Grimly Handsome

Bonjour Citygaragistes,

For our City Garage classic this week we bring you a production from 2017, Julia Jarcho’s “Grimly Handsome.” And on our webcast “Animal Farm: Conversations on Theater and Politics with Steven Leigh Morris and Guests,” Steven talks with theater artist and activist Joanna Klass about authoritarianism and repression in Poland. Here is a link to the talk show:

And here is a little about “Grimly Handsome” from the LA Weekly

“In an unnamed East Coast city, it’s the Yuletide season, a time when vacant lots are transformed into festive mini-forests of freshly cut fir trees and piped-in carols — and when vaguely sinister, Slavic-accented Christmas tree salesmen enact a grim ritual unspeakably darker than the peddling of holiday decor.

Or at least that’s the setup of Grimly Handsome, Julia Jarcho’s philosophical and blackly funny, 2013 burlesque, which is receiving its West Coast premiere at Santa Monica’s City Garage Theatre. The script, which riffs on the venerable serial-killer suspense thriller, deftly uses the ultra-familiar conventions of the police procedural to lure audiences into the deeper mystery of identity, and how human intimacy is ineluctably intertwined with a predatory savagery that defines us as a species.

Act 1 follows the antics of Gregor (Andrew Loviska) and Alesh (Anthony Sannazzaro), a duo of émigré Slavs who may be linked to Balkan war crimes, as they role-play in preparation for their next victim. That turns out to be Natalia (Lindsay Plake), an emotionally broken and lonely reader of hardboiled serial-killer pulp fiction. Act 2 pivots to the murderers’ police counterparts, as homicide detectives Greggins (Loviska) and Alpert (Sannazzaro) probe the latest predation by the holiday psychopath whom the press has dubbed the “Christmas Ripper.”

It is with the entrance of Alpert’s wife, Nelly (Plake), and the introduction of her extramarital affair with Greggins that the play makes a loopy left turn and the investigation begins its delirious inward spiral. Jarcho’s close parallel of relationship triangles — one of killers and victim, the other of lovers and cuckold — collides in a tangle of plot lines and characters that swap identities like quick-change costumes.

“I think we might be wrong when we call each other by names,” Nelly tells Greggins at one point. “And so you and Al, for instance, you’re the same event, just laid out at different points in time and space.” That “event,” an Act 3 homage to Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey suggests, is the process of subjectification through which we construct the identities and root the relationships that stave off dislocation and keep our bestial natures safely stowed in the evolutionary closet.

Director Frédérique Michel’s fluid staging ably animates Jarcho’s trove of ideas and poetic images (abetted by Charles Duncombe’s sleek production design and Josephine Poinsot’s witty costumes), and Loviska, Plake and Sannazzaro act with versatility and conviction.”

It will be showing on our City Garage YouTube channel from 8:00pm this Friday, February 12th, through noon on Friday, February 19th.

It’s free to view but we ask people to make a donation if they can through our Chuffed page:
Merci to our donors of this last week, Jill Cohen & Stephen Pocock!

Merci, stay safe, and wear a mask!



(Left to right) Anthony Sannazzaro, Andrew Loviska; photo Paul Rubenstein
(Left to right) Andrew Loviska, Anthony Sannazzaro; photo Paul Rubenstein