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Archive for August 2012

The Para Abnormals, Zombie Joe’s Underground Theatre

Photo by Zombie Joe.


The Para Abnormals by Thomas J. Misuraca.


Pauline Adamek – LA Weekly

A trio of paranormal investigators has several close encounters with menacing spirits in The Para Abnormals, Thomas J. Misuraca’s comedy thriller now playing at Zombie Joe’s Underground Theatre in NoHo. Just the opening moments of this little low-budget supernatural chiller manages to offer far more effective shivers and scares than a recent staging of The Exorcist over at the Geffen.   Read more…




The Elephant Room, Center Theatre Group

Photo by Scott Suchman / Arena Stage


The Elephant Room created by Trey Lyford, Geoff Sobelle and Steve Cuiffo.


Pauline Adamek – ArtsBeatLA

A creepy trio of lounge lizard magicians, sporting pedophile moustaches, cheesy outfits, hideous wigs and (in one case) false buck teeth, are the “protagonists” of a spoofy “play” called The Elephant Room, now playing at the Kirk Douglas Theater in Culver City. But it’s not really a play at all. Instead it’s an ill-focused, poorly developed and chaotic assemblage of mildly amusing nonsense featuring a handful of extraordinary magic tricks outweighed by far too many gags, pratfalls and lame conjuring stunts that fail to impress. Think Spinal Tap for magicians… Yes, it’s clearly a send-up of the more tacky elements of the world of magic, but when you can actually SEE one of the magicians (Louie Magic) diving in and out of the voluminous pockets and secret compartments of his coat, that is what is known as prestidigitation FAIL.   Read more…


Bob Verini - Variety

What hath “Pee-wee’s Playhouse” wrought? The creators of “Elephant Room” may not have been directly inspired by Paul Reubens’ campy childhood takeoff, but the magic show now at the Kirk Douglas is cut from the same lightly smarmy, semi-surrealist, so-clunky-we’re-cool cloth. What Pee-wee pulls off, the Elephants muff: The framework of “Room” is incoherent and distasteful (beneath a wholesome veneer), and the performers spectacularly overestimate their personal appeal.  Read more…



The Blue Iris, Fountain Theatre

Photo by Ed Krieger.


The Blue Iris by Athol Fugard.


David C. Nichols - Backstage

In The Blue Iris, prolific South African playwright Athol Fugard treads delicately yet resolutely through the landscape of the heart. In doing so, the venerable 80-year-old dramatist cannot help clutching at ours, as this riveting U.S. premiere demonstrates.  Read more…


Sharon Perlmutter -

It’s hard to know exactly what to make of The Blue Iris, Athol Fugard’s latest play to have its U.S. premiere at the Fountain. It’s a small, intimate piece—much more about people than South Africa. To be sure, the play’s setting, the semi-desert of the Karoo, is the play’s catalyst, if not its actual antagonist. But the play features only South Africa as an inhospitable climate, not South Africa as a sociopolitical entity. It is a household who lives here—or, more accurately, lived here—that is the focus of The Blue Iris.   Read more…


Bob Verini - Variety

Athol Fugard’s “The Blue Iris” is deceptively simple: A desert farmhouse, just destroyed by lightning, is picked over for its treasures and memories. But secrets lurk in the ashes, too, and in just over an hour the South African master takes us on a journey of loss with the potential to move anyone who’s ever sifted through his or her life and feared what would be dug up. This little gem gets an exemplary American premiere mounting from helmer Stephen Sachs at Fugard’s self-described artistic home out west, Hollywood’s Fountain.  Read more…


Terry Morgan -

One mixed blessing about being successful is that people can no longer tell you what to do, and if they try, it’s easy to ignore them. On the one hand, pure artistic freedom is a wonderful thing, but on the other hand, sometimes people need editors and sometimes plays need rewrites. I have no way of knowing what Athol Fugard’s artistic process is these days, but his latest work, The Blue Iris, (currently in its U.S. premiere in a solid production at the Fountain Theatre) is intermittently compelling but ultimately seems undercooked.   Read more…



The Return to Morality, The Production Company at Lex Theatre

Caption: Christy Keller and Kevin Weisman.


The Return to Morality by Jamie Pachino.


Dany Margolies – ArtsinLA

Playwright Jamie Pachino twists our knickers for us while we watch a college professor­–turned–bestselling author foist and get foisted. Said author’s new book, intended as satire in its propagandizing of militant far-right ideas, becomes the flashpoint that incites the people it satirizes to commit destruction and murder. Too ludicrous for theater? Have you seen the news headlines lately? And, of course, a play about a satire begs for outrageous caricatures of ourselves: the media, politicos, and academics. Read more…




The Grönholm Method, Baby Tiger Productions at the Falcon Theatre

Photo by Chelsea Sutton.


The Gronholm Method by Jordi Galcerán Ferrer. Translation by Anne Garcia-Romero and Mark St. Germain.


