Company of Angels Tackles Family Secrets in Wind Chimes
By Angela Imperial
pLAywriting in the city
Beginning as an artist cooperative in 1959 led by Richard Chamberlain and Leonard Nimoy, Company of Angels has become a leading theater company here in the city. They found their permanent home in 2007 at one of Los Angeles’ landmark’s, The Alexandria Hotel. The company recently celebrated their 53rd anniversary. CoA has won many theatrical awards throughout the years by producing new works and American classics. The company is currently in the middle of the World Premiere production of Wind Chimes by John Dubiel.
Set in 2002, Wind Chimes is the story of a middle class family in Boston, Massachusetts trying to keep secrets hidden, and the chaos that ensues when those “secrets” rear their ugly heads. The audience finds themselves thrown into a dramatic battle of brotherly love when the “prodigal son” returns as an unwelcome surprise.
In an intimate setting, the cast takes us on an emotionally charged journey depicting the bittersweet realness of family struggles and issues. Playwright John Dubiel’s play creates characters everyone can relate to. Regardless of race or religion we all have things in our families we try to ignore or sweep under the rug.
Scenic Director Art Betanzos does a terrific job of creating the intimacy of a living room, complete with old family photos and several crucifixes. Directed by John Miyasaki, everything from the set to the cast was completely believable. This play takes unpredictable turns, making the audience laugh and cry at the same time.
Tripp Pickell and James Andrew Walsh give emotionally packed performances as two brothers who must finally come to terms with their choices and confront their personal truths that have haunted them for years. Fred Ochs was hilarious as the grouchy, lovable “sourpuss” and patriarch of the family, making me laugh, and reminding me of my own grandpa Frankie. The entire cast is remarkably talented and real. Daniel Amerman was charming as the youngest of the clan. Playing women struggling to keep the family together, the touching performances by Melinda deKay and Anne McCarthy brought tears to my eyes.
The scantily clad Amielynn Abellera, playing the newly introduced girlfriend, has incredible comedic timing, although her over the top costumes were somewhat distracting at times. All the elements of the production fit together and even the transitions never took you out of the moment. Popular songs from various artists from 2002 played over the speakers as the actors smoothly went from scene to scene effortlessly.
This is a production that gets your attention from the beginning and doesn’t let it go. It will strike a chord with anyone who has had to keep a secret or discovered the truth about their own family. It is thought provoking and genuine, from the writing to the acting. It is a glimpse into this family’s life, and reminds us that sometimes family secrets are not so secret at all.
Wind Chimes will be running until March 18th, with performances Fridays & Saturdays at 8 p.m., and Sundays at 7 p.m. For more information visit the theater company’s website at www.companyofangels.org.