If dystopian thrillers are your thing, you may buy into the post-apocalyptic world imagined by Alexis DeLaRosa in Fruition, a Theatre Of NOTE World Premiere. If not, you’ll likely find yourself less enthralled by what DeLaRosa imagines in store for the USA as we know it.

Set “far in the future but not far enough,” Fruition posits an America in which “The Militia” has targeted anyone who isn’t (or is unable to pass for) Caucasian, which is why olive-complexioned action hero Rainer (DeLaRosa) wants nothing to do with lily-white Forest (Trevor H Olsen) when the latter shows up looking for shelter from the nuclear storm raging outside the abandoned warehouse where Rainer has recently used some WWE-ready kicks-and-chops to annihilate three or four militiamen who didn’t particularly agree with his skin tone.

Indeed, it takes ex-war journalist Forest a good deal of convincing to persuade ex-Army doc Rainer that there’s no band of “militia fascist freaks” lying in wait outside. “I went to Yale, for fuck’s sake,” he protests, and since he didn’t pick the obvious lie (Harvard), that’s enough for Rainer to give his fellow resistance fighter a listen and eventually allow him to stick around, that and Forest’s plea that together they might make for “the beginning of an army of non-assholes” to combat the forces that have taken control of what’s left of the world they both once knew.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the warehouse, detention camp escapees Helga (Kathleen O’Grady) and her pregnant chum Laila (Faith Imafidon) are doing their best to determine whether Rainer is friend or foe, Laila suggesting he “might be a guy worth knowing” and her friend shooting back that “if it’s got a dick, kill it.”

As the two women (one black, one white) debate their next move, Forest gives Rainer the 411 on what’s been happening back east. “Atlanta’s gone, man. DC, Baltimore, Philly, New York too… all fallen cities.” Whatever was left of the government has “reorganized.” Congress, the military, the Senate, and the FBI have all been “repurposed.” And last but not least, “CDC is the priority now. Looking for a cure and trying to save whoever’s left.”

The disease in question turns out to have been caused by Eusalis, an insufficiently tested anti-cancer drug with the unfortunate side effects of converting its takers into “walking talking Chernobyls” commonly referred to as “Sallies” with the nasty habit of not just “turning” (whatever that means) but “turning” everyone in their vicinity, i.e. condemning them to certain death.

If it’s not already clear, playwright DeLaRosa has taken matters of legitimate concern (“Build The Wall” racism, out-of-control “big pharma,” climate change-caused natural disasters) to the ultimate degree, and whether you buy into this future world may depend on how you feel about The Hunger Games, Divergent/Insurgent, World War Z, and others of their post-apocalyptic ilk.

At the very least, Fruition offers theatergoers a hundred minutes of the kind of action-movie heroics usually reserved for the big screen thanks to fight choreographer Sondra Mayer and an indefatigable cast of Theatre Of NOTErs completed by Travis York as redneck Rollo and background players Thomas Fitgerald and Nick Smerkanich as assorted militia dead or alive.

Director Lauren Smerkanich keeps things moving at a breakneck pace, eliciting committed performances from all concerned.

Scenic designer Amanda Knehans has transformed NOTE’s matchbox space into a pitch-black, graffiti-scarred wreck of a warehouse featuring incessant storm effects by lighting designer Alexander Le Vaillant Freer and sound designer Mark McClain Wilson and a dramatic original musical soundtrack by Hauk Heimdallsman, with Michael Mullen’s grungy costumes and properties designer Samantha Squeri’s guns, knives, and other assorted paraphernalia completing the production design mix.

Aaron Dowdy, Seth Fowler, Matthew Gilliam, Vanessa Marie, and Krishna Smitha are understudies.

Fruition is produced for Theatre Of NOTE by O’Grady, Crystal Diaz, and Jenny Soo. Rhyver White is associate producer. Nadia Marina is assistant director. Lauren Westbury is stage manager and Kayla Marie Peterson is assistant stage manager.

Though it won’t be everyone’s theatrical cup of tea, those with a hankering for some dystopian post-apocalyptic thrills might find Fruition to their liking. If nothing else, it provides abundant fruit for thought.

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Theatre of NOTE, 1517 N. Cahuenga, Hollywood. Through December 7. Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00. Sundays at 7:00. No performances on Thanksgiving weekend. Additional performances on Thursday November 21 and Monday November 25 at 8:00. Reservations: 323 856-8611

–Steven Stanley
November 7, 2019
Photos: Darrett Sanders


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