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Bev Cohn: Ed Harris

Ed Harris in the play WRECKS
Ed Harris as Edward Carr in Neil LaBute's WRECKS. Photo Credit: Michael Lamont

Theatre Review
“An Unconventional Love Story”
By Beverly Cohn

n a spellbinding evening of theatre, Ed Harris, one of the most gifted actors to grace the American stage and screen, has done it once again in creating Neil LaBute’s character of Edward Carr in Wrecks, a one-act play being presented at The Geffen Playhouse.

Originally premiered and performed by Harris in Cork, Ireland in 2005, the story, drawing upon Greek mythology in what could be deemed tragic, or not, depending on your personal interpretation of the shocking or surprise “twist,” takes place in the viewing room of a funeral parlor in Northern Illinois. LaBute, who also directed the current production, crafted a very detailed psychological portrait of a bereaved widower, who ruminates, through a roller coaster stream of consciousness ride, on his life with his beloved Mary Josephine Carr, who he lovingly refers to as Jo or Jo-Jo.

The play begins with a silhouette of Harris, a huge illuminated cross and the flower-draped coffin of his wife. In the background, we hear the unseen muffled voices of friends and family who have shown up to pay their respects. The fourth wall is immediately breached and the riveting one-man monologue begins.

In his imagery-rich, totally realized moment-to-moment reality, Harris relives, with sharp clarity and immediacy, the life and times of Carr, beginning with his being raised as an orphan who grew up in the foster care system, referring to the 12 different homes as “shit holes.”

Carr reminisces about the first time he saw Jo-Jo sitting in the back of a vintage Cadillac belonging to her then husband. For him, it was love at first sight, referring to her as “A goddess who fell into my life in my 25th year.” Jo-Jo was 15 years older than Carr but this was never a factor in their 30-year marriage and intense love for each other. Lines like “I spent my whole life looking for her,” or “She was worth loving,” punctuate his deep, never wavering love for his deceased wife and perhaps a very subtle clue to the pending raison d’être. It seems that the sum-total of the two of them was far greater than as one and together they built a string of vintage car rental locations, becoming very successful and living a happy, loving life until cancer struck her down. The revelations continue and yet there’s an underlying feeling that something is not being said. Harris fills those unspoken words and strong silences with tremendous power and mercurial transitions. The mystery, the lurking riddle, the deep secret, both Jo-Jo’s and his, not to be revealed just yet.

Staged on a simple, but highly effective set designed by Sibyl Wickersheimer, enhanced by lighting designer Lap Chi Chu, and sound designer Cricket S. Myers, LeBute skillfully keeps the action moving at a good pace while allowing for the highly developed inner life of Harris’ character to slowly reveal itself.

One-man plays run the risk of being tedious, especially if the running time is 80 minutes. In this case, Harris’ tour de force performance manages to fill every moment with excitement, giving a flawless, deeply emotional performance. Whether he’s puffing on a cigarette or gently wiping the casket with his handkerchief or gazing into the eyes of audience members, Harris has a tight grip on the audience, whose participation he expects from time to time.

The Geffen Playhouse
10886 Le Conte Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90024
Run: Thurs.-Sun thru March 7
Tickets: 310- 208-5454

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Let Bev know what you think about her traveling adventure.

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Thanks so much for those lovely tourism photos, especially of Ireland. I certainly enjoyed all the places you suggested, and am working towards my next vacation. Don’t forget Cuba. That’s an exciting place.

Rosalie, Los Angeles

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Enjoyed your article on Mira Sorvino. Such an interesting background – family, education, career and now human rights activist. I'm not a gossip mag fan so getting more meaty news about movie celebrities from you gives me hope that there are some inteligent life forms in Hollywood.

Peter Paul, Pasadena, CA

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Thank you, Bev. This reminded me to go see the movie, "An Education," which I had already almost forgotten about, having seen the preview a few weeks ago. I enjoy this actress quite a bit--she has a uniqueness about her and she pulls me in. I enjoyed this.

Sandeee, Seattle, WA

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Thank you Beverly,I really enjoyed reading about your intimate conversation with Forest, of whom I am a great admirer. I look forward to seeing the film "Our Family Wedding."

