August 5, 2019 Radomir Vojtech Luza

Review of The Group Repertory Theatre’s Production of Theresa Rebeck’s “Loose Knit”

If you are interested in a play about a New York City women’s knitting circle make a beaten path to The Group Repertory Theatre’s production of 
“Loose Knit” by Theresa Rebeck running at The Lonny Chapman Theatre in the No Ho Arts District through September 8th.
This is the story of five New York City women who meet once a week in the heart of the city to knit.
The thing is, knitting is about the last thing they do.  As the yarn increases, so do the pain, suffering and anguish.
Liz is sleeping with her sister Lilly’s husband Bob, Margie is contending with a dating service and a new therapist, Paula is wondering why she is a  
therapist and Gina just wants her old job back. 
In-between, the quintet all meets with Miles, a self-confident businessman who earned his first million dollars before he was thirty-years-old and owns a 
Rolls Royce to die for, on a series of blind dates at a sushi restaurant.
This play could not have been written about or for men.
No, it is ladies, ladies and more ladies that make it so multi-layered and fascinating.
The passion, purity and possibility that the fairer sex provides is alive and kicking here in writing so opulent and ample that it penetrates the pores and 
sinks into the soul.
The language and plot intertwine like a Tango near Paris’ famed River Seine.         .
One leaning on the other like battle-tested veterans after the Battle of the Bulge.
Indeed, Rebeck’s words prove so proud, plentiful and pliable that they create scenarios and scenes on their own.
The prolific and widely produced playwright who this Fall will premiere her fourth Broadway play, “Bernhardt/Hamlet” as part of the Roundabout Theatre 
Company’s 2018-2019 season making Rebeck the most Broadway-produced female playwright of our time here shows why.
In television and film, the talented scribe has made a name for herself as well as a writer for shows like “L.A. Law,” “NYPD Blue” and “Law and Order: 
Criminal Intent” and feature films such as “Harriett the Spy” and “Gossip” and the independent features, “Sunday on the Rocks” and
“Seducing Charlie Barker,” an adaptation of her play, “The Scene.”  
Director L. Flint Esquerra, who this critic last encountered when he helmed Larry Eisenberg, The Group Repertory Theatre’s soon-to-be-departing co-
Artistic Director as Morrie in The Sierra Madre Playhouse production of “Tuesdays with Morrie” this past March, here does the impossible: he makes
the women of the knitting circle seem like close friends at the beginning of the evening.
He continues to perfect their humanity and heart at the cost of their ego and vanity and ends up with five full, plump and fat character outlines. These  
females stain, stomp and swing their way into your being as well as your blood.  
Esquerra is a brilliant director who understands that art is a reflection of life, but that that angle of refrain depends on how heightened the reality is.
The veteran stage director simply sees and does what very few other directors can or ever will.
Esquerra assembles a deeply gifted cast that comprehends the complex and creative patterns and undertones of the playwright’s work.
Stand outs include Julie Davis (Margie) who just about runs away with the play by giving a confident and comfortable turn as the forever dateless and  
manless friend who discovers that working on herself far exceeds any attempt at getting a romantic partner.
The Shakespearean actress who appeared in last year’s Group Repertory Theatre production of “Romeo and Juliet” captures this play’s quirky dark 
humor and unique psychological transparency better than just about any other actress in the production.
Davis’ sincere and direct honesty is a most refreshing change and challenge in the play.
Her pretty countenance belies a courageous and competetive spirit that plays right into Rebeck’s aggressive theme and attitude.
But it is Marie Broderick (Liz) who steals the show with a completely spontaneous, intelligent and sexy performance as Lily’s younger and more rebellious 
sister.
The actor, director and producer operates on her own land somewhere between rainbow and Wrigley, but moves like a neon lion between issues, 
problems and situations.  
Born in Vietnam, Broderick came to Los Angeles after earning a BA in Drama with a minor in Dance from the University of Washington.
The longtime actress is a study in not only physical adeptness and awareness, but emotional sensitivity and bravery.
Broderick owns the stage from beginning to end, and her presence not only charms and cajoles, but dices, cuts and slices.
This is an electric, riveting and totally compelling portrayal not to be missed.
This critic hopes to see Broderick on the boards of North Hollywood and Los Angeles again very soon.
Furthering the message of the play are the beautiful and innovative set design of Chris Winfield, the eye-popping lighting design of Douglas Gabrielle, the 
colossal sound design of JC Gafford and the supple and rich costume design of Angela M. Eads.
All in all, “Loose Knit” succeeds because of, not despite, its freedom of thought and deed, wisdom and weight.
Every subject from race to the opposite sex to American Imperialism to Donald Trump is covered and hotly debated.
The wit and fierceness here are unparalleled.  Each character with her own timeline and trip to the turquoise sky.
Every wide river maneuvered, high peak scaled, and deep valley crossed in the attempt to humanize and color the personal journey and perspective 
of each and every character on stage and audience member in their seats.
This social, civil and philosophical examination and analysis touches on everything humane and good in the universe even though it often parades, 
pinches and punches as improbable, impossible and immoral.   
As the eighth character in the play, New York City awakens to its awesome potential and absurd divinity in a way only this playwright can pen, this  
director instruct and this cast perform. 
Before the appointment of co-Artistic Directors Eisenberg and Winfield there is no way a project of this magnitude, delicacy and gentleness would have 
gotten off the ground on Burbank Boulevard where “community theatre fare” was the standard and mediocrity reigned like jelly donuts. 
Therefore, it is with sadness that this critic recently learned of the retirement of Eisenberg from his position.  This company owes much to him not only
as a leader, but a talented administrator.  Eisenberg’s love of and passion for live theatre is unequaled.  This critic wishes the director and actor well in the 
future and hopes that Doug Haverty, the replacement, can step into his shoes and deliver as Eisenberg always did efficiently and effectively
during his nine plus years.
The future of the ensemble seems to depend on it.
By Radomir Vojtech LuzaTheatre, Film and Book Critichttp://atthetheatrewithRadomirLuza.com

Showtimes:Fridays and Saturdays at 8 PM and Sunday Matinees at 2 PM. Talkback Sundays, August 11 and August 25After the Matinee.General Admission: $25 Students/Seniors with ID: $20.Groups 10+: $15.Information/Reservation: (818) 763-5990. WHERE: The Group Repertory Theatre/Lonny Chapman Theatre-Main Stage at 10900 Burbank Boulevard, North Hollywood, CA 91601   

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