Review: ‘Mutant Olive,’ one actor’s audition -- and life story


“I was brought up by wolverines,” says the frenzied protagonist of “Mutant Olive,” and he’s not kidding.

Writer-performer Mitch Hara’s entertaining albeit idiosyncratic solo show at the Lounge Theatre puts an entirely personal spin on toxic family relationships, growing up flamboyant and the jagged ways to recovery.

It takes the form of an audition for “Death of a Salesman,” to which Hara arrives with the house lights still up, raging into his cellphone from the lobby.


“I haven’t been 23 since I was 16,” he snaps, then shifts gears into smiley-actor mode as he sees us, the auditors.

Introducing himself as Adam Astra (Hara’s alter ego), this fey bundle of unbridled energy -- think Mario Cantone crossed with a jack rabbit -- proceeds to explain why he’s auditioning for the role of Happy Loman using Shakespeare’s Puck from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” done as an Italian pizza delivery person.

Well, at least he attempts to, but Dad on the cellphone keeps interrupting, which ignites a stream-of-consciousness autobiographical melee. We meet Astra, er, Hara’s parents -- his take on his foul-mouthed father and chain-smoking mother is the tickling heart of the entire enterprise -- various relatives, teachers, tricks and more.

By the end, we’ve witnessed more than one public expression of fashion rebellion, drug-and-alcohol abuse, promiscuity and enough scabrous philosophy to make Chelsea Handler woozy, but it closes on a poignant moment of forgiveness.

Terri Hanauer directs this force of outre nature with a modicum of invention, as in the car crash sequence done with folding chairs, and a steady hand. At times, Hara’s approach can be over-attenuated, beats and phrasing done with too-practiced rhythms, and on reflection, the piece recalls countless fringe festival/performance art confessionals.

Still, Hara’s cracked perspective and fearless honesty are reason enough to check out his humorously cauterizing account.


“Mutant Olive,” Lounge Theatre, 6201 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood. 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays. Ends Feb. 28. $25. (323) 960-7861 or Running time: 1 hour, 10 minutes.