the space was ready, not only for their first production but also as the planned center of the upcoming 2016 Hollywood Fringe Festival. Welcome back L.A.

Just like the new multi-colored paint on the walls, “Past Time” focuses of noticing all the colors in our own lives, both emotional as well as physical. All five characters in the play have somehow lost their way along their journey, not quite staying in touch with who they really are due to loss or misplaced expectations. And as it turns out, sometimes you have to be someone else to remember who you are.

The play begins with Lou (French Stewart in all his glorious emotional frenzy) and his good-hearted friend James (Leon Russom) sitting at a small table in the den of James and Delilah’s home, arguing about what color and how to paint the many boxes of plastic unicorns needed for sale in Lou’s new kiosk at the local mall, which just happens to be right in front of the candle shop where Delilah (Ruth Silveira) works part time. The comic interplay between the two men sets the humorous tone for the rest of the heartwarming play.

James and Delilah’s grandson Chris (Josh Weber) has been living in their home since his parents split when he was 9. Now 26, his girlfriend Meredith (Julia Griswold, the perfect Millennial with too may choices) is leaving him because he’s just too immature to handle her emotional needs. What is his plan to get her back? He convinces his grandfather James to go out on a date with her, playing the role of “Chris” since he rightly believes the new “Chris” will say all of the right things that will make the reluctant Meredith fall in love with him. This is all a bit confusing for James‘ candle-obsessed wife and best friend Lou, who just wants to forget his own loss by bringing beauty into the world by selling the brightly colored unicorns.

Soon everyone is playing each other’s characters as they struggle to rekindle their relationships and remember who they are. Of course, soon the older couple starts to play the younger couple and vice versa, causing each of them to re-examine their own lives and choices. The wisdom of the elderly versus the enthusiasm and joy of youth collide in many fun-loving and hysterical encounters between all of the characters, most often played out in two-person dialogues. Poignant and funny, this play reminds us to enjoy life’s every moment, and to notice each and every opportunity to experience wonder along the way whether expressed in magnificent colors or deeply felt emotions.

A multi-media announcement of each scene shown on the rainbow-hued proscenium lets you know exactly what is going to happen next, but it is the magical skills of the cast, fast-paced direction by Aldridge, and often foul-mouthed but totally modern and realistic language by Duff, that make each moment so true to life that no doubt you will see a bit of yourself in each of their emotional struggles during their everyday attempts to achieve their goals. And who can’t use some great laughs along the way?

Many thanks to Sacred Fools for reminding us where there is art, there is life.

--Shari Barrett
© 2016 Culver City News

Gia on the Move

Everything's Coming Up Roses (and Unicorns) For Sacred Fools

In a triumphant inaugural weekend, Sacred Fools Theatre Company opened it’s brand new space on Hollywood Theatre Row, with the world premiere of Past Time, a delightfully, quirky and heartwarming comedy written by Padraic Duffy and directed by Jeremy Aldridge.

Starring two of Sacred Fools and Los Angeles Intimate Theatre’s most beloved actors Leon Russom and French Stewart, Past Time is a “hilarious and touching love-letter to the theatre told with many, many, many painted unicorns…”

People, like things, are so full of colors. It’s remarkably easy to disregard the variety in the subtlety. How we might gently feather strokes of paint on the mane of a tiny unicorn figurine, for instance, is exactly how we might attend to the people we love, but usually don’t until it’s too late. In Past Time, however, because of one man’s obsession to find joy through his late wife’s love of unicorns, everyone directly and indirectly, gets a second chance.

An immature Chris, desperate to keep his girlfriend from leaving, convinces his grandfather James to go out on a date with her, as the “new” Chris who will say all of the right things that will make her fall back in love with him. In the meantime, James' candle-obsessed wife Delilah is over the rails about his best friend Lou who has opened a kiosk which sells plastic unicorns, right in front of her shop’s door, with a too coincidental, almost identical name. James just wants Chris to move out and be an adult. Delilah wants Lou to change the name of his kiosk. Meredith wants a guy she can be intimate with. And Lou desperately wants someone…anyone…to recognize, appreciate and love all the little details of his painted unicorns as deeply as he does so that he can finally honor his late wife. When everyone begins play-acting each other’s characters, relationships are rekindled in unexpected ways, creating one of the silliest, most hopeful (even randy) chain reactions. It is truly a light-hearted and spirited tear-jerker, with so much payoff.

