Theatre 40 of Beverly Hills has a heart-wrenching and compassionate drama for the whole family to see. It’s called “Late Company” and is a riveting tale of a family’s dealings with a personal tragedy. Directed by Bruce Grey, with a very simple and static set and blocking, “Late Company” is truly sensitive, bold and touching – a real theatrical experience.
Written by Jordan Tannahill “Late Company” takes a very dramatic look at what bullying and homophobia in high school and by exact extension what society at large can unwittingly hurt or destroy another person and who they are. It’s the victim, Joel, whose parents, Debora and Michael have invited Joel’s schoolmate Curtis along with his parents, Tamara and Bill, to an evening that everyone hopes will bring closure to a very tragic, unbearable and unthinkable situation. The plan is – to “clear the negativity” – by reading aloud letters the families have written to each other in hopes of a connection. What follows is real human drama and passion.
Ann Hearn plays Debora who gives a powerful performance as a mother with deep seeded pain in her heart. I loved her conviction to the words. I could really feel she was a mother in pain and her angst was real and heartfelt. Ann has a wonderful moment of anger and realization that really shocked and moved the audience all at once. Its performances like these that make a drama so enjoyable to see.
Todd Johnson plays Bill the father of the school mate Curtis and I loved the energy and balance he tried to convey. He was strong about his family and their feelings but amazingly compassionate toward the family who lost their own child to suicide. This touchy subject and Todd give it an evenness and fairness to putting himself in everyone’s shoes, but he too gives a passionate plea that eventually resonates with everyone.
Jennifer Lynn Davis plays Tamara the wife of Bill and mother of Curtis who has an emotional roller coaster of support, compassion, sorry and regret but defends herself, husband and son against the clear prejudice people have toward homosexuality. Jennifer does a beautiful job at being balanced and tries her best with good intentions to get a common ground, but her performance is something you absolutely related to as she reaches a point where she can go no more.
Grinnell Morris plays Michael who is the father and the perfect complement to Ann and her character’s compassion and feelings about their son who has passed. Grinnell is focused and strong but does a wonderful job of holding back and then bursting out with his feelings when he’s pushed to the limit.
Chase Powell plays Curtis the young friend of Debora and Michael’s son who committed suicide because of his ultimate dealings with his own peers. He was a typical kid. Easily distracted but focused on what both sets of parents were saying. Chase culminated that into a very passionate plea of regret and sorrow as he comes to realize what he took part in. It was a simple but concise performance.
With the wonderful costume designs of Michele Young and a simple but elegant set design by Jeff G. Rack, it’s a play that does what a good drama should do – and that is to say something meaningful and say something very very well. Sometime a simple set and lighting can add so much to a powerful story. This one is a perfect example of that.
Theatre 40 of Beverly Hills has a wonderful, thoughtful and stirring drama called “Late Company” and it’s a real story about a real issue that still plagues youths today. Young people being persecuted and taunted because of who they are. Bring some tissues with you because I dare you not be moved by this one.