by Doug Haverty
directed by JC Gafford
through June 18
Doug Haverty has a talent for creating good roles for women. There are no finer examples than in his current West coast premiere Aftershocks now playing at the Lyric Theatre. With fine direction from JC Gafford and a tight cast of three superlative actresses, Aftershocks reverberates with joyous affirmation.
Set in a trailer park in Valencia, Ca, Daphne (Dorrie Braun) and best pal of 29 years Olive (Julia Silverman) share a trailer and work as movie extras. Flighty Daphne adores what she does, so much so, that there are moments that she seems to dangerously retreat into an escapist world of fantasy spouting lines from films she's been in - not unlike Norma Desmond, leaving more earthy, organized Olive to pick up the pieces around her. Olive is Daphne's rock, but both women have troubles, having left abusive marriages in Ohio. So, without husbands or alimony to help with bills, they are pretty much alone, broke, and in need of stability. Olive, the realist, is discontent with her superficial existence in LA; Daphne, ethereal and lost within herself, refuses to face unhappiness. Enter Beth (Summer Harlow) who claims to be Daphne's daughter, a secret that Daphne has kept to herself, causing Olive further discontent as she reevaluates the crux of their friendship. Beth, as it so happens, has more in common with her biological mother than at first meets the eye when she reveals that she is pregnant with a love child of her own. Daphne refuses to accept her at first, but gradually softens...yet not without causing more of a rift with Olive.
Haverty composes believably realistic dialogue for the ladies to speak and a tremendously heartfelt monologue for Daphne in Act II, which serves to finally jolt her into a long awaited sense of reality. Emotions from all three women run high making for explosive confrontations and a very absorbing evening of theatre.
Braun is dynamically suited to Daphne and gives her an edge and vulnerability that are consistently riveting. Harlow brings sweetness and desperation to the difficult role of Beth and Silverman shows beautifully just how insecure and totally human an apparently indomitable person can be. Gafford directs fluidly and with fine pacing. Set design of the interior and exterior of the trailer, uncredited, is appropriately drab and convincing, with the autographed move star photos all over the walls adding the right touch of quick escapist fancy.
Aftershocks is a completely engrossing drama with greatly detailed character exposition and three fulfilling performances. It's a must see!
Lyric Theatre: 520 N. La Brea Ave. Los Angeles/323-939-9220