Scroll Up Scroll Down Drag to Scroll Text

Gordon Dahlquist's


Irene - Lauren Campedelli
Pierson - Christian Leffler
Thackaray - Leo Marks
Delphine - Ames Ingham
Celeste - Ann Closs-Farley

Director - Bart DeLorenzo
Scenic Designer - Jason Adams
Lighting Designer - Rand Ryan
Costume Designer - Candice Cain
Sound Design - John Zalewski
Fight Choreographer - Nick Offerman
Props - Connie Monaghan

Producer - Bart DeLorenzo
Dramaturg - Mead Hunter
Assistant Director - Adrian A. Cruz

Stage Manager - Beth Mack
Assistant Stage Manager - Kirk Wilson
Sound Board - Lori Nelson

Graphic Design - Colleen Wainwright
Photographer - Mark Hanauer

This production was part of the [INSIDE] THE FORD season, a collaboration of the Los Angeles County Arts Commission and A.S.K. Theater Projects.

November 8 - December 16, 2001

Lauren Campedelli (Irene), Leo Marks (Thackaray),
and Christian Leffler (Pierson)

Ames Ingham (Delphine) and Lauren Campedelli (Irene)

Ann Closs-Farley (Celeste) and Ames Ingham (Delphine)

Christian Leffler (Pierson) and Ann Closs-Farley (Celeste)

Ames Ingham (Delphine), Leo Marks (Thackaray),
and Ann Closs-Farley (Celeste)

Ann Closs-Farley (Celeste) and Christian Leffler (Pierson)


Los Angeles Times

It’s the kind of room that makes you want to open a window. But there isn’t one. You’re in an interrogation room, the unnerving nerve center of Delirium Palace, a new play currently giving people the oogly-booglies as part of the "Hot Properties" series at (Inside) the Ford, beneath the Ford Amphitheatre.

The room, splendidly realized by scenic designer Jason Adams, tilts up and away from the audience. When one of the two doors is flung open, by characters alternately menacing and panicked, you see red-blood-red walls leading somewhere creepy, in the neighborhood of David Lynch’s dancing-dwarf universe.

At the start of Gordon Dahlquist’s play, Irene (Lauren Campedelli) is being grilled by Pierson (Christian Leffler). She’s amnesiac. She believes herself to be an American doctor, lost in some foreign port city. She remembers a red door, beckoning, and then a white room, people wearing headphones....

But is this Irene, or someone named Magdalena, a professional killer? Surely the ease with which she nearly breaks Pierson’s nose suggests the latter. Just in time, the shifty-eyed Pierson snaps his fingers. His assailant passes out cold, and through one door comes Thackaray (wild-eyed Leo Marks, master of the hilarious, heightened physical gesture), asking in a gravelly voice: "Is there a problem?"

In Delirium Palace the cat-and-mouse reversals require the cats and mice to change roles continually. Is Pierson Irene’s savior, or executioner? Is the Italian woman in the Chinese dress (Ames Ingham) really Italian? When the fifth character, Celeste (Ann Closs-Farley) arrives, it’s obvious she’s Ms. Big – the mistress of what exactly, though? Some kind of sensory-deprivation think tank?

Playwright Dahlquist loves his oblique games. Not for nothing does the program quote Alain Robbe-Grillet, the man behind the early 1960s maze of pretention Last Year at Marienbad.

There’s an archness to the writing, and before it’s quite over Dahlquist’s play starts chasing its own tail. Yet it’s highly stage-worthy. And this Evidence Room production, staged with wicked precision by Bart DeLorenzo, brings out every ounce of its atmospheric possibilities.

Campedelli brings a mournful gravity to the piece. Leffler and Marks offer extremely effective and blackly funny versions of guys in white coats born to be mistrusted. As contrasting studies in vampdom, Ingham and Closs-Farley fold neatly into the proceedings. The design work is all of a piece, from scenic designer Adams’ glimpses of hellishly crimson hallways to the stealth suspense of John Zalewski’s sound design.

There’s a bit of The Prisoner in Dahlquist’s where-are-we? musings, along with shards of Pinter’s institution-set play The HotHouse. The sexual daydreams (a lot of finger-sucking here) suggest David Lynch or, from the stage, mind-benders such as Jeffrey Jones (Seventy Scenes of Halloween) or Eric Overmyer (Dark Rapture). Dahlquist takes his reality/fantasy questions increasingly seriously. Not all audiences will be willing to do the same, especially since he deploys those questions to edgy comic effect en route.

But a first-rate production is a first-rate production. I’m glad I saw this one. It’s proof of the continuing progress of Evidence Room, L.A.’s most valuable rising theater.

– Michael Phillips

BackStage West

The works of Phillip K. Dick and David Lynch cast long shadows over Gordon Dahlquist’s ingenious and frequently baffling dark thriller, which receives a startlingly fresh and offbeat production at the hands of ever-innovative director Bart DeLorenzo, one of the city’s most assured creative talents. This play directly addresses the nature of perception and of objective reality. How much do we think we know about a situation, and how many of our assumptions can be proved wrong? Admittedly the play sometimes leaves us baffled, but it’s the bafflement of knowing that our senses have been assailed with something new, exciting, and ferociously imaginative.

Dahlquist’s play doesn't follow a conventional linear narrative; it tells a story that moves laterally, for want of a better term. Rather than being bounded by events, the plot, such as it is, unfolds as we gradually get to know more about the characters, none of whom are what they at first seem. The comedy opens as a mysterious woman (Lauren Campedelli) is ruthlessly and inexplicably interrogated in a spooky white torture chamber by a handsome thug (Christian Leffler). The thug wants to know about some event in the woman’s past, but she has amnesia and can't remember it. She also can’t recall whether her name is Irene or Magdalena, or whether she’s a doctor or a maniacal killer.

The interrogation sessions are interrupted by the thug’s overseer, a smug man (Leo Marks), who might be a doctor or just a demon, and by a sultry woman (Ames Ingham) in a Chinese silk dress who sometimes speaks in an Italian accent. To make matters even more challenging, the characters address one another as different people when one or the other is knocked unconscious, as happens periodically. Later, a sinister beauty (Ann Closs-Farley) unexpectedly arrives at the lab to torture the torturers.

It’s all very bizarre and very provocative, and DeLorenzo engrossingly creates a universe of disconnected fragments. The impression formed is that of characters trying to stand on a beach of shifting sand, where the relationships, explanations, and characterizations change from moment to moment and line to line. DeLorenzo’s surreal presentation is aided by the cracklingly evocative performances of this ensemble, which, unlike the rest of us, seems to know exactly what's going on here. Campedelli offers a harrowing turn as the woman who seems to know as little about herself as we do when we first meet her, and Ingham is simultaneously sweet and sinister as the seemingly maniacal force of nature. Also appealing is Leffler’s doofus thug, whose plight engenders unexpected sympathy before the show is over.

– Paul Birchall

evidence room home page