Sunday, April 24, 2011

“Well” is theater in excellent shape…

It’s not exactly the norm for me to review theater on this blog but after seeing Panndora Productions’s performance of Lisa Kron’s Well last night at The Empire Theatre in Santa Ana, I feel compelled to do so. I must. This work found its way into my heart with a joy for life and love and inventiveness that I haven’t seen in theater for too long.

As a ersatz member of the theater community in Southern California (I was an actor once and have a bit of a reputation as a playwright), I see a lot of theater. Some of it’s good. Most of it isn’t. Recently, a friend said to me… wait. I have the quote. She said, “Yes, we all go to see shows and experience other theaters, to see our friends and how many times have we said ‘Oh that was soooo good. You were great,’ only to walk away to the local watering hole, criticize the show in our own way and then never think of it again. When was the last time you saw something on stage that moved you to rage? To be a better person? Or again in the very least, to just shout from the rooftops that you are alive.” She said that in regards to a project we’re working on but it applies so well here.

Well made me want to shout from the rooftops that I am alive. Panndora’s production filled me with more than a love for life; it made me grateful for the 90 minutes I was in that theater. Because it was nourishing and fulfilling and important – and GOOD!

I loved Well. My praise for it is complete and unequivocal. If you’re anywhere near Santa Ana between now and May 15th, you need to see Well.

MaryAnne Mosher’s direction is loose and fun, effortless. The show doesn’t look directed; it looks lived in. Sonja Berggren, who am I fortunate to call a friend and who I have worked with in the past and has never let me down, amazed and delighted me with her performance. The supporting case of J.J. Boone, Philip Bushell, Richard De Vicariis, and Pam Paulson are so much more than supporting players. They are amazing.

But most of all, it is Karen Wray with her dry, heart-felt, honest, beautiful performance as Lisa that makes the show. I have met Karen in the past and she was a very nice person and then I went on with my life. Something happened in Well, however, to change that. I fell in love with Karen Wray in Well. I wanted to watch her performance go on for the entire evening. I wanted to spend the night in the theater. The impact between writing and acting and directing, along with the alchemy of the other players, made this Karen Wray’s show. She can proud of this performance for years to come.

Go see Well. Buy your tickets now. You can do it online. Bring your friends and family. You will be so glad you did. You can find Panndora Productions online at If you see it, let me know how much you enjoyed it and spread the word. This is theater worth supporting, not just because it’s art but because it is good.

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