Sunday, August 13, 2006

Water and Power

If you're in LA right now, you need to head downtown to the Mark Taper Forum and see Water and Power, the new play by Richard Montoya and Culture Clash. This is one play I would pay to see. I love dark comedies (Harold and Maude is my favorite movie), and it doesn't get much darker than this. Tragic comedies for me find more truth in the human condition and spirit than any drama ever could. For me, laughter is the window to the soul.

In Water and Power (for a great story about the making of the play, see this LA Weekly article), the window is shattered with a big brick that fell off the facade of a cheap hotel, and it exposes a big hole in the soul of Los Angeles. From LAPD to Latino Gangs, from powerful Brentwood based developers to the Mayor's office, Montoya opens the can of worms that is modern LA, and sprays the worms all over the audience. And these are sticky worms. This is my fifth day working the show, and I've found little pieces of this play popping into my brain whenever I hear something in the news that relates. Not many plays have ever done that for me.

At its heart, though, this play is about people. The humanity of the two brothers, their love for each other underneath the machismo of political power and street cred, spurt to the surface like blood from a severed artery. And the dark ugly side of power is exposed like the bunions on bare feet.

Things are funniest when they tap into what is true. Truth being such a pliable thing in today's world, it's even funnier when someone taps into it. When the two brothers in this play try to work their way out of the horrible pile of shit they're in, a work of art emerges that goes to the heart of what Alexander Pope meant when he said, in so many words, that true art is what's often thought but never so well expressed.