Dry Land at The Kirk Douglas Theatre: On Friendship and Abortion

Teagan Rose (front) and Connor Kelly-Eiding in The Echo Theater Company production of “Dry Land” at the Kirk Douglas Theatre. Photo: Craig Schwartz.

The third and last installment from the Center Theatre Group’s Block Party series showcasing L.A. area theatre companies, is the riveting Dry Land by the Echo Theater Company, written precociously by Ruby Rae Spiegel when she was only 21, and directed by Alan Dietze. The one-hour, forty-minutes show starts with two young girls in the locker room of a Florida high school, one delivering a round of increasingly vigorous punches into the belly of her encouraging friend, and it’s not long before we learn that this an attempt at inducing a miscarriage due to the lack of financial resources and familial support. From that point on, and through the touching and surprisingly humorous moments, we are gripped by the horrific considerations of a desperate girl left without guidance.

In a time when women’s rights and Planned Parenthood have come under attack, the play is not only timely, but also a vehement call to action to protect a woman’s right to choose. Teagan Rose channels a young Madonna while delivering a gut wrenching performance. Her infatuated best friend is played by the winsome, Connor Kelly-Eiding whose awkwardness and quirky sense of humor veil an aching infatuation and bring the much needed moments of comedic relief.  Except for the final, anticlimactic scene — where the girls ramble on about the Everglades, perhaps meant to show the girls have recovered from a particularly nightmarish episode — this is a tightly woven drama about friendship and hard choices, and is worthy of your attention.

Dry Land runs May 12 – 21 at the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City.

— Ghalib Dhalla.