“What is fact? What is fiction?”
From the cast
That is a good question especially in Hollywood. What is fact and what is fiction? A better question is when does fact turn into fiction or fiction into fact? The blurred lines between reality and what we perceive as reality gets a rude awakening in this blunt in-your-face show by writer/director Kenne-James. Think of it as the X-rated version of the 1990 film Pretty Woman, starring Academy Award winner Julia Roberts. In this case the Roberts role is Scott (played wonderful by Jesse Pudles) a sweet, good morals young man from the Mid-West out to make his fortune in California, Hollywood that is. He’s casting for his new show and starts auditioning actors with his partner in crime and fellow director Chad (Kenne-James). Ryan (Kelly Lee Williams) is up first. After eyeing him carefully, Scott asks Ryan to audition in his underwear. This is for Ryan’s benefit so he can become comfortable being naked on stage, eventually. A taken aback Ryan, reluctantly agrees and you can almost hear Scott breathe a sigh of deep relief.
Jesse (Todd Lien) is up next. He asks the audience to shout out a nervous tick and they respond collectively, lick his armpit. More than willing to oblige, Jesse he does his monologue while licking his armpit and declares proudly “I have a penis!” Scott comes onto the nervous Jesse who after getting the role, asks for time off to visit his son. Scott adheres to Jesse’s request much to the chagrin of Chad. Scott also has eyes for pretty blonde Kathryn (Sarah Jenks) and the uncomfortable love triangle begins.
After the roles are cast, the issue of money comes in. Getting funds is always a problem because as soon as the money comes in it goes right back out. Scott had the ingenious idea of having the unseen Rickie, the theater critic, invest money into the show. That fatal mistake causes animosity among cast members and more money out the door. While Scott advises Ryan to walk around in a towel, Kathryn carries around her bible for comfort. In private, she and another actor John (Stanton Longoria) discuss how terrible Scott and Ricki are. The cast rebels against Scott who has some serious problems. He begins drinking more and is soon outed by his many fake profiles on dating sites to catfish more actors. “This isn’t me. I am a good Christian boy from the Mid-West,” he says repeatedly to console himself. Scott literally comes face to face with his sins in the form of Dream Fighter (Anthony Li), an Adonis type figure, with a stoic expression, who provides Scott with some much needed absolution. Scott accepts it and his able to relax for a nanosecond while Kathryn and John plot against Scott using social media so his own show will fail.
This is definitely the dark side of Hollywood. The side that no one ever talks about but knows its existence. James does a wonderful job in executing the seedy side of the glitz and glamour we are used to seeing. He holds nothing back: addiction, nudity and honesty. Everyone is touched in some way by the promise of enduring fame and unimaginable wealth. It is what sells. It is what people from the up North, down South and back East hold on to so they can be that one person in a thousand who makes it. The road is rocky, filled with dangerous pitfalls and shady characters willing and able to take you down. However, it is the innate faith and drive that separate the dreamers from the I will make it attitudes. Just ask Julia.
Reclaimed Freedom plays Friday, June 17th at 10 p.m. and Sunday, June 26th at 1 p.m. at the Macha Theatre, located at 1107 N. Kings Road in West Hollywood. For ticket information, log on at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2537612.