Rogue Machine Theatre Company do great work in Hollywood all year round. Their participation in the festival is to be welcomed, HFF is all the richer for it.
We Are Not These Hands follows the desperate journey of two fifteen year old girls, Moth (Cecily Glouchevich) and Belly (Emily James), struggling to survive a world in ruin. In this dark, dystopian society filth is flavor, porn is incessant, and violence is the status quo. Their dream is to get “‘cross the river” to the capitalist society where Belly’s family lives and where a possible hope for survival exists. Spying through the window of a ramshackle internet cafe, they spot Leather (so dubbed because of the leather bag he carries), an outcast that has just moved from their paradise. The two young women decide to seduce Leather (Albert Dayan) for that golden ticket to the other side and set in motion a series of events that could explode in their faces.
Leather, we find, is as messed-up as the girls. He excitedly captures his stream of consciousness a portable tape recorder and addressing his comments to his dead mother. He’s there to write a “treatise” on the Globalization of Rural Economies which, projected onto the computer monitors of the internet cafe, proves to be a series inane platitudes and uninformed conclusions. He’s a fish out of water with no pond in sight. In Moth, Leather finds a bit of salvation from himself.
All of the characters struggle making themselves understood with language. Leather’s hopelessly academic speeches are vapid, incomplete thoughts. He can identify the words but not their meaning or intention. The girls on the other hand, speak with a broken, colloquial gibberish that the audience can almost feel rather than understand. Words and speech patterns that seem cutesy or artificial at first (“He walk like water. He don’t got the wild-angry peepers like us. He half-lidded, like he seen it all.”) become impotently desperate and moving (“My name got losted and no one could find it.”). This is a credit to the brilliant performances by the three actors and the exemplary direction from Larry Biederman.
In an ordinary production, Dayan would have stolen the show; his nebbish and pretentious Leather is terrific to watch. Self-absorbed yet awkwardly unaware, he walks a fine line of predator and powerless prey. James and Glouchevich, however, are up to the challenge. Their mix of world-weariness and almost unbearable optimism is delightful. James provides an angry innocence to Belly which harmonizes beautifully with Glouchevich’s guileless Moth. With the help of solid direction, the two women build a very believable world to which the audience can engage. This may not be Sheila Callaghan’s (Crumble, Everything You Touch, That Pretty, Pretty,) strongest work, but the quality of this production makes it a must-see show.