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LA Theater Review

Kid-Simple: A Radio Play in the Flesh

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Sound isn't simply a major theme in this Jordan Harrison work. It becomes a character, as integral and fascinating to this imaginative story as are the roles portrayed by the actors. It's unlikely that many companies could successfully interpret this complex, densely layered 90-minute play. But the versatile cast and imaginative directors--Aaron Ginsburg and Wade McIntyre--of Meadows Basement create a theatrical experience that is as funny as it is touching, as whimsical as it is deeply contemplative.

Told as a fairy tale, complete with Narrator (Janie Haddad), it follows the exploits of teenage genius Moll (Samantha Montgomery), who spends her days inventing things and her nights listening to a classic adventure radio serial with her mother and father (Jennifer Bledsoe and Scott Blackburn). Moll's life takes a wild turn after she invents "the third ear," a machine capable of hearing sounds that can't be heard by humans, such as tree roots growing. A mercenary (Elijah Mahar) who works for mysterious strangers steals the machine, and Moll sets out to retrieve it. The entire story is accentuated by sound effects created by a Foley Artist (Joel Spence).

The cast is able to clearly convey a series of interconnecting plot lines. The anchor is Montgomery, who as Moll embodies the sense of wonderment needed to pull the audience into the fantasy world. Mahar morphs into several characters, from a cool dude to a fig tree, all with equal parts humor and authenticity. Blackburn and Bledsoe, who also portray a variety of characters, are impressive at changing accents and attitudes. But it's Spence who gives the most remarkable performance. Situated in the middle of the stage for the entire performance, he creates dozens of sound cues with props and his voice without ever missing one. Ginsberg and McIntyre, through creative blocking and wildly fast pacing, keep Kid-Simple from dragging or becoming muddled, making it a most enjoyable experience.

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