Echo Theatre Company brings more innovation with “Nevertheless She Persisted”

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The Echo Theatre Company has premiered 60 plays, most of them world premieres. It has won numerous awards including multiple awards from L.A. Weekly and Ovation. In their own words: “The Echo Theater Company supports playwrights and new works for the theater by creating an environment that empowers the playwright to their own progress while bringing fresh and engaging theatrical events to Los Angeles.”

Now in their own very creative and effective way they are shining bright yet again this time by giving women a voice with five world premiere plays in Nevertheless She Persisted. Each short play was written by a female playwright and is uniquely presented by a cast drawn from young actors who have over the past year or so volunteered in a variety of behind the scenes activities vital to every show but rarely acknowledged publicly. Now in Nevertheless She Persisted they shine on stage. So what are these plays, are they truly entertaining, do they have chops, could they grow into something bigger?

Each show is approximately 15 minutes long, which is obviously limiting. Yet in each play a great deal is offered during those fairly intense 15 minutes. For example, in At Dawn written by Calamity West the setting is a once profitable brothel somewhere in Arizona in the year 2047. Kaiti O’Connor plays Heidi the Madam of the now more or less defunct brothel Joey Stromberg and Landon Mirrisciotti play Sheriff Foster and Deputy Hunter respectively and Rachel Zink and Lindsay Graves-Fisher play two girls presumably prostitutes.

Tempers flare, accusations fly and so do bullets. It is a very intensive 15 or so minutes ending in death for most. But it is riveting and well-presented such that it is believable with the one exception of the Deputy character who I felt was just wee over the top. But that did not significantly detract from the overall presentation and could have evolved from the writing, the directing or the acting or some combination thereof.

Yaju is written and directed by Mary Laws and starring Maya Bowman as Ray and Julie Bretzin as Hope is a real mind bender as mounting suspicion builds during a bizarre exchange of conversation over the death of the family cat. Ray seems a somewhat stereotypical teen with an even more exaggerated display of coy drama. While Hope, the mom slowly develops a deep sense of concern. Both actors were splendid in their delivery and they held the audience completely throughout. The ending? Well now I can’t talk about that now can I?

The third of the five shows I will briefly discuss is Sherry and Vince, written by Charlotte Miller and performed by Jacqueline Besson as Sherry and Jose Corea as Vince. This too was very much a head game involving the characters and their less than perfect relationship, presented within the context of a visit to a jail where Vince is being held. A lot of questions are raised but none seemed to me to be fully resolved and that is fine because that is how to build drama.

Also presented were Do You See written by Sharon Yablon and starring Erin Scerbak, Ellen Neary, Alex Waxler, Amanda Wagner and Susan Louise O’Connor and Violet written by Jacqueline Wright and starring Lindsay Graves-Fisher and Rachael Olsem.

One word of caution, there is a significant degree of strong profanity in some of these shows so I would keep the young and sensitive at home. That said I will hasten to add that each show is well written and well performed and very much entertaining each in their own unique way.

THIS IS A SHORT RUN now through September 10th, 2017 so don’t wait and miss out. It is at The Echo Theatre Company, Atwater Village Theatre, 3269 Casitas Avenue, Los Angeles, California. Show times are Mondays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 p.m, and Sundays at 4:00 p.m.  Reservations and ticketing available by calling 310-307-3753 or online.