Reviewed by Matt Ritchey

Last year, Lucid Dramatics deservedly won “Best Ensemble” for a play featuring modern versions of Hamlet, Laertes, and Ophelia as they struggle to connect or disconnect from one another. This year, LD’s Kelley Pierre pens and performs in a new story of the struggles of love and pain in The Same Room.

Gia On The Move, Matt Ritchey, Hollywood Fringe Festival, theater reviewsIt’s easy to say The Same Room is an updated version of No Exit – Thyma (Kelley Pierre) and Aspid (Sam Sheeks) are tossed into a room via two doors with light-locks on them and are forced to stay together. It’s very quickly clear that Aspid is not okay with this and that Thyma feels like she’ may have been given a second chance here. It’s never really clear what the relationship is – are they lovers? Two personalities in the same person? Sisters? It really doesn’t matter. Ultimately, it’s the friction between the two of them as they delve into their pasts, regrets, and even the happy memories, that are thrilling to see.

Directed by Scott Golden with fight choreography by Nikki Muller, there’s a lot of movement and action in the small studio space, but it’s the moments when Thyma and Aspid start to understand one another, to forgive, to LISTEN, that really hit home. Pierre and Sheeks are both great actresses and Pierre’s script gives them some great volleys of emotion to play with, and they do it incredibly well.

There are one or two moments that appear on the surface to run contrary to character motivations, but they are few and with a premiere play, something to simply note and amend when remounted. And The Same Room should be remounted. The No Exit similarities will persist, surely, but the insights to our humanity in The Same Room are far more compassionate and hopeful than Sartre. And that makes The Same Room the right version for today’s world.

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