Sharon Perlmutter -

I was surprised to learn that The Grönholm Method was originally written in 2003; I would have guessed it came out of the “Greed is Good” late 1980s. Indeed, whenever this tale of a job interview from hell mentions Occupy Wall Street or any other recent event, the reference jumps out as awkward and out of place. The program tells us the action takes place in “the present,” but I just can’t believe that any corporation, in the context of a global recession, would put in the time and effort necessary to conduct the complex investigation into its job candidates’ personal and professional histories necessary to pull off this type of psychoanalytical pressure cooker of an interview.  Read more…


Bob Verini - Variety

Theaters hoping for another God of Carnage – another smart European four-hander Americanized for maximum comic impact – will find their grail in Jordi Galceran Ferrer’s The Grönholm Method, an absolutely smashing satire of corporate gamesmanship which (especially these days) hits audiences right where they live: in their livelihood. Although this riveting piece is going to have a long, long life, local auds might as well get in on the ground floor with BT McNicholl’s beautifully staged U.S. premiere at Burbank’s Falcon.  Read more…


Pauline Adamek – ArtsBeatLA

I’ve been struggling to find a tasteful way to describe Jordi Galcerán Ferrer’s fine play that is currently running at the Falcon Theatre in Toluca Lake, but I can’t seem to come up with a better term than ‘mind-fuck.’  Read more…




Red, Donmar Warehouse at Mark Taper Forum

Photo by Craig Schwartz.


Red by John Logan.


Pauline Adamek – ArtsBeatLA

It’s refreshing to experience a play about ideas, and not simply character or story. John Logan’s incendiary play Red is a two-character bio-drama about abstract expressionist fine artist Mark Rothko in conversation with his young assistant.  Read more…


Dany Margolies – ArtsinLA

No question, Alfred Molina is otherworldly brilliant here, playing mid-century American painter Mark Rothko as potently leonine….  And for that reason, this production should be seen. John Logan’s script is not as clearly mandatory viewing.  Read more…




Mary Poppins, CTG

Production photo by Deen Van Meer.


Mary Poppins — Music and lyrics by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman, book by Julian Fellowes.


Pauline Adamek – ArtsBeatLA

The beloved tale of the efficient Victorian nanny Mary Poppins is back at the Ahmanson Theatre for a four-week run. With its magnificent staging, gorgeous costumes and sets and complicated song and dance numbers, the Tony-award nominated musical is pure magic and a show every child should experience.  Read more…



Heartbreak House, Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum

Photo by Miriam Geer.


Heartbreak House by George Bernard Shaw.


David C. Nichols — Back Stage

After opening with a revisionist ’60s Measure for Measure that entertainingly served the Bard, the forces at Theatricum Botanicum take on Heartbreak House and serve George Bernard Shaw even better. Shaw’s deathless 1917 allegory about British socioeconomic factions heedless of the impending world war enjoys a wonderful revival, Chekhovian in tone, Shavian in attack.  Read more…



Hearts Like Fists, Theatre of NOTE

Photo by Mandi Moss.


Hearts Like Fists by Adam Szymkowicz.


Pauline Adamek – ArtsBeatLA

A chop-socky cartoon on stage, Hearts Like Fists, written by Adam Szymkowicz, is an action-packed adventure romance set in the surreal world of female crime-fighting superheroes. Nurses by day, skilled warriors by night, a band of ferocious and feisty femmes battle the dastardly and elusive Dr. X and his deadly war against romance.  Read more…



All My Sons, Dreamhouse Theater


Pauline Adamek – LA Weekly

Oft staged, Arthur Miller’s 1947 tragedy is a modern American classic for good reason; its powerful message endures. On the surface All My Sons is a slice of post WWII small town family life. Beneath that homespun layer lurk cold-hearted monsters.  Read more…

Memphis, Pantages Theatre

Production photo by Paul Kolnik.


Memphis by David Bryan (music and lyrics) and Joe DiPietro (lyrics and book).


Pauline Adamek – ArtsBeatLA

Kicking off with a frenetic pace that never lets up, Memphis is a high energy, original musical about the explosion of black musical artists into the mainstream during the late 1950s.  Read more…


Bob Verini – Variety

The sleek, stylish Memphis exemplifies the Broadway show tour done very right indeed. Having assembled a first-rate cast, original helmer Christopher Ashley and original choreographer Sergio Trujillo skillfully bring out the musical and thematic strengths of the surprise 2010 Tony winner while rendering its weaknesses mostly negligible. With no dollar visibly unspent, this fable of rock ‘n’ roll’s birth serves up plenty of melody and heart along with enough energy to light up its titular city.  Read more…



Mutually Assured Destruction, Odyssey Theatre

Production photo by Ed Krieger.


Mutually Assured Destruction by Peter Lefcourt.


Pauline Adamek – ArtsBeatLA

It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what is wrong with this play and production. The acting is good. The staging is fluid. The storyline is amusing. The French farce underpinnings give the show some energy. The central conceit is clever and well developed… So why doesn’t this play work and why was I not having a good time? Read more…