The Wake, directed by Nick Massouh, is a highly anticipated Hollywood Fringe Festival debut that showcases dark comedy at its finest. It has just the right amount of hilarity to offset the disturbing moments and, well, necrophilic implications. It’s a show about how love and loss forever intertwine, though maybe a bit too closely in this case.
Ben Moroski (The Vicious Minute, winner of Best of Fringe in 2012) wrote and stars in this one-man comedy show, entrancing the audience with his Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde finesse. Viewers go on a journey of one man’s self-discovery brimming with intense highs and crippling lows. Moroski is quite the character, starting the night off by introducing himself as the “asshole doing the play.” The show subsequently opens with the line, “Her ass…” with accompanying hand gestures to show exactly what said ass looks like.
The acting is gripping, as Pete spouts off painful confessions. These confessions become increasingly raw once the “scripted” nature of his performance untangles. He is maniacal and unstable, teetering on the edge of sanity. He is sad and crazed and obsessed, unable to get over his ex, Tallie – the one with the ass.
He decides to go out one night to have a good time and spots an alluring girl on the dance floor with burgundy hair. The moment between them fades and Pete wants to get out of the club and head home. As he’s driving, he realizes he hit something. Or someone. He checks and… Burgundy Girl? She says she doesn’t like ambulances and asks Pete to take her back to his place.
Pete obliges and it starts to get weird, starting with Burgundy Girl wetting herself in his car. It happens after a night of drinking, Pete concludes. He carries her into his house and into a warm bath. She lies lifeless, her head plopping down. She does a lot of staring. Pete seems to think that things are going well. He begins to fall for her.
From here, the story grows darker and more uncomfortable, but also more personal. It’s uplifting, even. Pete seems to finally start burying his past with Tallie as he and Burgundy Girl share some intimate moments. Many instances feel as if they are autobiographical for Moroski. Along the way, Pete examines his inner workings and what he wants out of life. He discusses finding love, moving to Los Angeles, exploring a world bigger than the one into which he was born, using theatre and art as expression and then some.
The Elephant Studio Theater’s black box venue is ideal for this type of solo act. It features minimal lighting and limited seating, so the focus is on the actor and nothing else. The setting helps make the show an experience – one that is visceral, candid and vulnerable – rather than just a performance.
Tickets are $10. For more information, visit: https://www.hollywoodfringe.org/projects/1637?
The show is for mature audiences. It takes place at the Elephant Studio Theatre located at 1078 Lillian Way, Los Angeles, CA 90038
The show closes Saturday, June 28, at 10 p.m.
Originally written for Life in LA: CLICK HERE FOR THE REVIEW.