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Archive for Hoyt Hilsman


Photo by Joost van den Broek

Photo by Joost van den Broek

Hoyt Hilsman  -  Huffington Post

Dutch performance group Hotel Modern, along with sound designer and composer Arthur Sauer, have created a fascinating, innovative and riveting miniature reenactment of World War I, using an imaginative mix of toy soldiers and tiny landscapes, along with a mélange of media and soundscape.Read more…


SWITZERLAND at the Geffen Playhouse


Photo by Michael Lamont

Bob Verini – Variety

Writers of crime fiction are rarely as brutal or twisted as the characters they create. But meet Patricia Highsmith (1921-1995), by general agreement a foul-mouthed misanthrope who spent decades detailing the psychotic narcissism lurking in humanity’s dark heart. Read more…

Hoyt Hilsman  -  Huffington Post

Crime novelist Patricia Highsmith was renowned for her intense psychological thrillers, particularly her series featuring the murderer Tom Ripley, but she was also known for her reclusive, abrasive and even hateful personality. Read more…

Myron Meisel – Stage Raw

If the unexamined life is not worth living, then for novelist Patricia Highsmith (Laura Linney, making her Los Angeles stage debut), detached dissector of amoral murder, the unimagined death may not be worth dying. This is suggested by Australian Joanna Murray-Smith’s new play Switzerland, an original commission by The Geffen Playhouse presented as a co-premiere with The Sydney Theatre Company. Read more…

Sharon Perlmutter  -  Talkin’ Broadway

There are some plays, like Small Engine Repair, in which the entertainment comes from truly not knowing what’s going to happen. If the plot is spoiled, the journey is much less fun. This causes something of a problem in telling you enough about the play for you to make an informed decision on whether you’ll enjoy it, while not telling you too much. Read more…

Now running through April 19.



Photo by Craig Schwartz

Sharon Perlmutter  -  Talkin’ Broadway

There are two things that doom A Noise Within’s production of The Threepenny Opera. The first is enunciation. The cast seems so concerned with keeping up their British accents throughout the proceedings, they don’t go a good job actually putting the dialogue and lyrics across. At intermission and after the show, the most common comment I overheard was that the audience could not make out the words that were being said. Read more…

Hoyt Hilsman  -  Huffington Post

A Noise Within, one of the nation’s premier classical repertory companies, has mounted an ambitious, if somewhat tame, revival of the Brecht/Weill classic. With a solid ensemble cast under the direction of Artistic Directors Geoff Elliot and Julia Rodriguez-Elliot, the company mounts a faithful and spirited rendition of the timeless Threepenny Opera. Read more…


WHAT THE BUTLER SAW at the Mark Taper Forum

Photo by Craig Schwartz

Photo by Craig Schwartz

Deborah Klugman – LA Weekly

If ever there were a writer dedicated to society’s subversion it was Joe Orton.  Orton despised the status quo and made it his mission to wreak havoc on its precepts as thoroughly and flamboyantly as possible. In What the Butler Saw, he went after authority figures, psychoanalysis, which he regarded as a predatory evil, and  the  hypocritical and repressed British attitude towards sex. Read more…

Hoyt Hilsman  -  Huffington Post


Photo by Craig Schwartz

British playwright Joe Orton, who rose from a working class background and a stint in prison to a short but prolific life as one of Britain’s most outstanding playwrights, never lived to see a production of his brilliant farce What the Butler Saw.  Read more…

Myron Meisel – Stage Raw

Joe Orton (Entertaining Mr. Sloane, Loot) was certainly a consequential force in the mid-century English language theater with his groundbreaking transgressions of social and sexual mores through his new breed of comedy of very bad manners. When murdered by his lover in 1967 at the age of 34, he had finished What the Butler Saw, generally regarded as his best work, although having never seen it performed, presumably it was not subject to the improving rewrites that would be a customary part of the process. em>Read more…


Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

Joe Orton’s What the Butler Saw has been shocking audiences since 1969. It deals openly with homosexuality, incest, insanity, and government incompetence — and contains male nudity. It takes the conventions of the genre and blows them up. While most farce is frivolous, Orton’s is subversive — not merely fast-paced, but anarchic. Morality standards have evolved since the play first opened, but as evidenced by the production at the Mark Taper Forum, this hilarious comedy has lost no steam. Read more…

Now running through December 21.


