The Open Fist Theatre Company is back in business – live business. The group returns to in-person performance at the Atwater Village Theatre with celebrated Canadian playwright Daniel MacIvor’s West Coast premiere of THE SOLDIER DREAMS. A darkly humorous and often witty examination of life, death, and grief, MacIvor’s play pays poignant homage to those who died 30+ years ago from a mysterious ailment without a name. Director Amanda Weier opines that “this is a piece about death that is the opposite of depressing…we’re setting it in an old dance club from the 1990s because David (the soldier) loved to dance…his dysfunctional family gathers in his waning days sharing memories and trying to decipher the clues David has left for them.”
David (lively David Shofner and bed-ridden Ethan Niven) is strolling through the airport when he happens to encounter a German student (Schuyler Mastain) waiting for transportation to town. Why not share a ride – and perhaps a bit more as the two discover an attraction which cannot be denied? Even though David has a significant other waiting at home. One thing leads to another – and suddenly an invisible virus will define the rest of David’s life. As David lingers in the twilight between life and death, those closest to him will surround him with memories and emotions. David has two sisters (Stephanie Crothers and Amy Moorman), a quietly thoughtful brother-in-law (Casey Sullivan), and his long-term lover (Conor Lane) to mourn his impending loss. But David dreams not of dying – but of dancing.
THE SOLDIER DREAMS embarks on a painstaking examination of the emotions of the living tied to the memorable events of the dying. Director Weier carefully dissects the dynamics of death while throwing in the egotistical and sometimes hilarious thoughts of the living as they deal with death. The cast is talented but perhaps also hampered by the slow pace of the piece which, while taking care to highlight each principal’s innermost thoughts, may neglect action. In fact, the only real action appears to be David’s penchant for dance – which seems to be almost out of keeping with the underlying somber tone of the tale. The stage is large, but the scenes are small – and the play slowly weaves its story in a setting marked by profound emptiness. THE SOLDIER DREAMS was very likely a timely piece in 1997, when it was written. Currently, it may need some tweaking to bring it up to date. In many ways, the world has changed; however, THE SOLDIER DREAMS has remained fixed in time.
Proof of vaccination is required for all patrons, and masks are required throughout the performance. The Open Fist Theatre Company carefully adheres to appropriate theater ventilation, social distancing, and all required and recommended COVID-19 guidelines.
THE SOLDIER DREAMS runs through December 12, 2021, with performances at 8:30 p.m. on Saturdays (10/23, 10/30, 11/6, 11/13, 11/20, 12/4, and 12/11/21), at 7 p.m. on Sundays (10/24, 10/31, 11/1, 11/8, 11/15, 11/22, 11/29, and 12/6/21), and at 8:15 p.m. on Mondays (10/25, 11/1, 11/8, 11/15, 11/22, 11/29, and 12/6/21). Atwater Village Theatre is located at 3269 Casitas Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90039. Tickets are by donation with a recommended donation of $20. For information and reservations, call 323-882-6912 or go online.
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