(photo credit: Matthew M. Hayashi and Gennie Kauper)
Written by Patrick Chavis
I watched the World premiere of Sustained Release yesterday, written by local Orange County Playwright Matthew M. Hayashi, in a 3-car garage. Don’t be fooled by this humble location. The Larking house isn’t fixing cars in here. They’ve created art.
This one was tricky because, on the surface, Sustained Release seems unimaginative—a repackaged teenage story for young adults. But times have changed. People are getting married later, leaving their houses later. The early 20s may be the new teenage years. From that perspective, Hayashi has written something for and from the new generation. And my Millennial brain almost missed it.
Sustained Release is the story of three friends, Hailey Burke (Sidney Aaron Aptaker), Robert Anderson (Spike Pulice), and Alex Myers (Ramon Suzara), and the story is told from Hailey Burke’s perspective. Not in linear order, the play focuses on specific memories Burke had living in Hershey, Pennsylvania.
There are no real surprises in Sustained Release. Things are going to go bad. All signs go towards bad, and it doesn’t disappoint. Chalk this one under young people who make bad immature choices and have to live with the grief. In that way, Sustained Release is a typical showing relying on pure melodrama to keep it afloat, moving, and engaging. Luckily, the playwright Hayashi works in this extra layer in the text using fantastical sequences of Shakesperian language and poetic moments between the characters Hailey and Robert. At first silly, then funny, and later what an insight on relationships, especially young love.
“We sometimes see what we want to see in people, and it’s not always the truth.”
This show wore me down. Even the flowery, poetic language sprinkled in that’s admittedly sometimes pretty funny. The actor Spike Pulice does deliver the lines well. I believed him; Pulice had a fire in his eyes.
The performance of Haily Burke, played by Sidney Aaron Aptaker, matched her costars in diction and gravitas. Her character is comparatively slightly underwritten.
Suzaras’ acting with his eyes this quiet anger and disappointment translated well. They didn’t have to say these friends were in a love triangle. We knew they were.
The Larking house performances are set in a three-car garage somewhere in Northern Anaheim using the long direction of the garage. Scenic designers Matthew M. Hayashi & Spike Pulice created a pathway leading into a doorway of a brick suburban-looking house. The top of the garage is decorated with fall leaves and colored LED lights.
The costume work by Genevieve Kauper is very detailed. Nothing too pristine for these characters. Except for Alex, who wore fancier clothes compared to his friends, that wore more laid-back second-hand thrift clothes. The clothes in this play symbolize class, and the story delves into the class conflict between the three friends in various scenes.
Sustained release is a welcome addition to the coming-age drama genre and the start of a wonderful new voice in Orange County Theatre.
December 8 – 17,2022
Good Show! OCR Recommended!
Story7Acting8.5Set & Design8Costumes8.5Entertainment8
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