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ASTRO BOY AND THE GOD OF COMICS at Sacred Fools Theatre Company

Sacred Fools Theatre Company

Sacred Fools Theatre Company

Terry Morgan  -  Stage Raw

One of the beauties of Natsu Onoda Power’s play is that it’s just as enjoyable for neophytes to “manga” (Japanese comics) as it would be for cognoscenti. The main reason to see this new show at Sacred Fools, however, is the spectacular production. Jaime Robledo’s direction is brilliantly creative, pushing the technical capabilities of that theatre space about as far as they can go, resulting in a dazzling display. Read more…

Now running through July 25.

OFF THE KING’S ROAD at the Odyssey Theatre

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Photo by Ed Krieger

Dany Margolies  -  Arts In LA

An inspired supporting cast and a superb set salvage the heavily flawed script here. Neil Koenigsberg’s play is nobly modeled on the Bergman film Wild Strawberries, centering on an older man trying to come to grips with his regrets. But the writing is repetitious, it is on-the-nose, and it is predictable in a not-enjoyable way.

Deborah Klugman – Stage Raw

Sometimes a bad play can be redeemed with smart direction, or with charismatic performers who breathe life into an otherwise hackneyed script. And sometimes, as in Off the King’s Road, Neil Koenigsberg’s comedy directed by Amy Madigan at the Odyssey Theatre, the execution makes things worse.

Now running through August 2.

One-Person Shows Are Too Stuck in Reality. Sometimes They Should Make Things Up

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Steven Leigh Morris  – LA Weekly

A solo show’s a little show where people talk about their life,

“Like battling the bottle. Or slicing themselves with a knife,

“They tell their tale with wigs or props, with easels to communicate,

“Like being gay or being bi or being trans or being straight!

Read more…

PICNIC at Antaeus Theatre Company

Photo by Karianne Flaathen

Photo by Karianne Flaathen

Les Spindle –  Edge on the Net

In its shimmering revival of William Inge’s steamy 1953 classic, “Picnic,” the classics-focused Antaeus Theatre Company serves up a theatrical feast. Read more…

David C. Nichols – LA Times

The intimacy of small-town life and its stifling limitations permeate “Picnic,” which the thoughtfully representative staging at Antaeus Theater Company underscores without telegraphing. Read more…

Jenny Lower – Stage Raw

About 15 minutes into Picnic, William Inge’s 1953 play about desire and repression in a small Kansas town, Hal (Jason Dechert), a free-spirited drifter wearing no shirt and glistening with sweat, struts over to a disapproving neighbor and her two virginal daughters, and asks, “Is it all right if I light a fire?” em>Read more…

Now running through August 16.

MISERABLE WITH AN OCEAN VIEW at the Whitefire Theatre

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Les Spindle –  Frontiers L.A.

Howard Skora’s zany dark comedy, directed by Jim Fall, stars veteran actress Patty McCormack (who is well-remembered as an 11-year-old Oscar nominee, playing a murderous moppet in the classic 1956 thriller The Bad Seed). Read more…

Neal Weaver  – Stage Raw

Howard Skora’s black farce is constructed like a TV sitcom, but it’s snarkier, darker, gayer, zanier, more surreal, more outrageous — and certainly funnier — than most television fare. Read more…

Now running through July 18.

LES MISERABLES – Encore Entertainers at Warner Grand Theatre

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Photo by Myles Regan

Dany Margolies – The Daily Breeze

This sprawling epic about life, guilt, forgiveness, transformation, redemption, and the French revolution gets a skilled, moving, but scenically sparse production by Encore Entertainers. Read more…

THE HEIR APPARENT at International City Theatre, Long Beach Performing Arts Center

Photo by Susan Mapes

Photo by Susan Mapes

Margaret Gray – LA Times

Struggles over inheritance are always painful — unless, of course, they take place in a French farce, in which case they are endlessly prankish and ribald. Read more…

Myron Meisel – Stage Raw

David Ives’s“translaptation” of Jean-Francois Regnard’s 1708 farce The Heir Apparent (Le Legataire Universel), at International City Theatre, also involves a gathering to squabble over inheritance, only this time the corpse-to-be remains very much alive….Read more…

Now running through July 12.

OEDIPUS AT COLONUS at the Nate Holden Performing Arts Center

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Photo by Craig Schwartz

Deborah Klugman – LA Weekly

Sophocles was thought to be near 90 when he wrote Oedipus at Colonus, which tells of the iconic figure’s quest for redemption and a final resting place as his tortured life drew to a close. Read more…

David C. Nichols – LA Times

It’s fairly unusual for a 30-plus-year-old experimental theater piece to remain trenchant, affecting and exhilarating at the same time, but that’s the incisive case with “The Gospel at Colonus” at the Nate Holden Performing Arts Center. Read more…

Now running through July 17.

PRIVATE LIVES at the Little Fish Theatre

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Dany Margolies – The Daily Breeze

Appallingly feuding but passionately attracted couples are not new to the stage. Shakespeare drew them in The Taming of the Shrew and Much Ado About Nothing. Edward Albee penned them in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?. Read more…

Now running through July 17.

SMUDGE at the Hudson Theatres

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 Jenny Lower – Stage Raw

If Smudge is a horror story, it’s more the sort that lurks in the recesses of future parents’ brains than a Rosemary’s Baby — although Colby (Whitney Wellner), mother of the titular offspring, probably could have used some coping strategies from Mia Farrow. Read more…

HOW TO BE A ROCK CRITIC at the Kirk Douglas Theatre

Photo by Craig Schwartz

Photo by Craig Schwartz

David C. Nichols – LA Times

Talk amongst yourselves,” says a wild-eyed Lester Bangs as he hammers away at his typewriter, gesturing us into his unkempt apartment, Black Sabbath blaring from the turntable. “And nobody touch my records.”Read more…

Dany Margolies  -  Arts In LA

The lesson to be learned here is not how to be a rock critic but how to be a human being, experiencing instead of describing, taking action instead of observing. When the theatermakers are teaching this lesson, this piece is at its finest. When the theater-makers are trying to make theater, even they must still learn a few things. Read more…

Jon Magaril – Curtain Up

I raise my lighter way up for Erik Jensen’s kick-ass performance as Lester Bangs, trumpeted by many as the best rock critic of all time. His reviews and essays in the ’70s heyday of Rolling Stone, Creem, the Village Voice were fiercely opinionated (sometimes ecstatic, often vituperative), deeply personal, and enduringly influential. Following his example of popularizing the terms “heavy metal” and “punk rock,” I hereby dub the new play co-written by director Jessica Blank and Jensen a rock-u-docu-solo-show. Read more…

Myron Meisel – Stage Raw

….Bangs, with his uninhibited prose and rabidly personal take on pop music, remains the patron saint of rock critics, martyred at 33 by demons not unlike those of many musicians he idolized and in turn rejected for their inevitable failings. Read more…

 

 

Now running through June 28.

BAD JEWS at the Geffen Playhouse

Photo by Michael Lamont

Photo by Michael Lamont

 Jenny Lower – LA Weekly

Among the many contentious ideas explored during Bad Jews, Joshua Harmon’s delicious pressure cooker of a show now playing at the Geffen, is how a religious or cultural identity can become the sole bedrock upon which some people base their identity. Read more…

Myron Meisel – Stage Raw

I can remember the disapproving dismay clucking through suburban Newark, New Jersey, aroused by the satiric observations of the early Philip Roth, and could never have imagined myself partaking of the same chagrin as my parents felt in reaction to the Coen Brothers’ A Serious Man, which I thought was pretty dead-on from my own experience of that period. em>Read more…

Now running through July 19.