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Review: 'The Sticking Place' at Unknown Theatre

June 4, 2009 |  3:15 pm

IMG_4859 "The Sticking Place" at Unknown Theatre is director-designer Chris Covics' answer to Shakespeare's "Macbeth." As such, this abstract riff on the Scottish tragedy from Lady Macbeth's point of view is nothing if not ambitious.

Developed in the company's Unknown Classics workshop series, "Sticking Place" depicts a recurring nightmare, to put it mildly. As we wait in the lobby, three deafening knocks on the outside doors signal the show is starting. Blindfolded players Brittany Slattery, Angela Stern and Erica Stone make their whispering way down the steps to lead us back to the rear of the house.

Here, the audience sits in a single row surrounding a recessed tank. It contains a metal throne, a cot frame, an empty bathtub and Amy Tzagournis, who wears a breastplate and stares out into the void. As the others join her, "Fair is foul, and foul is fair" launches the reconsidered text against sound designer Paul Bertin's hollow echoes and the sound of rushing water.

Thus, this fearless quartet trades off roles, verses and positions as the tank slowly fills above waist level. Covics' lighting plot reveals eerie imagery -- Mary Zimmerman meets Giorgio Strehler -- and the cast goes beyond the call of deconstructed duty.

Still, though avant-garde fans may find this display piece striking, I found myself more often worried about its participants' health and safety. "The Sticking Place" is certainly brave and worthy. Yet it's finally an academic exercise, more technically showy than thematically meaningful.

-- David C. Nichols

"The Sticking Place," Unknown Theatre, 1110 Seward St., L.A. 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, 6 p.m. Sundays. Ends June 27. $18 to $24. (323) 466-7781. Running time: 1 hour, 10 minutes.

Photo: Amy Tzagournis. Credit: Ferhat Sen