Despite the many positive reviews it has garnered during its extended run at the Santa Monica Playhouse, I did not enjoy Locked And Loaded, Todd Sussman’s existentialist dramedy. I found myself turned off from the get-go by its terminally ill, suicide-bound sexagenarian heroes, two men I wouldn’t enjoy spending time with in real life, let alone as characters in a play. Things perked up a bit, or at least at first, when a pair of hookers appeared magically at their doorstep, one of them sporting an irresistible Spanish accent. Unfortunately, her foulmouthed chick-with-a-dick companion proved entirely resistible, and though I kept hoping to be won over, I found myself less and less involved in the onstage action as the play went on to bizarre extremes, its characters engaging in a mock trial à la Sartre (not one of my favorite writers).
The production does feature a talented cast, and there is some fine work being done on stage under Chris DeCarlo’s direction. Set, lighting, sound, and costume design are all top notch.
Reviews have praised the work of leading men Paul Linke and Andrew Parks as the retirement-aged friends, and both are excellent. Sandra Thigpen gives Princess Lay-ya all the roughness and sass the part requires. The splendid Terasa Sciortino not only plays Castilian call girl Catorce Martinez with abundant charm but several other very American characters as well.
Sharing credit for the production’s technical excellence are John Forster (incidental music), Myrna Gawryn (movement choreographer), Serena Dolinsky (associate director), James Cooper (lighting and set designer), and Ashley Hayes (costume design). Cassandra John is backstage operator and technician and George J Vennes III is production stage manager. At the performance reviewed here, Santa Monica Playhouse co-artistic director Evelyn Rudie made a post-bow call for donations that came across more threatening than cordial.
Mine may well be the sole negative voice in a sea of thumbs up, but in the end, I am sad to say that Locked And Loaded left me bored and bewildered.
The Other Space at Santa Monica Playhouse, 1211 Fourth Street, Santa Monica.
June 5, 2011
Photos: Cydne Moore