Always Open is a charming, quirky tribute to 90s subculture, it possesses one of the most clever scripts I have ever seen presented on stage delivered by an excellent ensemble.
Written by Ryan Carbrey & Richard Moser
Directed by Susan Lee
June 8th- 28th
Venue Broadwater Main Stage 1076 Lillian Way Los Angeles, CA
Run Time 90 Minuites
Tickets can be purchased at http://hff19.org/5985
Always open is a pretty unique show, something the likes of I can almost guarantee you will probably not see again at this years Hollywood Fringe Festival.
The show is set at 11:45 pm on a Sunday in 1994 at a twenty-four-hour dinner; you know the one I am talking about. Every town in America has one, the place you and your high school friends spent hours upon hours chatting about everything and nothing, when you had nowhere to be, and you didn't pay more than a couple of bucks for soda and appetizers and didn't tip the staff well. Yeah, I am talking about that dinner.
The play revolves around a cast of friends who are meeting once again for the usual mundane routine that often enjoy, but when two new individuals show up who are not apart of their regular schedule, it forces them to take a step back and reflect on who they really are.
In one of the most enjoyable set switches I have ever seen, the entirety of the show is seen more than one way, I am hesitant to say any more as I believe it should be experienced firsthand. I really enjoyed the staging and set design.
This piece really is a love letter to the early 90s grunge culture and its influence. Nirvana plays an integral part of this show, and one of the central characters is deeply affected by the passing of Kurt Cobain. To really understand why they were so vital to actors on stage, you have to look at the state of music when Nirvana appeared on the scene. Hair Metal and Pop were absolutely ruling the scene at the time and were totally disconnected from and alienating to the generation that was coming into their own. In this case the characters portrayed on stage.
What Kurt Cobain was able to do, was take the listlessness, division, and anger that was the undercurrent in his generation and channel it through some excellent songwriting. The band tapped into every dark feeling that you'd have during juvenility and found a way to share it and make it better through music. And I think this play captures the spirit of that perfectly.
The entire ensemble does a great job, no one actor seems out of place or gets lost in the shuffle. Michael Hettler and Paige Fockler are tremendous, stealing the show at times, I really enjoyed their relationship displayed on stage which is both heartbreaking and relatable.
The pacing of the show was a little strange for me particularly between the first and second act, I understand the limitation of the Fringe Festival, but I believe the act II "reveal" could have held a lot more weight to it with a proper 10 minute intermission in between giving the effect some time to breath. That being said I understand the limitation of working within the confines of fringe.
Hollywood Fringe 2019
Mike is checking out the following shows.