Wiley Naman Strasser gives a fierce star turn in Crowded Fire’s West Coast Premiere…[The] four-person ensemble…makes multiple roles into distinctly different people. Strasser, in particular, taps into a joyous, possessed energy that endows his performances, controlled and professional as they are, with a wild streak. At the end of the play, he delivers a monologue that’s as unhinged as he is.
In rehearsal for Our Town, Photo: Chesire Isaacs
A show stopper is Strasser’s performance as the affable physical therapist, Jerry. He is the only character who is not somewhat larger than life, which is quite perfect. His grounded approach ends up being the most powerful aspect in Mike’s life. He’s the deceptively wise every man who puts all the chaos in perspective, and he nails it.
Ascencio as Jamila bears much of the story’s weight, and she’s marvelous, as is Strasser as Jul. There’s humor and depth and passion in all the performances, making Mansour’s intimate family drama all the more personal, all the more powerful.
[Wong’s] work is well matched by Wiley Naman Strasser playing Kreon’s son (and Antigone’s fiance) Haemon. Their scene together, in which Haemon pleads with his father to reconsider the death sentence, is masterful.
Whether spewing the partially comprehensible jargon of a postmodern artist making a film about Mao, heckling an Orientalist play-within-a-play as a grade schooler, or wrestling his scene partner as if both were caged feral animals, actor Wiley Naman Strasser exudes commitment and passion. He plunges deep where other actors might take more measured steps, losing himself fully in a part in a way that looks personal and painful.