~ runs through March 22, 2015 ~
Odyssey Theatre | 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd. | Los Angeles, California | 310-477-2055
Ticket & Other Info
I have been a admirer of Kevin McKidd's work for a long time. I watched him in Rome, and Journeyman, as well as various movie rolls before/after he landed on Grey's Anatomy. Being I am from Canada, over all those years I never dreamed that I would ever get the chance to see him in front of me, or even meet him.
So when I heard about Anna Christie, and also as a fan of live productions (plays, music, anything really) I knew I had to make this happen.
I immediately bought tickets for two showings of the play when they went on sale, booked flights, and texted my friend Heather in Orange County to tell her I was coming for a visit, and we were going to see Anna Christie.
I flew into LA the day before the plays, picking up my rental car, headed straight for my friend Heather’s place in Orange County. The day of the play we got to the theatre just in time (traffic!!) for the first show, met the lovely Maya (marrymeowen) :) and we settled into our seats. For both shows I picked seats on either side of the stage not knowing where the best view would be from. The stage was very beautifully simple, they had a large rectangular tank of water, and the stage placed diagonally across the water. They had very few props, a few tables, chairs, lamps and crates, minimal lighting often coming from just those lamps, and a few hanging from the ceiling. The room was filled with water fog which the light bounced off of perfectly, making it feel much like you were on the water.
The matinee seats found us on the long side of the rectangular stage, right in front of the water. Warning: this is the splash zone. ;)
The play is the story of a young woman, Anna Christie (Zoe Perry), who after illness decides to go and visit her father, Chris Christopherson (Jeff Perry) whom she hasn't seen since she was a child. She comes to find in meeting her father's girlfriend Marthy (Mary Mara) in the bar, that he is a still a coal barge captain. Chris talks Anna into spending time on the barge with him, she finds that being out on the water brings her peace, and makes her feel clean.
During this time she meets Sailor Mat Burke (Kevin McKidd) whom they rescue from a ship wreck. After some initial turbulence, and struggle, Anna and Mat fall in love.
Caught between different ideas and expectations from her Father and from Mat, Anna is eventually forced to confess her past to them, in which more conflict ensues.
I didn't know much of the play, so I downloaded and read the play before attending, I thought that their interpretation of it was beautifully done, it was raw, passionate, and very physical. I spent much of the play with chills up my spine. They made changes to how it was acted out in the written play, making it more dramatic, and a little more modern.
The play couldn't have been better cast, having real life father and daughter Jeff and Zoe, playing father and daughter in the play gives them that extra touch of special chemistry during their scenes. Jeff is great with his take on the dialect, he is seamless with his acting, and delivering his lines.
Zoe is beautiful, strong and yet delicate, and delivers her lines and actions flawlessly. She has a perfect chemistry with Kevin, and they execute some very well choreographed scenes, which I can only imagine took a long time to perfect.
What can I say about Kevin that hasn't already been said, he is very passionate, raw, determined. You can tell he used every ounce of himself in acting out every scene, it never felt forced, he was powerful, yet soft when he needed to be. Kevin leaves you breathless, and covered in goosebumps. Having seen the play I now understand why Kevin said he felt battered and beat, but happy!
After the first show we came out to the lobby, Kevin came out shortly after to greet people, he said hello to us and chatted for a minute, I told him I had come from Canada for the show, and joked about how for the second show I was going to be safely out of the Splash zone. (I spent the rest of the night with damp feet as the water went right down into my boots - HA. That's how intimate this theatre is!)
We left and went and had dinner nearby, then went back to the theatre a little early. We sat in the lobby with Maya and chatted for awhile before we went into the theatre for the second show.
After the second show, back in the lobby we all chatted some more until Mary, Jeff, and Zoe came out, followed shortly by Kevin. I got to say hello to Mary, Jeff and Zoe, all were very gracious, and then Kevin came and greeted us again, we spoke for a few minutes and he was kind enough to oblige us for a picture with him, and to sign a photo.
I am honoured to have been there, to have gotten to see Kevin act in person, and to have had the chance to meet him, so thank you to him for taking the time to do so! And thank you to the entire cast for their wonderful performances. There is a great caliber of talent on that stage.
If you are in the area, or can make it to the area, run to see this play, its been extended through March 22nd, and has been selling out. You don't want to miss this! Support live plays, support these wonderful actors and their hard work, and enjoy a great show while your at it!
Odyssey Theatre, Los Angeles
"The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away."
