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Standing on my Knees @ The Gardner Stages

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Meg Wallace as Catherine in Standing on my Knees

Back when I was taking acting classes in the Valley, I had a classmate who wasn’t that talented, but was nevertheless very taken with his own ability. One day, I looked into his car and saw that it was a complete disaster area in the backseat. When I commented on the mess, he shot back, “It’s not messy – it’s artistic.”

While the line between art and chaos has never completely clear, it seems like it will always be an endless source of fascination for some who are creatively inclined, or wish they were more creatively inclined. John Olive’s play, Standing on my Knees, centers around this very obsession.

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In the press release, the main character Catherine is described as a “beautiful young poet,” squirting into the already murky water where mental illness meets creativity the childish, selfish and completely romanticized idea of a lovely but tortured woman. It's this notion of the damsel in distress, which is a pretty familiar twist (think Gwyneth Paltrow as another crazy Catherine in the film adaptation of “Proof”) that casts a queasy rose-colored haze over what, in this case, is an otherwise compelling story about schizophrenia.

In the iteration of Olive's play now showing at the Gardner Stages in West Hollywood, Meg Wallace plays the part of Catherine. The play opens with Catherine hopped up on Thorazine following a stint at a mental institution. The question is, can she live a fulfilled life as a poet while rendered somewhat numb and definitely less expressive by prescription drugs?