In 2019, Loud Fridge Theatre Group presented a compelling drama at the Tenth Avenue Arts Center’s Forum Stage, Straight. While the company put on several events and shows since then, there hasn’t been a full season from the organization, due to the global pandemic.
Thankfully, that has now changed and Ripped kicked off their 2023 season. The excellent staging, at OnStage Playhouse, handles a complicated and dark plot with nuance.
In November 2015, a college freshman at Berkeley, Lucy (Amira Temple) wakes up near a sophomore, Jared (Marcel Ferrin). Lucy has no memory of the previous night, and believes she was sexually assaulted by the seemingly nice student at his apartment.
The tale showcases situations that happened before and after the evening, and information about the potential incident is gradually revealed.
Rachel Bublitz’s script treats the narrative like a puzzle with various scenes giving more information about what led to Lucy’s late evening. Her writing always comes across as realistic, and conversations between Lucy, Jared and her ex-boyfriend, Bradley (Devin Wade), seem like natural discussions with plenty of intelligence and even humor.
Despite not being a lengthy drama, there is so much that occurs, that many audience members will have a lot to discuss following the conclusion.
Co-founders, Kate Rose Reynolds and John Wells III, direct the tight 80-minute play with to the point pacing. They present the storyline in a style that’s never overtly theatrical, which adds to the authenticity of the piece.
Set designer, Alyssa Kane, lighting designer, Kevin ‘Blax’ Burroughs, sound designer, Brianna Wing, costume designer, Emily Carter, and William BJ Robinson’s props all subtly depict Lucy’s day-to-day life.
Stage manager and projection designer, Estefania Ricalde deserves special mention for featuring the date of every flashback and time jump onscreen, which allows audiences to easily follow the non-linear timeline.
Also worth mentioning is Kandace Crystal who serves as the intimacy director. Crystal makes the most disturbing moments haunting yet nonexploitative.
Temple, Ferrin and Wade all give performances that feel completely grounded in reality, which is one of the benefits of having the show produced at the intimate Chula Vista venue. Because their acting is generally powerfully subtle, the few big moments of unexpected anger and sadness pack an emotional punch.
Dealing with difficult themes about consent and contrasting perspectives, Ripped is a tense and thought-provoking season opener for Loud Fridge. Their full 2023 season is off to a promising and strong start.
[box] Show times are Thursday at 7:00 pm, Fridays at 7: 30 pm, Saturdays 7:30 pm, Sundays at 2:00 pm and Monday at 7:30 pm. [/box]