We live in a delusional culture. It is that simple.
There may be Those Whom The Gods Love, but in writer/director Olivia Lilley’s two act drama of 3 people trying to live a lie it is obvious that delusion is an addiction we may never break because the alternative, Reality, is unbearable.
It is a story of psychotic proportions wrapped inside the self-deceptions of three individuals who on every level seemingly get sucked into the proverbial Hollywood Dream.
Billed as a coming of age story, Those Whom The Gods Love is a tawdry tale of Sonia (Elise Cantu) a sheltered astrophysics major who secures, via the internet, Darren (Tyler Ham Pong), an aging trust fund baby (at all of the age of 30), who flies her out for the weekend from Chicago to lose her virginity and Lulu (Christina Myers), Darren’s neighbor and earlier fling, a former Harvard dropout turned undercover paparazza, who will stop at nothing to win back the love of a Lindsay Lohanesque superstar.
Those Whom The Gods Love takes us through a profundicized gamut of mediocrity advanced by a generation whose perspective of the world is mostly realized through television, celebrity gossip, fantasy games and sexting. In fact this play is a version of an outcome that could have happened had Ms. Lilley herself, accepted the sort of invitation that was offered to her in real life from an entertainment executive, long distance, early in her writing career.
Ms. Lilley’s ‘almost’ experience is the grounds for Sonia’s character whose goal is to virtually if not actually erase herself as the isolated college student who although scientifically brilliant is lonely and desperate for beauty, money, excitement, nightlife, fashion, and famous friends — all of the things we are made to want in the purely advertorial societies within which we now live; an anxiety also shared by Darren and by the spiraling Lulu whose (very un-paranormal) doppelgänger the naive Sonia quickly becomes.
Grabbing at quotes from Andy Warhol and Oscar Wilde it is clear that these pleasure seekers are as eviceral as air and yet the desire for pleasure is so evocatively seductive.
For those of us with a clearer head, able to look at life straight in the eyes, it is oppressive and twisted. Living outside of this very real, spurious existence, is to be completely ostrasized. To have no place at all; to be silent, unnoticed, unimportant and undesirable. We’ve gone far far beyond just having the latest and greatest anything. We have been “Sucker Punched” living the psychosis like Babydoll except we are not trying to escape the asylum. We like it.
What is least interesting in this play is what is actually its brilliance. I.e. although lacking in a classical theatrical style or even depth, “always in the middle of a thought” writing, playing the ideas a bit too small and very ‘slice of life,’ and at instances, struggling with blocking and structure, it nevertheless, absolutely captures and specifically mirrors the obsessive ideals and behaviors of today’s youth culture which are not merely the affectations of people wanting to “be somebody.”
Andy Warhol’s words, “Everyone will be famous for 15 minutes” is now the realm of passe and the aphorisms of Oscar Wilde reign supreme, “The first duty in life is to be as artificial as possible. What the second duty is no one has as yet discovered.”
Cast members Elise Cantu, Tyler Ham Pong and Christina Myers all resonate in their respective portrayals amplifying the intellectual sentiments and questionably ethical “spirit of the age.”
Ms. Lilley’s point of view as she matures as a writer will hopefully continue to offer us a sound, if not brutal portrait of ourselves.
Written and Directed by Olivia Lilley
Presented by Kids Terribles
Producer – Christina Myers
Set Design – Andrew Leitch
Lighting Design – Mike Berger
Costumes – Mitra Hosseini
Stage Manager – Marcus Gonzalez
Props – Alec MacNamara
Production Assistant – Robert Norman
Lost Malibu Surfur – Parker Marshar