La Brea Living
Bill W. and Dr. Bob Speaks To Addicts in Us All
In Los Angeles, meeting places for Alcoholics Anonymous are ubiquitous. And when there is a lot of anything, its value is often diminished. There are rampant jokes about how AA meetings are the place for the Hollywood elite and wannabes to meet and make deals. But, cynicism aside, AA is undeniably an organization that has saved and nourished countless numbers of lives.
The 68 Cent Crew Theatre Company won’t let you forget that fact with their moving production of “Bill W. and Dr. Bob” directed by Ronnie Marmo, and written by Samuel Shem and Janet Surrey. The audience gets an engaging historical tour about the inception of AA by introducing the two founders, Bill and Bob, who met fortuitously in June of 1935. Both self-admitted drunks, they confide their stories to each other, desperate to find an ear that understand the reality of their addiction. Supporting one subsequent sobriety inspires and idea: if they could share what they learned with others, their own at bay. So begins the development of the famous “12 step”. While the guys are partnering up, their wives do the same. Hence, Al-Anon is formed, an organization for the families and friends of alcoholics.
Art LaFleur, as Dr. Bob, commands the stage with a grounded, human performance. As Bill W., Charles Hoyes clearly conveys the torture of severing himself from the drink. It was refreshing to see men relating to each other on stage in a frank and tender way. This play is about the challenges of starting a worldwide movement one day and one person at a time. But more meaningfully, it is about starting a movement in the self-the hardest and potentially most rewarding struggle of all.