Students Find Clarity in Nature
A Review of 'Elements'
BY: AMANDA RECIO
The CSULB Theatre Arts Department presented “Elements” for the first time at the University Theatre Nov. 12. The play, written and directed by Ezra Le Bank and CSULB alumna Rebecca Nakano, puts a unique and fresh spin on a commonly-used theme of corporate society by using interpretive dance and acrobatic movements to draw out the deeper connections that exist between man and nature.
The play centers on two characters, Sally (Kim Pernia) and Avi (Alexander Romero), as they struggle to find purpose in their mundane working-class lives. Their stories parallel each other’s as they perform the same routine tasks of commuting, working, eating lunch, going home and sleeping day after day.
Sally and Avi’s lives are shaken up when a group of eight performers, identified using characteristics of natural elements, give them a rude awakening to the realities of nature and what it can offer them. Their dreams and aspirations are quickly realized in a vivid and surreal manner as they are taken on a journey through the elements of water, wind, fire and earth.
Standout performances included the collective performance of the elemental characters in the play, which featured intermittent upbeat dance breaks and powerful fight scenes. The group of elements were able to seamlessly and realistically transform each setting in a believable and impressive manner. Their comedic breaks also contrasted well with the melancholy and hopeless story line of Sally and Avi.
The single set, which includes a giant white box with several smaller white boxes, is clean and simple, but it provides a blank canvas for actors to paint their scenes vividly through strategically placed props and lighting design. The actors themselves also used skilled and agile acrobatics to serve as props for the two main characters as they depict inanimate objects, such as a chair or a moving airplane, playing into the production’s theme of connectivity through nature.
Audiences responded well to the many mood changes throughout the performance as the music shifted from somber and intense to angry and forceful to upbeat and cheery. There was a consistent connection to the emotional and spiritual journey that Sally and Avi go through while exploring their relationship with the elements.
Despite a lack of dialogue, the production did a superb job with the stage and sound design to successfully deliver an authentic and clever depiction of the elements. Overall, the play’s portrayal of the supernatural world worked exceptionally to highlight an important lesson about stepping outside of the comfort zone and taking the time to appreciate nature.
“Elements” will run until Saturday, Nov. 19 at the University Theatre. For more information, click here.