A decades-estranged father and son meet for the first time since a car crash ripped their family to shreds in Christian Durso’s gripping, emotionally-charged Redline, an IAMA Theatre Company World Premiere that held me in its grip from the bombshell revelation that sets it in motion to its life-and-death final seconds.

60something Raymond (James Eckhouse) lets loose said bombshell only minutes into Durso’s uniquely structured two-hander.

 “I drove into oncoming traffic with my family in the car,” he informs us. “More or less on purpose. Nine-car pileup behind me. Broke the guard rail on the side of the highway. Almost took us over a cliff. Three quarters of an inch more would’ve done it. And the whole thing didn’t take longer than five seconds. Five seconds from when I snapped until the car came to a complete stop. That’s the amount of time it takes to change your life.”

Not that Raymond seems further inclined to go into details about the not-so-accidental accident, or at least not yet.

What we get instead are scenes from a marriage gone sour, memories of a couple who could agree on one thing only, a 1993 half-ton 1500 series Chevrolet Suburban with a 5.7 liter V8 that cost them a pretty penny but was precisely the behemoth of a family wagon in which to brave the twists and turns of Highway 395 from Pasadena to Lake Tahoe.

As for the rest, it’s a wonder the couple remained married long enough to have a 13-year-old son, a 9-year-old daughter, and a golden retriever named Cassie, a family that remained shakily intact until that one fateful drive up the 395.

 The first two-thirds of Redline’s ninety minutes are solo pieces for Eckhouse and for Graham Sibley as his now 30something son Jamie, only just released from six years behind bars during which his now ex-wife was awarded full custody of a son Jamie knows only as a baby photo on his cell phone and a recorded laugh he replays and replays.

The details of Raymond’s and Jamie’s revelations I’ll leave it for you to discover. Suffice it to say that their emotional baggage is every bit as heavy as the possibility of reconciliation and redemption is slim.

Still, where there once was (and perhaps still is) love, there is hope. Maybe. Just possibly. Or perhaps not.

 Acting showcases don’t get much better than Redline, and both Eckhouse and Sibley give powerhouse, testosterone-charged, emotionally-draining performances, and when the two finally meet, expect to hear a pin drop as Redline moves inexorably towards its will-they-or-won’t-they final seconds.

Eli Gonda directs his cast of two as expertly as he did an ensemble four times its number in IAMA’s recent Species Native To California.

 Scenic designer Rachel Myers’ living room set (accessorized by properties design whiz Michael O’Hara) transforms niftily to an adjacent location I’ll keep secret. Josh Epstein and Scot Gianelli light Myers’ set and Melissa Trn’s character-appropriate costumes with dramatic flair as sound designer Peter Bayne provides a suspense-enhancing mix of original music and effects, with Edgar Landa showing off fight director expertise with a single punch on the Lounge Theatre stage.

Redline is produced by Tom DeTrinis and Jen Houget. Amber Caras is stage manager. Additional program credits are shared by Karen Reese (scenic paint), Jo Crandell (engine design), and Lenny Wolff (technical director). Murielle Zuker is assistant director. Casting is by Jordan Bass and Bass Casting. Drew Rausch understudies the role of Jamie.

Now celebrating its tenth anniversary of edgy, electrifying Los Angeles theater-making, IAMA opens Season 10 with an emotional wallop. Redline is well worth a beeline to the Lounge.

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Lounge Theatre, 6201 Santa Monica Boulevard. Hollywood. T

–Steven Stanley
October 29, 2017
Photos: Dean Cechvala


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