Monday, November 15, 2010
YES SVETLANA, THERE IS A GRANDFATHER FROST
Without a single pedantic word, Jeff Goode's comedy answers the commonplace impression that Soviet times are ancient history. His thoughtful play about the essences of truth is set in the newspaper office of a large Soviet city, where a plan is afoot by the authorities to raid an "unauthorized" Christmas Tree lighting ceremony. The newspaper gets a pre-fab story describing specific injuries that haven't yet occurred, but are being carefully plotted. Journalist Tserkov (Morry Schoor) wants the story to run early, to warn the protesters. But his editor, Madame Editrix (Erika Godwin), will have no part of such faux heroics. If you're so concerned about the truth, she chides him, why does it have to come with your byline. Truth quietly whispered is just as true as truth that's printed or broadcast.
Despite a cumbersome stretch in Act 2, tThe play's delightful plot twists spin out a view of bureaucracy and complicity in the hoaxes of an era that point directly to us, which is the point.
I don't know why director Gideon Potter chose to have the actors speak in a Russian dialect, which only suggests that the pay is about them and not us. And they couldn't find any Russian speakers in Glendale or Hollywood to give the company the correct pronunciation of devushka?
Devushka (Lisa Younger) is the seemingly naïve yet sly secretary. The wistfully wry ensemble also includes Tyler Rhoades as a cad journalist, and thugs well-played by Ken Lyle and Bub Rusch. There were some technical difficulties on the performance here reviewed. That aside, the comedy really deserves a more taut staging to match the play's scintillating ironies. Skypilot Theatre at the Luna Playhouse, 3706 San Fernando Road, Glendale; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; thru Dec. 19. (800) 838-3006. (Steven Leigh Morris)