Ophelia Review – Memory Plays Tricks

Deborah Geffner and Stefan Marks in OPHELIA - Photo by Baranduin Briggs
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Written and directed by award-winning playwright Stefan Marks, OPHELIA makes its world premiere at the Odyssey Theatre in 2024. Marks creates a tale of tragedy, laughter, love, dementia, blood spatter, time travel, and broken lives in this existential dramedy. Besides all that, he also acts in his own three person play.

Stefan Marks and Tatum Langton – Photo by Baranduin Briggs

The place is the real world – and a little bit of an altered world too. The time hops here and there as memories, dreams, and wishes juxtapose with the real and almost-real worlds surrounding the trio. Mom (Deborah Geffner) is getting older and now needs more care than her devoted son can provide. Before she moves to a memory care facility, however, she has one paramount wish: she wants to see her middle-aged son (Stefan Marks) settled and the father of her yet-to-be-born grandchild. Before it’s too late, Mom longs to see and remember happy times as a grandMom before her memories slip away completely. Pointing Son in the right direction, however, may be a tougher job than Mom anticipated. Then Son bumps into Her (Tatum Langton), and his awkwardness and personal problems seem to evaporate – except that one day Her disappears without a goodbye – and Son doesn’t know how to reach Her. The dating game seems to have lost another round. Will Mom’s dream come true? Or will reality throw a monkey wrench into her plans?

Deborah Geffner – Photo by Baranduin Briggs

Marks helms the existential production with a light hand while the tangible world slips into the proverbial rabbit hole. Yes, there are laughs – but also some bathos as the story unwinds. Kudos to the cast, with special note of Geffner’s splendid performance as Mom, a performance which neatly balances the tragic with the comic. The production team – Mark Svastics for lighting and set design, Stephen Epstein for sound, and Paula Higgins for costumes – makes valuable contributions to the overall mood and ambience. Throughout, there is an otherworldly quality to the show which resists conventional boundaries.

Tatum Langton and Stefan Marks – Photo by Baranduin Briggs

OPHELIA will intrigue people who find family dynamics fascinating, as well as middle-aged folks who find themselves re-entering the dating scene. Additionally, the piece compassionately deals with dementia as it begins to take memories away, forcing family members to make some hard decisions. At the same time, this is an entertaining and often amusing peek at life’s challenges and how to survive them.

Stefan Marks – Photo by Baranduin Briggs

OPHELIA runs through May 18, 2024, with performances at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday and also at 3 p.m. on Saturday 4/27, 5/11, and 5/18. The Odyssey Theatre is located at 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025. Tickets are $45. For information and reservations, call 310-477-2055 Ext. 2 or go online.


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