FoolsFURY ‘Faulted’ shakes and stirs

We San Franciscans think of ourselves as a proudly separate entity from that amorphous behemoth down south, Los Angeles. But there is at least one thing we have in common: the lurking Big One.

FoolsFURY company member Angela Santillo’s “Faulted,” now world-premiering to mark the troupe’s 16th anniversary, sets her partly surreal drama in La-La Land, a vast expanse of freeways, mini-malls and such.

Faultlines, personified as earthquake gods, watch over the city, and not in a benign way.

The Big One (a dapper Michael Uy Kelly), San Andreas himself, is a powerful and malevolent spirit who speaks in poetic form and roams the valley and the basin as he prepares to strike, or “thrust.” “Los Angeles is mine!” he proclaims.

Three lesser, slacker-style faultline-gods in L.A. beachwear (eclectic costumes by Huy Kim Tran) perch on a sort of rocky Mt. Olympus (set by Noor Adabachi), apparently acquiring strength from hamburgers and milkshakes, although the one female of the trio (Joan Howard) struggles to control the men’s junk food habits.

Amid all this, Aurora (Deborah Eliezer), a New Agey empath who lives in a trailer park in the San Fernando Valley, is the subject of a scientific experiment: Cal Tech seismology grad student Mitch (a sober, nerdy Sam Bertken) is monitoring her vitals to try and find out how, and if, she actually predicts earthquakes.

Meanwhile, Mitch’s bitch-on-wheels girlfriend (Grace Ng) is interfering with his work in various ways that are meant to provide comic relief.

When Aurora senses that she will die in the next gigantic quake — which she foresees to arrive within days, down to the minute — and when an “inactive” earthquake spirit, Chatsworth (Gustavo Alonso, a goofball in blond dreadlocks), falls in love with her and determines to save her from San Andreas, things rise to a crescendo.

The problem is, the play has been unfolding at crescendo-level all along, partly due to the writing (exaggerated character types in constant and repetitive conflict), partly due to overacting (most of the interactions among the players are too big to feel real) and partly due to Evren Odcikin’s direction, which has the actors shouting and

careening around the small and cluttered stage too much of the time.

San Andreas’ quiet, focused power comes as a relief amid the chaos, as if his inhuman strength is meant to quell our confused, frenetic existence. But I’m not sure that’s what the playwright intended.

REVIEW

Faulted

Presented by foolsFURY

Where: Thick House, 695 18th St., SF

When: 8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays, 7 p.m. Sundays, closes Dec. 7

Tickets: $15 to $30

Contact: (800) 838-3006, www.foolsFURY.org

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