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Hollywood Fringe 2018


Fierce Backbone

Genre: Drama, New Writing

Venue: The Lounge Theater


Low Down

Hard-hitting PTSD play by Kerry Kazmierowicztrimm


A woman who is a full-time carer for her brain-damaged veteran husband, starts a relationship with another ex-soldier, only to discover he suffers from PTSD.
You’re right, this is not a comedy, nor an easy watch, but it is a very thought-provoking and timely play with excellent performances.
Jessie Holder Tourtellotte plays Angelica, who has put her life on hold to care for her wounded husband Tommy (Scott Kuza) who has the vocabulary and motor skills of a one-year old. Into this very private world comes Samuel (Kyle Felts), a divorced father who apparently wants to help with caring for Tommy, so Angelica can resume her architecture studies.
Tommy’s vocal jealousy of the new man triggers Samuel’s condition, but also makes Angelica believe that her husband might be making some sort of progress. Samuel also seems to be wrestling with some survivors’ guilt, so maybe his reasons for wanting to help with Tommy are now suspect.
Complicated emotions are mined unflinchingly as we wonder how exactly this unsustainable triangle is going to fall apart.
Kerry Kazmierowicztrimm has written something much more interesting than a play about the human cost of war. It’s more about how we deal with damaged people, or how damaged people deal with each other.
Tourtellotte is entirely believable as a woman who the world forgot about, while she tried to keep her marriage vows. She nurtures and forgives and accepts. Scott Kuza is very strong as Tommy, his moans and mono-syllables and physical jerks gathering fluency as his world is threatened. Kyle Felts as Samuel brings a facade of capable masculinity, his cane giving him away.
All three characters used to be more than they are now. How can any of them move forward?
The piece is meticulously directed by Liz Lanier with unrelenting naturalism. The black box setting adds another layer of bleakness, and we don’t really have a sense of place, or time of day which only adds to the claustrophobia.
If you’re laughed out, and want to be reminded what else theater can do, I highly recommend this show.