L to R:  Schoen Hodges and Michael Shaw Fisher. Photo by Daniel J. Sliwa.

It’s been a challenge to know exactly where to begin with any kind of description of Orgasmico Theatre Company’s premiere of The Death of Sam Mobean.  This failure to verbally launch isn’t due to anything that might be considered subjectively wrong with the work.  Quite the opposite – it is in fact caused by this being the smartest, most fiercely enacted, most engaging and mysterious piece seen thus far by these eyes at Hollywood Fringe Festival and the journey of discovery offered here is one that should be left unspoiled for those who will be able to witness it.

The show unfolds in a studio space that seats about 21 people, which means there’s no escaping its momentum and that’s a fantastic thing.  The set is minimal – the same black table and two chairs that we will most likely see in many if not all of the shows in this space over the course of Fringe, a clothing rack that doubles as curtained wall in confessional and support for a hanging shoe bin full of instruments of potential torture, the chalk outline of a piano and two walls prime for more chalk figures that are crafted by the performers over time.  Practical lighting in the form of flashlights, a table lamp and something you might find at a party store adds dimension and tension to the piece.  Everything is set up to feature the performers and the words they share with us over the course of 50 minutes.

Written, directed and produced by Michael Shaw Fisher, The Death of Sam Mobean stars Fisher, Schoen Hodges, Eric Curtis Johnson, Alli Miller, and Heather Schmidt and these five performers pull us into this world with authority and ease.   Any attempt at summery is going to do the work a disservice but here goes:

Schoen Hodges and Heather Schmidt. Photo by Daniel J. Sliwa.

One night at the Gumknuckle Inn under the light of a full green ‘butcher moon,’ Sam Mobean is murdered.  It could have been his piano playing that pushed his killer over the edge.  It could have been his joke.  More than likely a mysterious machine flipped the world on its head and caused everyone in its immediate vicinity to unravel, just a little bit.  Or a lot.  Enter the justice system and its methods for handling cases like this, complete with a court scene with shades of a Mad Hatter’s take on “Law & Order” and an unsettling [because it’s oh so good] portrayal of how ‘justice’ is served.  Then religion, which gets its comeuppance in a couple of delightful scenes.   Then marriage, which also gets scrutinized under the same abstract lens that has thrown the rest into disorder and chaos.

I’m not going to talk about the end.  You’re going to have to see it for yourself, and if you are in town, you really really should see this.   And sit in the front row.  You’ll be thankful you did.

Produced by Orgasmico Theatre Company with choreography by Brin Hamblin and original music/song “Lady Starlight” composed by Michael Shaw Fisher.  Katherine Lester is the soundboard operator [well done, Katherine].    David Haverty is the understudy.   The show runs at Broadwater Studio, 6320 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90038.

This post was written by the author in their personal capacity.The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the view of The Theatre Times, their staff or collaborators.