Once again, Inertia Productions, along with their resident director Kevin Kittle, have taken a superior, edgy script and given it a superior, edgy production. As their production last season of Watching and Waiting showed, this is a company that has its finger firmly on the pulse of contemporary paranoia. It is also a company that has the vision, talent, and guts to turn a pervading sense of fear into smoothly provocative entertainment.
Keith Reddin's Life During Wartime is a very black comedy about Tommy, an impressionable young man working at a home-security company. On his first sales call, Tommy falls in love with Gale, an incredibly erotic older woman with a large teenage son. When Tommy learns that his employer, Heinrich, plans to break into the very homes that he "protects," Tommy must choose between truth and silence, with dire consequences. Reddin's script is chillingly funny and has been directed by Kevin Kittle with that wonderful mixture of intelligent good taste and cutting-edge finesse that has quickly become the hallmark of his, and Inertia's, work.
Aaron Stanford captured Tommy's mixture of youthful bravado and growing maturity with a plaintive, haunting truth. Danielle Liccardo was more than his match as Gale, giving a sensuously quicksilver performance that effortlessly found humor and grace in her troubling relationship with a much younger man. Eric Walton was despicably brilliant as the morally bankrupt Heinrich, his every move suave, charming, and threatening all at once. Nathan Flower was a commanding hoot as the constantly pontificating ghost of John Calvin, Missy Thomas and Calvin Gladen were terrific in a variety of roles, and Eric Alperin astonished with his chameleon-like portraits of three distinctly different young men, particularly his hilarious turn as a much put-upon waiter.
Eric Walton's set provided for the play's many locales with simple furniture on a constantly spinning turntable that, along with Susan Williams's appropriately jumpy sound design and Michael A. Reese's gorgeous lighting, helped the production move like well-greased lightning. Frank Chavez's costumes were also of a high caliber, perfectly suited to the ever-changing moods of both characters and story.
Inertia's production of Life During Wartime, like Watching and Waiting before it, was one of those examples of outstanding theatre on any level, a work to be savored and remembered for its willingness to take risks, its supreme self-confidence in itself and its audience, and the sheer professional, theatrical energy that set it firmly in a class by itself - first class, all the way.
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Copyright 2000 Doug DeVita