Total Rating: 
November 18, 2017
December 18, 2017
Los Angeles
Rogue Machine
Theater Type: 
Rogue Machine at The Met Theater
Theater Address: 
1089 North Oxford Avenue
Running Time: 
2 hrs, 15 min
Ruth Fowler
Cameron Watson

Bled for the household truth introduces us to the work of a gutsy new playwright, the Welsh-born Ruth Fowler (presently residing in L.A.) Her play, now in a world premiere production at Rogue Machine, looks at the weird, kinky relationship between Keith (Benjamin Burdick), an emotionally frozen man, and Pen (Alexandra Hellquist), a woman who is his complete opposite in behavior. A wealthy stockbroker living in a luxury East Village apartment (ingenious set by John Iacovelli), Keith advertises for a roommate who will be paid to stroll around his pad in her underwear. No sexual contact is involved; just like Peter Sellers in “Being There,” he only wants to look. Pen (short for Penelope) accepts the deal. If only because she’s desperate for a place to live.

Originally from Manchester, England, she’s in the USA illegally, can’t hold a job, abuses alcohol and drugs. But she’s also blazingly alive, lusty and funny, filled to the brim with street-smarts, never at a loss for words.

In her crude, profane but caring way, she tries her best to breathe life into the robotic Keith, get him to act like a normal human being. In scene after scene—and that’s one of the big problems with the play, the way the story keeps repeating itself—Pen uses whatever weapons she has (her body, her humor, her compassion) to break down his rigid defenses and free him from his psychological prison. Unfortunately, the best this poor, twisted guy can do is jerk off into a pair of her panties.

Fowler isn’t shy about putting this scene on stage. Nor does she hold back from showing the sex Pen has with her deadbeat, abusive boyfriend Billy (Nathaniel Meek); they copulate right in front of us for a good three or four minutes. It’s a shocking but truthful act; adjectives that can also be used to describe the play itself.

The actors Burdick, Hellquist and Meek—joined by Rachel Brunner playing a friend of Pen’s in a wasted part—deserve much credit for being brave enough to take part in this dark but powerful and moving play. They and director Cameron Watson work together in impressive fashion to bring Bled for the Household Truth to life.

Benjamin Burdick, Alexandra Hellquist, Rachel Brunner, Nathaniel Meek
Set: John Iacovelli; Costumes: Kate Bergh; Lighting: Jared A. Sayeg; Sound: Chris Moscatiello; Dialect Coach: Tracy Winters; Production Manager: Amanda Bierbauer;
Willard Manus
Date Reviewed: 
December 2017