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Wallowa: The Vanishing of Maude LeRay at Son of Semele Theater

Gabriel Liebeskind, Dee Amerio Sudik, Alex Smith, Jonathan CK Williams, and Daniel Getzoff in 'Wallowa: The Vanishing of Maude LeRay.' Photo by Matthew McCray.
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Son of Semele Ensemble's new collaboration project, Wallowa: The Vanishing of Maude LeRay, is an eerie and ominous dramatization of the real-life disappearance of a 76 year old woman in Oregon's bodingly dangerous Wallowa Mountains. Oliver Mayer's script tells LeRay's story through a constantly revolving spectrum of perspectives through action-oriented performers. Working through the nooks and niches of both Maude's mind and a cave-like set, Wallowa is fast-paced, coy, and absorbing.Wallowa does not feature hefty monologue moments, but the well chosen and realistic cast of 12 lead by Dee Amerio Sudik, gives a flawless performance. Most of the actors fill both human and supernatural forest animal roles with superbly choreographed motion and easy transitions. Those playing the typical, subdued, and earth-toned Oregonian search team members (Sarah Boughton, Sharyn Gabriel, Daniel Getzoff, Gabriel Liebeskind, Gina, Manziello, Alex Smith, Diana Payne, Alexander Wells, and Jonathan CK Williams) bring the play vividly to life as they morph into an anarchistic totem within Maude's near-death nightmares. Sudik and Boughton, along with Alexander Wright as Maude's husband Howard, are stand-out, commanding presences on the stage.

Direction, lighting, music, and scene design are prominently featured in this production and given the mystic qualities of the play, seem to be characters in and of themselves. The complexity of staging Wallowa looks easy under Don Boughton's well-balanced direction. Sarah Krainin's scenic design is an abstraction of forest and beast belly that is at once mysterious, soothing, and full of built-in surprises. Daniella Langford's animal costume's are beautifully crafted and bring out the sinister in the performers donning them along with bold lighting by Barbara Kallir. Live tone-setting music is woven seamlessly through the background of the play and plot by Liebeskind to very nice effect.

Wallowa is playing through May 8, 2011 at Son of Semele Theater, located in Silver Lake at 3301 Beverly Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90004. Tickets are available online from Son of Semele or via phone at 213-351-3507.