By Larry Taylor/Garden Grove Journal
Molly Smith Metzler’s play features a pair of sisters: down-to-earth Devon and status-seeking Simone, who works as a personal assistant to wealthy Michaela Kell. Michaela is the trophy wife of a successful advertising executive. The sisters are planning a get-away weekend in the Kells’ gorgeous beachfront mansion.
Soon, though, a marital crisis brings Michaela scurrying to her beach house, much to the dismay of Devon and Simone. Within minutes of the girls’ arrival, Michaela relates how she and her husband have had a fight, and she’s counting on Simone to help her keep from becoming ex-wife number two.
The ensuing chaos brings to light old wounds and explosive secrets that turn everyone’s worlds upside-down.
Amidst the verbal warfare, the play depicts an authentic and touching portrayal of a sisterly bond, with the two siblings dancing and mugging together in one moment and drawing blood the next in their often funny scenes. The imperious drama queen Michaela stands out as her moment of truth is both cathartic and sympathetic.
In upstairs/downstairs fashion, the handy man, Jos B., gets off some of the best lines as he speaks truth to power. Also hilarious is Ethan, Simone’s disreputable boyfriend, a wealthy scapegoat straight out of an updated F. Scott Fitzgerald story.
“Elemeno Pea” marks the Southern California directorial debut of SCR Artistic Director Marc Masterson, who gave the play its world premiere when he was still serving as head of Actors Theatre of Louisville.
Cassie Beck makes her SCR debut as Devon, a role she originated in the original Louisville production. Melanie Lora (SCR’s “Misalliance” and “Collected Stories”) plays Simone, and Katrina Lenk (SCR’s “Caucasian Chalk Circle”; Off-Broadway’s “The Miracle Worker”) portrays Michaela. Two men round out the cast: Jamison Jones (SCR’s “Doctor Cerberus,” TV’s “24”) is Simone’s boyfriend, Ethan, and Jonathan Nichols (SCR’s “Anna in the Tropics”; Lincoln Center Theater’s “Measure for Measure”) is the put-upon caretaker, Jos-B.
Playwright Metzler is a New York native whose play “Close Up Space,” starring David Hyde Pierce, is currently playing at The Manhattan Theatre Club. A graduate of NYU and The Juilliard School, Metzler is also the author of the plays “Carve” and “Training Wisteria.”
The play’s artistic team is comprised of Ralph Funicello (set design), David Kay Mickelsen (costume design), Lap Chi Chu (lighting design), Cricket S. Myers (sound design) and Jamie A. Tucker (stage manager.
Director Masterson says: “I am amazed by Metzler’s ability to tell a great story. Her characters are people you care about, and she has a gift for smart and funny dialogue. I can’t wait to share ‘Elemeno Pea’ with our audiences.” The production plays in Costa Mesa through Feb. 26.