Brushstroke Review – A Cold War Comedy Thriller

Malcom Barrett, James Urbaniak, and Evangeline Edwards in BRUSHSTROKE - Photo by Zoe Tiller
Spread the love

Penned by John Ross Bowie and directed by Casey Stangl, BRUSHSTROKE makes its world premiere at the Odyssey Theatre in Los Angeles. Author Bowie has impressive creds, both as an actor and as a writer.  He claims that the piece is “based on a story so crazy that it has to be (a little bit) true.” The audience will have to decide for itself whether or not this could really have happened – sort of.

Brendan Hines and Malcom Barrett – Photo by Zoe Tiller

The time is 1956, and the place is Greenwich Village on the lower East side of Manhattan. While strolling through an art gallery, Marvin (Malcom Barrett) see a painting he can’t live without. Imagine his excitement when he meets Ted (James Urbaniak), the middle-aged artist, who seems to have given up finding the fame and fortune he hoped for in his youth. And yet Marvin’s wild enthusiasm and patronage may rejuvenate some of Ted’s old dreams. But is there more to this “chance” meeting than meets the eye? After all, the Cold War is building up – and could it be that spies are embroiled in a secret plot with sinister plans for Ted’s paintings? Nothing is as it seems – or maybe it is. The audience will definitely need to stay on its toes.

Brandan Hines and Malcom Barrett – Photo by Zoe Tiller

Director Stangl helms the play with an eye to the inherent comedy in the story. She is ably assisted by the ensemble cast (Malcom Barrett, James Urbaniak, Evangeline Edwards, and Brendan Hines), who will keep the audience guessing as they slowly unravel the tale. Is this espionage, expressionism, or simply egg creams?

Malcom Barrett and James Urbaniak – Photo by Zoe Tiller

Keith Mitchell’s set is simple and shabbily authentic, with the clever unfolding of another scene just waiting to pop out of the art studio’s window. Marc Antonio Pritchett’s sound, Christine Cover Ferro’s costumes, and Soran Schwartz’s lighting all add to the story’s atmosphere. And let’s not forget Joyce Hutter’s scenic painting and props.

Evangeline Edwards and Malcom Barrett – Photo by Zoe Tiller

BRUSHSTROKE is an intriguing look at America during the Cold War, a time when paranoia was the norm and spies were everywhere. For amateur historians of the era, BRUSHSTROKE will certainly please. The concept is clever and entertaining.

Evangeline Edwards and Malcom Barrett – Photo by Zoe Tiller

BRUSHSTROKE runs through March 3, 2024, with performances at 8 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays, at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Saturdays, and at 2 p.m. on Sundays. The Odyssey Theatre is located at 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles, CA. Tickets range from $25 to $55. For information and reservations, call 310-477-2055 x 2 or go online.


Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.