The play Disconnection by Allen Barton has been held over at the Beverly Hills Playhouse until March 29. If you’re in Los Angeles and haven’t already seen Disconnection, I highly recommend the play.
I have seen the play twice and, in my opinion, no one has ever captured the emotional devastation and intrinsic violence of Scientology in the way Allen Barton and company have done. Barton brings the Scientology experience into a very sharp existential focus. He is able to do so because he lived the experience.
A former member of the Church of Scientology, the play is based upon Barton’s relationship with acclaimed pianist and fellow Scientologist Mario Feninger.
Disconnection offers great insight into the power the Church of Scientology holds over the everyday lives of its members. This power ranges from the very petty to the extremely vindictive. The net effect is that the Church of Scientology consistently destroys the lives of its members. Barton uses his characters to show very concrete reasons why so many people have left the Church of Scientology and spoken out.
L. Ron Hubbard makes an appearance in the form of a character named Oldman. Played brilliantly by Robert L. Hughes, Oldman delivers a monologue that is truly a marvel. Hughes’ Hubbard is complex, vulnerable, self-serving, and disturbing. Barton humanizes Hubbard in an extraordinarily nuanced way that could only happen in live theater.
The play includes the Chairman. Played by Everette Wallin, the Chairman is the embodiment of David Miscavige as the strutting, sadistic, vainglorious narcissist. Wallin infuses the Chairman with power and magnetism while also showing just how completely lost his character is in the brutal ivory tower of Scientology at the very top.
The ferocious irony embedded into the fabric of the entire play is that everyone in the Church of Scientology, from founder L. Ron Hubbard down, ultimately becomes a victim of disconnection from both self and other.
Disconnection conveys the pervasive and painful psychological captivity of the Scientology experience. As I have written elsewhere, the “end phenomenon” of Scientology is this: Nothing left of a person.