Seven people stranded in a stalled elevator makes an interesting premise for a play, wouldn’t you think?
Well, almost. In “Elevator,” a new play written and directed by Michael Leoni, seven strangers, fine actors all, twiddle through the first hours of the ordeal without really making contact with each other. In fact, they don’t even have names; they are identified by their stereotypes: Business Man, Musician, Maintenance Man, Hot Girl, etc.
The pace is slow, as it probably would be in these circumstances, but in this case it is more stupefying than entertaining.
Moreover, the claustrophobia that one would naturally feel in such a confined space (in a set superbly designed by David Goldstein) is mitigated by the fact that the fourth wall remains open to the audience. Of necessity, of course, but it serves to destroy the communal claustrophobia that the audience might otherwise share.
Eventually, as their confinement stretches on, the players finally open up to each other in a rather truth or dare-like manner, sharing their secrets, having epiphanies, and shattering their own stereotypes. The brusque, pompous Business Man (Alex Rogers) reveals his sexual inadequacies. The classy Hot Girl (Karlee Rigby) talks about her impoverished childhood. The Goth Girl (Rachael Page), who has been practically catatonic throughout the proceedings, opens up. The Maintenance Man (a finely tuned William Stanford Davis) explains his optimistic outlook on life. The Musician (Mikie Beatty) passes around a joint and makes a play for the CEO Woman (Deborah Vancelette). And Erica Katzin, who is somebody’s Assistant, reveals her powerful singing voice.
Because the elevator needs a part that isn’t readily at hand, the passengers are forced to wait, and their captivity is stretched to eight long hours. When they are finally released, the audience is as well. And it comes as a major surprise to discover that we’ve only been held captive for an hour and a half!
“Elevator” will run Thursdays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. through Aug. 22 at the Hudson Guild Theatre, 6539 Santa Monica Blvd. in Hollywood. Call (323) 960-7787 for tickets.
Cynthia Citron can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.