- Reporters Desk
By John Farrell
Can anything be better than a relaxing afternoon at the beach?
How about a relaxing afternoon at the beach and an intriguing and original play, thrown in for free?
That’s what Four Clowns, the very successful LA-based acting company, is offering through at the Annenberg Beach House in Santa Monica. The Annenberg Beach House is an almost perfect place to enjoy the waves, the pool, an attractive beach-front lunch or just a walk along the remarkably deserted boardwalk. The Beach House, built on the property that once hosted William Randolph Hearst’s beach property more than 50 years ago, must be packed on the sunny weekends this summer. But in mid-week the beach is hardly peopled. Hard to believe it is the premier beach of one of the biggest cities in the country.
Four Clowns uses the front porch of the Marion Davies Guest House (two stories but still a cottage and the only original structure to survive from the 1920s development) to present their visions of the Bible, telling the stories of Noah and Jonah on alternate days at 4:30 p.m.The plays are much less than formal. Young children gather on beanbag chairs (and sometime squirm or start playing) as adults watch from umbrella-shaded seats. In Noah God is represented by a big papier-mâché mask as he demands that Noah do his bidding. But he often has to re-calculate as Noah builds the ark and helps re-people the world. In Jonah there is a god of a very different kind: a skate-boarding dude who gives his orders while relaxing and riding a bicycle (a perfect beach relaxation, even for God.)
David Bridel scripted Noah, and it is directed by Bridel and Courtney Buchan. Don Colliver stars as Noah, who finally agrees to do what God demands. Jamie Ann Hultgren is Noah’s wife, who doesn’t quite agree with what is happening. Dave Honigman does triple work as Noah’s three sons, one a militaristically directed obedience freak, another a reasonable man and, at the turn of the cap the third: the comically stupid Ham. There are puppets, too, of all the animals on the ark, including an incontinent dove who flies around the audience peeing indiscriminately as she flies (Connor Kelly-Eiding does that comic job.)
Jonah is by David Bridel, directed by Bridel and Jeremy Aluma. Dave Honigman is God, skate-boarding his way around. Lis Vizcarra is Jonah, who gets swallowed by the big mouth of the whale, with whale played by Amir Levi in a red clown-nose and blue hat. The story is familiar, but there are parts of the biblical story that aren’t familiar and they are included as well.
Both stories are comic, even hilariously so, but they are based on the originals in a way that makes them thought-provoking as well as comic, — food for thought as well as laughter. And then, there is the beach with the ocean just a short walk away, — a great way to relax a day away. These are the first of a series of Bible-based drama-comedies Four Clowns is planning in the next few years.
Admission is free. Performances are July 17 and 18 at 4:30 p.m. Parking is $3 per hour, $12 maximum. Jonah is performed Thursday and Noah is performed Friday.
Venue: Marion Davies Bungalow at the Annenberg Beach House
Location: 415 Pacific Coast Highway, Santa Monica