Review of The Group Repertory Theatre Revival of “In My Mind’s Eye” by Doug Haverty Running on The Main Stage Downstairs Through March 15th in The North Hollywood Arts District, CA
If you are interested in a kaleidoscope-colored, multi-dimensional play about the triumphs
and travails of a legally blind public school teacher, make a beaten path to The Group
Repertory Theatre’s revival of “In My Mind’s Eye” by Doug Haverty, running on the Main
Stage of The Lonny Chapman Theatre in The North Hollywood Arts District through March
This is the story of a courageous and committed female public school teacher who finds love
and pain in her journey from junior high school student to public school educator.
This is drama and comedy as semi-fantasy.
Life as poetry.
Tripping, tugging and twisting on time’s multi colored and thickly layered coat, Patricia or
Patty (Peyton Kirkner) rides the special needs roller coaster from mother’s couch to lover’s
The writing is sumptuous, surreal, salient and surprising.
Full of metaphors and alliteration, the show knocks on existence’s door only to find a
department store of magic and lore.
The language is beautiful, genuine and heavenly leading to a love story for these modern
times with its share of potent, penetrating and poignant rhymes.
The words stand as stark reminders to the wordsmith and scribe in each one of us,
flashing beacons to the hero in us all.
Wonderfully written with flourishes and embellishments adding to the engrossing and
achingly powerful nature of the story of a little engine that not only could, but did, the
memory play is both hilarious and tragic.
It is of import that we, the audience, remember that having been developed in Lonny
Chapman’s playwright’s unit, this was the first full-length play presented in the theatre that
now bears his name.
After winning a number of Drama-Logue awards, including Best Playwriting, the play was
published worldwide by Samuel French keeping alive Chapman’s unique and rare vision of
new works that illuminate and enlighten unusual sides of humanity.
Bruce Kimmel’s erudite direction is equally poetic. The emotional and psychological depth,
drama and delight are apparent in not merely the set design, but the lighting, sound,
interplay and entrances and exits of the actors.
The evening flows like a tributary without end thanks mainly to the director’s originality,
imagination and ability to allow his actors to be themselves.
Haverty’s rollicking reality could not stand on its own without the wonder wheel in Kimmel’s
The writer, director and star of the cult movie hit, “The First Nudie Musical,” crafts a fantasy
land of sorts here by trusting the gremlins in his mind and believing not only in the
playwright’s words, but his own cornucopia of chance and dance.
The co-creator of the story for the film “The Faculty,” directed by Robert Rodriguez,
assembles a deeply talented cast here that comprehends the complexities, corridors and
well-coifed messages in Haverty’s award-winning play.
Stand-outs include Lloyd Pedersen (Calhoun) who almost steals the play with a deeply
convincing turn that turns the play upside down and all around.
The 16-year Group Repertory Theatre member makes this role matter as he has the dozen
or more before. The Northwestern University graduate slices and dices the maybes and
Rabies of the part by giving himself to the truth and sincerity of the character.
In the end, we, the audience, are left with a bravura portrayal adding to the actor’s growing
legend at The Group Repertory Theatre and the almost 50 years of professional acting and
singing preceding this deeply and nobly nuanced and felt characterization.
But it is Kait Haire (Trish) who runs away with the show by completely breaking away from
her sexually charged performance as Davina in “Otherwise Engaged” Upstairs last season.
The two roles are so dramatically, dogmatically and ferociously different that one wonders
how the Vero Beach, FL native found the courage and acting chops to locate the two diverse
characters in her lithe frame.
Here, the George Washington University theatre student tosses all doubts about her range
and dedication as an actress into the garbage with an extremely gentle and tender turn .
In a beautifully and soulfully choreographed dance she brings the wholesome Trish into our
hearts for good with a soft, vulnerable, almost fragile characterization that is simply light
years away from that in the other production.
The recipient of the Presidential Scholar of the Arts Scholarship for acting while at George
Washington, gives a timeless, compelling, fierce and dynamic portrayal not to be missed by
any theatre lover or follower of the arts, for that matter.
This critic hopes to see Haire, who also acts in film, on the stages of North Hollywood and
Los Angeles again soon.
Furthering the message of the play are Pawena Sriha’s intimate and intricate set design,
Douglas Gabrielle’s innovative lighting design, Steve Shaw’s powerful sound design,
Michael Mullen’s original and imaginative costume design and Jody Bardin’s singular work as
All in all, “In My Mind’s Eye” succeeds because of its otherworldly, ethereal meteor shower
of a presence, not despite it.
The play is a riveting, rewarding and radiant example of a woman’s bravery and dedication
in the face of sure failure and severe bullying.
She turns tomatoes into tomato juice and alienation, desperation and isolation into true love
and commitment with intelligence, insight and instinct.
This ribald, raunchy and rip-roaring love story and romance forces us, the audience, to see
Patricia, and later Trish, as a real human being , not a freak or misfit at someone else’s
For a child with special needs, that is a rare and wonderful breakthrough.
So, Haverty, the brand new Group Repertory Theatre Artistic Director, chooses Haverty, the
playwright, for his initial production.
Not only does he pull it off beautifully, but the oft-produced playwright does it with the flair,
charm and joie de vivre of an up-and-coming artistic lightning bolt who cannot and will not
allow himself to do bad, lousy or shoddy work.
Let us, the theatre goers and audience, hope that this mindset continues, as this artistic
spitfire leads this, one of Los Angeles’ most innovative and original theatrical ensembles into
a potentially historic, award-filled and potent future.
Kudos to all involved.
By Radomir Vojtech LuzaTheatre, Film and Book Critichttp://www.atthetheatrewithRadomirLuza.com
Showtimes:Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 pmSunday Matinees at 2:00 pmTalkbacks with Cast and Staff on 2/16 and 3/1.Running Time: 2 Hours with One Ten Minute Intermission.General Admission: $30.00.Seniors & Students with ID: $25.00.Parties 10+: $20.00.
Reservations and Information: (818) 763-5990.WHERE: Lonny Chapman Theatre at The Group Repertory Theatre at 10900 Burbank Boulevard, North Hollywood, CA 91601.