Saving Cain is a compelling, gripping well-written drama that tackles faith, family, and forgiveness with one of the most talented cast assembled on stage.
Written by Aaron Kozak
Directed by David Chrzanowski
Hudson Theatre, 6539 Santa Monica Boulevard, Hollywood CA .
Run Time 95 mins
Tickets at http://hff19.org/6088
Saving Cain is a human-centric multi-layered story with a tremendous amount of depth it simultaneously provides a commentary on our current geo-political climate, dealing with the struggles of a single parent household, addiction, losing yourself in religious fanaticism, and ultimately finding your own strength and moving towards your path to peace. There is quite a bit to unpack in the exceptional show which runs a little over an hour and a half. I will do my best to summarize my thoughts.
Our story begins in a small town in Texas in the early 2000s and follows Lauralai(Leah Verrill) who was raised in and is a fervent follower of the doctrine of the Pentecostal Church and a word for word biblical literalist, she is a hardworking single mother who is uncompromising in her beliefs. She makes every effort to shelter her son Levi(Lenny Hernandez) from anything she might deem temptations of Satan and or the Natural World such as the internet, television, science anything that might potentially cause them to stumble from the straight and narrow path. Lauralai is tested in more ways than one when Levi, who much to her mortification, is forced to attend Public School for the first time. She befriends the Schools affable counselor Ed(Jim Martyka) who truly has Levi's best interest at heart, and attempts to conciliate Lauralai despite her grave concern as Levi he steps into High School for the first time.
Fast forward four years later and Levi is doing well in school, he has joined the debate club and excelling his studies despite his mother's stern religious authoritarianism. The story takes a dark turn when Levi is involved in a fight at school for defending his best friend from being bullied for being gay. Levi ends up getting injured and breaking his arm, he is prescribed medication to help mitigate the pain, and this is the beginning of his unhealthy and debilitating addiction.
What unfolds before us on stage is profoundly heartbreaking and tragic, for the first time in her life Lauralai is forced to take a real hard look at herself and decide what her faith actually means to her, and at what it has cost her this whole time. Additionally, we learn the dark cryptic truth of her past and the reason for her unwavering beliefs and why she is the way she is.
The entire cast assembled does a tremendous job, watching Hernandez skillfully portray Levi throughout the years from his highs and lows is a real pleasure to see. Leah Verrill's performance of Lauralai is one of the most powerful I have seen on stage at the Fringe Festival, if there was a nomination for best actress at Fringe there is no doubt in my mind she would be a top contender. The religious conviction and emotions that she displays are palpable you can't help but be drawn in, all eyes are on her when she is on stage.
Broaching religious and political topics can be challenging, with so many viewpoints and dissenting opinions they can be tricky waters to navigate successfully, what makes this show so great, is that it handles all of these various perspectives with validity and tact. Even if you try and avoid shows that discuss regions and politics, I would ask you to leave your thoughts at the door and give this one a chance.
I highly recommend taking the time to see this terrific play.
Hollywood Fringe 2019
Mike is checking out the following shows.