Capital Fringe Review: ‘Bedroom Mirrors’ by Howard Lee Levine

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FOUR AND A HALF STARS
Any play or group of plays–there are three–called Bedroom Mirrors has got to be provocative and these offerings do not disappoint. The setting is one bedroom, the clothes (mostly) stay on but inhibitions drop quickly. The language shows no constraint at all. The sold out audience at 612 L Street got more than a look at turbulent relations between three different couples. These plays explore race, class, gender identity without textbook didacticism or preachiness. I was frustrated with the decisions made by some of the parties concerned, but like the rest of the audience, remained spellbound. You want to know badly how each will end.

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The first act, The Ticket by Chinita Anderson loses no time in showing us that Ron and MJ (Paolo Santayana and Kelly Renee Armstrong) are a passionate couple, he pushing for commitment and marriage, and she wanting out to study abroad. That they are of different backgrounds (the memories of poverty closer in his case), that he is a military man and she outside that world need not keep them part. The body language alone between the two actors show that they are quite in sync. And both in their ways  seek the American dream. Her plan of achieving it, however, unethical if not illegal, had the audience in laughs and Ron her boyfriend in high dungeon (though not a term that he a Marine would use.) She wants media fame, though if she were around to see the third act of Bedroom Mirrors involving a transgendered reality TV star, she might think otherwise. And how does he accept being jilted?  See if you can understand it.

The couple in the second act Broken Mirrors by Pooja Chawla is not, as is the Billy Joel song, living in their white bread world, though there is sort of an Uptown Girl theme. Neelam Patel, Simran, playwright and actress, is a painter, staked by a rich family. Dhawal Sharma, Tej, with poverty in the foreground, has, in her eyes, abandoned dreams and settled for a living. Their bickering has a more humorous note. Simran brandishes an engagement book filled with records of every day they fought–the audience laughs. And like many women (and men, too) she cannot forget or forgive her partner one act of infidelity: “I’m tired of men giving me shitty love.”  Despite all, there seems a strong connection still and yet…

Paolo Santayana makes a repeat interest in the third play as Sam, the love interest to transgendering Magenta (MIsha Clive). No ordinary quarrels about money or futures for them. Nor is romance yet consummated. Magenta, like the singer Jewell, has graduated from living in a car to fame as a singer. Unlike Jewell, however, she is transgendered and conflicted about it. Conflicted, too, about the fame that goes with it, and Ms. Clive draws on the character’s memories of being thought a gay man. As she says to straight single Sam, a partner on her reality show, himself pigeonholed the programs’ token Asian: “I bet you can’t imagine going from one minority to a worse minority.”  Clive, the plays’ writer as well, drew laughs from the audience with several other zingers.

There are no frills to the set of Bedroom Mirrors, just a bed. Décor is a priority to none of these characters, and the earthiness of setting and language, become them all.

Bedroom Mirrors plays through July 27th at Fort Fringe-Bedroom-612 L Street NW, in Washington, DC. For performance information and to purchase tickets go to their Capital Fringe page.

 

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