‘Cages’ at the Stella Adler Theatre

Prison life is never a walk in the park. Knowing that your freedom of movement or choice is truncated can have a deleterious effect on a lot of people.  Some have the ability to rationalize it but for those less fortunate it can go to extreme lengths, even committing suicide in some cases.

Attending a performance of ‘Cages’, currently being offered at the Stella Adler inHollywood, certainly brings to the fore this feeling.  It’s a grating experience when you view a number of prisoners brought out to a room and inserted into a cage while they are being examined by a psychologist.  This particular psychologist has a checkered past and knows this is his last chance to redeem himself.

He also knows he is butting heads against a system that has little tolerance for those he is examining, especially a sadistic guard who stands in his way at every turn and a woman in charge of the unit who also gives him very little leeway, being very much part and parcel of this same system.

One cannot help but think also of another dramatic piece, ‘Short Eyes’ which also provided the same harrowing experience for those in the audience who were subject to a similar inside look at prison life that few of those on the outside know exists.

All those involved on stage in ‘Cages’ do their turn quite adequately.  John Nielsen as the psychologist, Matt Kirkwood doing his interpretation as the guard and Arlene Santana filling the role as the woman supervisor all bring to life this biting and non compromising experience.

In addition, all the prisoners involved, especially William Stanford Davis and Jemal McNeil bring to life the tortured and frustrated aspects of someone who finds himself caught in this situation.

One possible complaint is the acoustics of the room leave much to be desired.  When you have a production of this sort, it becomes irritating to have the raw sound drilling a hole into your system.

But Leonard Manzella, with his experience in dealing with the justice system, hits the right notes in writing this drama.  In addition, Jon Lawrence Rivera brings the right elements together to where it all makes sense.

This weekend will be your last chance to take in this thoughtful production.

Friday and Saturday at 8 PM and Sunday at 2 PM.       (800.838.3006)


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