EVIDENCE ROOM PRESENTS
Producer - Kirk Wilson
Apr 8 - May 13, 2006
Los Angeles Times
The crowd looks exceptionally arty. Leather, black sweaters and berets seem to be the evening’s dress code.
Then the music kicks up, and many of those folks drift toward the small stages set up around the room. Turns out they’re actors, and as they move into place, The Strip, a late-night performance party at the Evidence Room, shifts into high gear.
Described as "a living comic book," the show is envisioned as a serial that will progress each Saturday night, with new stories and a rotating company of actors. The roughly one-hour performances take place in the theater’s large lobby and bar area, which, with its high, open-beamed ceilings and exposed brick walls, has always seemed the perfect party room. As show time nears, visitors grab folding chairs and stake viewing spots.
This past Saturday’s kickoff featured separate stories by Justin Tanner, the local writer of such cult hits as Pot Mom; Patricia Scanlon, a veteran of a New York series similar to The Strip; and Michael Connor, whose plays include Naked Body. All three starred in their pieces, which fused performance art with sketch comedy – with riotously funny results.
Tanner introduced fraternal twins Dank, a nerdy gay guy, and his sister Breezy, a suburban mom who occasionally pays the bills by hooking – both played by the writer. The episode focused on Breezy, who was in the process of passing along her poor sense of self-respect to her 8-year-old daughter, Sunshine, as she snapped lines like: "God hates you and wants you to suffer, and so do I."
Perhaps not surprisingly, then, the adorable, pigtailed girl, played by Tanner regular Laurel Green, proved to be as cheery as her name one minute and like the little hellion from The Bad Seed the next.
Scanlon’s piece, written with Hugh Palmer, focused on Hildy Hildy, a character she developed off-off-Broadway. From her flip of a hairdo to her clunky platform shoes, Hildy was dressed mostly in black – a tip-off that, as her fed-up boyfriend (Palmer) put it, she can sometimes be "the white noise of depression."
In a different vein, Connor’s piece followed the cartoonish exploits of Count Woodrow, a man of leisure given to wearing a double-breasted suit with epaulets and racing off to save damsels in distress. Dashing yet odd, he is James Bond crossed with Dudley Do-Right.
The stories didn’t intermingle on opening night, though they are supposed to in the future. Additional writers and story lines also will join the mix. Heaven only knows where all of this is headed, but the journey should be fun.
– Daryl H. Miller
After a long hiatus from the L.A. theater scene, local playwright wundkerkind, Justin Tanner has resurfaced in drag. The scribe who gave us Coyote Woman, Happy Time Xmas, The Tent Show and others is now lending his creative talents to this cabaret-styled, late-night weekly serial comedy, and if the first installment is any indication, dropping by on Saturday nights could become habit forming. It’s formatted as a series of vignettes that track into each other using rotating casts. The show on the night I attended – written by Tanner, Patricia Scanlon, Hugh Palmer and Michael Connor – offered its share of laughs, none more gut-busting than Tanner as Breezy, the mother of a bad-seed 8-year-old named Sunshine (played with manic fury by Tanner’s longtime associate Laurel Green), who has to take up "whoring" to pay for some much-needed cosmetic surgery. Scanlon is murderously funny as a spaced-out, lovesick ditz who argues incessantly with her boyfriend, Bob (Palmer). Then there’s the cartoonish Count Woodrow (Connor) and his sidekick, Calvin Crump (Kevin Cristaldi), who, after rescuing Miss Daisy Riddle (Helen Greenberg) from the clutches of a cannibal TV show host, were headed for Madagascar. Stay tuned.
– Lovell Estell III