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Michael Cassady in Amos: A Play with Music at Monk Space. (Photo by Brandon Baruch)
Michael Cassady in Amos: A Play with Music at Monk Space. (Photo by Brandon Baruch)

Amos: A Play with Music

Reviewed by Dana Martin
Bootleg Theatre at Monk Space

Through November 18th

RECOMMENDED

Amos: A Play with Music gets under your skin like a shiver. The new play, written by Michael Cassady and Eva Anderson and co-produced with the Bootleg Theatre, is a haunting immersive theatrical experience. It’s a fascinating blend of EDM (electric dance music) and storytelling, but too often pivots between musical theatre and dance party. The music is well crafted and encompassing, though the text is sometimes difficult to decipher.

Amos is the model of youthful innocence. He travels from the U.S. (Akron, Ohio!) to Ukraine on a break from school, and soon befriends brooding Ivan, an eccentric DJ who spins EDM in dark and seedy clubs. Events soon take a dark turn: Amos murders Ivan, throws his body in a freezer and seamlessly assumes his identity. What follows is a dark and drug-fueled haze, as Amos spins a web of distraction and deceit; he’s a chameleon and puppeteer, and evil to his very core.

Cassady assumes the title role in a fierce and masterful performance. He plays the wickedly sinister con artist Amos as well as the brooding and eccentric DJ, Ivan. Cassady seems well within his element, and he’s a captivating storyteller. Kate Morgan Chadwick plays Simone, the late DJ Ivan’s girlfriend and Amos’ short-lived accomplice. She enters roughly halfway through the story and is able to hold her own opposite Cassady. Her presence changes the tone of the play, however, and the story itself becomes weighed down by plot.

Director Eric Hoff crafts a full sensory experience; the story is told from every room in the venue. His work is innovative and exciting. Lighting designer Brandon Baruch creates a seedy and haunting underground. He evokes a sense of uneasiness through a blend of distorted focus and sharp light. Scenic design by Michelle Joo is both detailed and subtle. The audience is asked to walk through several installations before the show begins. Joo uses small details to paint a large picture.

There are moments of brilliance in this piece. But the audience remains peripheral to the action, which feels a bit like a missed opportunity. Still, Amos: A Play with Music flings you into another world where everything is dark and dirty, and anything can happen.

Bootleg Theatre at Monk Space, 4414 W 2nd St., Los Angeles. Thurs.- Sat., doors at 8 p.m, show at 9 p.m.; through November 18th. www.bootlegtheater.org. Running time: 70 minutes with no intermission.

 

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