D(istillery) by ABC Project

A short, powerful piece about the human condition as told through metaphors of the distillation process.

Experienced: August 26, 2017
Location: Stark Spirits
Address: 1260 Lincoln Ave #1100, Pasadena, CA 91103
Price: $20.00
Audience Size: 6
Runtime: 25 minutes
More Information: ABC Project Site, ABC Project on Facebook, Annie Lesser on Twitter, Annie Lesser on Instagram

Never has a piece of theater hit me emotionally so quickly than D(istillery). I was either feeling unusually empathetic that night or it was the brilliant writing and acting. I’m banking on the latter. Annie Lesser’s ABC Project is still in its infancy stages with the letter D but, to date, each piece has had a completely different setting and unique tone.

D(istillery) is a short, powerful piece about the human condition as told through metaphors of the spirit distillation process. The simple version of how the show operates is a tour of the Stark Spirits distillery interspersed with the inner thoughts, conflicts, dreams, aspirations, and heartache of one (or many) people. How it actually plays out, and is revealed, is near impossible to describe as it will affect everyone differently.

The show takes place in a small area of the distillery and we are given some ground rules reiterating that the six of us in the audience are not to reply or talk to the actors. This works out for the best because there are some answers to questions that could possibly derail the beautiful flow of what Annie Lesser has laid out.

The show starts with us roaming in the distillery with music being played. At first I thought it was from a radio but as I looked around I realized it was being played live by a musician sitting at an electronic keyboard. A dynamic soundtrack accompanies the performance matching the pacing and tone throughout perfectly.

A girl comes out of the office door to greet us. She starts to tell us the origin of this distillery and it’s implied that this is her baby, her labor of love, but she is a bit apprehensive. It’s almost as if things aren’t going as well as she had hoped. Another girl comes out of the office and continues the monologue while offering a more personal side to the story. It immediately strikes me as two different voices for the same person. One voice of the outward persona attempting to hide the insecurities. The other voice is the private, inner thoughts, revealing the truth– not often told to strangers or even friends.

The show continues and a third person comes out and the three of them continue the tour. They speak of the distillation process slipping into life’s moments ranging from childhood memories of the stifling love of a mother to the rejection of a love lost.

I interpreted the show as starting with one particular person’s life (the owner of the distillery) and ending with many different lives as unique as each barrel described in the aging process.

I thoroughly enjoyed the tone, emotion, and delivery of the material and wouldn’t hesitate to check this one out again if I ever get the chance. It’s a relatively short piece but I can’t imagine anything else matching the unique setting so perfectly.