Authored by D.G. Watson and directed by Ahmed Best, THE TRAGEDY proves to be a merry romp for the three principals, each a literary/talent manager partnered in a business rapidly going aground. When the trio seek counsel from the gods through psychedelic means, the play takes off in a confusing spiral of unreal events meant to offer up laughs and merriment.
Larry (Malcolm Barrett), Lisa (Tina Huang), and Derek (Brandon Scott) find that their agency is about to tank after their star client, Ethan Cross (Garrett Mercer), decides to dump them and move on and up in his spectacular career as a motivational guru. What to do? Would a few mushrooms offer the answer to their problems? And so they embark on a trip to end all trips as they phase between dimensions and other worlds trying to find the answer.
THE TRAGEDY aspires to be an immersive theatrical experience which severs the distance between the players and the spectators – and, in fact, the actors trail after the intermission audience to achieve their goal. As they dazedly wander about, the audience members also take their leave of reality as we know it. Time ceases to have meaning, and the rules of our dimension become distorted and messy. In many ways, this is a production which would be better experienced if the audience also was high. Suffice it to say that, for a clean and sober audience, this is a journey which may prove frustrating. Melissa Trn’s costumes suit the goings-on, being equally bizarre and silly. Mark Kanieff’s set design is simple, with Masai Mitchell’s lighting and Mischa Stanton’s sound proving essential to the tale. The ensemble cast is enthusiastic and energetic as they weave through their alternate universe.
There is one scene which makes the entire production worthwhile – fun but also kind of scary. This is Mercer’s spot-on antics as a bombastic and manipulative motivational speaker who can twist minds to his own ends. Even though his performance is meant to be funny, it ends up becoming almost frightening as perfectly sane people begin to ignore their rational perceptions and succumb to a madman’s fantasies.
As attested to by the fact that many audience members had already seen the play during past performances in another venue – and came back for seconds and thirds – THE TRAGEDY seems to be an acquired taste. The humor is often crude, and the scenes are haphazard. Yet it clearly resonates with a certain segment of theatergoers. If that’s you, then this is a play which should not be missed.
THE TRAGEDY runs through June 14, 2018, with performances at 8 p.m. the second or third Thursday of each month (March 8, April 19, May 17, and June 14). The Pico Theatre is located at 10508 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90064. Tickets are $25. For information and reservations, call 310-204-4440 or go online.