An Undivided Heart

Critics

LemonMeter

73 %

Reviews: 13

Audience

LemonMeter

Reviews: 0

Echo Theater Company and Circle X Theatre Co. join forces to present Yusuf Toropov's new play that is part thriller and part spiritual mystery. How far will powerful men and institutions go to keep their secrets — and who pays the price when they do? Set in 1992 Massachusetts against the backdrop of the Catholic Church sexual abuse scandal and a toxic drinking water scandal (the latter made famous by the book and film "A Civil Action”), An Undivided Heart is part thriller and part spiritual mystery. A series of otherworldly visions and an unlikely encounter with a Zen priest propel Father Mike Cleary into a collision course with his Archdiocese, while Lynne Callahan, a young widow, struggles to make sense of her life in a town whose water has been polluted with deadly chemicals. The two confront a universal problem: How do victims of suffering caused by others find a way to go on? March 16 through Oct. April 22: Fridays at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 8 p.m., Sundays at 4 p.m., Mondays at 8 p.m.;; Atwater Village Theatre, 3269 Casitas Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90039; $20-$34; 310-307-3753; www.EchoTheaterCompany.com.

Reviews

Avatar

Part of the pleasure of seeing "An Undivided Heart" in an intimate theater in Los Angeles is knowing this is theater that doesn't exist in other cities...Is "An Undivided Heart" a perfect production?  No, it isn't and that's part of what makes it so important.

sweet - Anthony Byrnes - KCRW - ...read full review


Avatar

...by focusing on the offbeat and knotty intelligence in the writing, and by taking the plot twists in stride, director Chris Fields and the cast do manage to smooth over this rough terrain, making the odd characters ultimately appealing and conjuring an air of suspense.

sweet-sour - Margaret Gray - LA Times - ...read full review


Michael Van Duzer

If this sounds ambitious for a two-hour play with an intermission, it is. And An Undivided Heart, despite some sharply-written scenes and the playwright's inarguable passion, feels so schematic and overstuffed that it only sporadically finds an effective dramatic focus.

sweet-sour - Michael Van Duzer - ShowMag - ...read full review


Erin Conley

While I was on board with nearly all of the more unbelievable moments, the final scene was a bridge too far for me, toeing over the line between poignancy and heavy-handedness. Overall, An Undivided Heart is a smart, complex, emotional exploration of human trauma, responsibility, and spirituality that remains engaging throughout.

sweet - Erin Conley - On Stage and Screen - ...read full review


Avatar

In the age of moral relativity, this play knows how to speak to its audience. Regardless of religious background, "An Undivided Heart" has what it takes to shake audiences to their core for generations to come.

sweet - Sam Cavalcanti - USC Annenberg Media - ...read full review


Avatar

Director Chris Fields gets strong work from the ensemble, but the dream sequences seem underpowered compared to the rest of the show. Playwright Toropov has a sure hand with drama — his confession sequence in the second act is riveting — and a gift for comedy revealed in a clever “fill in the blanks” scene about how to compose a sermon. His thematic concerns are interesting, but they are ultimately resolved in a standard dramatic fashion that feels a bit disappointing considering the intriguing setup.

sweet-sour - Terry Morgan - Stage Raw - ...read full review


Avatar

As in any good mystery, Toropov torques his plot with just enough well-paced clues to keep the audience pleasantly off-balance while preserving the story's capacity to surprise in spite of the obvious inevitability of Mike's eventual decision. Much of the credit goes to director Chris Fields, whose fluidly cinematic production nimbly counters the material's melodramatic tug with subtle visual humor and witty performances to leaven Toropov's often heady plunge into New Age-y Zen philosophy.

sweet - Bill Raden - LA Weekly - ...read full review


Avatar

This is a show that entertains and entertains well by demanding of your deep and sometimes unpleasant thought.

sweet - Ron Irvin - LA Post Examiner - ...read full review


Eric A Gordon

The dialogue is crisp and telling, laden with layers of past experiences—although at the upper reaches of the Church hierarchy there is little character development as such. The author connects his differently suffering characters in all the expected, and in many unexpected ways. Even some of their dreams are shared. He shows the value in interfaith conversation. Several of his characters will eventually (beyond the scope of this play) fall in public disgrace, but a few others will be lifted, having weathered the crises and become more empathic and human. Now, I'm not a play doctor, but sometimes I get to play one in the pages of People's World. The actors' execution of Toropov's engaging script is nearly flawless, and that alone is a strong draw to see this play. But the premise of the script itself promises more than it fulfills. Not that every piece of theatre needs to come wrapped in a pretty bow to be considered complete, but the audience for this piece is entitled to more. In a world premiere production for a play that may—and should—have legs, now is the time to work out the kinks. For example....

sweet-sour - Eric A Gordon - ...read full review


Steven Stanley

Pedophile Catholic priests and toxic waste-dumping chemical plants form the backdrop of Yusuf Toropov's An Undivided Heart, a Circle X. Theatre Co./Echo Theater Company World Premiere that despite occasional tonal inconsistency and lack of clarity proves a powerful indictment of church-and-corporation-sanctioned abuse.

sweet - Steven Stanley - Stage Scene LA - ...read full review


Deborah Klugman

....while the production is handsomely staged, its ambitious narrative is diminished by dangling threads, one major improbable setup near the end and too many bits of opaque dialogue.

sweet-sour - Deborah Klugman - StageRaw - ...read full review


Travis Michael Holder - Ticket Holders LA

What could be a fascinating journey is instead a confused and uneven mishmash, further exacerbated by Yusuf Toporov's indulgent and not-too subtle preaching about religion and the differences between the conflicts of Catholicism and the serenity of Buddhism. Even if meant to be the overlying point here, it would be easier to take if Toropov didn't insist on tackling the issue as though offering a preliminary starter course in Zen 101.