Watching "Anna Christie" at the Odyssey Theatre was one of the most intimate theatre experiences that I have ever had. Yet that same intimacy, while exciting for the audience, magnified the flaws in Eugene O'Neill's script, and hampered the actors. They were not stretched to the deep reaches necessary to lift the play out of its dated dynamic structure. This was not the fault of the director, Kim Rubinstein. O'Neill himself could not decide whether the play was to be a naturalistic comedy or a tragedy of preordained destiny.
Kevin McKidd is an actor who draws his energy from his understanding of both the fiery passions and the stony deadness of soul that drive real people in the real world. This understanding infused his portrayal of Mat Burke. His own humanity and decency are always accessible to us, his audience. In many of his roles he has portrayed characters who have to choose all that is whole and right and good with the world, or all that is broken and wrong and bad. In "Anna Christie" McKidd "asks" us for a leap of faith in his character. We become aware that Mat has choices to make. And we have to decide if McKidd's portrayal is true to reality, if he got it right.
"Art is not what you see; it's what you make others see."
McKidd is a very physical actor. Through his hand gestures and body stances, he can make us see Mat Burke. He can show agonizing internal conflicts with just a flick of his eyes as they cloud -briefly, oh so briefly- with anger or regret. This is the semiotics of acting- the transfer of emotional control to the audience, and it creates our belief in him as his character. Once this occurs, every nuance of expression begins to add to the character's hidden heart. This is the secret of characterization, of motivation, which will lead us to believing in the character's correctness of choice.
McKidd, with his own gritty internal bedrock of strength, must portray a weaker man confronted by an external Force, the Sea, and transmute this portrayal into a visually dimensioned, believable creation. McKidd possesses a gift of inner stillness that subtly underlies his physicality. He uses this duality to reveal an emotional coldness which presages a sudden, swift violence lurking behind his pleasing baritone and happy lilt; the stiffness of his carriage, the sudden swelling of the veins of his forearm alert us to his anger. We feel it justified. Many of McKidd's prior roles required a simmering anger toward women: women who did not live up to society's standards of purity and chastity, or women who have stepped beyond their "place".
There is a subtext to McKidd's performance. Is it only men who are capable of violence in the face of a perceived betrayal? What do we walk away from McKidd's performance having learned about anger? Because we HAVE learned from him...how easy anger is, how facile betrayal, and maybe that is the fascination we feel with McKidd's character. That age-old dance of lust and innocence, betrayal and commitment played out between McKidd and Zoe Perry illuminates not only the Biblical Fallen Woman, but also all those men who left her alone, who escaped the shame of a shared sin.
"If you were born with the ability to change someone's perspectives or emotions, never waste that gift. It is one of the most powerful gifts God can give- the ability to influence."
- Shannon L. Alder
McKidd's evident passion for acting sweeps away the inconsistencies in O'Neill's script, washes over the audience and transports us into the heart of his character. McKidd's restrained virility and innate virtue have never been more evident than in this play. He creates a man who must face Man's struggle against a natural Force, "that old, devil, sea". His choice to leave Anna is at first startling because we approved his dogged determination to possess Anna. After all, isn't it the love of a good man that can save a woman from her aching loneliness, her desolate choices, her sadness and uncertainty in a world intent upon judging her? It is a cudo to McKidd's finesse as an actor that he portrays these conventions of Anna's roles with such intimacy and sweetness. It is a risk because today's standards subject his character to no small derision, and even opprobrium. Anna has become a symbol of the feminist struggle against the domination of men, but McKidd's poignant evocation of the Pull of the Sea illuminates the conflict between Love and Grace, and the Pull of the Sea. What it has claimed, it has claimed forever.
It is due to McKidd's vitality and veracity as a creator that when he tells Anna their children will assuage loneliness, we almost believe him. Although shaken by his choice to leave her, he has made us understand it. It is in this revelation of Mat as a man as flawed as Anna's father, Chris, that McKidd finally stretches. We are left to wonder: was Mat as profoundly wounded from the beginning as was Anna? McKidd kept us guessing, through layered revelations of character, that he had a choice about Anna that Chris never had. We were wrong. With well-crafted bravado in his stance, his muscles rigid with struggle, his hands contorted, or his knuckles white as he grips a chair, McKidd reveals the metaphor of the Sea.
As he turns away, we are forced to wonder if there really can be equality between a man and a woman, both fallen into sin, both wounded, both nearly drowned in regret and anger and wrong choices. And the truth is, by the end of the play, we suspect that we have been as wrong in our own choices, our pasts are as tainted as Anna's, our angers are as simmering as Mat's. Kevin McKidd has made us think about his character.
And as we applaud, we know he got it right.