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LA TRAVIATA at the Dorothy Chandler Pavillion

LA Opera - LA Traviata Final Dress Photo by Craig T. Mathew/Mathew Imaging

Pauline Adamek  – Stage Raw

LA Opera has launched its new season by bringing back their 2006 staging of La Traviata. Director and designer Marta Domingo’s chic concept reimagines and transposes Giuseppe Verdi’s timeless romance to the decadent Roaring 20s. The spare, almost minimal, sets are buoyed by dazzling flapper-style gowns, wreaths of diamonds and stylish tuxedos to convey the giddy, glitzy world of 1920s Paris, where a naïve young man falls head over heels for a glamorous party girl. Read more…

Now running through Sept. 28.

HAPPY DAYS at Boston Court

Photo by Ed Krieger

Photo by Ed Krieger

Steven Leigh Morris  – LA Weekly

Playwrights under 40 write mainly about love and politics, or so the adage goes; playwrights over 40 write mainly about death.

By the time Samuel Beckett’s Happy Days premiered in 1961, the great Irish bard was 55, which should make its subject fairly easy to guess. Originally a poet and novelist, Beckett didn’t write his first play until he was 42. Who could blame the visionary surrealist for his preoccupation with The End?  Read more…

Neal Weaver  – Stage Raw

In the midst of a desolate landscape, a huge mound of parched earth rises, occupied only by a few rocks, scraggly clumps of dead grass, and a woman, Winnie (Brooke Adams), who’s buried up to her chest in the earth. She’s slumped forward in an attitude of unconsciousness or despair. A deafening alarm bell brings her slowly to wakefulness. She surveys her surroundings, smiles, and exclaims, “Another lovely day!”  Read more…

 Myron Meisel – The Hollywood Reporter

In perhaps the most singular, iconic image of all mid-century Theater of the Absurd, Winnie in Happy Days awakens buried “up to her titties” in a mound of sandy dirt. By Act II, she has sunk deeper into the earth, up to her chin. Yet Winnie faces each morning with a nearly indomitable optimism that somewhere in her circumscribed existence she will find enough quotidian detail or recollected reverie to will herself to another “happy day.” Read more…

Now running through October 12.

99 HISTORIES at the Lounge Theatre

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Photo by Michael C. Palma

 Deborah Klugman – Stage Raw

Jeong, a Korean concept not easily translatable to English, is an integral theme in playwright Julia Cho’s potentially absorbing family drama.

As explained by Sah-Jin (Sharon Omi), a widowed immigrant from Korea, to her desperately troubled daughter Eunice (Julia Cho, not the playwright), it’s an intimacy that transcends love or hate: a feeling of closeness with another person whom you may not even like, but whose absence creates an unfillable vacuum in one‘s life.  Read more…

Now running through September 28.

 

 

 

 

 

COCK at Rogue Machine Theatre

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Les Spindle –  Edge on the Net

Also known as “Cockfight Play,” a perhaps less threatening title preferred in some media outlets, Mike Bartlett’s Olivier Award winning British play, “Cock,” makes its L.A. debut in a taut and terrific staging. Read more…

Margaret Gray – LA Times

“We’re just going around in circles,” a character accurately observes in British playwright Mike Bartlett’s “Cockfight Play,” having its L.A. premiere at Rogue Machine Theatre. (The actual title, unprintable here, is two syllables shorter. Read more…

Steven Leigh Morris  – LA Weekly

English playwright Mike Bartlett’s Cock premiered at London’s Royal Court Theatre when he was 29. Even now, he’s only in his mid-30s. His tautly written play is also a love story, but one that has little to do with The End. Read more…

Now running through November 3.

ROAR at Rockwell Table and Stage

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Photo by Aimee Curameng

 

Bob Verini -   Arts In LA

It’s been 43 years since Helen Reddy rocked the charts with her announcement “I am woman, hear me roar,” the foremost pop anthem echoing the feminist revolution of the 1970s. Divas have continued to warble messages of female empowerment—in numbers too big to ignore—well into this century, and many of them have been collated into the Rockwell Stage’s “semi-musical” play titled, of all things, Roar. Read more...

Now running through Sept. 27.

ANIMALS OUT OF PAPER at the David Henry Hwang Theater

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David C. Nichols – LA Times

The delicate art of origami provides both metaphor and motor for “Animals Out of Paper” at the David Henry Hwang Theater, and it enfolds the viewer with deceptive simplicity and considerable craft. Read more…  

ap Pauline Adamek  – ArtsBeatLA

The paths of three loner characters intersect in Rajiv Joseph’s Animals Out of Paper, a bittersweet dramedy now being presented by East West Players in their Little Tokyo theater in Downtown LA.

Still recovering from a recent break-up, world-renowned origami artist Ilana Andrews (Tess Lina) is a cranky shut-in, holed up in her studio. She’s none too friendly to a surprise visitor Andy (CS Lee), the extra cheerful Treasurer of the Origami Association who’s keen on tracking her down.  Read more…

Dany Margolies  -  Arts In LA

Rajiv Joseph has built Animals Out of Paper with metaphors about human longing for connection. The result is a gentle but unpersuasive play.  Read more…

Now running through Oct. 5.

