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Review: New heights for Odyssey's 'Theatre in the Dark: Dark'

November 07, 2012|By F. Kathleen Foley
  • The company of 'Theatre in the Dark: More Dark' at the Odyssey.
The company of 'Theatre in the Dark: More Dark' at the Odyssey. (Vesna Hocevar )

This post has been corrected. See below for details.

Bless the actors in “Theatre in the Dark,” the cheerfully experimental new show at the Odyssey. 

After all, what actor doesn’t crave his or her moment in the spotlight?  But when a show is performed almost entirely in the dark, as in this case, the largely anonymous performances become very much a labor of love.  Call this the anti-vanity production.

The concept of mounting plays in the dark is hardly unique.  Yet this particular endeavor, conceived and produced by Ron Sossi, the Odyssey’s longtime artistic director, and Sally Essex-Lopresti, takes what could have been a mere gimmick to new heights.  In a seamless staging, the dozen performers move through the blackness with almost uncanny agility and poise.  (At show’s end, we’re privy to one of the tricks behind that seeming effortlessness.)

The current offering, “Dark,” is the first installment in a two-part series. The evening consists of 16 or so short playlets, some penned by specific authors, others “company-created,” with Sossi directing the lion’s share of the pieces.  It’s telling that the most successful play of the evening is a classic short story by Friedrich Durrenmatt, whereas the original works tend to veer into the reiterative.

This is a sound designer’s dream assignment, and veteran designer John Zalewski doesn’t disappoint.  There are a few flashes of brief illumination – shock effects that make you jump.  Most delightfully shocking is the history of the Odyssey’s resident ghosts, narrated by company stalwart Beth Hogan.  That pure pleasure makes one wish that more spooky offerings had been included in the program.  Perhaps next Halloween?

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“Theatre in the Dark: Dark,” Odyssey Theatre, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles.  8 p.m. Wed., Nov. 14; 8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays.  No performances Nov. 15 and 22. $25-$30.  (310) 477-2055, Ext. 2. www.odysseytheatre.com.  Running time:  1 hour, 30 minutes.

[Updated: An earlier version of this post misstated the title of the play.]

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