“All American Girl,” written by Wendy Graf, produced by InterACT Theatre Company and now playing at the Lounge Theatre, is in the top 5 plays I’ve seen this year.
By Carol Edger Germain
We were greeted with a “newspaper” on entering, the “InterAct World News Herald,” filled with stories of of terrorist killings and activities around the world. I could hardly find words when it finished, immediately after which we went to the lobby for a wine, cheese, and cookies reception, which further intensified the contrast of “All American” and “Overnight Terrorist” portrayed in the play.
“All American Girl” chronicles the transformation of sweet, average, suburban girl Katie (alternately played by Jeanne Syquia and Annika Marks – the night I saw it Annika Marks played Katie, but I’ve heard that Jeann Syquia is just as compelling in the role, so see it at your convenience, you will be riveted by whoever is on stage). It is difficult to pull off a solo show, but Annika Marks not only played her part, but also spoke for others, sliding into quotes by others in Katie’s life, including accents, without a hitch, and you heard the others speaking through her. The combination of the actress’ talent and dialect coach Adam Michael Rose was perfect.
Production designer Joel Daavid’s use of revolving black chalk boards, with Katie writing frantically on them with screeching chalk, documenting dates of important events in her story, Joseph “Sloe” Slawinski’s dramatic sound design and original music, Eric Babb’s minimalist but effective props, Carol Doehring’s lighting design, and Amanda Antunes’ costume design were all right on key.
We are given insight into Katie’s perception of life through various impactful incidents in her life, with those incidents being presented by Katie as a young child, Katie as a teenager. Her transformation to those other stages of her life were believable, I felt the younger versions of Katie clearly. From an enthusiastic child to a teenager breaking her own moral code, to a love interest, to a grown woman appalled on a trip to India by the violent deaths of children perpetrated by the Hindus on the Muslims, to a radicalized terrorist, the audience was along for the transforming ride, and although intellectually it’s still hard to accept the extreme position of being willing to bomb perhaps innocent people (although Katie and her Muslim-Indian husband did alert the police to clear the area before the bomb is set to go off.), I really was feeling her journey, and by the end felt I had great insight into how someone could go this direction as a response to the hateful and intolerant world we live in today. Although her acts may be unforgiveable, this skillfully produced play gave us a way to comprehend where the journey brought her.
Director Anita Khanzadian and Producer Alan Naggar, round out the talented team that brought this first class production to the stage.
All American Girl
Through July 26
The Lounge Theater 2
6201 Santa Monica Blvd., L.A., CA 90038
(be sure to grab some great Thai food at Nat’s Thai around the corner on Vine before or after the show)
Tickets – $30
Purchase tickets here.
(Discount tickets available here).
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