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TWILIGHT: LOS ANGELES, 1992 presented by Diogenes Theatre Company through Feb. 8. Click here for more information on the production. I attended the opening night performance. GYTN = Get You Tickets Now.
The streak of beautifully-performed one-person plays continues with Torie Wiggins in TWILIGHT: LOS ANGELES, 1992.
The book of the show is deeply personal and riveting. Instead of having the events of 1992 analyzed by media and political talking heads (like recent, similar events), the words come verbatim from interviews with those directly affected by the Rodney King verdict and the subsequent rioting. Heartfelt and brutally honest, at times, their words are also amazingly profound.
Performed in the Aronoff’s black box, the Fifth-Third Bank Theater, the show is simply staged and starkly lit. Actress Torie Wiggins is barefoot and costumed in black. An added costume piece or the addition of a hand-held prop are all that is used to transform her into nearly four dozen, ethically-diverse individuals.
Torie’s vocal and physical range is impressive. There is an attention to detail in her performances that I really enjoy and admire. Some of the longer vignettes allowed her to totally disappear into a role for the audience. Even with such serious subject matter, Wiggins and director Brian Isaac Phillips find the humor, strength of character and hopefulness in the interviews to maintain an emotional balance. Her turn as the Haitian shooting victim and the Korean store-owner were personal favorites.
On entering the space and seeing the set on the floor, without any levels, I had an initial concern about sight lines. However, the show is smartly blocked with minimal movement, but it never felt static. Yes, the audience may have to shift in their seats with the character changes to get a clear line of site, but it never devolved into the need for an ongoing bob and weave to see the performance.
Doug Borntrager succeeds with the demanding sound and video elements of the show. Projected placards are used to introduce the characters prior to each scene and are narrated by, I believe, by Phillips. Just a thought, but it night have been interesting to have a second female narrator, so that each placard were read by the appropriate sex, but I quibble. The video also includes actual footage from some of the discussed events. It’s a bit surreal to see a truck driver being attacked by rioters, knowing that similar incidents happened, literally, blocks away from where you are sitting, during the Cincinnati riot in 2001. Solid work by the rest of the technical team, stage manager Justin McCombs, lighting designer Daniel R. Winters, costumer Amanda McGee and props mistress, Ally Landen.
In their press information, the Diogenes Theatre Company asks, “How much have things changed since then? Or not?” For me, this play definitely answered that question.
If you are a fan of Torie Wiggins work, you definitely do not want to miss this excellent production. Based on the size of the opening night audience, I suggest you purchase your tickets sooner, rather than later.
My rating: 4.5 out of 5
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