Many people have had the experience of visiting an animal shelter where we discover many dogs and cats all to varying degrees wounded by a troubled life, and currently being harbored, literally, in an animal jail. Frequently, our hearts become filled with compassion and even love and we adopt an animal. Then we take our new friend home and nurture it and rejoice when the animal begins show signs of rediscovering and maybe even discovering for the very first time, how happy it is to live in an environment filled with love. But, how does this dynamic work with people? That is the avenue that playwright Julie Marie Myatt has taken in her play “The Rescued.”
The story begins in what is essentially a human version of an animal shelter, a home for the troubled and disadvantaged humans who need to be given shelter and rescued from their troubled past. We first see the senior of the group, Harold as portrayed splendidly by J. D. Hall and Buster performed brilliantly by Leandro Cano. Both men chat about their past as the sit side by side playing a card game as they talk. Much if it is extremely humorous, especially by Buster who keeps the audience laughing. But through that laughter emerges their dark histories.
One by one, other guests of the home; Jason played by Patrick Joseph Rieger, Candace played by Meeghan Holaway, Darrell played by Rahul Rai and Lola played by Kacie Rogers are brought into the story. It quickly becomes clear that each of them suffer from many years of neglect and abuse. There remains an abundance of humor, often dark but there is also an emergence of some very deep pain and suffering that has stripped these characters of an ability to love and be loved.
Jason tends to keep his barrier up by quick and commonly violent reactions, whereas Darrell has become totally obsessive-compulsive, recording everything in great detail in his diary. Candice is desperately seeking love and failing and then she sets her sights on Darrell and they both have great difficulty allowing the positive feelings to emerge. Lola’s story is extremely brutal as she finds herself pregnant by way of being raped. Is there any hope for this troubled group? Can they emerge from their dark past and move into a better world? Harold was one of many children and unsure who exactly his father was. He left home at an early age and often found himself incarcerated. In his case it is clear that late in life he has found a feeling of peace in the world. Jason was once locked in a box for three years. Just try to imagine how that could impact someone.
But as the story evolves there are signs of hope and redemption. Oh, to be sure, there remains a great deal of angst and uncertainty, and yet hopeful signs of love and joy do gradually emerge. I will admit as I watched the show unfold I was not at first certain of exactly where it was taking me. It began with an abundance of humor but that soon was hit with powerful revelations of a dark and ugly history. Then, as the story moved towards a conclusion, sprinkles of hope and joy gradually began to emerge within this unique group of troubled individuals. Ultimately, something very sad and yet at the same time very unifying happens that brings this intriguing group together.
I will say that “The Rescued” turned out to be something far different then what I at first expected by looking at the images on the playbill. It is also one of the most unique shows I have ever watched. But without a doubt it is compelling and entertaining.
You may enjoy “The Rescued” at The Road on Magnolia, 10747 Magnolia Boulevard, North Hollywood, California 91601 now through November 11th 2018. Show times are Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 p.m. and Sundays at 2:00 p.m. Reservations and ticketing can be done either at: roadtheatre website or by calling 818-761-8838.
Photo credit: Brian M. Cole
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