“I feel like I’m in an airplane, looking down on my life.” That’s a fair assessment of “Three Views of the Same Object” in its impressive Rogue Machine production. Despite the odd tonal blip and some new-play quirks, Henry Murray’s tripartite study of an aging couple’s suicide pact is fascinating, haunting and certain to provoke post-show conversation.
Meet Poppy and Jesse, a long-married academic pair who’ve hit a wall. Both agreed that they would check out early when unable to handle daily existence. Yet life and death, let alone love, are seldom that clear-cut, not least for senior citizens in 21st century America.
A Woodward/Newman award winner at the Bloomington Playwright’s Project in 2011, from which Murray has revised his script, “Three Views” explores Poppy and Jesse’s situation through multiple actors and outcomes that traverse designer Stephanie Kerley Schwartz’s suave set with accelerating intensity.
Co-directed by John Perrin Flynn, Brett Aune and Hollace Starr, the raw yet poetic text has its flaws. The unseen daughter could stand clarifying, a supporting character’s sexuality feels arbitrary, and the structure, less “Rashomon” than Rorschach, doesn’t always engender easy narrative flow. Yet the net effect is overwhelming.
That goes triple for the players, a formidable cast that features some of the best character actors in town. The always amazing Anne Gee Byrd and ever-authoritative Allan Miller carry one through-line; a layered K Callan and understated Shelly Kurtz another; the redoubtable Nancy Linehan Charles a third. Along with Catherine Carlen, whose nuanced performance trumps her underwritten role, they make “Three Views,” however difficult, a vivid, memorable experience.
“Three Views of the Same Object,” Rogue Machine (in Theatre/Theater), 5041 Pico Blvd., Los Angeles. 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 3 p.m. Sundays. Ends Oct. 28. $30. (855) 585-5185 or www.roguemachinetheatre.com. Running time: 1 hour, 55 minutes.