In its Los Angeles premiere, BLED FOR THE HOUSEHOLD TRUTH warns of shocking and troubling events in this latest of the Rogue Machine’s debuts. Written by British playwright Ruth Fowler, the piece may promise more than it delivers.
A successful Wall Street trader, Keith (Benjamin Burdick) is looking for a roommate to share his two-bedroom apartment. He places an ad with his unusual requirements. He will rent only to a female, and she must agree to walk around in the apartment in her underwear. However, no sex is involved in this strange arrangement. The cherry on top? The rent is almost free in one of the best neighborhoods in the heart of Manhattan.
As might be anticipated, he has a vigorous response and selects Pen (Alexandra Hellquist), an English flower minus a Green Card, to become his roommate. Surprisingly, after a few months, the bizarre arrangement seems to be working out well for both Keith and Pen. She is more than happy to have a steady place to stay, especially when Keith slips her occasional cash (perhaps to pay for the room?) Sad to say, the dependent Pen can also allow herself to be victimized. As the two gradually get to know each other – with Keith always at a safe distance – Pen finds that she wants more than he is willing to give.
Even her on-again off-again joining with quasi-boyfriend Billy (Nathaniel Meek) and her superficial friendship with Monica (Rachel Brunner) cannot stave off her feeling of loneliness. She is adrift, and she wants Keith to become her anchor. Alas, this may be more than Keith has to offer.
BLED FOR THE HOUSEHOLD TRUTH revels in sexual gymnastics, including sniffing panties, overt masturbation, rape, cunnilingus – and drinking and drug use. While for some, this might betoken reality, the play never reaches beyond the obvious. Motivations remain muddy and perhaps not even understood by the parties themselves. Director Cameron Watson does his best to infuse life into the goings-on and is ably assisted by the cast, especially the apparently double-jointed Hellquist, who sways and shimmies around in a whole wardrobe of lingerie. She gives new meaning to the words action and motion. Unfortunately, at times her Manchester accent became a bit difficult to understand.
Overall, BLED FOR THE HOUSEHOLD TRUTH seems overlong and repetitious. The production may be too focused on sensationalism and sensory stimulation and not enough on character definition and development. Despite the best efforts of all involved, the play seems to stagnate in a mire of misery which is self-sustaining. John Iacovelli’s scenic design, Kate Bergh’s costumes, Jared A. Sayeg’s lighting, and Chris Moscatiello’s sound weave an excellent backdrop for the play’s events. Although somewhat entertaining, BLED FOR THE HOUSEHOLD TRUTH never fully satisfies. AUDIENCE ALERT: This is definitely an R rated production. Be prepared for some gritty language and raunchy behavior.
BLED FOR THE HOUSEHOLD TRUTH runs through December 18, 2017, with performances at 8:30 p.m. on Saturdays and Mondays and at 3 p.m. on Sundays. The Rogue Machine performs in the Met Theatre, 1089 N. Oxford Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90029. Tickets are $40. For information and reservations, call 855-585-5185 or go online.