Never Ever Land

Critics

LemonMeter

58 %

Reviews: 6

Audience

LemonMeter

Reviews: 1

Theatre Unleashed presents Never Ever Land, the world premiere play by former child star and accomplished writer and director Rider Strong. Young Tim Gable’s family accused the world’s most famous singer of sex crimes in 1993. With the settlement, they walked away millionaires. Now, Tim is ready to tell the public the truth...but does he even know what that is? Helmed by acclaimed director Michael A. Shepperd and produced by Oscar-winner Andrew Carlberg, this bold, fictional new work offers a unique and deeply personal take on one of the most shocking lawsuits of all time and its lasting affects for one family in particular. It also takes a hard look at our celebrity culture in general, from all sides of the looking glass.

Reviews

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In the interest of full disclosure: I am friendly with the founders of Theatre Unleashed. That said, I don't know most of the people involved in Rider Strong's NEVEREVER LAND, and it's one of my favorite plays of the year -- dark, complicated, and heartbreaking. Director Michael Sheppard has cast the show beautifully, and he -- using Rider & Shiloh Strong's video projections -- has conjured up a plausible, humane, sharp-eyed riff on the Michael Jackson scandal, and two brothers whose lives were torn apart, first by the scandal and then by their overprotective/abusive father. Strong's got a perfect ear for the L.A., industry-adjascent, only slightly desperate dialogue, and he and the cast brilliantly manage two timelines 18 years apart. Andrew Brian Carter, as the possible victim's older brother Tim (2012) and Wade Wilson, as the older version of the maybe-victim Jacob, are standouts, as are the parents.

This is one of those complex but emotionally straightforward, smart plays that you won't regret seeing. Design elements are all superb. Highly recommended.

sweet - Greg Machlin


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A World Premiere is exciting. This one, perhaps with a respect for the hearing health of the cast and the audience with maybe a more realistic presentation of the material, as salacious as it might be, could be an idea for a slightly more subtle approach to an extremely rough subject.

sweet-sour - Michael Sheehan - On Stage Los Angeles - ...read full review


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Never Ever Land has all the elements of an intensely dramatic story but never narrows its focus: Its most crucial and dramatic events are only referred to in conversation. None of the characters as written are especially likable or redeeming and the story’s most important character is never seen or heard. The accused remains comfortably anonymous while the victims are forced to live with silent acceptance. The truth remains obscured by greed and blinded by the prospect of fame. There are no heroes and no justice — only victims of a selfish kind of love.

sour - Dana Martin - Stage Raw - ...read full review


Avatar

In their theatrical variation of the Three Card Monty scam entitled Never Ever Land on the stage of Theatre Unleashed, Playwright Rider Strong and Director Michael A. Shepperd have deployed all the needed dramatic elements – dynamic characters, absorbing mystery, family conflict, interpersonal deception, sex, money, fame, betrayal, more sex, star power, court room discord, suicide, cereal commercials and the romantic English poet Thomas Chatterton.

sweet - Ernest Kearney- The TVolution - ...read full review


Dan Berkowitz

In the end, who wins? Up to you to decide. Mr. Strong leaves us on an ambiguous note, which is probably the best way to end such a story. What’s real? What’s imaginary? Who’s innocent? Who’s guilty? And, in the final analysis, does any of it matter? The King is dead, his acolytes struggle, and show biz has moved on to idolize a new generation of “most famous” faces, some of whom will, no doubt, beget their own scandals in time to come.

"Never Ever Land" is good, nasty fun – who could ask for anything more?

sweet - Dan Berkowitz - The Los Angeles Post - ...read full review


Mike Reyes - Mike Check

Rider Strong's debut play Never Ever Land is a dark, at times disturbing narrative about one family's fallout with a notably tragic event. And its precise direction and impressive acting make this a meaningful and powerhouse production. ​

sweet - Mike Reyes - Mike Check - ...read full review


Rob Stevens

The cast does a decent job of inhabiting their characters; the problem being they are all extremely unlikable, even the kids. You won’t want to spend any time with them let alone the interminable two hours it takes for Strong to conclude his tale that finally ends without much of a resolution.

sour - Rob Stevens - Haines His Way - ...read full review


Avatar

A World Premiere is exciting. This one, perhaps with a respect for the hearing health of the cast and the audience with maybe a more realistic presentation of the material, as salacious as it might be, could be an idea for a slightly more subtle approach to an extremely rough subject.

sweet-sour - Michael Sheehan - On Stage Los Angeles - ...read full review


Avatar

Never Ever Land has all the elements of an intensely dramatic story but never narrows its focus: Its most crucial and dramatic events are only referred to in conversation. None of the characters as written are especially likable or redeeming and the story’s most important character is never seen or heard. The accused remains comfortably anonymous while the victims are forced to live with silent acceptance. The truth remains obscured by greed and blinded by the prospect of fame. There are no heroes and no justice — only victims of a selfish kind of love.

sour - Dana Martin - Stage Raw - ...read full review


Avatar

In their theatrical variation of the Three Card Monty scam entitled Never Ever Land on the stage of Theatre Unleashed, Playwright Rider Strong and Director Michael A. Shepperd have deployed all the needed dramatic elements – dynamic characters, absorbing mystery, family conflict, interpersonal deception, sex, money, fame, betrayal, more sex, star power, court room discord, suicide, cereal commercials and the romantic English poet Thomas Chatterton.

sweet - Ernest Kearney- The TVolution - ...read full review


Dan Berkowitz

In the end, who wins? Up to you to decide. Mr. Strong leaves us on an ambiguous note, which is probably the best way to end such a story. What’s real? What’s imaginary? Who’s innocent? Who’s guilty? And, in the final analysis, does any of it matter? The King is dead, his acolytes struggle, and show biz has moved on to idolize a new generation of “most famous” faces, some of whom will, no doubt, beget their own scandals in time to come.

"Never Ever Land" is good, nasty fun – who could ask for anything more?

sweet - Dan Berkowitz - The Los Angeles Post - ...read full review


Mike Reyes - Mike Check

Rider Strong's debut play Never Ever Land is a dark, at times disturbing narrative about one family's fallout with a notably tragic event. And its precise direction and impressive acting make this a meaningful and powerhouse production. ​

sweet - Mike Reyes - Mike Check - ...read full review


Rob Stevens

The cast does a decent job of inhabiting their characters; the problem being they are all extremely unlikable, even the kids. You won’t want to spend any time with them let alone the interminable two hours it takes for Strong to conclude his tale that finally ends without much of a resolution.

sour - Rob Stevens - Haines His Way - ...read full review


Avatar

In the interest of full disclosure: I am friendly with the founders of Theatre Unleashed. That said, I don't know most of the people involved in Rider Strong's NEVEREVER LAND, and it's one of my favorite plays of the year -- dark, complicated, and heartbreaking. Director Michael Sheppard has cast the show beautifully, and he -- using Rider & Shiloh Strong's video projections -- has conjured up a plausible, humane, sharp-eyed riff on the Michael Jackson scandal, and two brothers whose lives were torn apart, first by the scandal and then by their overprotective/abusive father. Strong's got a perfect ear for the L.A., industry-adjascent, only slightly desperate dialogue, and he and the cast brilliantly manage two timelines 18 years apart. Andrew Brian Carter, as the possible victim's older brother Tim (2012) and Wade Wilson, as the older version of the maybe-victim Jacob, are standouts, as are the parents.

This is one of those complex but emotionally straightforward, smart plays that you won't regret seeing. Design elements are all superb. Highly recommended.

sweet - Greg Machlin