by Gus Krieger
The Ruby (at The Complex)
(6476 Santa Monica Avenue, Los Angeles 90038)
A production of The Porters of Hellsgate
Date of reviewed performance: June 18, 2011
Raamah - Thomas Bigley
Orko - Edward Castuera
Taranis - Rob Cunliffe
Mekkhala - Dana DeRuyck
Perkunas - Taylor Fisher
Dongo - Michael Hoag
Ukko - Christina MacKinnon
Lei - Tyler Olshansky
Ashie - Kate O'Toole
Tarleton - Alex Parker
Michabo - Bryant Romo
Tama - Virginia Welch
As part of the 2011 Hollywood Fringe Festival, The Porters of Hellsgate have remounted Deity Clutch, an acclaimed new play by Porters member Gus Krieger, which debuted during their 2010 season. I reviewed this show at that time and you can find what I said about it then here.
Deity Clutch has retained nearly all of its original cast. This young and talented ensemble make up what is known as "the Clutch," a handful of the last "normal" people left in civilization who have not yet been taken over by selfishness, cruelty and insanity. Within the walls of a confine we know only as Annalee’s House, the Clutch hides from and guards itself against the outside world. Their leader is Taranis (Rob Cunliffe), who has been in the house longer than any other member and commands a twisted sort of respect from his wards. Ultimately, he is the enforcer of rules that must be followed in order to keep the Clutch safe from outsiders. Even the slightest and most unintentional infraction is met swiftly with equal parts of punishment and forgiveness. But there is a crack in Utopia. Members of the Clutch have been going missing in the night, taken by outsiders. There is also illness in the house, a growing concern for the dwindling group. Dissension is brewing as the only safe place in the world for the Clutch begins to look more and more like a pit of daggers.
This show touches on enough genres to please anyone's taste. There is unrequited romance and there is forbidden romance. There is a mystery and there is a murder mystery. And despite the inherent darkness in the premise of a group of people locked inside a deteriorating house, passing time until their inevitable doom, there's actually quite a lot of comedy as well. Mr. Krieger is a wordsmith who clearly enjoys playing with the sounds syllables make and the way they feel in one's mouth as they're being formed. This can be heard in every breath of dialogue, which makes this piece an actor and theatre-goer's delight.
The cast does a tremendous job with a diverse set of characters. Eddie Castuera and Michael Hoag are easily audience favorites in the roles of the Clutch's insufferable fools, Dongo and Orko. Virginia Welch turns in a riveting performance as the soldier-turned-Clutch-mother-figure, Tama. Rob Cunliffe and Bryant Romo are also excellent as counterparts in Clutch rules enforcement.
In their fifth season, The Porters of Hellsgate have quite a lot to be proud of and the success of this show is one of their finest achievements yet. Deity Clutch has completed its run at this year's Hollywood Fringe Festival. To get the scoop on what's coming up next for The Porters of Hellsgate, please visit their website or friend them on facebook.
Directed by Gus Krieger
Costume Design by Jessica Pasternak
Lighting Design by Alex Parker
Sound Design by Nicholas Neidorf
Board Operator: Sterling Hall
Stage Manager: Nicholas Neidorf
House Manager: Jessica Pasternak