Playwright Leslie Ayvazian’s 100 APRILS premieres in 2018, just three years after the centennial commemoration of the Armenian genocide. First presented in a staged reading at the Kirk Douglas Theatre in April 2015, 100 APRILS has been polished into a powerful, intimate look at the effects of violence on a people – even 100 years after the fact. When Adolph Hitler in 1939 asked who currently spoke about the extermination of the Armenians, he inadvertently opened a discussion about a denied history which was supposed to be gently dismissed from memory. And yet 2018 marks an anniversary about events which will never be over and done with for the people who survived or those they touched in life.
John (John Perrin Flynn) is just such a man, the son of Armenian parents who escaped with their lives and built a new life in America. Life is good – and yet ghosts from the past haunt him. Who exactly is Ahmet (Robertson Dean)? His concerned physician or a resurrected Turkish murderer? For it is 1982 and John, himself a physician, is being treated for a suicide attempt in a psychiatric ward. Despite the best efforts of his wife Beatrice (played by author Ayvazian) and his daughter Arlene (Rachel Sorsa), he is slowly fading away and living in the past.
Director Michael Arabian, who also directed the 2015 reading, has done a superb job of keeping lines between past and present fluid as each actor delves into his part of the drama. John’s stoic wife and timid daughter are portrayed with compassion and honesty as they try to understand what John is going through. Perrin Flynn achieves a moving portrayal of a man living between two worlds – and getting ready to leave both of them, perhaps with some unfinished business. 100 APRILS is not a history lesson, but an intimate peek into how real people respond to life’s twists and turns.
John Iacovelli’s scenic design is simple and even barren, the epitome of a sterile hospital room which offers no comfort or concern. Brian Gale’s lighting, Kevin Anthenill’s sound, and Kate Bergh’s costumes help bring to life the internal struggles of this troubled trio. But don’t expect any clear answers to questions raised by this thought-provoking play. Author Ayvazian obviously thought long and hard about solutions. But the past is immutable, so the only alterations in life’s puzzles must remain in the present. Realizing this ambiguity, several talkbacks by prominent Armenians have been scheduled after the play on June 17 and 24 and on July 1 and 15. 100 APRILS raises many issues worthy of serious discussion.
100 APRILS runs through July 16, 2018, with performances at 8:30 p.m. on Saturdays and Mondays and at 3 p.m. on Sundays (no performance on June 25). The Rogue Machine performs at the Met Theatre, 1089 N. Oxford Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90029. Tickets are $40. For information and reservations, call 855-585-5185 or go online.