Stage Struck Review

Reviews for theater within the greater Los Angeles area.

Wrestling with “Creation” – Boston Court delves into the human mind

Johnathan McClain as Ian and Deborah Puett as Sarah in the moment before lightning literally strikes and changes their world forever in “Creation” at The Theatre at Boston Court

As anyone knows who has read the books of Oliver Sacks, for some people, particularly those with some change in their brains, music can take on significance far beyond the norm. If you add that to the essential mystery of how one can hear tunes in one’s head (Mozart, it is said, heard whole symphonies – one reason his manuscripts have so few corrections), and the nature of the creative process itself, and you have the essential elements of “Creation,” Kathryn Walat’s fascinating new play at The Theatre at Boston Court.

In the opening moments, Ian, an evolutionary biologist, is hit by lightning. His wife Sarah, a pathologist, shocked at first, soon revives him. He seems the same, but he is not. He now has an overwhelming obsession with music, to the point of destabilizing everything in his life to that point. His wife turns to his neurologist first for answers and then, just possibly, for comfort. Ian scoops up a hungry young grad student/composer, at first to understand the new force inside his head, yet begins to blur the lines between that understanding and the forces which create. One lightning strike will scar them all.

If this sounds grim, never fear. The articulation of the characters who wander through the maze of Ian’s changed brain, and the depths of their individual and corporate wrestlings, make for a rich ethical soup. Who is to blame for this? How much can one man’s obsession be allowed to intrude upon others’ lives? Is there an obligation to relate to this new man in the same frame as the old one? Where are the boundaries of obsession? of care? of control?

Johnathan McClain plays Ian as someone finding a solid interior logic inside his change, vibrating with his new-found joys, bringing a physicality to his increasingly dulled access to exterior input. As his wife, Deborah Puette walks the stages of grief and guilt, rattled into a sense of frailty by the redefinition of her world. Ethan Rains gives the sharp and somewhat egoistic neurologist gifted with his own, more normal obsessions, a crispness that seems to warm as the play continues. In some ways most interesting is Adam Silver’s music student, Zach, the seeming goofball with a pride backed up by his passion for his work, yet vulnerable enough to be run over by an obsessive.

Choreographing this episodic yet seamless piece, director Michael Michetti has made room for each of these character’s colliding humanities. This on an extraordinary set designed by Francois-Pierre Couture’s and graced with Adam Flemming’s organic, sometimes nearly magical projections. This creative team draws the audience in to live with the people onstage – an almost radiant empathy.

“Creation,” as with many other shows at The Theatre at Boston Court, will leave one to peel layers of meaning long after the play is done. The ethical wrestling of Walat’s characters is, in the end, a sequence of questions without easy answers. And that is just what a good play ought to leave people to work out. Here, as in life, major upheavals rarely wrap up in tidy packages.

What: “Creation” When: Through November 11, 8 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays Where: The Theatre at Boston Court, 70 N. Mentor Ave. in Pasadena How Much: $34 general, $29 seniors, rush tickets available to high school students at no charge Info: (626) 683-6883 or http://www.bostoncourt.org

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