Once again the amazing and consistently fabulous Fountain Theater has mounted a play that, like most of their others, is a must see!
This one is called “Dream Catcher” and it was created by the Fountain’s award-winning playwright and co-founder, Stephen Sachs, whose plays are often perceptive and thought-provoking explorations of the issues and controversies of our time.
“Dream Catcher” is a worthy addition to that body of work.
Set in the Fountain’s new configuration in the round, the central stage is filled with desert sand and a tall, intense Native American girl named Opal (Elizabeth Frances). She is waiting impatiently in this bleak, barren stretch of the Mojave for her lover, Roy (Brian Tichnell).
When he arrives he is annoyed that she has summoned him from a crucial meeting with his colleagues. For the past three months he has been participating in a massive project called Genesis, which involves mounting a massive solar energy plant in the desert that will free the world from its dependency on fossil fuels.
In his mind Genesis will make the world cooler and rescue it from global warming and imminent destruction. In addition, he is buoyed up by working with the iconic scientists and engineers that he has always hero-worshipped. “They actually treat me like a peer!” he exclaims with delight.
And then Opal drops her bombshell. She has been having urgent visions, she says, that inform her that she has been chosen to speak for her tribesmen who are buried in sacred ground beneath the Genesis project. She thinks she is not worthy of such a monumental task. “I didn’t ask for this,” she cries, but she has been led by her visions to discover their buried bones and believes that she must speak for “those whose tongue is silent.” She intends to take the bones to the leaders of the Genesis project in order to convince them not to desecrate the graveyard.
Thus begins a heated debate, exquisitely rendered, about the relative significance of saving the dignity and honoring the culture of the Mojave tribe versus saving the peoples of the world from extinction.
“We’re running out of time,” Roy argues. “Two hundred species become extinct every day; half of the world will become extinct by 2100… Within the lifespan of our children the fate of every living thing on the planet will be determined.”
“You can’t silence me,” she responds. Then she begins to holler as she initiates a tribal dance to support her convictions-and to divert him from his.
In a hilarious sequence Roy challenges her about the belief that the world was created in seven days. “It’s one of the myths we tell ourselves,” he says. She denies that “myth” because she knows that the world was created in four days and she proceeds to weave a creation myth filled with gods and eagles and other fanciful spirits.
He refutes her story by telling her the “truth”, beginning with an empty nothingness invaded by the Big Bang, followed by gaseous swirls that coalesce into galaxies without number, plus stars and planets, in a universe that is forever expanding. The look on her face as she greets this news is priceless.
In fact, everything she and Roy do is priceless. They are absolutely perfect in their roles and director Cameron Watson incontrovertibly brings out the best in each of them.
But as they say, the proof is in the pudding. And in this case the pudding is Stephen Sachs’ extraordinary script.
“Dream Catcher” will be performed Saturdays and Mondays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 3 and 7 p.m. through March 21. The Fountain Theater is located at 5060 Fountain Ave. in Los Angeles. Call 323-663-1525 for reservations.
– By Cynthia Citron