Now performing at the Fountain Theatre (5060 Fountain Ave, Los Angeles) is On The Spectrum, a quirky and unexpected play written by Ken LaZebnik and directed by Jacqueline Schultz. It's a love story about two very different people. Written Mac (Dan Shaked) has Asperger's, while Iris (Virginia Newcomb) is autistic.
Mac's mother. Elizabeth, (Jeanie Hackett) very much wants to make a "normal" life for her high functioning son encouraging him to attend law school, but when Mac realizes that he must take a job to make money for the family, he meets Iris. Iris lives in a fantasy "Other World." The two soon realize that despite their differences in diagnosis, they are, to Elizabeth's horror, very much alike.
Speaking mainly through her "computerized voice" and her "thoughts" we get to know Iris's world and how she relates to others. Mac's focused and detailed speeches aptly show the world of autism. She takes pride in her autism showing that it is not a disease but just a difference, while Mac tries to pass as "typical." The acting equally showed the imperfect world of the disease. The play gives us new meaning of what the word "normal" means.
Both charming and original, the play is a must see for everyone to educate them about the illness, but especially if you are interested in psychology, medicine or have personal knowledge of the disease.
Winner of a 2012 Steinberg, American Theatre Critics Associations New play and the 2011 Edgerton Foundation New American Play award and had been commissioned by Mixed Blood Theatre in Minneapolis. The writer has done two other plays about autism, Vestibular Sense and Theory of Mind, both award winners.
Produced by Simon Levy, Deborah Lawlor and Stephen Sachs, the play was phenomenal for its sound and video effects Peter Bayne and Jeffrey Elias Teeter. Costuming by Naila Aladdin Sanders was also fabulous. Lighting Design, done by R. Christopher Stokes, and John Iacovelli designed the scenes while Misty Carlisle did the props. Corey Womack was production stage manager and assisted by Terri Roberts.
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) affects 1:86 children in the United States. Part of this is due to improved awareness and diagnosis. Four times more likely in boys than girls, the disorder is characterized in varying degrees by difficulties in social interactions, verbal and non verbal communications and repetitive behaviors. These include autistic disorder, Rett syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder, pervasive developmental disorder, and Asperger's sydrome. Despite this many children with this can excel in visual skills, music, math and art.
The play continues until April 28 and performances are held Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 pm and Sundays at 2 pm. Costs for tickets are $34 for reserved seating with seniors and students (on Thurs and Fri only) paying $25. There is secure on site parking for $5. For tickets call 323 663 1525 or www.FountainTheatre.com