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Philip K. Dick's
adapted by Linda Hartinian

Cast (in order of appearance)

Jason Taverner, A Popular Television Personality - Jeff Ricketts
Heather Hart, A Tv And Recording Personality - Gwyn Fawcett
Marilyn Mason, A Scorned Woman - Lauren Campedelli
Kathy Nelson, An Id Forger - Ames Ingham
Mr. Mcnulty, A Police Detective - Jack Wallace
Felix Buckman, A Police General - Burr Steers
Alys Buckman, His Sister - Julia Brothers
Pol, A Policeman - Rick Williamson
Ruth Rae, A Woman In A Bar - Katie Leede
Herb, A Policeman - Tobias Baker
Mary Anne Dominic, A Potter - Laura D'arista

Director - Bart DeLorenzo
Scenic Designer - Jason Adams
Lighting Designer - Rand Ryan
Costume Designer - Ann Closs-Farley
Sound Designer - John Zalewski
Theme song by - Ken Roht & Kip Boardman
Choreographer - Ken Roht
Video Artist - Adam Soch

Producer - Frier McCollister
Assistant Director - Christian Leffler

Stage Manager - Beth Mack
Assistant Stage Manager - Kurt Leitner
Board Ops - Brooke Conrad, Omar Inguanzo

Graphic Design - Chris Gallipoli & Chris Gubisch

April 10 - May 16, 1999

Jeff Ricketts (Jason Taverner) and Julia Brothers (Alys)

Ames Ingham (Kathy) and Jeff Ricketts (Jason Taverner)

Lauren Campedelli (Marilyn) and Jeff Ricketts (Jason Taverner)

Burr Steers (Buckman) and Julia Brothers (Alys)

Jeff Ricketts (Jason Taverner) and Katie Leede (Ruth Rae)


Los Angeles Times

Visionary or nut job? Throughout his prolific career, legendary sci-fi author Philip K. Dick traversed a dizzying line between imagination and insanity. Agoraphobic, addicted to amphetamines and intermittently suicidal, Dick did nothing by halves. He married five times and wrote compulsively, gravitating to science fiction as the main conduit for his obsessive literary outpouring.

Written in the mid-’70s and set in futuristic 1988, Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said was penned by Dick in the latter stages of his career. (He died of a stroke in 1982.) Adapted by Linda Hartinian, originally for New York’s Mabou Mines and now presented by the Evidence Room at the Ivy Substation, the piece is vintage Dick, fluctuating between the inventive and the paranoiac.

Adored television personality Jason Taverner (Jeff Ricketts), a womanizing egomaniac, falls afoul of a woman scorned and awakens in a flophouse to find that no one knows who he is. Stripped of his very existence, Taverner embarks on an exploration into his past. Is he the victim of a carefully orchestrated conspiracy? Did he fall through the cracks of reality into an alternate dimension? Or was his previous life a drug-induced hallucination all along?

Without his identity papers, Taverner soon gains the notice of police general Felix Buckman (the effectively laid-back Burr Steers), who is also anxious to learn the mystery of Taverner’s origins. Besotted by power and his kinky sister Alys (amusing Julia Brothers), for whom he has an incestuous obsession, the devious but debonair Felix resorts to torture and subterfuge to bring Taverner to heel.

Drug-fueled, hallucinatory and downright messy, Dick’s dystopian yarn is a theatrical Rorschach, a seemingly random pattern that may have meaning only for his fans. Fortunately, director Bart DeLorenzo and his tongue-in-cheek cast ground Dick’s peripatetic plot in an energetic staging as campy as it is cryptic.

In the opening scene, a hilarious variety show parody written and staged by Ken Roht, Ricketts, in a toupee that looks as if it will wake up any minute, performs a pelvis-thrusting Tom Jones number while trading quips with his comely co-host and lover, Heather (Gwyn Fawcett). It’s a dead-on takeoff that could have been lifted from an old Second City Television sketch. Also hilarious is the hard-boiled noir tone, complete with Joe Friday-ish narration. However, this sci-fi whodunit has no convenient butlers in the pantry, and no easy answers. If you’re not already a fan of the author, this won’t convert you – but it will divert you.

Everyone involved obviously has had fun with this, including and especially the designers. Costumer Ann Closs-Farly’s futuristic fetish-wear goes heavy on the poly-vinyl, and Jason Adams’ sets employ the psychedelic primary colors of early Peter Max. John Zalewski’s sound and Rand Ryan’s lighting are purposely disorienting, as are Adam Soch’s weird, subliminal videos, which flicker creepily throughout.

