Reviewed by Amalisha HuEck
OLEANNA by David Mamet intellectually reflects struggles we face in our society today. Through the story of a university professor and a student, Oleanna exposes education today, artificiality in 'I know but You don't', what responsibility means, how manipulation can lead to catastrophe, and why tragedy can follow when one comes from the struggle for power rather than humility, kindness, understanding, and love. It is obvious, right from the start, that the professor has an agenda but so does the student. What are the dark secrets they are hiding?
An absolutely sterling cast delivers a
performance and is spot-on with painting the characters to their entirety. Those two actors work wonderfully together, and the accomplishment with their body language reveals the thoughts behind their actions. The cast is simply perfect.
It seems at the very beginning that the professor is all into his real-estate deal, a surprise party, and meeting with his wife later that evening. And the student just wants to pass with a good grade, so she can continue with her higher education. But the arguments dramatically change in the second half of the play. The student even sits on the professor's chair and becomes a lecturer. That shows that we are all forever students and forever teachers to each other.
The expectation clearly arises that the play has to do something with sexual dealings, rape, misinterpretation, or a mental imbalance. All of these stakes are powerfully expressed by the actors, whose chemistry greatly raised the drama's influence, locking the audience inside the violent drama of these characters.
The show is produced by Darcy Lee, who started her career at the age of 17 as a working actor and dancer.
Director/Producer Miguel Perez moved to New York City from San Jose to begin his professional acting career. He graduated from the National Shakespeare Conservatory, and has worked with many regional theaters.
Jean-Michael Richaud (Professor), grew up in Paris. Moved to NY and attended Columbia University's graduate theater program. For the last ten years, he's performed and toured the one-man show, 'Vincent' by Leonard Nimoy for which he was nominated for best actor at the Petits Moliere (French Tony Awards for small theaters).
Claire Wagner (Carol/Student) is an actor and improviser based in Los Angeles. She is fresh off the 3-Year Conservatory at the Stella Adler Art of Acting Studio in LA and spent one summer at the NY Stella Adler school studying Shakespeare.
Under the strong leadership of director Miguel Perez and with the outstanding cast of Claire Wagner & Jean-Michel Richaud,Oleanna is a must-see production.
OLEANNA can be seen at The Zephyr Theatre (7456 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90046). The run begins on Saturday, June 3rd at 6:30 pm as part of the Hollywood Fringe Festival 2023. Additional performances are Saturday, June 10th at 12:30 pm, Wednesday, June 14th at 8:30 pm, Sunday, June 18th at 5:45 pm, and Saturday, June 24th at 12 pm with a final performance matinee on Sunday, June 25th at 2:15 pm.
Tickets are $20 and available at: