“Dostoevsky's Notes From Undergound” at Zombie Joe’s Underground Theatre in North Hollywood is a wildly maddening, passionate and energetic interpretation with a modern twist - it's one ‘hellava’ play to watch! I was never so much more intrigued with this piece originally written by Russian novelist Fyodor Mikhalovich Dostoevsky published back in 1864, than I was watching this production.
Director Josh Ryan chose some interesting physical movements for the actors and stage directions that make this piece flow and ebb with excitement and energy while in a confined space. Josh’s use of some musical interpretation of a song as the intro to the play was a nice comedic touch to add to the overall mix of madness.
The story is unique and bizarre as presented here, whereby Alex is a man who enjoys confusion, pain, pleasure and seems to create a logical paradox in his mind that makes the play vibrant with energy. This is not for the small of heart and if off-the-wall logic and comical commentary of life is your thing, this is the play for you!
Starting with the memorizing talents (as he seems to do in all of Zombie Joe’s Underground Theatre productions) is Michael Blomgren as Alex, a hybrid Russian. He is the man with a thousand missions and really no mental direction. He frantically takes notes and moves in an awkward direction of confusion and logic while speaking of his likes and dislikes of love, of life or his utmost disdain for people in general. Michael is wide-eyed and clear. He is fast and furious with passion. He is also sharp and witty and with his performance and gazing stares, he actually brings you into his realm of confusion.
Watching Michael’s interaction with a character called Apollo, played by TJ Alverado made for such a comic flair that watching the two of them on stage was a real treat. Along with the passionate desires and seductions of a character named Liza played by Jenna Jacobson who did more than tease and taunt the sexuality of Alex, this play does have some very sexy moments.
Now add the comic energy of the Russian trio of persons crossing this psychotic path of Alex by the expressionistic performances of Zverkov, played boldly humorously by Leif La Duke; Simone played erotically by Jenna Jacobson and Ferfi played dynamically and seductively by Chelsa Rose and you have a company you won’t be able to keep your eyes and ears off of.
I felt so drawn into the subject matter and Michael Blomgren’s performance, which literally sucks you into the world that is his and into his mind that you feel the passion in his eyes. I would say this is not for the young, but definitely for those who like the feel of real visceral theatre. There is so much unknown raw talent out there on stage in L.A., and watching a play like “Dostoevsky's Notes From Undergound” makes me realize that you really don’t have to look far. You can findtalent at Zombie Joe’s Underground Theatre (in North Hollywood) once again!
(TOP, Left to Right: Julie Bermel, Leif La Duke, TJ Alvarado, Chelsea Rose, BOTTOM: Jenna Jacobson & Michael Blomgren)