Yoka, Westlake Village, CA

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Thank you for the sending me the beautiful article you wrote about Ireland. We will use your recomendations for hotels in the Southern part. We plan to also go to Dublin and some other Northern cities so I will get some recommendations for these from others. After reading your article, I am getting more excited about going. I think we will be in Ireland for 8 days altogether.

Leah Mendelsohn, Santa Monica, CA

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Very much enjoyed Ms. Cohn's article about Munich, especially the visuals. Though it has been 25 years since my last visit, the piece brought back countless pleasant memories of the city and the people!! Many thanks.

Lawrence, Los Angeles

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Marianplatz and that general area is truly one of the best Christmas celebrations in the world. Between that and Oktoberfest (which I can only imagine) Munich is one of the greatest cities in the world for major annual events.

Christopher Dale, New York, NY

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Hi Bev, you have done some wonderful pieces on some great celebs...Great work. The travel articles are just wonderful too.

Scott Mueller, Huntington Beach, CA

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Your great Zurich article makes me want to go there for the holidays! I love the photos, too, especially the ones of you in the sleigh, the view over the houses and the zoo!

Anna Marie, Santa Monica, CA

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Lovely article! As a European, and having been to Zurich (albeit in summer) I can vouch for this lovely city. Great pictures, too!

Helene Robins, Santa Monica, CA

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Hi Bev,

Nice review, nice seeing you, nice website interface "...Talk to Bev" - Enjoy your Thanksgiving!

Richard D. Kaye, Marina del Rey, CA

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Hi Bev,

Your interview with John Cusack is very interesting. I always wondered why these actors/actresses always get top billing when really, if you think about it, the real work come from the animators, writers and tech whizzes who spend far more hours on the movie than those actors. I know, I know, it's the all about marketing. The names of these actors are what bring in the big bucks. Still, I think these actors are way overpaid for the "little" that they do.

I remember that once upon a time, the early animation classics never mentioned the voices behind the characters. I think it was only later when Walt Disney tapped into the voices of known celebrities like Walter Matthau in the Jungle Book or Zsa Zsa Gabor in The Rescuers that the voices became a marketing magnet.

Keep up the good work. I enjoy your interviews as you peer into the lives of the Hollywood celebrities.

Peter Paul of South Pasadena, CA

Ed Boitano's travel blog/review
Three Musical Pilgrimages: Mozart, Grieg and Hendrix

Troldhaugen Villa in Bergen, Norway
Johann Chrysostom Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 - 1791) could read and compose music, plus play the violin and piano, when he was five years old. Born into a musical family in Salzburg, Austria (then the Holy Roman Empire), he had a unique ability for imitating music, which first became evident when he recited a musical piece by simply observing his father conducting a lesson to his older sister. This led to a childhood on the road, where the young prodigy performed before many of the royal courts of Europe.

Go There

Tom Weber's travel blog/review
Treasures of Ireland: The Irish Goodbye (Dispatch #20)

Irish sunset

The Palladian Traveler brings to a close his 20-part series on the Emerald Isle from an upscale restaurant in downtown Dublin where he files his final dispatch and then quietly slips away.

Go There

John Clayton's travel blog/review
Two "MUST SEE" Truly Spectacular Places in Europe. Here's Why.

Culzean Castle, Scotland
The Han Grotto and Culzean Castle. As the name of my Traveling Boy feature is "Travel With a Difference," it's important to me to always bring you offbeat and unusual tourist places around the world you may not know about. These two fit that category to a T, and they're absolutely worth a visit. One's in Scotland and one's in Belgium. Culzean (pronounced CULLANE) Castle is located near Maybole, Carrick, on the Ayrshire coast of Scotland.

go there

Ringo Boitano's travel blog/review
Highway 49 Revisited: Exploring California's Gold Country

aurora borealis lights up the night sky near Fairbanks
In the 1840s, the population of California was only 14,000, but by 1850 more than 100,000 settlers and adventurers had arrived from all over the world – and they came for one reason: gold. James Marshall had discovered the first gold nugget at Sutter’s Mill in El Dorado County, creating the largest gold rush in history.

go there

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