Outrage Review – A Study in Moral Indignation

Terri Parks, Cameron Meyer, Peter O'Connor, and Hope Brown in OUTRAGE - Photo by Maria Proios
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Written and directed by Allen Barton, OUTRAGE makes its world premiere in 2023 at the Beverly Hills Playhouse. The play is produced by the Crimson Square Theatre Company in association with the Beverly Hills Playhouse. To quote the playwright/director: “I yearned to be irresponsible, irreverent, and, well, outrageous (in 2015), and I started writing this play back then. I wanted to address in a sly, comedic fashion the bizarre and somewhat shocking spasms of hatred and intolerance that would occasionally hit me in ways I had only rarely experienced before in 30 years of adult life…the world that woke up after the malevolent coma of 2020-21 was different.”

Sara Ball and Peter O’Connor – Photo by Maria Proios

Ethan (Peter O’Connor) teaches actors, directors, and writers in his acting school. Things begin to tilt sideways when one of the school’s nascent writers, Elaine (Terri Parks) feels put upon by the somewhat harsh critique made by her mentor Ethan. From that point on, things begin to dip deeper into dangerous waters for Ethan and wife Lori (Cameron Meyer), especially after it becomes common knowledge which presidential candidate the couple voted for. Soon, allegations of police brutality and the idea that “Black Lives Matter” are added to the list of accusations made about Ethan’s assumed beliefs. No one seems especially disturbed by Ethan’s acting school being torched as Ethan goes deep undercover into social isolation. But some hope may be just around the corner. You’ll have to see the play to discover what that may be.

Peter Zizzo and Peter O’Connor – Photo by Maria Proios

Penned and directed by Allen Barton, OUTRAGE makes a noisy if somewhat confused entry into the genre of “thought-provoking” dramedies. His explosive strikes at some of the past three years’ hot issues sometimes seemed almost random, disjointed, and hit-and-miss. However, this did not appear to influence the audience (largely composed of staff and students in the venue’s acting school), whose loud laughter continued to echo throughout the show; they were clearly hugely entertained by the constant in-house jokes which abounded. Various actors in the piece had what amounted to near-soliloquies as they briefly portrayed different characters in Ethan’s story. While the acting was effective, the play appeared to be a collection of relatively unrelated scenes, with the only connecting thread being the appearance of a tormented Ethan (and occasionally his wife). The actor’s showcase was populated by performers Hope Brown (Phillip/Doug), Derrick Vanermillen (Jeremy), Nicole Varona (Jamie), Sara Ball (Emily), Kirk Fogg (Tom), Evan Michael Ewing (Bryan), Peter Zizzo (Murray), and Sam Sebai (Juan).

Peter O’Connor, Kirk Fogg, Hope Brown – Photo by Maria Proios

The OUTRAGE set was spartan in its simplicity, with a few benches which the cast easily repositioned for each scene. Kudos to artistic director Mia Christou, who provided the painted backdrop. Derrick McDaniels’ lighting and Chris Moscatiello’s sound were effective in delineating the scenes.

Whitney Nielsen, Cameron Meyer, and Hope Brown – Photo by Maria Proios

OUTRAGE will definitely appeal to the many in-training actors, directors, and writers in Los Angeles. It offers some amusing insights into show business in a town noted for Hollywood, world-famous studios, films, and live theater. OUTRAGE also offers some thought-provoking questions but no clear-cut answers. 

OUTRAGE runs through November 12, 2023, with performances at 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and at 7 p.m. on Sundays. The Crimson Square Theatre Company performs at the Beverly Hills Playhouse, 254 South Robertson Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA 90211. Tickets are $35 ($15 students). For information and reservations, call 323-657-5992 or go online.


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