– F. Kathleen Foley

New Times

Paranoia has largely fallen out of style. Nowadays it isn’t much more than a garden-variety mental illness whose most extreme victims wear tinfoil hats to keep the commands from alien spaceships from entering their brains. But early in the Cold War, with spy planes hovering above and enemy spooks ferreting out military secrets below, it was serious business. The notion of a sinister Other interjecting itself into the most secure recesses of the Defense Department or the White House or even, through hallucinogens and mood-altering drugs, into the human mind, seemed all too real. Imaginative writers like Thomas Pynchon and William Burroughs nurtured their looniest paranoid scenarios the way earlier writers cherished Greek myths. But nobody did it more poignantly than science-fiction writer Philip K. Dick, whose novels often captured a surreal, panicky environment where not even our deepest thoughts seemed safe.

In the midst of a widespread Dick revival, the Evidence Room theater company brings us a witty stage adaptation of Dick’s 1974 novel, Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said, now at the Ivy Substation. The play offers an illusory but compelling mix of parallel universes, weird science, altered brains, and fascistic cops. The strange Dickian ambience has been successfully conjured in movies like Blade Runner and Total Recall, but it’s hard to imagine a small theater company like this one doing it convincingly. That the Evidence Room does so is somewhat of a tribute to the company’s set and costume designers who, on a limited budget, have created a credible futuristic atmosphere, but mostly to director Bart DeLorenzo, whose vision of the piece is so sharply focused.

Instead of adopting the ultraserious noir interpretation that movie directors have employed with Dick material, DeLorenzo – with a lot of help from Linda Hartinian, who adapted the book – has given the play a droll, spicy flavor. The central character is Jason Taverner, a Tom Jones-like rock singer and television personality who suddenly finds himself without an identity after an angry ex-girlfriend succeeds in implanting some sort of mind-bending device in him. (She flings a spidery crustaceanlike thing at him, and it clings to his chest long enough to inflict a "somatic violation," as his attacker puts it.) Now he remembers who he is but nobody else does. Taverner has somehow been erased from human memory.

The humbling of Taverner, a camera-mugging celebrity who is cruelly transported to an underground of petty criminals, seedy dives, and cold-blooded cops with green, plastic face shields, is great fun. "I can’t live two hours without my identity cards," he tells a forger. "I’m not like other men." In his quest for an identity, he encounters a succession of women, most of whom end up offering him their bodies. It must be true then: Rock stars – even down-and-out ones without identity cards – are different from you and me.

Jeff Ricketts plays Taverner with a dash of farce, but he doesn’t forget his character’s essential melancholy. When a photographer takes his picture for a newly forged identity card, he shows his teeth like a movie star arriving at Cannes. But there’s always an elusive sadness about Ricketts, a dark, thin-faced man with a wickedly seductive leer and a haircut that looks like a lopsided mushroom. Taverner’s plight is the plight of us all. Remove our identity cards – all the artificial props that tell us who we are – and we’re all deeply, bleakly alone.

His relationships with women only highlight that message. There’s the antsy forger (Ames Ingham) who tries to get Taverner to go to her place to "screw like minks," but who turns out to be crazy as a jaybird. There’s Ruth (Katie Leede), a bluesy barfly who rhapsodizes about the tragedy of human love ("To be alone is the ultimate destiny of each living creature"). And there’s Alys (Julia Brothers), whose brain has been operated on to turn her into a constantly simmering sex machine.

There’s also Taverner’s prior-life girlfriend Heather (Gwyn Fawcett), who coldly brushes him off, even after he tells her intimate details that only a lover could know about her in order to prove his existence. And there’s Buckman (Burr Steers), the insouciant police official tracking down Taverner for security violations. He’s Alys’ brother as well as her husband. The actors are all fine, with nary a jarring moment despite the outlandish scenario.

The story is acted out on a rotating platform and on the Ivy Substation’s metal stairway and elevator. A large multipaneled video monitor, set up on a wall next to the stage, sometimes lights up to magnify actions on the stage. Jason Adams’ sets are simple structures of painted steel screens, with a household item or two here and there, and Ann Closs-Farly’s costumes are as much present-day rock and roll as 21st century.

It all works, though the videos are sometimes pale with a low-tech clumsiness about them. Dick’s notion of a solipsistic interior reality, with little relationship to the "real" world, is a bit hard to follow sometimes. Just who is whose delusion here? But there are jolts of insight, as when the identityless Taverner suggests, after someone has finally recognized him, "My reality is leaking back." See? It’s all a matter of what's going up there, in the space between your ears, the play suggests. Relax, take the tinfoil off your head, and go along with the program. The possibilities are endless. You could start out by going to this very entertaining play.

– Edmund Newton

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