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Arts and Entertainment

Theater Review: Bones Rattling in Culver City

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Bones 3.jpg
Tory Kittles and Tessa Aberjonois in the world premiere of Bones at the CTG/Kirk Douglas Theatre. | Photo: Craig Schwartz

Tory Kittles and Tessa Aberjonois in the world premiere of Bones at the CTG/Kirk Douglas Theatre. | Photo: Craig Schwartz
Every unhappy family may be unique, as Tolstoy advised us, but the family we meet in Obie Award-winner Dael Orlandersmith's new play Bones is really, really unhappy. Traumatized. Scarred by at least two generations of physical, psychological and sexual abuse. Which prompts the thirty-year-old Leah (Tessa Auberjonois) to write a letter to her twin brother, Steven (Tory Kittles), and her mother, Claire (Khandi Alexander), suggesting that the three of them meet in a dingy Newark Airport motel to hash it out once and for all.

And for 70 minutes that's what they do. Alternating between scenes of direct confrontation and interior monologues, they relive the past and reopen their still-festering wounds. They blame each other. They each deny and defend themselves against the charges leveled at them by the other two. They bitterly consider whether or not Leah and Steven's long-absent father was the real instigator of the worst offenses committed behind their household's closed and open doors. They redouble their recriminations. They strive toward some form of catharsis or at least a consistent version of the ugly events of nearly a quarter century before, but they get nowhere. Yet still they reload and rage on.

All three cast members prove themselves more than equal to the challenges that this relentless play imposes on them. But when they came out on stage for an audience discussion after Sunday night's performance, they were joined by a trio of marriage and family therapists who had been invited to help the rest of us process, if not recover from, the draining emotional carnage we had just been brought into. Orlandersmith and director Gordon Edelstein deliver a pounding. Bring headgear.

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Bones runs this week only at the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City.

Performances tonight, tomorrow, Friday and Saturday at 8 pm (post-show Stage Talks tonight, tomorrow and Friday); Sunday at 1 and 6:30 pm.

$20 tickets available at the door or by calling (213) 628-2772.