Dream Catcher

by Dale Reynolds

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Friday February 5, 2016

Brian Tichnell and Elizabeth Frances
Brian Tichnell and Elizabeth Frances  

Stephen Sachs' latest work, the world premiere of "Dream Catcher," is an astonishing look at the crossroads of spirituality and science, in an up-to-the-moment clash between the science that backs up climate change and the religion that disregards it, and its impact on humanity while upholding spirituality.

In Sachs' story, Roy (Brian Tichnell), a late-twenties, lower-level scientist is hired as a scientist by a multi-million-dollar corporation who are to build a huge solar-collection plant, over thousands of acres in the middle of the Mojave Desert. He has been texted out of an important meeting to meet with his lover, Opal (Elizabeth Frances), perhaps in her mid-20s, who has made a momentous discovery on the desert's floor of human bones, undoubtedly remnants of AmerInd ancestors of the currently-dwindling Mojave tribe.

This sets-up a serious confrontation between Roy, who knows this information will kill his burgeoning career, and Opal, who is frightened for her tribe's survival.

Based on a true story of an AmerInd tribe stopping just such an endeavor not five years ago, Sachs makes his intellectual points by embedding them in an emotional story of a man and woman in love -- or so Roy would have Opal believe. The personal grief these two come to will be reflected by everyone on earth, day-by-day, when the world heats up past a critical point, while the unenlightened world of supernatural beliefs hinders the salvation of homo sapiens.

Sachs does this through some remarkable writing of character- and plot- intersection. If Opal goes through with her threats of showing the prehistoric bones and teeth to her tribal elders, it will undoubtedly shut down the project, thus allowing millions of tons more of pollutants to be released into the atmosphere, instead of collecting and distributing solar energy, displacing oil, natural gas and coal pollutants.

What is so glorious about this show is the way author Sachs develops his fine balance of characters' needs: Roy wants to save humanity; Opal wants to save her tribe. Unequal needs cleverly unspooled in a fascinating display of talent and concern.

Director Cameron Watson has cast it splendidly as both actors bring their individual strengths to the proceedings on Jeffrey McLaughlin's minimalist set of desert sand and small semi-boulders. The audience surrounds the action (apparently a first for this well-respected company now in its 26th year, but doomed if Actors Equity Association does away with the powerful 99-seat-plan contract), which keeps it firmly in our face during its 80-minute, no-intermission run.

Tichnell and Frances pour out Roy and Opal's emotional and sexual needs, making their moments together electric and sorrowful. He has a secret which, even without the political and economic conflicts between them, would have destroyed their relationship, but the raw power of this great fight between Reason and Religion is what gives the play its muscle.

This is an important piece of theatre, a two-hander that never flags and should be seen or read by everyone interested in the future plight of humanity. Sachs, Watson, Tichnell and Frances has given us a thrilling evening of theatre, of strong intellectual and emotional clout. Do not miss it!

< italics>"Dream Catcher" plays through March 21 at the Fountain Theatre, 5060 Fountain Avenue, Los Angeles, 90029. For tickets and information, call 323-662-1525 or visit www.FountainTheatre.com.