sour - Travis Michael Holder - TicketHolders LA - ...read full review


Gil Kaan

The world premiere of playwright Yusuf Toropov's AN UNDIVIDED HEART receives a stunning mounting by The Echo Theater Company and Circle X Theatre Co. Director Chris Fields sure-handedly guides his talented cast through the involving story of a passionate young priest striving to do the right thing. In this case, publish an exposé on the pedophilia prevalent in the Catholic church.

sweet - Gil Kaan - BroadwayWorld.com - ...read full review


Avatar

Part of the pleasure of seeing "An Undivided Heart" in an intimate theater in Los Angeles is knowing this is theater that doesn't exist in other cities...Is "An Undivided Heart" a perfect production?  No, it isn't and that's part of what makes it so important.

sweet - Anthony Byrnes - KCRW - ...read full review


Avatar

...by focusing on the offbeat and knotty intelligence in the writing, and by taking the plot twists in stride, director Chris Fields and the cast do manage to smooth over this rough terrain, making the odd characters ultimately appealing and conjuring an air of suspense.

sweet-sour - Margaret Gray - LA Times - ...read full review


Michael Van Duzer

If this sounds ambitious for a two-hour play with an intermission, it is. And An Undivided Heart, despite some sharply-written scenes and the playwright's inarguable passion, feels so schematic and overstuffed that it only sporadically finds an effective dramatic focus.

sweet-sour - Michael Van Duzer - ShowMag - ...read full review


Erin Conley

While I was on board with nearly all of the more unbelievable moments, the final scene was a bridge too far for me, toeing over the line between poignancy and heavy-handedness. Overall, An Undivided Heart is a smart, complex, emotional exploration of human trauma, responsibility, and spirituality that remains engaging throughout.

sweet - Erin Conley - On Stage and Screen - ...read full review


Avatar

In the age of moral relativity, this play knows how to speak to its audience. Regardless of religious background, "An Undivided Heart" has what it takes to shake audiences to their core for generations to come.

sweet - Sam Cavalcanti - USC Annenberg Media - ...read full review


Avatar

Director Chris Fields gets strong work from the ensemble, but the dream sequences seem underpowered compared to the rest of the show. Playwright Toropov has a sure hand with drama — his confession sequence in the second act is riveting — and a gift for comedy revealed in a clever “fill in the blanks” scene about how to compose a sermon. His thematic concerns are interesting, but they are ultimately resolved in a standard dramatic fashion that feels a bit disappointing considering the intriguing setup.

sweet-sour - Terry Morgan - Stage Raw - ...read full review


Avatar

As in any good mystery, Toropov torques his plot with just enough well-paced clues to keep the audience pleasantly off-balance while preserving the story's capacity to surprise in spite of the obvious inevitability of Mike's eventual decision. Much of the credit goes to director Chris Fields, whose fluidly cinematic production nimbly counters the material's melodramatic tug with subtle visual humor and witty performances to leaven Toropov's often heady plunge into New Age-y Zen philosophy.

sweet - Bill Raden - LA Weekly - ...read full review


Avatar

This is a show that entertains and entertains well by demanding of your deep and sometimes unpleasant thought.

sweet - Ron Irvin - LA Post Examiner - ...read full review


Eric A Gordon

The dialogue is crisp and telling, laden with layers of past experiences—although at the upper reaches of the Church hierarchy there is little character development as such. The author connects his differently suffering characters in all the expected, and in many unexpected ways. Even some of their dreams are shared. He shows the value in interfaith conversation. Several of his characters will eventually (beyond the scope of this play) fall in public disgrace, but a few others will be lifted, having weathered the crises and become more empathic and human. Now, I'm not a play doctor, but sometimes I get to play one in the pages of People's World. The actors' execution of Toropov's engaging script is nearly flawless, and that alone is a strong draw to see this play. But the premise of the script itself promises more than it fulfills. Not that every piece of theatre needs to come wrapped in a pretty bow to be considered complete, but the audience for this piece is entitled to more. In a world premiere production for a play that may—and should—have legs, now is the time to work out the kinks. For example....

sweet-sour - Eric A Gordon - ...read full review


Steven Stanley

Pedophile Catholic priests and toxic waste-dumping chemical plants form the backdrop of Yusuf Toropov's An Undivided Heart, a Circle X. Theatre Co./Echo Theater Company World Premiere that despite occasional tonal inconsistency and lack of clarity proves a powerful indictment of church-and-corporation-sanctioned abuse.

sweet - Steven Stanley - Stage Scene LA - ...read full review


Deborah Klugman

....while the production is handsomely staged, its ambitious narrative is diminished by dangling threads, one major improbable setup near the end and too many bits of opaque dialogue.

sweet-sour - Deborah Klugman - StageRaw - ...read full review


Travis Michael Holder - Ticket Holders LA

What could be a fascinating journey is instead a confused and uneven mishmash, further exacerbated by Yusuf Toporov's indulgent and not-too subtle preaching about religion and the differences between the conflicts of Catholicism and the serenity of Buddhism. Even if meant to be the overlying point here, it would be easier to take if Toropov didn't insist on tackling the issue as though offering a preliminary starter course in Zen 101.

sour - Travis Michael Holder - TicketHolders LA - ...read full review


Gil Kaan

The world premiere of playwright Yusuf Toropov's AN UNDIVIDED HEART receives a stunning mounting by The Echo Theater Company and Circle X Theatre Co. Director Chris Fields sure-handedly guides his talented cast through the involving story of a passionate young priest striving to do the right thing. In this case, publish an exposé on the pedophilia prevalent in the Catholic church.

sweet - Gil Kaan - BroadwayWorld.com - ...read full review