Stage Struck Review

Reviews for theater within the greater Los Angeles area.

Fashion is Life: “Everything You Touch” at The Theatre@Boston Court

Tyler Pierce and Esme Pierce evoke the world of high fashion in "Everything You Touch" at Boston Court

Tyler Pierce and Esme Maher evoke the world of high fashion in “Everything You Touch” at Boston Court

Some of the best things I’ve seen at the Theatre at Boston Court in Pasadena have been subtle psychological introspections – puzzles only solved as you delve into the storyteller’s world. This is often greatly enhanced by the daring with which Boston Court’s directors and designers approach the telling of the tale: the understated symbolism, and little hints of the power behind what the words are saying, etc.

Case in point would be “Everything You Touch” by Sheila Callaghan, a coproduction with the Rattlestick Playwrights Theater which was nurtured into being by the Boston Court, and is receiving its world premiere run there. And who better to direct something steeped in the above-mentioned subtleties than co-Artistic Director Jessica Kubzansky. The results have proved so fascinating the run of the play has been extended until at least May 18.

“Everything You Touch” is grounded in the world of fashion. It centers on parallel plots. One is set in the 70s, following a self absorbed fashion designer’s gradual shift from outlandish and groundbreaking to popular and trendy – and the women who inspired the two versions of himself. The other, seated in the now, seems a polar opposite: a dumpy and disheveled young computer whiz whose wrestles with the demons of her own self-loathing escalate as she must travel from New York to Little Rock and her dying, judgmental mother.

Arthur Keng and Kirsten Vangsness as counterpoint to the fashionable world in "Everything You Touch"

Arthur Keng and Kirsten Vangsness as counterpoint to the fashionable world in “Everything You Touch”

At least, that’s where it all begins. From there the two stories weave in and around each other, creating some questions, answering others, blurring lines in time and space.

To add to the surreal, the set dressing and props consist rather heavily of live fashion models. They stride in, angle themselves, and become computer screens, telephones, gum dispensers, and all matter of props. What isn’t made of humans – a chair is the most startling example – is made of mannequin parts. In short, fashion consumes the set just as it powers the plot.

If this sounds convoluted, it’s not. Both Kubzansky’s direction and a spirited, richly expressive cast easily pull the audience into the puzzle.

Tyler Pierce is Victor, a womanizing fashion designer with a struggling boutique and a reputation for both callousness and an edgy, out-there creativity. Kate Maher gives her own sharpness to the former model who has become Victor’s artistic muse and occasional sexual partner. Amy French is the comparatively cornfed prize winner whose visit and discourse on comfiness strikes a surprising bell with Victor, initiating a sea change in all his relationships.

Kirsten Vangsness is Jess, the frumpy computer geek used to one-night stands and a life behind a computer screen. Her somewhat sarcastic sense of self leads her to meaningless relationships, all the while ignoring her work partner, Lewis (Arthur Keng), whose devotion she cannot see. Now she hears her mother is dying, and scoops up a guy – essentially an elongated pick-up – to go with her on the journey. Or does she?

The achingly white set by Francois-Pierre Couture, ingeniously crafted to allow for quick changes and a focus on the colorful clothing, Jenny Foldenauer’s startling, varied and very telling costumes, Adam Flemming’s evocative projections, John Zalewski’s original music, and those weird and wonderful props by John Burton all combine to guide the audience through the characters’ interior monologues and human conflicts. In the end, what appears just to be a conversation on self-image has much more to say about the human spirit and the nature of both success and art.

“Everything You Touch” delivers that remarkable combination of satisfaction and conversation starter that makes for one kind of excellent theater. And since shows that make you think are The Theatre at Boston Court’s bread and butter, it is no surprise that the show is being held over. The special efforts it took to make this world premiere happen certainly prove to be worth it.

What: “Everything You Touch” When: Through May 18, 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays Where: The Theatre at Boston Court, 70 N. Mentor Ave. in Pasadena How Much: $34 general, $29 senior/student Info: (626) 683-6883 or http://www.bostoncourt.com

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One response to “Fashion is Life: “Everything You Touch” at The Theatre@Boston Court

  1. Brian Fenerty May 31, 2014 at 10:30 PM

    It contains huge amount of fashion knowledge. Thank you for great posting. I like it, i like it all. keep it up.

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