“I don’t usually play this kind of role,” said Leon Russom in between show hugs and congratulations. French Stewart was all “humble pie.” Having put in two stunning performances filled with extraordinary vulnerability by Stewart and nimble comedic timing by Russom, the two lead actors could not have been better cast against one another as friends or appearing in a more deftly written script that is seamlessly directed. There is incredible symmetry and exquisitely inconspicuous detail in their respective performances that make the mundane absolutely uncommon.

Deeply emotional even in its whimsy, every single element of this production, every character, is perfectly crafted, staged and presented. One of the most emotionally satisfying plays you will experience this year – bar none.

In the plus column, to boot, is the astonishing upgrade of the Lillian Theatre. Be prepared to catch your breath. It is a thing to behold! Fresh and new and yet it feels like the Fools have always been there. It feels like home.

--Tracey Paleo
© 2016 Gia on the Move

Grigware Reviews

5 out of 5 stars

--Don Grigware
© 2016 Grigware Reviews

Paul Myrvold's Theatre Notes

Like the finally honed comic classic of Abbott and Costello’s “Who’s On First,” the opening scene of Padraic Duffy’s new comedy, Past Time, now premiering at Sacred Fools Theatre Company, the niggling, bickering repartee of Leon Russom and French Stewart as long time friends James and Lou, is a giggling, guffaw-inducing splash of funny. The scene is simply extraordinary.

James is helping Lou paint small unicorn statuettes and must endure constant corrections in technique. He must “feather” the paint on, not “stab” it. He must call the colors by their “correct names.” It is not pink, but “papaya whip.” Lou is clearly in obsessive-mania-land. The friends are rushing to complete the project so that Lou can open a unicorn kiosk at the mall. Why this fetish with unicorns? That is a revelation for a later moment in the show.

Past Time is structured in a series of scenes, each scene given a brief description projected on the false proscenium, a curling rainbow sweeping across and above the stage. James’ wife, Delilah (excellent Ruth Silveira), is miffed at the loss of her den to the unicorn project to the point where the couple is sleeping separately. Their marriage has hit the early old-age doldrums. Their grandson, Chris (tall, amiable Josh Weber), abandoned by his parents at the age of nine, has been living with them ever since and now at the age of twenty-something shows no sign of leaving. He is an awkward young man, inept at relationships and a little goofy. He has fallen for a shy, self-effacing girl, Meredith (Julia Griswold), who wonders why she keeps accepting dates with a guy whose behavior she finds ridiculous.

The situations of both the older and younger couples become unknotted when Chris sends his grandpa on a date with Meredith with the ridiculous instruction to “be” him. It’s silly, but Grandpa James does it and heartfelt, liberating comedy ensues.

Directed by Jeremy Aldridge, Past Time is a fine choice to inaugurate Sacred Fools’ new home at The Lillian in Hollywood. The company has a hit on its hands. The place was sold-out-packed on a Friday night after opening weekend. With a fine company performing at the top of their game in a well-known, newly renovated space that is attractive and commodious, there is no doubt the company will continue to thrive.

--Paul Myrvold
© 2016 Paul Myrvold's Theatre Notes

Theatre Ghost

Sacred Fools has become known for the “theatricality” of their shows. They often do things you simply can’t do anywhere but on stage, as in the storytelling tour de force of last year’s Astro Boy. They also often select stories that are difficult, yet compelling and important, such as 2014’s chilling Taste.

This year, they’re inaugurating their new home (the Lillian-Elephant complex, on Hollywood’s “Theatre Row”) with a quirky romantic comedy, Past Time. Seems a surprising choice — perhaps a way to draw folks to the new venue, as the casting of TV-famous French Stewart is also sure to do?

Past Time lives in present-day America, where mall shops and kiosks have replaced downtown. It opens with two old friends gently squabbling; the title’s “past” arises in their shared history, the memories they invoke. One friend is afire with his latest passion, painting ceramic unicorns. The other (joined by his wife) suggests it’s “Past Time” for one of the pal’s projects to bear fruit.

Shift to a young couple squirming on a date. Their “past” consists of prior dates — were there six? seven? In any case, too many for her, and it’s “past time” for him to show some personality. He begs one last chance; she relents.

