|Samantha Sloyan, Harry Groener, Raimiz Monset and |
Brian Georgestar in "Vicuna" at the Kirk Douglas Theatre.
All photos by Craig Schwartz
Some plays and movies get a little too “on the nose” and fall short of their intended target and audience. Not so with the current World Premiere satiric political poke in the eye from the pen of Jon Robin Baitz and his newest play “Vicuna”, now gracing the stage at the Center Theatre Group’s Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City.
There’s very little doubt that Baitz has been influenced by the antics and the three ring circus atmosphere of the 2016 Presidential Election campaign, led by ringleader Donald Trump. But then who hasn’t? As a result, Trump was the hands-down choice of the media, the pundits and campaign surrogates to be parodied. He’s his own worst enemy and he doesn’t even recognize it. But he was great fodder and source material for playwrights and screenwriters to hoist him on his own petard.
“Vicuna” unfolds in the stunning and luxurious atelier of Anselm de Paris’s Manhattan location designed by Kevin Depinet, one of the outstanding scenic designers working today. When the audience enters the theatre, the set screams high style and higher prices. His creative set design for the 2015 Old Globe production of “Sense and Sensibility” is still fresh in my memory.
Baitz’s wickedly hilarious satire is deftly directed by Robert Egan, formerly the Producing Artistic Director of the Mark Taper Forum. Egan is fortunate to have casting director Meg Fister on his creative team for this production. She has assembled a stellar cast of solid actors who know how to perform in a comedy/satire production when they find themselves in one.
|Brian George, Harry Groener, Raimiz Monset in "Vicuna"|
Brian George as Anselm Kassar the proprietor is a man who knows how to make extremely expensive suits - Kassar charges Seaman $110 thousand dollars for a vicuna material creation -while his clients enjoy the art of the deal in the haggling over the cost, without either going beyond the point of losing the sale.
|Harry Groener, Brian George, Raimiz Monset|
There is another character called Kitty Finch-Gibbon wonderfully played by glamorous veteran actor Linda Gehringer. Kitty is the ‘agent’ representing a mysterious cabal who are intent on getting Seaman to withdraw as a candidate by dangling a two billion dollar carrot as the inducement. Oh, how candidate Seaman loves to be a player in the art of the deal.
“Vicuna” is a comedy rich in innuendo and roman a clef
portrayals. I’ve seen several of Jon Robin Baitz’s plays in the past, but this
one is a little different from his usually serious efforts as a dramatist. This
play combines sharply written dialogue and terrific performances from a solid
cast, all under the watchful and experienced eye of director Robert Egan.
|Harry Groener, Linda Gehringer in "Vicuna"|
The creative team led by director Egan includes the aforementioned Scenic Designer Kevin Depinet, Costume Designer Laura Bauer and that ‘$110 Thousand dollar suit’ that fits Mr. Groener like a fine silk glove. Lighting Designer Tom Ontiveros made the entire set sparkle, displaying the richness and warmth of the wood trimming and the various suit displays. Original Music and Sound Design by Karl Fredrik Lundeberg completes the technical credits.
“Vicuna” is a biting commentary on America’s Presidential Election process in democracy every four years. The 2016 Election results will already be known by the time you read this review, but you have to see the play yourself in order to determine if the 2016 Election was indeed ‘rigged’.
“Vicuna” performs at the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City, CA through November 20, 2016.
-- Jack Lyons