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ART BEAT: Jim Beck's 'Bleach' debuts at the Lionheart Theatre on Feb. 10

"Trying to control life is folly," Playwright Jim Beck said. "You'll save yourself a lot of time, effort and energy if you embrace reality instead of denying the truth. And, you'll make far less of a fool of yourself in the process."

Beck's philosophy constitutes the main theme behind his play "Bleach" which will premiere at Lionheart Theatre in Norcross. The play tells the story of an exterminator who tries bizarre methods to clean up his untidy life.

"Bleach" is about Rick, a character with a long history in Beck's imagination. And although there are plenty of bugs in the Atlanta area, the inspiration for Rick began much farther north.

"While I lived in Chicago, I worked with a group of playwrights called B.U.M.S., and we all wrote something for production. The theme was 'extermination,' and my main character, Rick, came from that piece of writing. I loved it so much that I have kept developing the character and then other characters in the play," Beck said.

Rick, an exterminator, knows that his life is spinning out of control. Instead of dealing with reality, he swats at it as you might swat at a bug.

"Rick is an example of how ridiculous we can act at times in our life," Beck said. "Certainly, in the play he is pushed to comedic extremes, but the truth still comes through. He is fun to laugh at, and hopefully, in the end, to feel for as you might feel for a slightly odd friend."

The play is directed by Tanya Caldwell. Lionheart regulars perform the parts: Jason Caldwell is Rick; Bob Smith is his boss Larry. Some new faces are also a part of the play. Jessica McGuire as Susan, Kaiesha Bolden as Celia, and Stacy C. King as Cathy finish out the cast as three different women whose lives are all impacted by Rick.

These characters create a community which witnesses Rick's troubles, but this community also helps him pull himself back out of his own "dirty" existence.

Another important aspect of "Bleach" is that playwright Beck is also the founder of Norcross' Onion Man Productions, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to produce new plays, foster playwriting, and offer classes in playwriting, acting, directing and screenwriting. The annual festival in June is called the "Summer Harvest." Classes are held just across the street from the Lionheart Theatre at 33 College St. in Norcross.The play opens on Feb. 10 and runs through Feb. 19 on weekends. Friday and Saturday night shows begin at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday matinees are at 2 p.m. Tickets are $15 for adults and $12 for students and seniors. As a bonus, dessert will be included with the admission price. Reservations, highly recommended, are available by visiting the website at www.lionhearttheatre.org.For more information about "Bleach" and about Lionheart theatre, visit the website at www.lionhearttheatre.org. For more information about Onion Man Productions, visit www.onionmanproductions.com.

Holley Calmes is a freelance writer and public relations consultant specializing in the arts. Email her at hcalmes@mindspring.com.