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Ultrasound Economy: 'Hell Money' at Agenda Loft

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Ewan Chung and Elia Saldana in 'Hell Money.' (Photo courtesy Chalk Repertory)
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Chalk Repertory's latest unconventionally contextualized theatrical offering, Hell Money, is currently running at Agenda Loft. Ruth McKee's hilarious and touching script follows two nineteen year old veterans of the Los Angeles foster care system as they try to navigate through life with very limited means of social and financial support.
Through physical and situational comedy, McKee's characters are met with loyalty, trust, poverty, maturity, immigration, and acceptance issues after leaving the group home where they grew up. Under the direction of Jen Bloom, Hell Money features strong performances, a great set, and realistic writing full of ironic buffoonery.The entire cast of Hell Money is young, but prove themselves to be capable, diligent, and earnest performers. Elia Saldana is an energetic and brilliant comedic actor that beams in the role of Katie. Jennifer Chang aptly plays dour straight woman Julie, conveying realism with every line. Ewan Chung and Burl Moseley effortlessly convey complex emotional paradigms such as bemused sympathy and restrained frustration, giving significantly more depth to their characters than is generally granted to supporting roles.

Blooms direction is carefully conceived and brimming with authentic and natural feeling production choices. Agenda Loft has been transformed to look like the first apartment of two young adults aspiring to maturity. No detail was spared in making the set appear real -- as the cast slurps away at cheap ramen noodles, the audience voyeuristically sits in chairs and stools strewn around the perimeter of the Hell Money living room like nosey neighbors watching a drama unfold. The paleontology videos watched by Julie are a marvelously quirky touch sure to cause immediate ownership envy.

Hell Money is playing through April 24, 2011 at Agenda Loft. Tickets are available online through Chalk Repertory.