A review by Erin Fair
David Douglas and Martin Head .
Photos by Shari Barrett
Utopia opens in a studio space with Martin (Martin Head) pacing back and forth as he waits on his childhood friend David (David Douglas) to come through. The play makes full use of its stage with mannequins in the back and picture frames scattered about; hanging up on the walls and lying on the floor.
Utopia is a hodgepodge of three different subjects; black lives matter, utopian societies, and adult responsibility. Martin has just received a grant from the city to have his art showcased and has enlisted the help of David, his friend from youth. Martin is an idealist expelling ideas of a utopian society as his friend David demonstrates an apathetic nature saying he doesn't want to work for money, only for passion. These two characters conflict with each other throughout the play, but for the wrong reasons.
This play has great intentions and aspirations but the execution is all over the place. This play wants us to feel conflicted about our prejudiced views like Spike Lee's Do The Right Thing but here the many themes don't mesh well. It succeeds partially by having a black vs. black conflict, which is an intriguing aesthetic versus the usual white vs. black. We have one character spouting an MLK ideology but acts more like Calvin Candie's right hand man from
Django Unchained. The other character promotes a quixotic life of employment but his character switches into Huey P. Newton without the nuance.
The themes and the presentation are palpable, but the play Utopia suffers from too many ideas and not enough focus. It is a mishmash of timely subjects that do not congeal into a coherent storyline. The actors' passion is so forceful and perceptible it is disheartening that this play didn't succeed for this reviewer. Nonetheless, this story is powerfully acted and quite appropriate; just wish the narrative had been a bit more centered.
City Players is proud to present the World Premiere of "UTOPIA"
by David Douglas and Martin Head
February 26, 27, March 3, 4, 5 at 7:30pm and Sunday, February 28 at 2pm at the Bootleg Theater, located at 2220 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90057.
The production is directed by Katherine Whitney.
Tickets are $25 general admission, $10 for students, and may be purchased at the Bootleg Theater box office one hour prior to performance or online at
http://www.bootlegtheater.org/event/1081873-city-players-utopia-los-angeles/Tickets are also available online on Goldstar and Plays 411. Please visit City Players on Facebook for more information.