Vol. 15, No. 24 – Aug 24 – Sept 6, 2022 – A View from House Seats

by Shirley Lorraine

Fractured Actors Take on Space and Time

Looking for something a little different to do? You might want to experience the current Speakeasy Project: Area 22 that Fractured Actors Theater Company has devised.

This year’s annual speakeasy production is the brainchild of organizers Jeff and Shannon McNally Ham, who also wrote and directed the pieces. The evening consists of four original one-act offerings, some out-of-this-world live music by The Conspiracies, and a healthy dose of tongue-in-cheek by-play by all involved. The atmosphere is very X-Files meets Ziggy Stardust meets Ripley’s. Quite quirky and fun. I had a blast.

The company operates out of Suite J of Liminal Church of Ventura at 1956 Palma Drive in an industrial park. Their productions are tagged as #NotAChurchPlay, and they are certainly not.

Park in the back. The entertainment begins the minute you approach the door. Be prepared to be asked for credentials and verification of human existence. Just to ease your mind, all life forms are welcome. Guests are seated at tables and chairs facing the black-box stage. All seats are up close and personal. Libations and light snacks are available. The ambiance is mysterious, dark, casual and comfortable.

The Conspiracies, under the musical direction of James Dorward (who also plays drums) features Rachael Lynde on lead guitar and vocals, Chris Gwaltney on guitar and vocals, Ashley Gwaltney on keyboard and vocals and Lauren Sexton on bass guitar and vocals. Each has assumed a delightfully otherworldly persona A dynamic band with outstanding chemistry and audience appeal, they play before, between and after the acts, keeping the audience (at least me!) bobbing and moving.

The large cast manages the works well. Cast members range in age from 7 to well above 80. All are enthusiastic, willing to go along with the set-up and clearly having fun. What a terrific setting for actors of all levels, techs and audience open to trying something new and different. The company advertises “inspiring and thought-provoking theatrical experiences for a non-traditional theater audience.” The one-acts presented, for the most part, did do just that.

Of note to me were performances by Erica Connell, Anthony Contreras, Bryan White, Benjamin Wilson and Hudson Ham.

I enjoyed perusing Sweet Jay’s Museum of Oddities, a collection of fascinating objects scattered throughout the location. A lot of work went into placement and display and are worthy of discovery. As one who has lent personal furniture and props to many a theatrical production over the years, I had to wonder – were these decidedly strange things just hanging around the Hams’ house? Did the items spark the theme or were they gathered to fit? I wonder about odd things.

There is only one more weekend to enjoy this unique theatrical experience. I highly recommend it. Performances are Friday & Saturday, August 26, 27 at 8 p.m. and Sunday the 28th at 5 p.m. Tickets are available at fracturedactors.com. Check out the website for more information.

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