A review by Rachel Flanagan.
Teagan Rose and Connor Kelly Eiding
Photos by Darrett Sanders
Being a teenager is often filled with awkward and dirty experiences and extremely tough decisions. Sometimes the only way that anyone can get through it is by the friends that they have who stand by their side, laugh with them, cry with them and punch them in the stomach. The latter is what brought together two unlikely friends on a Florida high school swim team, Amy (Teagan Rose), and Ester (Connor Kelly-Eiding). Dry Land is about two high school teenagers, one just trying to stay afloat while the other sinking into her reality and both girls find solace in each other. The Echo Theatre company presents the West Coast premiere of this mesmeric play by Ruby Rae Spiegel that has critics and audiences across the U.S. captivated.
The scene is set when audiences walk in as they are in a locker room and immersed with the sounds of pop music from above and below the water and it seems as if steam has even permeated the room. Amy's troubles quickly reveal themselves from the start as she yells at Ester to punch her in the stomach and really put her back in to it. Amy is pregnant and at the risk of telling her parents or her best friend, she has sought the help of a fellow teammate, Ester. Ester's story is not revealed as quickly or as elaborately as Amy's is but her feelings for Amy are evident. Ester is still fairly new to the school with a troubling past and it seems that swimming is all that she has keeping her afloat but the stress of getting accepted into college is pulling her down. Even if helping Amy give herself a DIY (do it yourself) Abortion is uncomfortable, it gives the girls the opportunity to bond as only female friends can. On the other hand, Amy is fairly well known because of a reputation that she created for herself and her newfound friendship with Ester seems to leave her questioning her own image of herself.
The story does get graphic, with an intensely acted out scene between Amy and Ester as Amy is in the last phases of the abortion pill she purchased off the internet followed by an awkwardly appropriate scene of the Janitor cleaning up the aftermath, a chance for everyone compose themselves after what they just experiences. The jokes will sometimes make you laugh but sometimes make you cringe in uncomfortable silence but then again, sometimes looking back at your teenage years will make you laugh while others will also make you cringe in uncomfortable silence. Written when Spiegel was a 21-year-old undergraduate at Yale, she was inspired to write the play when she came across a 2012 article called The Rise of DIY Abortions. Shocked that the American Abortion rights were causing young women across America to perform self-abortions and remembering her own deep feeling of loneliness when she had her own pregnancy scare motivated her to create this truthful, tormenting and yet witty story . Dry Land gets its title from that feeling of safety you get when you are searching for a place of comfort of swimming ashore, without dry land, you may find yourself drowning. The story is raw, emotional and gritty filled with all of the emotions that many teenagers feel as they search to find whom they are, who they want to be, and how in the world they will survive to see it through.
(left: Jenny Soo and Teagan Rose)
Friday and Saturday @8pm
Sunday @ 4pm & 7pm
Extended thru June 4
Echo Theatre Company
3269 Casitas Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90039
right: Connor Kelly Eiding