BY LISA KALANDJIAN
There is a rare and creative force in Glendale, periodically appearing on stage and big screen with productions that always and without fail push the bar, and challenge the status quo. We affectionately know this enigma as Vahik ‘Vic’ Pirhamzei, the writing, directing, producing, and acting genius behind such gems as Honest Liars, Experienced Liars, We Don’t Need A Psychiatrist, My Uncle Rafael stage plays and movie, and Guardian Angel movie, currently in post-production. So it was with great anticipation that I attended the premier performance of Pirhamzei’s latest stage play Unusual Heroes. What followed was 90+ minutes of hilarity, touching moments, fascinating storyline, and a fair smattering of drama.
Unusual Heroes takes place in an upscale Glendale beauty salon where the owner, Scarlett, (Anahid Avenessian), her receptionist Lilly (Narine Avakian) and her feuding friends, Paula (Helen Kalognomos) and Luiza (Paola Kassabian) become the hostages of Heros (Vahik Pirhamzei), after he flees from a crime scene with Glendale PD in hot pursuit.
The plot unfolds as the four glamorous hostages attempt to ascertain if Heros is perpetrator or victim in the heinous crime, clouded by the fact that Heros suffers from Aspergers, Dysemia, and a mild case of OCD which add to the confusion. In the process his brutal honesty and various eccentricities force the ladies to not just place Heros under their collective microscope, but themselves and their own delightfully complicated lives and relationships.
Throughout the performance, scenes are punctuated with on-screen news bulletins as the local media give their own take on events. The use of multimedia as an integral part of the play works brilliantly and adds an additional dimension of entertainment to the production.
The performances by all the actors are convincing. Avakian shines as Lilly, the young receptionist, who will stop at nothing to keep her romance with an older man intact. Avenessian is captivating as Scarlett, the salon owner, looking like she just stepped off the set of Desperate Housewives, she pulls off a complicated mix of superficial and insightful to give this character real color, and as always appears completely comfortable and natural in her role. Pirhamzei’s portrayal of Heros is both entertaining and heart wrenching, delivered with his usual charismatic energy and top notch comedic- timing. Kalognomos as Paula the young lawyer, delivers a polished performance and Kassabian‘s take on Luiza the spoiled, rich housewife is spot-on.
It’s rare to find a single production that delivers so much entertainment value. Clearly a great deal of work and energy has gone into every aspect of the play, from the construction of the “beauty salon” set, to the multimedia aspects, and of course the individual performances of the actors.
One more performance of Unusual Heroes is planned for June 22nd at Beyond the Stars Palace in Glendale.
My advice? Don’t miss it! Click here for more info and to purchase your tickets or call 818 265-0506