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"THE INTERNATIONALISTS" IS LIKE GETTING A MIX TAPE FROM A LOVER

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"THE INTERNATIONALISTS" IS LIKE GETTING A MIX TAPE FROM A LOVER

By Mike Buzzelli 04/26/2009

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In downtown Los Angeles, the Poor Dog Group passionately takes on the Space Race in the absurdist comedy, The Internationalists.

When Sputnik was launched in the 50’s, the Space Race exploded. The Internationalists is a frenetic commentary on America and its push to win the aforementioned race, while the country was unable to close the racial divide. It was a bizarre time in American culture: as we advanced technologically, we were stunted socially. We wanted to put a man on the moon, but didn’t want to put a black child in a white classroom. Americans decried Communism, but stuttered in its own Fascism, eschewing everything that didn’t fit into the cookie cutter patterns of the perfect nuclear family. In its alleged free society, Senator Joe McCarthy cried “Communist,” and took away the rights of its citizens.

The Internationalists is like getting a mix tape from a lover. It is crafted with tender care, but thrown together in a mad randomness. Time and space have no meaning. There is no linear plot, but director and show creator Jesse Bonnell throws a bunch of great ideas about space exploration and throws them in a blender and hits frappe. It’s an intoxicating blend of wild comic moments and chaotic craziness. There is dance, slapstick, beat poetry and even a scene from August Wilson’s Fences.
The cast, Jonney Ahmanson (a famous name in the Los Angeles theater scene), Brad Culver, Andrew Gilbert, John Kern, Jesse Saler, Cat Ventura, Adam Hunter, and Itamar Stern each bring a unique flavor to the frothy concoction.

Culver is a kinetic clown, throwing himself around the stage with gusto. Ventura, the distaff member of the ensemble, is a talented and beautiful. Together, Culver and Ventura, turn what would be a trite scene of a husband and wife arguing into pure poetry.

Stern portrays the Russian satellite, Sputnik. He renders the satellite as a Russian with disdain for American Capitalism, but a healthy appetite for vodka and women. Without spoiling the surprise, it is a very revealing performance.

There is a quality of unbridled enthusiasm in every member of the Poor Dog Group.

Maybe it’s the location, a warehouse in the ass end of Los Angeles, but you can almost hear Mickey Rooney turn to Judy Garland, punch the air and exclaim, “Hey, Judy! Let’s put on a show!”

The Internationalists may be a crazy theatrical experiment, but it is full of a contagious joy. Seeing this play is akin to viewing “Convergence” by Jackson Pollock; it is a crazy mess, but it’s breathtakingly beautiful at the same time.

- Mike Buzzelli
(The Internationalists runs from April 24 to May 9 EXTENDED THROUGH MAY 16TH on Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 pm at 2485 Hunter Street, in downtown Los Angeles)

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