Under the direction of Justin Huen, Their Eyes Saw Rain is a must see

by Raquel Sanchez

Staff Writer

pLAywriting in the city

Their Eyes Saw Rain is an investment of the emotional kind, with characters that grab your attention the minute they appear on stage, creating an atmosphere of dread and hope. Company of Angels, along with writer West Liang and director Justin Huen have staged a play that keeps the audience intrigued, trying to figure out what is happening with the inhabitants of the fictional town of Castle.

In West Liang’s play Their Eyes Saw Rain; rain plays a dual role, leaving the audience to ponder whether it is a blessing or an omen of bad things to come. Castle has been suffering through an incessant rainstorm that began seven months prior, following the death of one of the townspeople. Three brothers Terrence, Joanus and Billy believe they have the key to helping the town and the people survive the apocalyptic rain, but the audience may ask themselves, is the decaying town of Castle a victim of a seven month torrential rainstorm or of an economic recession? What secrets are the towns people hiding? Who are they trying to protect and why? And what is the correct course of action to take when one of your own is at risk?

Oscar T. Basulto, Marc Pelina, West Liang, Pamela Guest, Kavin Panmeechao in Their Eyes Saw Rain by West Liang. Photography by Company of Angels

What is most captivating about Their Eyes Saw Rain are the performances. West Liang has written a play that makes actors die to perform. In the vein of many great playwrights and screenwriters, Liang creates characters with depth and compassion. Even the most hated character is given a backstory for the audience to understand if not sympathize. Each character is defined. Terrence, brilliantly played by Liang himself, is strong yet extremely vulnerable and co-dependent on his brothers after his father’s untimely death. Obsessed with the rain, he runs roughshod over his family to achieve salvation for what he believes is killing the town. Liang works well with the nuances of his character, building up his anxiety until his eventual breakdown. Actors, Samantha Klein, James Thomas Gilbert and Kavin Panmeechao (Peach, Jake and Joanus) build the tension and desperation within their characters performances by providing a love triangle, filled with foreboding that brings gasps of suspense from the audience.

Samantha Klein and Kavin Panmeechao. Photography by Company of Angels

Director Justin Huen, apart from providing the production with his lighting expertise, proved to be an actors’ director. It is a credit to his direction that the play moved at a good pace and the actors were believable in each of their roles. The setting was small, just three locations, which, when combined with the lighting, simply created a feeling of desolation, providing a playground for the actors who each gave memorable performances. From Fable to Rosetta to Billy and Dr. Landy/Daddy, each actor had the opportunity to portray a character with flaws and secrets; there was not a one-dimensional performance present.

It would be a crime to divulge more about this play, as it is a mystery/thriller. The audience begins to wonder what is going on from the first couple of minutes. The suspense within the play keeps the audience alert and waiting for one of the characters to snap, either in passion or madness. A must see.

Their Eyes Saw Rain by West Liang and directed by Justin Huen at Company of Angels located in The Alexandria building’s 3rd Floor at 501 S. Spring St. L.A, CA 90013. Performances November 8 through December 16. (NO performances Thanksgiving Weekend) For more information, visit companyofangels.org