Within the hour it takes to tell the tale, the unicorns get painted and put up for sale; the young pair and the old couple do some pretend place-switching; and each character finds something different — yet better — than they expected.

Past Time may seem slight, but it’s produced and performed with panache. DeAnne Millais’ whimsical set (stuffed with props by Lisa Anne Nicolai) and Ben Rock’s projected scene titles draw laughs, setting and holding the tone. Dan Hoal’s sound design evokes both romance and slapstick, and Jaimie Froemming’s costumes locate each character precisely.

In the slightly manic Lou, awakened by art, Padraic Duffy has written a character who almost breaks the story’s frame. But Stewart, mixing energy and restraint, keeps Lou in the same world as the others while taking us on a funhouse ride inside his mind. Whoever plays the quieter James might well be overmatched; but not the veteran Leon Russom, who brings easy, quiet power to the part, along with ironic reflection and a growing emotional openness.

Josh Weber, as James’ grandson the inept suitor, balances nicely on the knife edge between inability and clinical disability; and Julia Griswold lets herself be drawn all the long way from exasperation to enchantment. Ruth Silveira, another seasoned pro, adds colors and warmth to Delilah, James’ wife (the least fully written of the roles). And director Jeremy Aldridge floats the tale in a swift current between reality and fantasy.

Since Aristophanes, comic writers have grabbed serious, insoluble problems and worked them as if a little magic might put them right. Past Time brushes up against unemployment, aging, the edges of diagnosable mental illness, and the perennial puzzles of love and art. And, it suggests, we’ll come through it all somehow. Sacred Fools thus steps into a new phase of its history with a little magic, and a lot of buoyant confidence.

--Theatre Ghost
© 2016 Theatre Ghost

StageScene L.A.

WOW!

Stepping inside someone else’s skin may be just what Grandpa James and Grandson Chris need to make their respective romantic lives click in Padraic Duffy’s deliciously quirky, often side-splittingly funny, ultimately heartwarming (albeit somewhat over-padded) World Premiere comedy Past Time, now playing at Sacred Fools’ excitingly refurbished digs on Hollywood’s Theatre Row.

James (Leon Russom) and his wife of thirty-plus years Delilah (Ruth Silveira) haven’t been seeing all that much of each other these days (and nights), their den having been taken over by James’s longtime chum Lou (French Stewart), who’s enlisted his friend’s help in hand-painting a few dozen unicorn tchotchkes for the “Unicorns ‘n Things” cart he’s planning to set up smack dab in front of Delilah’s “Candles ‘n Stuff” shop. (That the two enterprises have such similar names seems to rankle James’s wife almost as much as her husband’s emotional and physical absence from their marriage.)

Meanwhile, cute but socially inept 20something Chris (Josh Weber) is having troubles of his own convincing Meredith (Julia Griswold) to forget their first half-dozen or so disastrous dates, go out with him again, and perhaps most importantly, let him know why he can’t yet call her his girlfriend.

Playwright Duffy sets up Past Time as a series of two-character scenes (each announced by a cute projected supertitle) that take up about half of the play’s 90-minute running time before getting to its central premise. (If you don’t happen to know what that is, feel free to skip the next two paragraphs.)

Since James would seem to have more of a way with the ladies than his grandson does, Chris proposes that Grandpa stand in for him on his upcoming date with Meredith, not as 60something James but as Chris, forget that the two men look nothing at all alike. (When James wonders how this can possibly work, Chris reminds him that folks suspend disbelief at the theater all the time, so why not here too?)

Before long, it’s not simply James who’s role-playing … and in the process learning that self-discovery (and self-improvement) may well result from wearing someone else’s shoes.

Under director Jeremy Aldridge’s accustomed deft hand, Past Time is first and foremost a star vehicle for its two leading men, the always superb Russom playing crotchety straight man to the kaleidoscopic Stewart. Admittedly, the duo’s opening scene shtick does end up going on longer than it probably should (just one reason why Past Time doesn’t get down to the nitty-gritty till about halfway through). Still, it’s hard to complain when it’s Stewart doing the scene stealing (and later revealing real depth as we learn more about Lou’s past).

Silveira brings a wry charm to Delilah and never more so than when Duffy’s script allows her to relive her youth Millennial-style. Griswold’s delightfully deadpan Meredith grows as well, taking on new colors as her dates with “Chris” take her in unexpected directions.

