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Famous - Theatre Review

By Kathy Flynn

Alexander Daly (Ryan), Thomas McNamara (Brody), and Christopher Dietrick (Jason) in Famous at the 11:11.
Photo by Genevieve Marie Photography

Jason Mast, teen actor turned Hollywood megastar, has just received his first Oscar nomination and there's a celebratory party at his house, complete with pushy manager, loser brother, and slutty starlet. The cast of characters are all familiar in Famous, but don't take anything at face value. Over the course of the evening, motivations are revealed, alliances are formed, and for better or worse, no one is quite who they seemed when the night began.

Famous is the play we need in the #metoo era, shining a bright light in the dark corners where horrible shadows lay undisturbed. The cost of fame is a frequently told tale, but the headlines from the past few years makes the story feel particularly relevant and timely. Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Bryan Singer, River Phoenix ...just a few of the names that flashed through my mind watching Famous. I found some of the situations uncomfortable and triggering, falling a little too close to comfort to my own past experiences.

Derick Breezee and Christopher Dietrick
Photo by Genevieve Marie Photography
Christopher Dietrick's powerful performance as Jason is a revelation, bringing a layered intensity that keeps you riveted to the stage. The action is told both in present day and in flashback, with young Jason, personifying Jason's literal inner child, interacting with adult Jason to illustrate his inner torment, giving form to his guilt and anguish. Young Jason is played by Derick Breezee in a breakout performance laced with sweetness and vulnerability.

The production design is exquisite. The stage is set as several rooms of Mast's Hollywood mansion, with action often talking place in more than one room at a time and the actors freeze-framing to direct your attention to the room that is key. Lighting compliments and illuminates Jason's fragmenting mental state.

Photo by Genevieve Marie Photography

Famous is a powerful and intense statement, but it's not without flaws. Act 1 introduces a revenge plot which has Jason installing video cameras in all of the rooms. While it works as a dramatic device to allow Jason to see and hear all that goes on in the house, plot-wise the payoff is weak, and seems tacked on more than organic. I was invested in seeing where it was going to go and then it just...didn't

Famous was written and directed by Michael Leoni, with original music by Conner Youngblood. It stars Christopher Dietrick, Alexander Daly, Rosanna De Candia, Megan Davis, Decker Sadowski, Thomas McNamara, Jacqi Vene, Markus Silbiger, Derick Breezee, Rachael Meyers, Gregory Depetro, and Kenny Johnston.

Famous has been extended through September 30 at The 11:11 Experience, 1107 Kings Road, West Hollywood.

Posted By Kathy Flynn on July 30, 2018 01:18 pm | Permalink