PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) is all too common these days, and so therefore will resonate with many an audience member of “Cal in Camo,” now at The Rogue, presented by Red Dog Squadron and V.S. Theatre.
Cal (Bree Turner) is suffering from post partum, starved for familial belonging, yet her new little ‘bundle of joy’ just isn’t bringing it for her. Meanwhile, her brother, Flynt (Tim Cummings) , a veteran, is grieving over his wife, and does not know how to cope as well. Cal’s husband, Tim (Brad Raider), the perennial optimist is trying his best to remedy their current situation of living in an isolated starter house above a sinkhole, and desperately trying to keep his family ‘afloat,’ as a traveling salesman, promoting flavored craft beers. Directed by Amy Harmon and written by William Francis Hoffman, the premise is a clever construct, with plenty of dramatic tension to mesmerize the audience throughout the 90 minute production, without intermission. States Harmon, “It’s like a primal pulse…about fighting for one’s individual survival while trying to save the pack.” The VS Theatre and Red Dog Squadron yet again, live up to their stellar reputation of providing a compelling story and credible, vulnerable characters that the audience cannot help but feel empathy towards. Flynt is a standout, a man of few words, yet so personally attached to an inanimate object , an antique rifle, and it’s apparent his wisdom innate and he has his ‘finger on the pulse’ of his dear sister’s situation. A particular sentimental scene is when Tim and Flynt share a beer, bonding over their current predicament and desperately seeking solutions. Each character is dealing with letting go and moving on, facing their fears, in his or her own way, and in this cathartic process, the three form a significant bond through poetic dialogue and reminiscing. Their depth of character develop onstage, as they ‘mourn out loud,’ all the while uncovering secrets and mysteries of yesteryear, such as life in foster care, seeking belonging. This play showcases the talents of three actors, certainly among L.A.’s best, with a remarkable range of emotion, exuding natural chemistry and the ability to reveal how precious life truly is, at the end of the day. With shades of the great writers , such as DH Lawrence’s characters with tortured souls, or Edward Albee’s characters in Zoo Story, and Sam Shepard’s themes (i.e. Buried Child); “Cal in Camo” intersperses light banter with gut wrenching scenes, with intense, almost volatile, violent scenes coming to a forefront. So much angst, tension, and regret fury and come to life as Cal and Flynt come to terms with their dysfunctional childhood, with their anger and fear swerving beneath the surface. Sibling rivalry and dysfunctional families are an age old theme, even stemming back from biblical days; and “Cal in Camo” is sure to stir raw emotions from all who see it.
Through Nov. 16
8pm Thursdays through Saturdays
VS Theatre 5453 W. Pico