Finally, tall-and-talented Sacred Fools newcomer Weber displays the charisma and likeability of a young Tom Hanks as the perhaps somewhere-on-the-spectrum Chris.

As for Past Time’s production design, DeAnne Millais’ colorfully cluttered set makes terrific use of a smartly reconfigured Lillian Theatre. (Gone is the formerly problematic V-shaped seating plan.) Matthew Richter’s vivid lighting, Jaimie Froemming’s idiosyncratic costumes, Dan Hoal’s whimsical sound design enhanced by Zachary Bernstein’s original music, properties designer Lisa Anne Nicolai’s multitude of knickknacks, and Ben Rock’s stylish projections all add up to an absolutely fabulous production design.

Halle Charlton, Laura Gardner, John Moskal, Daniel Ramirez, and Mark Sande are understudies.

Past Time is produced for Sacred Fools by Libby Baker. Jaime Puckett and Vickie Mendoza are associate producers. Ed Goodman is assistant director. Bo Powell is stage manager and Zada Clarke is assistant stage manager. David LM McIntyre is dramaturg. Jesse Bias is assistant costumer.

Abundant laughter and charm (plus enough heart to provoke a tear or two before it’s over), Past Time has them all. A bit of trimming/editing could make it even better, but even as things stand, the latest from Sacred Fools Theater Company offers L.A. audiences a delectable winter treat.

--Steven Stanley
© 2016 StageScene L.A.

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Sacred Fools Theatre closed their last show 63 days ago and mounted a new show in a new space this past week weekend. It was a gala event. With a new electrical grid above our heads, a redesigned lobby and freshly painted just that morning bathrooms; the dressing rooms, we were informed, had not been touched. Theatre's best friend Council member Mitch O'Farrell was on hand to congratulate the company on their new space and hard work. His words, "Where there is art, there is life; where there is life, there is vibrancy; and where there is vibrancy, there is a great city" rung true with the audience.

The inaugural presentation is a brilliant play from Padraic Duffy, exquisitely directed by Jeremy Aldridge, and superbly acted by a wonderful cast. Past Time is a story of love. James (Leon Russom) puts up with his friend Lou's humorous diatribe on color because he loves his friend. Lou, recently widowed wants to paint unicorn's to honor his wife's memory. James sleeps on the couch because he and his wife Delilah (Ruth Silveira) have misplaced their love for each other. Chris (Josh Weber), James and Delilah's grandson, can't seem to be himself around the love of his life, Meredith (Julia Griswold).

Past Time is a beautifully woven story of acceptance and remembering. With a well-crafted story penned by Padraic Duffy, Jeremy Aldridge takes the audience on a journey of laughter and tears that ends with happiness so exquisite we cry. French Stewart as Lou shares emotions from the depth of his soul. Josh Weber as Chris is endearingly innocent. Ruth Silveira as Delilah is simply delightful. Julia Griswold as Meredith entertains us with her great comic chops. Leon Russom moves thru absurdities with total believability.

The set design by DeAnne Millais definitely added to the magic, as did the lighting by Matthew Richter and costumes by Jaimie Froemming. Masterful sound design by Dan Hoal and composer Zachary Bernstein.

In Past Time we remember it's the little things that matter. We care about the characters and their relationship with one another. With a Swedenborg undercurrent, the character James says to Delilah, "I'm only me, 'cause you're you." Chris and Meredith get past the fear of being themselves. Lou shares the magic of his love and we the audience are richer for having been there.

Past Time is one of those shows you just sit back and experience. Don't miss it.

--Suzanne Birrell
© 2016 Discover Hollywood

Features

@ This Stage: The Subtext

Brian James Polak interviews PAST TIME playwright Padraic Duffy

L.A. Talk Radio: The Sheena Metal Experience

Shenna Metal interviews PAST TIME playwright Padraic Duffy, star French Stewart and Sacred Fools' new landlord Patrick Duffy


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At a Glance
PAST TIME
FEB 19 - APRIL 9, 2016
Previews Feb. 12-14
Fridays & Saturdays @ 8pm
Sundays @ 3pm through March 20
(Feb. 14 preview @ 7pm)
BUY TICKETS ONLINE
Discounts for Group Sales
Written by
Padraic Duffy
Directed by
Jeremy Aldridge
Starring
Leon Russom as James
French Stewart as Lou