If you ever wondered about the term, in medias res, the first moments of Lee Blessing’s 2015 play, For the Loyal, is as good an example as any. A story that begins that way is without preamble, in the middle of the action, often, in the height of the action. At lights up at For the Loyal, now in production by Sixty-Six Theater Company at the Marilyn Monroe Theatre, Toby (Torrey Drake), is a highly agitated grad student at a major state university in the Midwest.
His wife, Mia (Hilty Bowen), blurts out, “What kind of crime?”
“A sex crime, like you know, with a kid,” says Toby.
“You can’t tell anybody!”
“No, Christ, no! I shouldn’t even be telling you…!”
Okay, let’s slow down and identify the characters. Toby is in the athletic program and due, upon graduation, to get a slot as a coach on the big-time school’s famed football program. Mia, a literature student, is heavy with child at about seven months. They live in student housing. Their futures are before them. The crime? Coach Mitch Carlson (Mark Youngs), a longtime, well regarded football guru at the university is revealed to Toby as a pedophile, when he drops by the coach’s house to deliver some tapes the coach needs to see. He hears some music in the garage , goes in and sees an open car door and a naked boy (Danny Martha). When the coach come into the garage with a couple of beers wearing his boxers and an erection, Toby drops the tapes and bolts.
The highly paid head coach, Tanner Hale (Eddie Alfano), after hearing this news, instructs Toby to go and not tell anybody. That, obviously, has flown out the window. To reveal any more of the action would do a disservice to the play and the audience. Suffice it to say that Mia opposes the don’t-tell instruction, not only because it is morally wrong, but because she harbors some long-time angst over the suicide of a teen-aged friend.
Under the direction of Paul Rush, Hilty Bowen as Mia is the moral center of the play and in that role, projects into the near and far future, interacting with each character multiple times. She carries the action of play and her character’s weight of passion and guilt.
Mark Youngs, as the pedophile coach, is appropriately slick, smarmy, and self-assured in what he is and does. Eddie Alfaro as the head coach, creates an energetic, hard-driving guy who cares most about the football team and his own career. Not a bad man, but an expedient one. As the action unfolds, Torrey Drake’s portrayal as the conflicted Toby evolves into a make-no-waves company man. Danny Martha as The Boy, delivers an affecting performance, though he is clearly older than the fifteen years called for in the script.
The production design by Elizabeth Smith is entirely appropriate with a wide-open stage covered in astroturf and the white parallel lines of a football field. Lighting designer Paul Timmel has a subtle plot for the action of the show and hangs five large scoop lights upstage calling to mind a football stadium. Sound is by Trevor Reece, and costumes by Kristina Veroslavova support character, place and action.
Sixty-Six Theater Company’s production of For the Loyal continues through December 14 at the Marilyn Monroe Theatre, 7936 Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood.