Cal in Camo Review – Navigating Life’s Storms

Bree Turner and Brad Raider in CAL IN CAMO - Photo by David Rodriguez
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Playwright William Francis Hoffman probes the dynamics in families with compassion and clarity. He asks whether pain, past and present, alters family feelings and – more importantly – the effect of past experiences on the ability to bond within the family. Directed by Amy K. Harmon, CAL IN CAMO explores these issues and more in an intense drama which explodes with sturm und drang – both within and without.

Tim Cummings – Photo by David Rodriguez

A reluctant Cal (Bree Turner) has recently given birth to her first baby as she tries to fulfill the dreams of her husband Tim (Brad Raider) for a family to call his own. Tim is himself one branch of a huge family tree, while Cal has only her brother Flynt (Tim Cummings) to call family. Things haven’t gone so well for salesman Tim, who’s been trying to sell a flavored beer that isn’t going over too well in their rural community of plain folk. And this problem may only be the tip of an iceberg of unexpressed problems arising from his past. Neither have things gone well for Cal, who finds that she simply cannot connect with her infant.

Brad Raider and Bree Turner – Photo by David Rodriguez

When Flynt comes for a visit and change of scene after the drowning death of his wife, Cal wants to believe that all her troubles will go away – but Flynt is eaten up by grief over his wife’s death and doesn’t seem to be able to get past his guilt. Why couldn’t he rescue the one person he truly loved? Will male bonding help or hinder? And so three damaged people are locked together in what may be a futile, dead-end dance.

Tim Cummings and Bree Turner – Photo by David Rodriguez

Kudos to this triad for their empathetic and caring portrayal of three tormented people seeking answers to very elusive questions which, in one form or another, often plague the best of us. And further congratulations to director Harmon, who digs deeply into what makes these characters who they are.

Brad Raider and Tim Cummings – Photo by David Rodriguez

Se Hyun Oh’s set design is perfect for this tale – most especially during the worst storm to hit the stage in some time. As the tumultuous wind and pelting rain thunder through the woods and into every crack in the house, so too do tumultuous emotions fly unchecked in every direction. Derrick McDaniel’s lighting and Chris Moscatiello’s sound bring this hurricane force tempest to final fruition. Will healing follow? You’ll have to see for yourself.

Tim Cummings and Brad Raider – Photo by David Rodriguez

CAL IN CAMO is an intense and fascinating study of real people struggling with real problems. Although uneven in parts, the overall effect is powerful. For those interested in family, dysfunction, and paths to resolution, CAL IN CAMO is a must.

CAL IN CAMO runs through November 9, 2018, with performances at 8 p.m. on Thursdays through Saturdays and at 3 p.m. on Sundays. VS. Theatre is located at 5453 Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90019. Tickets are $20 and $35. For information and reservations, call 323-739-4411 or go online.

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