by Tracey Paleo, Gia On The Move
It’s undeniable. There is just something unexpected and exciting about Red Cup Theatre Company’s That Long Damn Dark currently playing at Atwater Village Theatre.
More everyday-comedy-of-life than spiritually transporting, this fast-paced, very lightly humorous West Coast premiere, written by Ashley Rose Wellman is crisply directed by Laura Steinroeder, easy to follow, has an interesting take on justice and is tightly written storyline and simply well-crafted entertainment.
Ed and Lorraine, husband and wife, gunshot-ridden corpses are making it their business to regularly haunt their teenaged killers Leah and Todd. Todd is hopelessly devoted to Leah and sworn to protect her. But Leah isn’t telling anyone everything – something that’s about to destroy a lot of lives.
There’s one transition in the storyline that borders on preposterous in a “my dog ate my homework” sort of way, but the material is otherwise believable, not emotionally overdone and totally relatable. It’s not that deep although, Wellman’s writing accurately sheds light on the most basic behaviors and desires of ordinary people. And, in equal parts, for each piece of humor is a bit of solemnity where outcomes, repurcussions and satisfaction for anyone is concerned.
Dennis Baker, Rod Hernandez-Farella, Maura M.Knowles, Arthur James Solomon, Charmee Taylor and Leah Zhang are all well-cast and bring a really nice reality to this intriguing play that could easily go way over-the-top in performance but for Steinroeder’s balaced direction.
All the other scenic elements nicely align including set desing by J.R. Bruce, lighting by Brandon Baruch, costumes by Jamie Brown and fight direction by Mike Mahaffey.