Scroll Up Scroll Down Drag to Scroll Text

Charles L. Mee's
with interludes by Orphean Circus

Prologue. Rindecella
Pamela Gordon with the company

Overture. "Med. S.I."/"Burning Rubber"
(m: Keith Niles, l: Ken Roht / m: Scott White, l: Ken Roht)
Orphean Circus

I. A couple in bed.
Molly - Colleen Wainwright
Peter - Tobias Baker

Ii. "Sex Street"
(M: John Ballinger, Ken Roht, Keith Miles, L: Ken Roht)
Orphean Circus

Iii. A Couple In Bed.
Karen - Lauren Campedelli
Peter - Tobias Baker

Iv. "Funny Artist Fellow"
(M: Kip Boardman, L: Ken Roht)
Orphean Circus

V. A Couple In Bed.
David - Leo Marks
Karen - Lauren Campedelli

VI. "Sleepytime Guy"/"Ride"
(m & l: Ken Roht / m: Scott White & Curtis Heard, l: Ken Roht)
Orphean Circus

Orphean Circus:
Dorie Barton
Aaron Case
Pamela Gordon
Ames Ingham
Gary Kelley
Wendy McClellan
Teigh McDonough
Carlos Mora
Ken Roht
Don Oscar Smith
Will Watkins
Kirk Wilson.

Directed by Bart DeLorenzo
Musical sequences conceived, directed, & choreographed by Ken Roht
Prologue directed by Robert A. Prior
Original tracks produced & arranged by John Ballinger

Set & Costume Designer - Robert A. Prior
Lighting Designer - Rand Ryan
Costume Designer - Ann Closs-Farley
Sound Design - John Zalewski Prop Design - Connie Monaghan

Producer - Bart DeLorenzo
Associate Producers - Ignacia Delgado & Michael Reisz

Stage Manager - Connie Monaghan
Board Op - Ignacia Delgado
Spot Op - Lori Nelson

Graphic Design - Colleen Wainwright

September 15 - October 20, 2001

Tobias Baker (Peter) and Colleen Wainwright (Molly)

Featuring Kirk Wilson

Lauren Campedelli (Karen) and Tobias Baker (Peter)

Aaron Case, Kirk Wilson, and Pamela Gordon

Leo Marks (David) and Lauren Campedelli (Karen)

Featuring Will Watkins

Pamela Gordon


Los Angeles Times

Long before he became one of America’s hot theatrical numbers, historian-turned-playwright Charles L. Mee concocted a kind of nuclear-meltdown variety show called The Imperialists at the Club Cave Canem.

Ideally, you might catch the 70-minute explosion now at Evidence Room before or after something else, on maybe five hours’ sleep. It’s a dance-intensive goof that does all the work for you, comprising three bedroom conversations, mundane and postcoital, preceded by musical numbers – Mee’s text refers only to unspecified "performance pieces."

These are the dominant elements in Evidence Room’s production. Original songs include "Burning Rubber," "Sex Street," "Funny Artist Fellow" (in which the performance art vibe is made explicit) and a cowboy lullaby titled "Sleepytime Guy." There’s also a prologue consisting of the Cinderella story, told by Pamela Gordon with more than a few letters out of place.

A sample sentence: "My son the pransom hince wants all the giligible earls to sly on the tripper."

Put it all together, and by design, it comes apart. Mee’s text premiered in New York in 1988, all six pages of it.

(It’s available at˜meejr/imperialists.html.)

Evidence Room’s West Coast premiere, staged by Bart DeLorenzo, imparts a sense of American culture falling all over itself to entertain, in a Weimar-meets-Austin Powers go-go setting.

The choreography by Ken Roht is propulsively silly and fairly inventive in its raunch, performed by members of the Orphean Circus. (Teigh McDonough’s a standout in the movement sequences.) If the result is more interesting than funny, DeLorenzo’s weirder images compensate. At one point, a man opens a newspaper that, due to a live sound effect and a puff of smoke, appears to explode from within. A funny, chilling moment.

The show’s rhythm errs toward predictability, which sounds strange for such a wild outing. You wouldn’t mind a change-up or two; Mee’s script amounts to a somewhat studied lark – pillow talk followed by dadaist freak-out, and then another bedroom scene.

"Often I hear something and I remember it and I think it happened to me," says one character. That’s history in one sentence, according to Mee. The imperialism angle remains oblique in The Imperialists, but as consumers, we hear stories of imperialism and terrorism and faraway places we choose not to comprehend. And then we appropriate them, while the beat goes on.

– Michael Phillips

LA Weekly

It’s not clear what the title means. Nor, ultimately, does it matter, since Charles L. Mee’s kaleidoscopic event is essentially one lavish performance-art party, complete with tight production numbers, gorgeously voiced singer-actors, wry comic turns, and fabulously imaginative costumes. The show represents an amalgam of several of L.A.’s most innovative theatrical talents: Bart De Lorenzo’s shrewd, visually insightful direction is set off by Ken Roht’s compelling musical direction and choreography, and by Robert A. Prior’s amazing costumes. Blending whimsy, kitsch and disturbing irony, the production alternates tongue-in-cheek love ballads with quick, disturbing images of sexuality and gender confusion. For instance, "Sex Street" is a vibrant, jazzy production number in which syrupy love ballads are juxtaposed against quirky carnal tableaux. The musical numbers are bracketed by a series of La Ronde-like bedroom scenes, in which several New York boho types connect (or don’t quite) with weirdly disjointed pillow talk. Unfortunately, Mee’s frenetically structured 1988 text itself is the show’s weakest link – a series of playful, thin yet pretentious Laurie Anderson-style vignettes, whose meaning is often oblique and which sometimes feel like a lightweight afterthought for the ferociously inventive stagecraft. The ensemble, particularly the "Orphean Circus" chorus, sing like rock stars and dance like angels – though they’re inevitably upstaged by Prior’s show-stopping costumes.

– Paul Birchall

evidence room home page