Theatre 40 in Beverly Hills took a big chance on this weirdo play from Canada, and it did not pay off. It was quite a departure from their usual high-quality fare, so I applaud them for not resting on their laurels, and being willing to try something different at this late stage of their storied existence. (I mean it—I met a woman the other day who told me that she’s been a happy subscriber there…for the past forty years!!!)
But there is some good news later, so please read on.
My dislike of Sequence is more than just because the story (whatever it is!,) is not my cup of tea. I doubt that it’s anyone’s. And it’s beyond a snoozefest. The play is only eighty-five minutes long, but felt more like eighty-five hours!
Ninety-nine percent of the blame goes to the awful, amateurish, self-indulgent writing. (So, even though I love Canadians, I guess there are just some things they’re not so good at. Or at least this author isn’t!) But I have to also fault the oh-so-boring direction and acting. I’m leaving it at that. (Well, except to point-out that the older man actor said “asterik” instead of the correct “asterisk!” That’s a word I hate for anyone to mispronounce, almost as much as when people say “nucular” for “nuclear!!!!” That’s just about the only part of the show that got my attention.)
Actually, there are two good things about the show: 1) All four characters are dressed in black, white, and gray, which is somewhat interesting, (although perhaps only to me.) 2) The green and black set, by Jeff G. Rack, is attractive, in a stark sort of way. But that’s it.
I’m not even going to waste my time telling you anything about the story because there’s nothing really to tell, except that it’s two different stories going on at once in the same space. As if that’s not confusing and annoying enough, it’s supposed to be about science and math, so that should tell you something right there. But even science and math classes never dragged on like this show does. (I heard someone describe the show beforehand as “a bit of a mystery.” And when it was over, I heard someone else quip that the mystery was why any theatre would choose to do it in the first place!)
It begins very goonily, and goes downhill from there. I actually thought the opening bit was a mistake, like something had gone wrong backstage, and the actors were just free-forming some uncomfortable clowning-around movements, that no one was supposed to see.
So, I have a feeling that many of you will go see Sequence now, just to see if I’m correct. But bring a pillow and blanket because, if the opening night audience was any indication, you’ll be getting some serious shuteye during it.
Okay, so here’s the good news I mentioned before: This is Theatre 40’s first play of this season, so the rest of the selections can only go up from here. (And the line-up of shows does look very interesting! I’m really looking forward to most of them.) So if you have season tickets, I suggest just giving away the ones for Sequence to some avant-garde pals. You’ll be doing both of you a favor!
Sequence running through August 20, 2017
Theatre 40 241 S. Moreno Drive Beverly Hills 310-364-0535 www.theatre40.org