Inspired by the animal in all of us, playwright Bekah Brunstetter converted her intrigue into one of her early plays, MISS LILLY GETS BONED. Well-known for multiple pieces which have been performed around the country, as well as the first three seasons of NBC’s “This is Us,” Brunstetter imaginatively explores the tenuous boundaries which separate our civilized side and our animalistic one – a comparison which also intrigued Sigmund Freud as he conjured up his concepts of super ego and id. What might happen if our id were chained up – and then became free?
Miss Lilly (Larisa Oleynik) is a happy Sunday school teacher whose closest friend is her constant companion, God. She remains a virgin who has never taken a chance on love – personified by her sister Lara (Tasha Ames), whose multiple forays into sex have come to define love for Miss Lilly. And then it happens: Miss Lilly meets the perfect man! Even God approves, sending her a really massive bone to let her know he’s all for it. And soon, throwing caution to the winds, she offers it all to Richard (played by understudy Nick Lee). Unfortunately, Richard has some of his own baggage, including a wife who was killed by a crazed elephant in Africa and a son (Brady Amaya) who was traumatized and can’t get over his loss.
And then we have that hapless elephant, brilliantly portrayed by puppeteers Rachael Caselli and Amir Levi from a design created by Sean Cawelti and Mark Royston. While elephant whisperer Vandalla Bhalla (Kavi Ladnier) tries to understand and befriend the violent elephant, Miss Lilly tries to tame her own fears about developing a relationship. But this doomed elephant must die. What does that mean for Miss Lilly? You’ll have to see the play to figure that out.
Directed by Robin Larsen, MISS LILLY GETS BONED draws some interesting parallels between animal and human. Even after death, that pesky elephant remains a destructive force to be reckoned with. Gifted with a talented cast, MISS LILLY GETS BONED proves to be an entertaining and sometimes intriguing study of people faced with catastrophic challenges. As the play rolls on, however, connections between the two parallel stories begin to blur. Be that as it may, this reviewer still loved that luckless elephant with the big ears and long trunk. He may have been my favorite character in the play.
MISS LILLY GETS BONED runs through October 28, 2019, with performances at 8 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays, and Mondays and at 3 p.m. on Sundays (Saturday 9/28 performance will be a 2 p.m. matinee; no performance on Sunday 9/29). The Rogue Machine is located in the Electric Lodge, 1416 Electric Avenue, Venice, CA 92091. Tickets are $40 (students $25). For information and reservations, call 855-585-5185 or go online.
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