An Oak Tree

On the simplest storytelling level, actor-performer Tim Crouch’s play is the tale of a hypnotist falling apart at the seams, who after accidentally striking and killing a young girl with his car, one day finds the victim’s father on his stage. Wrenching stuff. But on a conceptual level, the event takes this very emotional saga and uses it as a kind of Ping-Pong ball to bat around the idea of suspension of disbelief — realities that we create through suggestion. In order to accomplish this, for each performance he employs a different actor, whom he meets less than one hour before the performance, and who reads the role of the father from a script. And so, through a frame of hypnotism that’s just one of the play’s many artifices, begins a breathtaking examination of the blurred line between what is real and what is suggested, of how we live in dream worlds in order to get by, and how theater itself is a kind of hypnosis that serves this very same purpose. Its brilliance is unfettered, and inexplicably moving, for being such a head trip. Odyssey Theater, 2055 Sepulveda Blvd., W.L.A.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; through February 14. (310) 477-2055.
Wednesdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m.; Sun., Jan. 31, 7 p.m.; Saturdays, 2 p.m. Starts: Jan. 6. Continues through Feb. 13, 2010