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RACE at the Kirk Douglas Theatre

Photo by Craig Schwartz

Steven Leigh Morris  – LA Weekly

David Mamet’s play Race, about a rich, white guy seeking a law firm to defend him from accusations of raping a black woman, ought to feel ripped from the headlines — even though it premiered on Broadway nearly five years ago. Read more…

Melinda Schupmann – Showmag

A David Mamet play is always cerebral, generally provocative, and often leads one to debate issues raised in the storyline at the conclusion of the production. Moreover, its craftsmanship is to be admired. Read more…

Pauline Adamek  – ArtsBeatLA

A slight plot is merely a framework for David Mamet’s talky and sordid play Race. A partnership comprised of a paralegal assistant and two lawyers — one black, one white — discuss a case they reluctantly agree to defend whereby a wealthy white man has been accused of raping a black woman. Read more…

Myron Meisel – The Hollywood Reporter

In David Mamet’s Race, two veteran criminal lawyers, the white Jack Lawson (Chris Bauer of True Blood and The Wire) and the black Henry Brown (Dominic Hoffman), banter and badger in the playwright’s patented patois. They show professional perspicacity about a legal process predicated not on justice, but on trial by combat between competing self-interests and prejudices.   Read more…

Now running through Sept. 28.

THE TEMPEST at South Coast Repertory

Photo by Smith Center/Geri Codey

Photo by Smith Center/Geri Codey

Terry Morgan  -  Stage Raw

The current production of The Tempest at South Coast Repertory is the best version of the play I’ve ever seen.

It does something seemingly obvious, yet not so obvious that I’ve seen it before: It focuses on the magic. This isn’t to say that it skimps on vengeance, forgiveness or young love, but director/adaptors Aaron Posner and Teller bring the magic to the forefront, and it’s dazzling.  Read more… 

Myron Meisel – The Hollywood Reporter

There are no less than five productions of The Tempest this late summer in Southern California, a testament perhaps to the durable appeal of the play’s autumnal vision, all promising fresh variations — including no less than two female Prosperos. So perhaps tricking out the play’s fantastical manipulations of the elements and minds of men with stage prestidigitation (masterminded by celebrity co-director and adapter Teller) may not be such an outre innovation. Read more…

Now running through Sept. 27.

THE WESTERN UNSCRIPTED at the Falcon Theatre

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Photo by Jill Mamey

Deborah Klugman – Stage Raw

Improvising a new play every night is Impro Theatre’s hallmark promise, whether they’re parodying  Chekhov, Shakespeare, Jane Austen or, in the case of their latest production at the Falcon Theatre, the American Western genre. Read more…

Now running through October 5.

WOMEN at Theater Asylum

Photo by Adam Carver

Photo by Adam Carver

Pauline Adamek  – Stage Raw

One of the hits of this summer’s Hollywood Fringe Festival is back at Theater Asylum.

For her hilarious play Women, playwright Chiara Atik has re-imagined the stripped down plot of  thebeloved roman à clef Little Women as viewed through the lens of the popular HBO TV series Girls. Read more…

Now running through Oct. 25.

EQUIVOCATION at Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum

Photo by Ian Flanders

Photo by Ian Flanders

Margaret Gray – LA Times

It may sit uneasily with our notion of Shakespeare to imagine him tackling the hot-button issues of his era like a Jacobean David Mamet.

But Bill Cain’s “Equivocation” at Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum takes a scholarly theory — that “Macbeth” is a coded chronicle of the Gunpowder Plot of 1605 — and runs with it all over the stage in a joyful meta-theatrical romp. Read more…

Dany Margolies  -  Arts In LA

Bill Cain’s Equivocation posits Shakespeare in crisis. Not surprisingly, the bard behaves much as his characters do when facing their great questions. Cain’s character, named Shag, cogitates: To write or not to write. That, plus sly commentary on creativity and politics, witty reflections on Shakespeare’s canon, and a universal point about parental love, thoroughly fill the two-and-a-half hours of this delicious play. Read more…

Now running through Oct. 4.

PERSIANS at the Getty Villa

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Photo by Craig Schwartz

Dany Margolies  -  Arts In LA

The weighty ideas expressed in this piece have retained their potency from nearly 2,500 years ago. The skills and vibrancy of the actors here are flawless. Had the two elements meshed, this would be a perfect production. Read more…

Bob Verini  -   Stage Raw

Reviewing the 2011 Getty Villa production of Euripides’ Trojan Women, staged by Anne Bogart with her New York-based SITI Company, I called it “essential viewing for anyone interested in the conversation between timeless texts and modern theatrical practice,” expressing my conviction that Bogart and co. had “unearthed the vital, immediate drama within.” All of the above applies in equal measure to their current Getty attraction, Aeschylus’s Persians.   Read more…

Myron Meisel – The Hollywood Reporter

Essentially the ancient-world equivalent of a story torn from the headlines, Persians recounts how overwhelmingly outnumbered Greek ships defeated the invading fleet of Xerxes’ navy at the Battle of Salamis in 480 B.C.E., an event fresh in the minds of the Athenian audiences at the festival of Dionysos a scant eight years later. Read more…

Now running through Sept. 27.