Take Me With You at the Studio Theatre

I’ve always viewed LA as likely to be a scary place to live. It seems to embody some of the worst aspects of both Las Vegas and the Sunshine State. Take Me With You, the new outing from the critically acclaimed Starving Artists, focuses on two connecting moments in the lives of Gary and Bradley, as they struggle to breathe amidst the suffocating streets of the City of Angels.

Starving Artists are an award-winning Anglo-American theatre company with a strong reputation. Take Me With You first graced the stage in 2007, and has since been made into a short film. However, the new production has jettisoned the character of Nikolai (who is now merely referred to, but does not participate), transforming the play into a two-handed affair.

This allows Gary (Ross Bautsch) and Bradley (Mark Pinkosh) to have the stage to themselves. Alternating between the two performers, using clever lighting and an atmospheric soundtrack, the show takes you on an emotional rollercoaster. Clocking in at just over the hours mark, Jonathan Best’s direction hardly gives you time to pause for breath.

Bradley is stuck on the freeway, suddenly unable to move as he recounts the events leading him to this moment. Gary shares his life with us from the rooftop; their stories eventually abruptly colliding. As you’d expect in LA, Take Me With You mixes in a liberal amounts of spirituality and classic cinema into the rambling narrative, along with shaggy dog stories to tales of love. The exclusion of a third wheel adds a rather existential aspect to the production, along with a certain disconnection and emotional intensity.

Both leads are superb; their stories hold you on the edge of your seat. Simultaneously funny, emotional and smart, Take Me With You is another impressive string in the bow of this talented collective.