Today's political climate is proliferated with news stories on guns, the use and mostly misuse of them. Almost every day we hear of some horrific incident where a gun has been used by a human being to vanquish other innocent souls. Marja-Lewis Ryan's "One in the Chamber," now playing at the Lounge Theatre in Hollywood, tells the story of a dysfunctional family, fraught with remorse, regret, and sorrow, after older son Adam (Alec Frasier) kills his younger brother Joey, and all the repercussions that ensue. Workaholic father Charles (Robert Bella) seems convincingly detached from the entire predicament, while alcohol addicted mother Helen (Heidi Sulzman) is beside herself, in a constant state of denial. She lives in a surreal, macabre world of her own, constantly calling out her departed young son's name.
Entering the scene is social worker Jennifer (Emily Peck), who has come to decipher the puzzle, hence an analysis of the underpinning of the family dynamic. Adam, the last to be interviewed, who had opened the unlocked arsenal of ammunition, in childish abandon, must now deal with years of survivor's guilt, and all the feelings that unravel during this grueling interview. He feels that perhaps the only way out is to kill himself as well, to be eternally absolved of his inadvertent sin. Perhaps Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody lyrics are most telling of Adam's internal turmoil:
" Mama, just killed a man,
Put a gun against his head,
Pulled my trigger, now he's dead.
Mama, life had just begun, Mama, ooh,
Didn't mean to make you cry,
If I'm not back again this time tomorrow,
Carry on, carry on as if nothing really matters.
But now I've gone and thrown it all away."
A rather Hitchcockian ending leaves the audience agape. This play is a vivid, timely discussion of the complexity of gun ownership and family relations, most profoundly taught as a watch spring.
Through September 7th
Fridays at 8PM; Saturdays at 8PM; Sundays at 7PM
The Lounge Theatre 6201 Santa Monica Blvd.