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LA Theater Review
The Last Hippie: A Western Novel
Mann's meandering tale of drug-taking, trying to find himself, and a love affair gone awry would have been better served with a more unique theme, tighter storytelling, and a more disciplined staging. Director Rachel Rebecca Roy allows Mann to wander the stage, sometimes entering a poorly lit part of the sparsely decorated playing area, reinforcing the feel of a show searching for a direction. Mann does a further disservice by mispronouncing such words as realm, asceticism, and dithylemide, and no amount of ingested LSD is an excuse.
Indeed one hopes for richly lurid language that recalls Mann's hero Thompson, whose descriptions of hallucinatory high jinks in Las Vegas so captured an aspect of the time. Mann is content to comment briefly on the beauty of nature. It's all a terrible shame because, despite his lack of performance chops, he is clearly able to occasionally create effective writing. In one of the show's few tense and vibrant moments, he is forced to do a drug deal with a Hispanic dealer who sticks a gun under his chin: "I knew he could pull the trigger, go have lunch, and expel my memory with a burp." Alas, if after two hours, you summarize a diffuse show with a clip of the Rolling Stones' "You Can't Always Get What You Want," you may find your audience sadly agreeing.
Presented by Vartan Merjanian/First Book Productions at the Whitefire Theatre, 13500 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks.
April 14–May 12. Tue., 8 p.m.
(818) 783-6784 or www.itsmyseat.com/hippie.html.
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