What you first see: Actors dressed up in hilarious dorky crab costumes.
What you actually get: A brilliant satire about the impact of “crab mentality” on oppressed communities whose members work against one another instead of together.
*All photos shown are taken by Cooper Bates*
Having its world premiere at the Echo Theater Company, Crabs in a Bucket is a play that took me for quite a ride in this profound satire written by Bernardo Cubría and directed by Alana Dietze. With an incredible ensemble cast that consists of Jordan Hull, Anna LaMadrid, Xochitl Romero and Michael Sturgis, the play is literally about four crabs living in a shucking bucket but it becomes something so more once it gets past the hyuck hyuck metaphors of them being crabs to all-too-real scenarios of the disenfranchised who fight each other in order to get ahead. It definitely plays with its humor a wee bit long but once it gets past the jokes, the play absolutely shines in what it’s trying to convey.
Make no mistake, this play is beyond hysterical and the four actors complement each other so well in their differences. Romero as the most jaded bitter one of the bunch, LaMadrid as the oblivious follower, Hull as the young naive dreamer, and Sturgis as the one who fell from grace as he experienced the outside world and its wonders (and complications), only to fall back into the shucking bucket. There were many moments where Romero’s acting reminded me of Nathan Lane and that is a compliment of the highest order as I find Lane’s acting to be brilliant.
It is also with Romero that she drives the dramatic point home about the bitterness that all too well can consume you when you work so hard to make progress, but no progress is actually to be had. This, in addition, to your own community sometimes being your worst enemies, is the plight that the disenfranchised often encounter and a depressing reality that the play successfully conveys. That point in particular was delivered in an excellent monologue by Sturgis before he masterfully switches it up in a rather humorous way.
A huge shout-out must go to the costume, scenic, lighting, and sound design (Lou Cranch, Amanda Knehans, Azra King-Abadi, and Jeff Gardner respectively) for immersing the audience in this absurd shucking bucket world of crabs. Add in the words by Cubría, the fine directing by Dietze, and the extraordinary acting from all the cast members, and you have a winner that takes an unfortunate insular issue faced by disenfranchised communities and present it in a way that is flat out hilarious, tragic, and heartfelt at the same time.
“An almost is the worst of all.” The Echo Theater Company presents Crabs in a Bucket, an outrageous, smart and very funny satire about the impact of “crab mentality” on oppressed communities whose members work against one another instead of together. Amargo and Pootz are two bitter crabs living in a shucking bucket. They spend their days talking chit about the crabs that got out, the ones who couldn’t take it, and the losers who still live among them. When a new crab arrives filled with optimism and hope for change, can it help them achieve their life-long dream of getting the shuck out?
• Written by Bernardo Cubría
• Directed by Alana Dietze
• Starring Jordan Hull, Anna LaMadrid, Xochitl Romero, Michael Sturgis
• Presented by TheEcho Theater Company, Chris Fields artistic director
Previews: July12, July 13, July 14
Performances: July 15 – August 21
• Wednesday at 8 p.m.: July 12 ONLY (preview)
• Thursday at 8 p.m.: July 13 ONLY (preview)
• Fridays at 8 p.m.: July 14 (preview), July 21, July 28, Aug. 4, Aug. 11, Aug. 18
• Saturdays at 8 p.m.: July 15 (opening night), July 22, July 29, Aug. 5, Aug. 12, Aug. 19
• Sundays at 4 p.m.: July 16, July 23, July 30, Aug. 6, Aug. 13, Aug. 20
• Mondays at 8 p.m.: July 17, July 24, July 31, Aug. 7, Aug. 14, Aug. 21
Echo Theater Company
Atwater Village Theatre
3269 Casitas Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90039
FREE in the Atwater Crossing (AXT) lot one block south of the theater
Family-friendly; appropriate for ages 10+