How often does one get to see a sci-fi play? Better question, how often does one get to see a sci-fi play done well? This is the challenge that Moving Arts Theatre was more than able to meet in the extremely intriguing Reset, written by Howard Ho and directed by Darin Anthony. It’s also noticeably different from most of the plays I’ve seen this year, where the ethnicity of the actors were essential to play the characters they would portray and the stories that were being told. Reset utilizes diversity in such a way that went beyond these limited requirements while also being color conscious of the characters in a subtle manner. Truly, more theatre companies should do this.
2020 Chernobyl. Jim arrives at the contaminated site of the infamously dilapidated nuclear
reactor to take part in a new top secret life-changing treatment that promises he will attain his
“best self.” But what he imagines is a self-help retreat turns out to be less of a day at the spa
and more of a mind-bending quantum physics experiment, one that will reveal the devastating
truths of what the future holds for him. Could his “best self” actually be the key to mankind’s
salvation or to its destruction?”
What is immediately striking is when one first enters the theater as the environment is eerily established as soon as you enter. Major props goes to scenic and lighting designer Justin Huen for knocking this out of the park. Coupled that with Ho’s fantastic sound design (the playwright is also a rather accomplished sound designer and composer), Reset amplifies the intimate black box space to get the audience into the story from the get go.
The greatest strength that Ho imbues in Reset is the multiverse & time traveling combo story of finding one’s “best self,” which is played to tremendous effect by Tyler Perez and Carl Weintraub. Weintraub is simply riveting and commands all your attention as the Old Man even though he never leaves the box that his multiple variants are put in. Perez is absolutely dynamic as James Gamble, our main lead who is the hapless experiment who gets far more than what he bargained for.
Zachary Bones and Greta Jung are solid in their supporting roles as the scientists Lateen Anderson and Aiko Tanaka with the two of them having the most unenviable task of providing the massive amounts of exposition to set up the world, which does take a good chunk of the play’s running time before things get really going. That being said, Bones absolutely crushed this challenge as most of it fell on his shoulders. My only criticism is that his posh British accent was a bit distracting since it felt put-on in certain places.
It’s no easy feat to pull off a convincing sci-fi play in an intimate black box theater space but with Anthony’s direction and the entire creative team putting their A-game into the production, Reset does it with style. While the hard sci-fi exposition can be challenging to sit through in the beginning, the pay-off is just fantastic when it reaches the climax. If you’re a fan of time travel, multiverses, and all things sci-fi, Reset will most certainly pique your interest and satisfy it.
The world premiere of Reset by Howard Ho. Directed by Darin Anthony.
Moving Arts Theatre — 319 Casitas Ave Los Angeles, CA 90039
Reset will preview October 26 and 27 and run from October 28 through November 20.
Fridays, Saturdays and Mondays at 8pm. Sundays at 6pm.
All performances are Pay–What–You–Want
Visit https://movingarts.org/project/reset-23/ to reserve tickets.
FREE in parking lot P2 – 3191 Casitas Ave, south of Minneapolis St.