Elemeno Pea

 

By Molly Smith Metzlerredtwist theatre

Directed by Steve Scott

At Redtwist Theatre, Chicago

Unsatisfying play leaves me wondering what it is really about?

Playwright Molly Smith Metzler seems to be writing an attack on the rich class Americans in her strange new work Elemeno Pea. It starts as a dark comedy about the obnoxious rich that explodes into a dark tale of psychological abuse. Strange. This show is filled with characters that are not remotely empathetic. We dislike all of them and we hate most of them but don’t care about any of them. That presents a problem for a play.

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Simone (Elizabeth Argus) is the doting personal assistant and estranged younger sister to Devon (Carley Mosely). Simone invites Devon to the guest house on Martha’s Vineyard for a ‘sisters’ weekend. The two argue about their relationship; their life choices; and their different socioeconomic status. Devon is a career and economic failure and Simone is a six-figure success. They argue enough to make one shiver. Neither is  likeable. Devon is a foulmouthed failure and Simone is a phony doting social climber.

Our early glimpse into the world of the rich is further soiled by the arrival of Michaela (Jacqueline Grandt), the super pampered wife who employes  Simone . Michaela is an narcissistic, self-centered  bitch that we quickly learn to hate. We want to vomit as we see how much Simone dotes over the witch. Devon, despite Simone’s warnings, starts to stand up to and challenge the manipulating wife from hell.

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Add the extremely obnoxious Ethan (Michael Sherwin) who is both Michaela’s dear friend and Simone’s love interest. This guy is the kind of guy you want to punch in the face after being with him for a few minutes. He sure give the rich a poor image . We also meet Jos-B (Johnny Garcia)- the bitter property caretaker who hates Michaela and most rich folks. He bonds with Devon since they both are the voices of the working poor.

This essentially rich versus poor themed play becomes tedious as we see, the in-our-face the absurdness of the idle rich. But just when we think playwright Molly Smith Metzler is finished  with her class conflict satire, she changes themes as she writes about why Michaela is so hated both by Joes-B and her husband Peter. After getting us to really dislike Michaela now Metzler tries to make the case that the bitch may be a sympathetic figure. Really? Only Devon has some empathy for the beleaguered wife once we learn why Michaela did what she did. This  turn of event stretches credulity. The set is impressive (design by Ross G. Hoppe) and Jacqueline Grandt ‘s multi-layered performance as the obnoxious wife works effectively.

But the convoluted storyline and the over-played performances render this show a long 95 minutes.  It is Molly Smith Metzler script that irritated me most. Usually Redtwist Theatre selects stronger plays. Jacqueline Grandt’s performance alone  makes the play worthy of an audience.

Somewhat Recommended

Tom Williams

Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast

Date Reviewed: December 8, 2013

Jeff Recommended

For more info checkout the Elemeno Pea page at theatreinchicago.com

At Redtwist Theatre, 1044 W.Bryn Mawr, Chicago, IL, call 773-728-7529, www.redtwist.org, tickets $25 – $30, Thursdays Fridays & Saturdays at 7:30 pm, Sundays at 3pm,  running time is 95 minutes without intermission, through January 12, 2013

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