Audience: Greg Machlin


Never Ever Land

In the interest of full disclosure: I am friendly with the founders of Theatre Unleashed. That said, I don't know most of the people involved in Rider Strong's NEVEREVER LAND, and it's one of my favorite plays of the year -- dark, complicated, and heartbreaking. Director Michael Sheppard has cast the show beautifully, and he -- using Rider & Shiloh Strong's video projections -- has conjured up a plausible, humane, sharp-eyed riff on the Michael Jackson scandal, and two brothers whose lives were torn apart, first by the scandal and then by their overprotective/abusive father. Strong's got a perfect ear for the L.A., industry-adjascent, only slightly desperate dialogue, and he and the cast brilliantly manage two timelines 18 years apart. Andrew Brian Carter, as the possible victim's older brother Tim (2012) and Wade Wilson, as the older version of the maybe-victim Jacob, are standouts, as are the parents.

This is one of those complex but emotionally straightforward, smart plays that you won't regret seeing. Design elements are all superb. Highly recommended.