Theater Review: ‘Cheese’

Fiona Cheung and Meagan Truxal, feel a little more than animal magnetism during their performance at the Los Angeles Pierce College Theater in Woodland Hill, Calif., March 24, 2015. Photo: Lynn Levitt.
Fiona Cheung and Meagan Truxal, feel a little more than animal magnetism during their performance at the Los Angeles Pierce College Theater in Woodland Hill, Calif., March 24, 2015. Photo: Lynn Levitt.

One of the uses for cheese is normally on a hamburger, but for Playwright and Director Laurel Ollstein, she takes the meaning of cheese into a symbolic direction.

Pierce College’s Theater Department held  its debut performance of the play “Cheese,” which lived up to its description as a pungent comedy Mar. 27, 2015 at 8 p.m. in the Performing Arts Building.

Cheese had two acts and was published by Original Works Publishing in 2010.

The stage was intimate and was close enough for any of the eight cast members to touch the audience.

To match the theme of a 70s-style home, the props and setup was done perfectly. It was a living room with brown wooden walls, a small brown couch, and wooden shelves and gave off a “Brady Bunch”  vibe.

There were 10 props that stood out on the stage and served as a reminder to the most important theme of the play, cheese. Carefully placed on shelves and tables throughout the staged living room were yellows statues that were meant to represent sculptures made of cheese.

The name of the play had two meanings that tied into a physical and emotional aspect. The physical aspect was the fact that cheese sculptures were visually on stage and represented the odd obsession of one of the characters, Griffin, played by Vincent Cusimano.

The emotional aspect symbolized that if there are years of denial, lies, and secrecy then just like the food, cheese, it will start to smell and rot.

The character, Jesse, played by Trevor Alkazian, gave the audience the setup to his family and life only to start the play in a shocking manner with an obscene word which definitely was an attention grabber.

The rest of the dark comedy stayed consistent and had a highlighted comedic relief throughout the play by charismatic character, Mamie, played by Javierra Torres. Characters that played key roles in the suspenseful build up were, Cindy played by Elyse Hamilton, Billie played by Meagan Truxal, and Chris played by Fiona Cheung.

At the time of intermission the theme of the play continued with servers giving out cheese and crackers to the audience for a snack as they set up for the second act.

The music during intermission was even dedicated to cheese including a remix of Snoop Dogg’s “Drop it like it’s Hot” was then changed to “I like Cheese a lot”.

The second act brought things up to speed for the year of 1990 and allowed the character Jesse to insert himself in the scenes with the other actors as a teenage boy. At this time, all of the issues that were festering like rotted cheese and had to be confronted.

Ollstein was able to sit back and watch the cast act out her written work on stage. During the comedic parts of the play Ollstein would laugh along with the audience as if she’s watching it for the first time herself.

Cheese definitely pushed the envelope on topics that are considered uncomfortable to society. Death, homosexuality, murder, and deceit were all points brought up in the play but still kept a comedic flair which was impressive.

Cheese will continue to have performances until April 5, 2015.