Photo: “West Hollywood in the Early Morning Fog” by nightsinweho.com.
Southern California residents have two more chances to see STARCROSSER’S CUT, a play based on the saga of astronaut Lisa Nowak (the diaper-wearing woman scorned out for revenge).
WHAT IT’S ABOUT: Inspired by astronaut Lisa Nowak‘s 2007 arrest for the attempted murder of a romantic rival, Starcrosserʼs Cut is a cassette symphony in the tradition of Krapp’s Last Tape. Loosely based on the real-life transcript of Nowak’s police interview after her arrest, a character known only as “Lisa” listens to the playback, reenacts her interview with the detective, and attempts to rerecord it all. Through a labyrinth of tape edits and revisions within revisions, the play looks at the “crimes that can’t keep uncommitted” – those beyond guilt. From jail cell to Space Shuttle, the mystery that emerges is not whether Lisa did it — it’s whether a crime can cease to be a crime, or can just cease to be.
Running time: 90 minutes
Written and directed by Joseph Tepperman
Music by David Dominique
Featuring Shawn Lockie & Tom Colitt
With musicians Leah Harmon, Sammi Lee,
Heather Lockie, and Alexander Noice
Saturday, June 15 @ 8pm
Sunday, June 16 @ 4pm
$18, general admission; $12, students/seniors
PURCHASE TICKETS: soneofsemele.org
Son of Semele Theater
3301 Beverly Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90004
I caught STARCROSSER’S CUT yesterday (6/13) to a standing-room-only house, the result of rave reviews and feature articles for the show in The Hollywood Reporter, USA Today, LA Weekly, and LA Stage Times. (Congrats to the publicist Diana Wyenn for all the press. Find her at email@example.com.)
Watching the stage depiction of Lisa Nowak (played with bravura intensity and commitment by Shawn Lockie), I thought back to my days in an all-girl Catholic high school — and the range of human behavior, from girls always in trouble to perfect girls. The most interesting thing that happened during my four years at the school occurred when brilliant Jeannie B. (A+, honor roll, student council president, etc., etc.,) went into a rage when she learned that one of our teachers Mr. C was marrying another teacher Miss D. Yes, Jeannie B. was in luv with Mr. C and cried and carried on about that #*!@ Miss D. Who knew?
So with this personal set-piece as an emotional entry into STARCROSSER’S CUT, I had no problem understanding why super-achiever Lisa Nowak flipped when she learned that her boyfriend Bill was dumping her for younger, blonder Colleen. As the poet William Congreve reminded us way back in the 17th century, “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.”
I won’t try to summarize Lisa Nowak‘s crimes — the story is too complex to boil down into a few flip paragraphs. But if you’d like to know more, check out “Lust in Space,” an insightful article by S.C. Gwynne in one of my favorite magazines – Texas Monthly.
STARCROSSER’S CUT makes frequent references to the constellation Cassiopeia, drawing a parallel with Nowak, as astronaut. In Greek mythology, Queen Cassiopeia was placed in the sky as a punishment for boasting that her daughter Andromeda was more beautiful than the Nereids – and is now forced to wheel around the North Celestial Pole on her throne, spending half of her time clinging to it so she does not fall off. The throne/space shuttle analogy is played out to poetic effect, often with images of the constellation projected onto the stage and actors.
Original music by David Dominique – played live by Leah Harmon (accordion), Sammi Lee (flute), Heather Lockie (viola), and Alexander Noice (guitar) — takes us into the mind, jumbled thought processes, and roller coaster emotions of Lisa Nowak as she struggles to give an account of her actions during an interview with an Orlando, Florida, detective (Tom Colitt in a sincere, natural performance that flowed like a virtuoso jazz solo — a joy to witness).
If you have a chance, So Cal residents, catch STARCROSSER’S CUT — highly recommended.