June 24, 2021 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

‘The Tragedy of the Commons’ at Santa Monica’s Ruskin Group Theatre Through November 6:

The Los Angeles premiere of Steven Metcalfe’s compelling play, “The Tragedy of the Commons,” on stage at the Ruskin Group Theatre, is a searing drama that delves into loss – both immediately personal and tangentially external. It gives us an insider’s look at the agony of those left behind who try to come to terms with the tragedy of losing a loved one.

In a riveting, emotionally sustained performance, Brian Kerwin lives in the skin of the overwrought character of Dakin Adams, a retired high school teacher who fills his time writing a blog called “Notes From Zone 3,” through which he tries to cope with his crumbling world. Not many actors can pull off long monologues without breaking the fourth wall, but in one particularly compelling monologue, where Dakin reminisces about his life, Kerwin succeeds in delivering a brilliant, mesmerizing, totally focused moment.

Under the taut direction of Dave Florek, who keeps the action moving at the appropriate pace, the playwright skillfully unravels the story with precise surgical hands, from the opening scene that begins with Dakin using a new oral program that supposedly captures your words on the computer as you speak. The subtext is powerful as one gets an immediate sense that the sometimes surface dialogue is a smoke screen for smoldering issues and emotions.

Briefly the story revolves around Dakin, his long suffering wife Macy, very well played by Leslie Hicks, their neurotic, dermatologist neighbor and long-time friend, Carl Brewer, played to perfection by Edward Edwards, who gives a highly nuanced, restrained performance, and Dakin’s two children, Ellen (Austin Highsmith), and Spencer (Lane Compton), both of whom give satisfying performances.

The Adams have been enjoying a wonderful view from their home which has been somewhat obscured by a runaway oleander hedge which Carl is willing to cut back. The big threat, however, lies in the potential sale of Carl’s house carrying the possibility of the new owner building another story that would block the Adams’ view. Dakin tries to convince Carl to put a restriction on the building of a second story, but despite his affluence, Carl, on the advice of his attorney, refuses on the grounds that such a restriction could reduce the value of the home up to $300,000. The conversation and their friendship end badly.

Suddenly, Dakin’s well dressed stockbroker son Spencer appears and one immediately gets the sense of an outer-worldly presence that is woven in and out of the action. He acts both as Dakin’s alter ego and muse, becoming a sounding board for his dad’s conflicts. Macy has recurring nightmares in which she is unable to save her son from the horrible tragedy that took his life, along with the lives of thousands of people. Despite the subtle strain between them, and Ellen’s unspoken sadness, her concern for Dakin’s well being permeates throughout the play as she expresses alarm over the amount of time he spends on the computer and his growing obsession with losing their view which is perhaps a metaphor for the much greater loss he and his wife have experienced.

Rounding out this highly professional ensemble is Jefferey Stubblefield who plays the antagonistic Dan Gerard, the seemingly heartless, hard-edged new owner who buys Carl’s home on spec. He intrudes himself on Dakin and Macy to make friends, but is adamant about building a second story. Their potentially friendly relationship immediately goes south and Dakin is left more distraught than ever. As the play progresses, however, we get a glimpse into what Dan is really like and it is revealed that he was saved from a fiery death that profoundly changed his life. After that near-death experience, Dan divorced his wife and came out of the closet. One of the beauties of this play is that there are no “bad” guys. All the characters are fully actualized, sympathetic human beings.

The production values, for the most part, aid and abet the action, with a good use of the space by set designer Cliff Wagner who created an indoor/outdoor set. Lighting design by Brandon Baruch was sometimes less than adequate, while the un-credited sound design of mostly “smoky” music nicely enhanced the action and scene transitions.

The title of this powerfully written play was derived from ecologist Garrett Hardin’s essay “The Tragedy of the Commons, ” and the line “Any shared resources are inevitably ruined by uncontrolled use” is particularly appropriate to Metcalfe’s must-see play.

Ruskin Group Theatre

3000 Airport Road

Santa Monica, CA 90405

Fridays and Saturdays: 8 p.m.

Sundays 2 p.m.

Closing: Nov. 6, 2011

Reservations: 310.397.3244

in News
Related Posts

District Attorney Declines to File Charges in Santa Monica Fatal Stabbing

June 23, 2021

June 23, 2021

District Attorney’s Office declines to file charges against individual connected to recent stabbing  By Sam Catanzaro Los Angeles County District...

Snap and Hulu Expanding Santa Monica Presence

June 22, 2021

June 22, 2021

Snapchat and Hulu, both based in Santa Monica, are expanding their footprints in the city. Learn more in this video...

Police Arrest Suspect in Downtown Santa Monica Homicide

June 22, 2021

June 22, 2021

27-year-old Long Beach man arrested as homicide suspect By Sam Catanzaro A suspect has been booked for murder in connection...

Two Suspects Arrested in Connection to Downtown Santa Monica Shooting

June 21, 2021

June 21, 2021

UPDATE: https://smmirror.com/2021/06/police-arrest-suspect-in-downtown-santa-monica-homicide/A man remains in custody for murder in connection to this incident, which was originally reported as a shooting...

Santa Monica Expected to Confirm Contract for New Interim City Manager

June 21, 2021

June 21, 2021

Former City Manager John Jalili expected assume interim post Friday  By Sam Catanzaro Santa Monica lawmakers are expected to approve...

Free Lunches Provided to School Aged Children at Virginia Ave Park: Santa Monica Beat – June 21, 2021

June 21, 2021

June 21, 2021

Local news and culture in under 5 minutes. * Free Lunches Provided to School Aged Children at Virginia Ave Park...

Gelson’s Selected as Anchor Grocer for West End Development

June 21, 2021

June 21, 2021

Gelson’s to occupy 36,000 square feet of space at West Edge By Sam Catanzaro Real estate firm Hines has announced...

Santa Monica Aligns Mask Orders with LA County

June 17, 2021

June 17, 2021

On June 15, Interim City Manager Lane Dilg signed the 37th supplement to align Santa Monica’s local emergency provisions with Los Angeles County...

Former Santa Monica Resident Sentenced to Federal Prison for Embezzling More Than $22 Million from Employer

June 17, 2021

June 17, 2021

A former executive at a Hollywood-based digital marketing company that represents influencers on Instagram and YouTube was sentenced recently to...

Edify TV: Tourism Returning to Santa Monica?

June 17, 2021

June 17, 2021

A busy Memorial Day weekend in which Santa Monica hotel occupancy rates reached their highest levels since the pandemic began...

Santa Monica College Cancels Fireworks Show, Main Street Parade Also Off

June 17, 2021

June 17, 2021

Firework shows in Marina del Rey and Pacific Palisades back this year By Sam Catanzaro Santa Monica College (SMC) has...

Summer Safety Tips When Hiking and Biking Outdoors

June 17, 2021

June 17, 2021

LAFD Captain Erik Scott gives us tips on staying safe while enjoying the mountains this summer. Brought to you by...

Edify TV: Closing Expo Line Bike Path Gap?

June 15, 2021

June 15, 2021

Plans are in the works to close a frustrating gap in the Expo Line Bike Path. Learn more in this...

Markedly Different Reactions to Sheriff’s Plan to Clear Boardwalk Encampments

June 15, 2021

June 15, 2021

Plan to clear Boardwalk by Fourth of July met with applause, condemnation By Sam Catanzaro Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex...