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Regional Reviews: Los Angeles

The Visceral Company

Also see Sharon's review of Floyd Collins

Madeline Bertani and Kevin Grossman
The Visceral Company, a group that specializes in horror and science fiction plays, is on a roll. Following the one-two punch of Lovecraft: Nightmare Suite and The Mystery Plays, the new production of Eliza Clark's Recall continues the company's run of intelligent, stylish and thought-provoking work.

In the indeterminate but near future, Justine (Karen Nicole) and her teenage daughter Lucy (Madeline Bertani) are in hiding. Things went bad with Justine's boyfriend Ed, so they're staying with David (Mark Souza) instead. Lucy has started up at a new high school under an assumed name, while flirty Justine starts up with David. In school, Lucy makes friends with Quinn (Kevin Grossman), who is being monitored by the school for possible violent tendencies. Meanwhile, mysterious scientist Charlotte (Lara Fisher) manipulates the situation from the sidelines.

Nicole is terrific as Justine, an upbeat people-pleaser trapped in a circumstance that only constant infusions of love can make tolerable. Justine is trying really hard to make things work, even when she probably shouldn't. Bertani impresses as the moody Lucy, surly with adults but playful with Quinn, and she gives a great cold-eyed glare. Souza and Grossman are both sympathetic as the somewhat hapless men in the story, but Fisher isn't entirely credible as Charlotte, her portrayal a bit too much on the arch comedic side.

Dan Spurgeon's direction keeps the pacing swift and gets nuanced, powerful work from his cast that continues to ratchet up the tension. Chris Bell's cleverly conceived two-story set serves well as several apartments, motel rooms and labs. Clark's play is barely science fiction, except in that it posits a possible societal response to high school violence, but it is as smart as some of the better examples of that genre. Where her writing excels is in the characterizations, in the fraught yet still loving relationship between mother and daughter.

Recall is a polished and sharp production that lingers in the memory.

Recall plays at the Lex Theatre through May 4, 2014. For tickets and information, see

The Visceral Company presents Recall, written by Eliza Clark. Directed by Dan Spurgeon. Scenic Design Chris Bell; Lighting Design Joshua Silva; Original Music/Sound Design Tyler Burton; Costume Design Pam Noles.

Justine: Karen Nicole
Lucy: Madeline Bertani
David: Mark Souza
Quinn: Kevin Grossman
Charlotte: Lara Fisher

Photo: Amelia Gotham

- Terry Morgan