Review Rundown: How To Disappear Completely and Never Be Found

“The play itself, with its wrinkles and turns, proves consistently engrossing, though one long scene between Winter as a mentor on how to disappear and the desperate Charlie drags, making the first act a lengthy one. Still the combination of the visual, the clever use of the deceptively plain set, and the essential likability of Charlie himself, even in his most desperate moments has one leaning forward and working to figure where truth stops and the willful wanderings of the soul begin.”

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“This brilliantly written and deftly directed play currently running at Pasadena’s Boston Court Performing Arts Center raises so many important questions about the nature of life in our hyper-technological, modern world that it’s impossible to avoid personally experiencing the overwhelmingness Charlie faces throughout.”

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“During the hero’s comic transformation, the play satirically touches on aspects of our daily lives: bureaucracy, materialism, commercialization, loss of identity, relationships, mechanization, time pressures–all  familiar themes that have cropped up in plays for centuries.The mass of ideas here can be overwhelming. There is an occasional nugget as when one character says he should take the time to appreciate the little things in life, reminiscent of Emily’s beautiful monolog when she returns to earth in Our Town’s final act. Overall, though, the scattershot approach gives few answers to all the questions posed.”

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“If you lose your way trying to navigate the Kafkaesque journey Fin Kennedy wants to take us on in his startlingly original and thematically dense How To Disappear Completely and Never Be Found, keep your eye on Brad Culver – it’ll be impossible not to – because Culver has found the human trajectory that Charlie, the play’s protagonist, is on and has wormed his way into the character with such determined intricacy that not only will you find it impossible to separate the actor from the man, but you are almost certain to see him as a contemporary Everyman and find yourself – despite the extreme conditions he is forced to live in and with – identifying with the guy and seeing in him some part of you that you haven’t been in touch with before.”

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“The production is still very much worth seeing. It’s another in what I’ll call Boston Court’s ‘troubling ideas about our new century series.’ Boston Court is consistently picking meaty intellectual plays that may not be perfect, but leave you thinking and engaged. They’ve also picked a fantastic director and design team for this production. Nancy Keystone both directed and designed the stark minimalist set. Keystone directs as much with images as with words and she keeps the dizzying array of characters and locations flowing by until we land in each distinct local…”

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“Talk about a metaphor!  The title of Boston Court’s latest stunning production is an accurate statement for life passing before one’s eyes at the onset of….well, you know.  Shhhh.  The person in question should not be disturbed in his search.  Fin Kennedy, a young British playwright, writes fast-paced, witty and puzzling dialogue that sends an audience on a journey of discovery, all while our on-stage subject is on a journey of a different sort. But he has also contrived a story that is almost impossible to talk about, since revealing any more than my opening sentence may diminish theatrical involvement. Our immersion in the experience is the thing.”

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“There’s much to admire in Fin Kennedy’s sharp-witted, poetical drama about valid causes of subterranean rage and despondency in our hyper-marketed age. Charlie (Brad Culver) is a London-based marketing exec plunging into madness from a supercharged, jet-propelled pace of living that keeps authentic feelings and reflection at bay. It’s the life-defining smartphones and the sales pitches, and people around him starting to move too slowly for his increasingly lunatic comfort zone. Until he, or his soul, starts to unravel through dreams of his own death. With a gentle-natured physician (Carolyn Ratterray) examining his “corpse” — even while he remains mobile — Charlie envisions himself not only separated from the culture but floating above himself. These fissures lead him to outcast Mike (Tim Winters), an expert in the minutiae of how the government (and corporations) track our birth and our buying habits in order to keep us on a string. Mike also is expert in how to unplug oneself from the roller-coaster surveillance, how to erase one’s former self and start again: new birth certificate, new passport, new life. The play is a shriek of despair with our commercial values, like an early poem by Bertolt Brecht via Sarah Kane, sleekly directed by Nancy Keystone on her own stark set wherein an office and a morgue are much the same place. It overstates its case viscerally, fully revealing its philosophy in a mocking scene where Charlie (who has morphed into his new identity as “Adam”) rolls his eyes when somebody tries to explain how life’s value lies in small, simple pleasures — which actually happens to be true. The ridicule isn’t an argument but an attitude, marking the play as a somewhat juvenile exercise, despite this marvelous production. Even jaded Samuel Beckett, like Brecht before him, found currents of romanticism in his nihilistic vision. Minus this paradox, we’re just left with a poetically articulated, teenager’s schrei.  Theater@Boston Court, 70 N. Mentor Ave., Pasadena; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru May 29. (626) 683-6883. bostoncourt.org. (Steven Leigh Morris)”

“Early on in Fin Kennedy‘s play ‘How to Disappear Completely and Never Be Found,’ a doctor diagnoses young London advertising account executive Charlie (Brad Culver) as suffering from depression. But ‘I don’t think the problem lies with me,’ Charlie insists. ‘I think things might genuinely be shit.’ And once Charlie becomes entirely overwhelmed by the mounting ordeal of being Charlie, he visits Mike (Time Winters), a shady old friend of his recently deceased mother, who gives him the rundown on how to shed the identity he walked in the door with and become someone else entirely without ever being discovered. This complex ruse may or may not work, though, because Sophie (Carolyn Ratteray), an attractive young morgue pathologist whom Charlie’s just met at a holiday party, assures him he’s already dead and lying on a slab back at her workplace.”

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“Fin Kennedy’s hyperkinetic black comedy, inspired by Doug Richmond’s book of the same name, recounts one man’s startling journey into the world of identity theft. It’s part Kafkaesque nightmare and part metaphysical mystery. In the play’s Southern California premiere, director Nancy Keystone’s stylish cinematic staging offers much visceral excitement, and a chameleonlike ensemble pulls off a wide range of impressive characterizations. Though it’s easy to appreciate the artistry on display here, it’s difficult to fully warm up to the frenetic material.”

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“[The] Theatre @ Boston Court’s Southern California Premiere of Fin Kennedy’s How To Disappear Completely And Never Be Found has so much going for it, I wish I could say I enjoyed it more. Performances are superb, beginning with a tour de force star turn by Brad Culver.  Direction by Nancy Keystone is imaginative and even inspired at times.  Design elements, particularly John Zalewski’s striking sound design, are way up at the level of excellence theatergoers have come to expect @ Boston Court. The play was the first ever to win the prestigious John Whiting Award before being staged. British critics were ecstatic at the play’s World Premiere and I expect the Boston Court production will garner equal praise.”

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“Charlie (a sensational Brad Culver), the protagonist of British playwright Fin Kennedy’s “How to Disappear Completely and Never Be Found,” is in the midst of a full-scale nervous breakdown. But whether the problem is in his head or the world around him is a question that this jangled play refuses to answer.”

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“The new Theater @ Boston Court attraction literally does tutor protagonist Charlie Hunt (Brad Culver) in “How to Disappear Completely and Never Be Found.” But U.K. scribe Fin Kennedy has weightier fish’n’chips to fry, blending heightened reality with elliptical visits through the looking glass in a stacked-deck effort to demonstrate the impossibility of escaping one’s self. The results are as superficial and tedious as Nancy Keystone’s production is inventive.”

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