Reviewed by Amalisha HuEck

'How to tell a war story' is the main focus here where all are affected by the action of one. The action is an explosion, where some die and some don't, where all death becomes just one death and the truth about inconceivable events, impossible to comprehend, become a way to support each other.

Based on a true story, the new play from Coin & Ghost, Mama Mama Can't You See, is masterfully written by Cecilia Fairchild and Stan Mayer, a veteran who served in Afghanistan and Iraq and whose experiences from a surprise attack on his troops, created this incredible story of memories which, explored with sincerity and truth, manifest the time and space when those events happened.  With the special effects of smoke and actual gun shots, the presence of eight characters-- four Marines and four whores who really need each other--produce balance in perception, because the whores as girlfriends, mothers and wives give the show an easier way to experience those moments in time.

As playwright Stan Mayer describes the play, "For years, every time I tried to tell this story, I would get super frustrated because it felt like I couldn't get it right. Not the actual facts of that day, and definitely not the experience of what it felt like. That's what this play is about: figuring out how to tell the story. The show is built around Stan (the character) calling on his friends - some who died, some who didn't, and some who Cissy and I invented - to help him tell this story in a way that feels true."

A fantastic experience of deep dedication and efforts by all the cast members; The Marines are Stan Mayer (Stan Mayer), Jeff Schuller (Julián Juaquín), Lance Graham (Ryan Nebreja), and Jeffrey 'Doc' Weiner (Zack Rocklin-Waltch). Lance and Doc were both killed in action on May 7, 2005 while Stan and Jeff both survived that war. The whores are Ellis (Marguerite French), Anita (Carene Rose Trujillo) and Clem (Kathleen Leary). We also have Marines understudy (Zach Davidson) and Whores Understudy (Stephanie Lee) who has to learn the parts of all four whores. The voices intermingled with movements, with the support of soothingly beautiful singing, deeply penetrate between sleeping and waking state, especially with the song, 'Mama mama, can't you see, what the War is done to me?!'  What a brilliant cast!!!     

It seems that every single actor was precisely chosen and crafted by an extraordinary, brilliant director, Zach Davidson, who created a production that will never be forgotten. The collaboration and passion of their talents make all the heavy moments to be interwoven with deep love and compassion. The enlightening choreography by Zach Davidson, Elisa Rosin and the Ensemble is another phenomenal choice for the smooth flow of occurrences.

Mama Mama Can't You See opened November 10 (the official birthday of the U.S. Marines) and runs through December 10, with performances on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 7 p.m. (dark November 23 through November 26.) Tickets range $35. Studio/Stage is located at 520 N Western Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90004. For reservations and information, go to: or call 818-925-4928. Arrive early as only street parking is available. Be sure to read signs carefully.

WARNING: This play contains vivid descriptions of war and violence that may be triggering to some audience members, particularly those with combat experience and/or post-traumatic stress disorder. The production makes use of explicit/graphic language, simulated sex acts, herbal cigarettes, theatrical haze, strobe lighting effects and sudden loud sounds. Recommended for mature audiences ages 16 and up.

Posted By DH Magazine on November 16, 2023 02:40 pm | Permalink