Arts & Theater

L.A. Theater Review: BABY FOOT at Rogue Machine

Turns out there are bad seats in the house upstairs in the renovated Henry Murray Stage at Rogue Machine at the Matrix.  I struggled to see around corners during sections of BABY FOOT and often faced actors’ backs in the theater round. Directed to nearly every awkward corner, the play uses all available space to set the rec room scene.

Reviewed by Tracey Paleo, Gia On the Move

Nevertheless, Hope Lauren, Daniel Dorr, and John Perrin Flynn turned out a magnificent docent on drug use, truth, lies, and hard-knock consequences in Time Venable’s West Coast Premiere. By the end of it all, Katie Perry’s, “Chained to the Rhythm” was echoing in my head.

It’s Alexis’s (Lauren) last night in a rehab center and she’s 90 days clean. But it’s Blackie’s (Door) first at the facility and he’s looking to latch onto anyone that will get him through it.  Alexis could not be a better target.  She’s emotionally vulnerable and anxious about her re-entrance into life on the outside.  Plus, she’s “hot”. For Blackie, it’s a sweet score.

Blackie is an unrelenting, classic manipulator. Wily, a bit gritty, and subversive, his junkie behavior drives every bit of the impulsiveness they both eventually engage in.  And Lauren cannot help herself but fall straight into his charms.  Though she tries – aggressively – to combat his advances.  But her will deteriorates as quickly as the night progresses.

Alexis and Blackie dance to the distortion of seductive addiction in Venable’s “Long Day’s Journey” rehab intersection. And, right from the start, it’s clear from the moment Blackie shows up that Alexis’s bubble of hope for a sober future is going to burst.  How violently, isn’t even a question.  Venable doesn’t present the possibility of many outcomes other than failure for both of them in this scenario.  You could say that the setup comes at the very beginning of the play.

Fred (Flynn), a rehab graduate-turned-30-year facility janitor, acts as a sort of foil to Alexis as a mentor and friend. In the opening scene, he guides and affirms Alexis in her journey.  He is also giving her a gentle warning couched in his words. Fred’s stationary, “Watcher”-like dialogs and entrances inject a quiet but queasy comic tragedy.  He’s seen this same storyline hundreds of times.  Fred is the statistically, almost impossible success to the predictable conclusion here. And Flynn plays this role to perfection.

Dorr is epic in the role of Blackie. Everything about his nuanced character work from speaking inflection to body language is so real that you’d almost say, “experience”. Lauren as Alexis is all painful action and reaction to Blackie’s corrosive jabs. Theirs is a delicious but sad tête à tête.

In BABY FOOT, playwright Tim Venable tracks the very short lifespan of attempted addiction recovery. But doesn’t give us or his characters much hope for a brighter future.  Even though Alexis and Blackie can temporarily believe in the lie that things will get better, it’s obvious, the cycle will go on and on and on 🎶.


Rogue Machine Presents the West Coast Premiere of:


Written and Directed by Tim Venable

Featuring: Hope Lauren, Daniel Dorr & John Perrin Flynn

Production Design by Joe McClean and Dane Bowman

Sound Design by Leanna Keyes

Sound Consultation by Chris Moscatiello

Produced by John Perrin Flynn and Guillermo Cienfuegos

Stage Manager is Rachel Ann Manheimer

Photo by Jeff Lorch

Rogue Machine, in the Matrix Theatre, is located at 7657 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90046. Reservations: or for more information 855-585-5185.

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