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Archive for Reviews

A WALK IN THE WOODS at Actors Co-op

Matthew Gilmore

Matthew Gilmore

Deborah Klugman – Stage Raw

According to Lee Blessing’s 1987 A Walk in the Woods, the world’s problems might be resolved if only individuals were able to ignore their myopic and belligerent governments and approach each other with humor, patience and respect.
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Now running through March 18

 

EDWARD ALBEE’S OCCUPANT at the Garry Marshall Theatre

Chelsea Sutton

Chelsea Sutton

Harker Jones – Edge on the Net

By all accounts, sculptor Louise Nevelson was a real character with a larger-than-life persona and an existence to match. She was ahead of her time in terms of feminism, sexual liberation and her take on art. Unfortunately, Edward Albee’s play chronicling her trajectory arrives in its West Coast premiere lifeless and passive.
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Now running through March 4

TWO-FISTED LOVE

Ed Krieger

Ed Krieger

Neal Weaver  – Stage Raw

I have to admit that I’m confused. I don’t know why playwright David Sessions calls his play Two Fisted Love, and labels it a dark comedy. The comedy is in short supply, and most of the love seems to be in the past tense, or essentially destructive.

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Now running through March 11

WATER BY THE SPOONFUL at the Mark Taper Forum

Craig Schwartz

Craig Schwartz

Katie Buenneke – Stage Raw

Though Quiara Alegría Hudes’ trio of plays is called the “Elliot trilogy,” Water by the Spoonful, isn’t really about Elliot.

The middle work in the triad, it’s a stark change from its predecessor, Elliot, A Soldier’s Fugue, currently playing at the Kirk Douglas in Culver City. Here, Elliot (Sean Caravajal) is no longer pivotal; instead, he’s a supporting character who takes a backseat to the members of a Narcotics Anonymous online support group.
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Now running through March 11

RAGTIME at the Candlelight Pavillion

RAGTIME

Frances Baum Nicholson – The Daily Breeze

By design or by accident, several local theater companies have offered seasons that include classic shows which address very, very current issues.

One such venue is the Candlelight Pavilion Dinner Theater where, and not for the first time in this last calendar year, they are producing something powerfully relevant while also being impressively entertaining.
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Now running through February 24

IRONBOUND at the Geffen Playhouse

Christ Whitaker

Chris Whitaker

Erin Conley – On Stage & Screen

At what point in life must you be willing to sacrifice happiness for survival? Ironbound, a play by Martyna Majok currently in its west coast premiere at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles, tells the story of Darja (Marin Ireland), a Polish immigrant struggling to build a life for herself in New Jersey.
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Terry Morgan  -  Stage Raw

In my experience, when a production is of mixed or bad quality, the acting is rarely to blame. Occasionally an ill-judged performance will mar a fine piece of writing, but it is much more common to watch a talented ensemble struggle with an undercooked play. So it is with Martyna Majok’s Ironbound….
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Dany Margolies – The Daily Breeze

We should empathize with Darja. She’s an immigrant struggling to wrap her mouth around English, both its syntax and pronunciation. She works two jobs, when they’re available. She constantly worries about her son, who needs a stay in rehab that she can’t afford, even if she could find him these days. Indeed, she can’t find any good man who will stay around and treasure her.
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Deborah Klugman – Capital & Main

In American theater, as in life, not all voices receive equal airtime — one reason why Martyna Majok’s pitch-black dramedy about a Polish-born factory worker-slash-cleaning lady is so poignant and arresting.
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Now running through March 4

THE IMPOSTER – New Guard Theatre Company at Atwater Village Theatre

Garrett Coffey

Garrett Coffey

Deborah Klugman – Stage Raw

This adaptation of Moliere’s Tartuffe abridges Richard Wilbur’s translation to a succinct 90 minutes and transforms a witty satire into a heated ballast-filled melodrama.
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Now running through February 28

 

 

SWEET VALLEY GROUNDLINGS at the Groundlings Theatre

Photo courtesy of The Groundlings

Photo courtesy of The Groundlings

Jenny Lower – Stage Raw

This latest outing from The Groundlings’ main company earns a respectable B. Directed by Kevin Kirkpatrick, the show at its best moments delivers the comedic goods, with writing that’s fresh, taut and clever, and performances of disciplined zaniness. In its weaker moments, ill-conceived sketches peter out or linger too long, leaving a whiff of self-indulgence.
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Now running through April 14

DESSA ROSE – The Chromolume Theatre at the Attic

James Esposito

James Esposito

Neal Weaver  – Stage Raw

This 2005 musical, here receiving its Los Angeles premiere, was written by Lynn Ahrens (book and lyrics) and Stephen Flaherty (music), based on the novel by Sherley Anne Williams. It’s set in the American South in 1847 and deals with two strong-minded, volatile women.
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Now running through February 25

ELLIOT: A SOLDIER’S FUGUE at the Kirk Douglas Theatre

Craig Schwartz

Craig Schwartz

Deborah Klugman – LA Weekly

The first play in a three-part trilogy, Elliot: A Soldier’s Fugue delves into the experience of war for three generations of soldiers in a Puerto Rican–American family. Written by Quiara Alegría Hudes (who wrote the book for Lin-Manuel Miranda’s In the Heights), it’s a lyrical exploration of the fear, bravado and bewilderment of lonely soldiers struggling to survive the dubious battles our country has waged over the last seven decades.
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Erin Conley – On Stage & Screen

“Fugue” is a musical term, defined as a piece in which a melody is introduced by one voice, mimicked by others, and continues on by interweaving those parts. Elliot, A Soldier’s Fugue, nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2007 and written by Quiara Alegría Hudes as the first installment in her Elliot Trilogy, opened this weekend at Center Theatre Group’s Kirk Douglas Theatre.
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Katie Buenneke – Stage Raw

For so long, stories about war have belonged to men. Traditionally, military tales have been about men and told by men. Elliot, A Soldier’s Fugue, now playing at the Kirk Douglas in Culver City, shifts these paradigms slightly.
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Frances Baum Nicholson –The Stage Struck Review

What happens when a young man joins the service as his father and grandfather before him did? Over the course of our national narrative, particularly over the last century, this has been a recognized, even celebrated legacy.
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Now running through February 25

THE BRICK: A ONE MAN MUSICAL at the Whitefire Theatre

The_Brick_4_James_F_Deanx550

Ellen Dostal – Broadway World

In Bill Berry’s solo show THE BRICK: A ONE MAN MUSICAL, Berry isn’t addressing the audience in a theater. He’s on a beach having a two-way conversation with his dead mother and we are the accidental eavesdroppers who witness their complicated relationship unfold piecemeal.
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SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE at South Coast Repertory

Paul David Story and Carmela Corbett in South Coast Repertory's 2018 production of SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE

Terry Morgan  -  Talkin’ Broadway

These days, films are regularly being converted into musicals, some which actually benefit from the change. It’s rarer to see a film made into a dramatic play, perhaps because of the belief that there’s less box office profit to be had.
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The 1998 period romantic comedy Shakespeare in Love was an upset winner of the Academy Award for Best Picture of the year, leaving Stephen Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan floundering on the beaches of Hollywood.

Now running through February 10