Bed and breakfasts are often known for offering peace, quiet, and an escape from reality. But what if your B&B was sitting on something a little explosive? As part of the 2017 Frigid Festival, Sienna’s Mantram or (a Change of Pace at China Lake) by Zach Stephens is an explosive conspiracy comedy that will get you questioning your own existence.
|photo by August Belfiglio|
But there was something not quite right in this production. Whether it was the time restrictions of the festival or a disconnect in visionary intent, the text from the page didn't match the action on the stage. Sienna's Mantram should be a laugh riot but director Kelly Webb seemed to go for something a bit more dramatic through the darkness. The scenario is plausibly ridiculous but the characters played it quite straight. Well, three-fifths of the cast did. Perhaps it comes to casting but the gentlemen of the cast, Zach Stephens and James Arthurt, took on big, broad comedy while the ladies did not. It felt as if they lived in different worlds. The more interesting choice is big, broad comedy. Throw in more physical comedy and this can be achieved but not all actors seemed to be well-versed in this brand of comedy.
Sienna’s Mantram has all the makings of a poignant and visceral twisted comedy that lends itself to today. It just needs a bit of finessing and clarity. But when it gets there, be afraid. Zach Stephens will scare you.