IN THE BALANCE
Do you believe in ghosts?
This show reminded me of the 1990s CBS program, “American Gothic” starring
Gary Cole as the ominous Sheriff Lucas Buck. To anyone who remembered this addicting show, Buck was a corrupt individual who preyed on the vulnerabilities of others. He is an evil entity with a charismatic smile and a knife behind his back ready to strike. The same could be said for the two ghosts who haunt a fragile married couple in their home by the ocean. Matt and Cass (Brian Graves and Meg Wallace) have been married for four years and share a 13-week old infant daughter Ann Grace. They still are debating about the name. One stormy night, is there any other kind, their friend Kostya and his fiancée Alicia, (Peter Nikkos and Laura Gudino) drop in. Matt questions why Kostya decided to suddenly make a visit. The men reminisce while Cass and Alicia check on Cass’ daughter.
Later in the evening, Kostya suggests to play the Ouija board. Matt and Cass, at first, are reluctant but give in. Both couples roll out the mat, light some candles and begin to play. The first word that pops out is URGENT. That’s when they all realize it’s too late to stop. Cass feels another presence in the room. She tells Matt how cups and saucers mysteriously fall and shatter when no one is in the room. The nightly howls she hears and the shadows she sees creeping outside their home make her uneasy and worried. Matt dismisses Cass’ concerns as silly. Now that they have friends over, he believes the evening will go well.
Monsters give me a sense of balance. Alicia
Or, so, he thinks. The two ashen looking ghosts (Benjamin Hoekstra and Travis Stevens) carefully guard the others and watch intently on their next moves. Soon, Matt’s first wife Diane, who committed suicide, possesses Cass. She collapses and her body wriggles into painful looking movements while Matt and the others look on hopelessly. Diane leaps out of Cass and she has many unpleasant and uncomfortable truths to admit. No one is immune. The play is really a psychological-let-me-see-how-far-I-can-go-with-this play brilliantly written by A. David Redish. He does an excellent job traveling far in his character’s psyche and out comes a ball of of unvarnished facts that can no longer be denied or explained away. His flawed characters are widely sympathetic, even when they try to side step the past misdeeds. The main culprit is honesty being showed to the side until it’s absolutely necessary to bring it back. The half-hearted attempt to stay on the side of normalcy, even though they know their current situation is anything but normal, is clearly not working. The four once close friends realize that you can’t go back home but you can forge a new residence built on trust and honesty. Otherwise, you’ll have a couple of ghouls supervising your every move. Not a good look.
In the Balance plays Friday at 8 pm, Saturday at 2 p.m. and ends this Sunday, December 11th at 7 pm, at studio/stage located at 520 N. Western Ave., in Los Angeles. For more information, call 323-860-6569 or log on to www.inthebalance.brownpapertickets.com.