In Daniel MacIvor’s In On It, two actors perform on a bare black stage, their sole “props” being a pair of chairs and a gray suit jacket. Who are these two men? Are they actors? Writers? Students in an acting class? They seem to be preparing a play or movie about someone named Ray who was involved in an accident. At various times, both performers (named “This One” and “That One”) don the jacket to become Ray, or doff it to portray one of the other characters in Ray’s life. Other scenes between the two men, a gay couple, have them discussing their work in progress. Still others seem to be flashbacks from their past.
Lighting and staging cues are there to (ideally) prevent confusion. When the two men are performing the “play within a play,” they are lit by spots and face the audience from opposite sides of the stage, even when talking to each other. There’s a softer lighting and a more natural staging when they interact in the present. Their past is lit with an amber glow.
In The Production Company’s current presentation of In On It, Blake Anthony and Josh Gordon give faultless, multicolored, multileveled performances. These are dream roles for any actor looking for a challenge, and Anthony and Gordon are most definitely Up To It. Gordon proved himself a master of multiple roles in The Road Theatre’s production of Ouroboros a few years back. Here, whether playing a man with haunted eyes or a woman with an elegantly affected voice, he is splendid. Blake Anthony, who recently starred in The ProdCo’s A Good Smoke, is an exciting new talent, and his performance here is daring and dynamic. Michael Van Duzer’s is an imaginative director who clearly understands how to get the best from his actors.
The play itself is something else. A reviewer of a previous production has described MacIvor’s script as “dense.” Actually, that’s how I felt about myself when trying to figure out what was going on. Unlike other plays which juggle time and space (Ouroboros and Bunbury are two of the most exciting theatrical experiences I’ve had), In On It ended up becoming just too confusing for me to follow.
Thus, as much as I admire the talent on stage and behind the scenes (Ric Zimmerman’s lighting does indeed delineate between the time/reality frames of the script and I loved the 60s girl singer hits in Bob Blackburn’s sound design), I reluctantly cannot recommend the play itself.
Kudos, however to producers August Viverito and TL Kolman for daring to try something different, and a loud round of applause for actors Anthony and Gordon, who couldn’t be better in their roles.
The Chandler Studio Theatre, 12443 Chandler Blvd., North Hollywood.
June 8, 2008