There are beguiling moments in A Permanent Image when, through sheer invention, director John Perrin Flynn’s seamless production almost succeeds in shaking off the sinking feeling of “been there, seen that” that plagues so much of Samuel D. Hunter’s 2011 fractured family tale.
Like the surreal, bookended video illusions created by projection designer Nicholas Santiago on David A. Mauer’s white, monotone living room set, in which actor Mark L. Taylor appears to deliver his lines folded against a couch like a talking sofa slipcover.
In between, however, Hunter’s drama of self-absorbed adult siblings (Tracie Lockwood, Ned Mochel) who return to their dysfunctional family’s small-town Idaho homestead to bury their working-class father (Taylor) while nursing old emotional wounds and trading recriminations is mostly a case of old wine in a new bottle.
Anne Gee Byrd delivers a bravura, show-owning performance as the plain-spoken, unsentimental and colorfully eccentric mother. But neither Byrd nor the play’s belatedly startling turn in Act 2 can relieve A Permanent Image’s grueling forced march through the overly familiar.
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Rogue Machine, 5041 W. Pico Blvd., Mid-Wilshire; through Aug. 10. (855) 585-5185, roguemachinetheatre.com.
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