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| Architects of Denial - West Coast Premiere
Mice - Theatre Review
By Terry Gloeggler
Kevin Comartin and Sharmila Devar
"Mice," written by Schaefer Nelson might sound innocent, but this one-act play evokes the feeling you experience when alone in a dark room surrounded by low squeaks and the scratching of tiny clawed feet. This is not the happy land of childhood magic, this is the playground of a deranged cannibalistic serial killer, a Mouseman who makes preacher's wives disappear.
The mood of the piece is skillfully brought forward the instant the audience enters the theatre by the presence of two women in chains collapsed on the floor. Walking past their unmoving bodies to get to your seat has an almost frightening anticipation like they might jump up haunted house style and say "Boo!"
We are drawn into the story by Ayushi (Sharmila Devar), the minister's wife who was taken weeks ago and has survived as the Mouseman's pet little "Mouse." Grace (Heather Robinson) is the newest capture and not the first Ayushi has come in contact with since being kidnapped. We witness Grace's waking to the realization of her life being stolen by a man in a mouse costume and the women's unsuccessful attempt to escape, which ultimately leads to Grace being more than just "food."
The Mouseman (Kevin Comartin) stole the show from behind the toy-like plush head of his mouse suit. In a costume that without blood stains could easily appear at any kids party, he manages to shock and horrify without being outright disgusting. First his silent presence as he terrorizes his captives, then his jarring change of course to become the interviewer of Ayushi and Grace who he has dubbed, Mouse 1 and Mouse 2, drive the play forward. The job at the end of this interview? It can only be filled by one little mouse.
The experience was reminiscent of sitting up close and personal with a less bloody "Saw." Heather Robinson's performance was raw and tortured without being overdrawn and perfectly balanced by Sharmila Devar's jaded and survivalist Ayushi. Together the three actors made time fly and the viewers uncomfortably squirm in their seats.
The director (Roderick Menzies) skillfully brought these characters and a few simple props together to bring out every drop of dramatic impact from the writer's dark world. "Mice" holds you in a state of suspense from start to finish with its compelling performances and creepy setting. Faith plays a big role in the decisions made by Ayushi, Grace and the Mouseman, but nothing with distractingly religious undertones. There are moments of dark humor that garnered laughter from the audience, but "Mice" is really the perfect show for horror fans this October.
Mice runs now through October 30 at the
Ensemble Studio Theatre/LA
in Atwater Village Theatre.
October 09, 2017 02:30 pm
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