ZEALOT at South Coast Repertory

Photo by Debora Robinson

Photo by Debora Robinson

Myron Meisel – Stage Raw

Set entirely in the confines of the office of the British Consul in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, during the first day of the annual Hajj pilgrimage, Zealot, by the well-established and prolific Theresa Rebeck (Seminar, Mauritius, Bad Dates, Spike Heels), cannot avoid being a presumptuous play, satirizing and exposing obtuse Western perceptions that fig-leaf heedless and narrow interests while inevitably giving way to indulging in ironic Near East Orientalisms of its own. Read more…

Hoyt Hilsman  -  Huffington Post

Theresa Rebeck’s dramatic essay on the many layers of conflict in the Middle East – political, religious, cultural and diplomatic – is a deftly drawn piece of Shavian drama that satisfies on several levels. Read more…

Now running through November 16.

THE TRIP TO BOUNTIFUL at the Ahmanson Theatre


Photo by Craig Schwartz

Margaret Gray – LA Times

Michael Wilson’s revival of Horton Foote’s “The Trip to Bountiful,” which has just opened at the Ahmanson Theatre, premiered on Broadway in 2013 to a bounty of praise and nominations, especially for Cicely Tyson, who won the Tony Award for her portrayal of Mrs. Carrie Watts.

Originally written as a teleplay in 1953, “Trip” tells the story of an elderly woman’s return to her hometown of Bountiful, Texas. A trustworthy vehicle for star turns—by Lillian Gish and Geraldine Page, among others—it has been recast in this production with black characters.
Read more…

Hoyt Hilsman  -  Huffington Post

Horton Foote’s enchanting tale of an old woman’s single-minded quest to return to her childhood home gets a memorable production under the deft direction of Michael Wilson and featuring thrilling performances by Cicely Tyson, Vanessa Williams and Blair Underwood.If ever there were a work defined by its poignancy, it would be Horton Foote’s The Trip to Bountiful, the story of an elderly woman’s efforts to live out her last days at her beloved childhood home. Set in Texas in the 1950s, it’s one of those leisurely paced plays that pays homage to nostalgia and runs the risk of being ickily sentimental.

Read more..

Deborah Klugman – Stage Raw

If ever there were a work defined by its poignancy, it would be Horton Foote’s The Trip to Bountiful, the story of an elderly woman’s efforts to live out her last days at her beloved childhood home. Set in Texas in the 1950s, it’s one of those leisurely paced plays that pays homage to nostalgia and runs the risk of being ickily sentimental.

But that pitfall is dodged in the current, splendid production at the Ahmanson. Directed by Michael Wilson, it’s propelled by veteran artist Cicely Tyson as the runaway, Mrs. Carrie Watts, with Blair Underwood as her troubled son Ludie and a volcanic Vanessa Williams as her spiteful and shallow daughter-in-law, Jessie Mae. Read more…


Les Spindle –  Frontiers L.A.

Boasting a rich history dating back to a 1953 teleplay, Horton Foote’s deeply affecting family drama scored a career-capping milestone for Cicely Tyson in a 2013 Broadway revival, as she earned richly deserved Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle awards.
The Ahmanson’s first-class rendition stars the luminescent Tyson repeating her role of feisty elderly widow Carrie Watts alongside outstanding portrayals by Vanessa Williams, repeating her take on Carrie’s impatient daughter-in-law, and Blair Underwood as Carrie’s son. Determined to make one last pilgrimage to her home in rural Bountiful, the elderly woman flees from her Houston home, leading to a profoundly cathartic journey.
A first-rate supporting cast is led by Jurnee Smollett-Bell as a kind young woman who meets the runaway matriarch at a bus depot.Foote’s funny and heartrending classic remains fresh and vibrant, courtesy of Michael Wilson’s sensitive direction, sterling performances by all and a gorgeously evocative design effort.


Now running through Nov. 2.

COCK at Rogue Machine Theatre



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…

Neal. Weaver – Arts in LA

Mike Bartlett’s long one-act is a tale of uncertain sexual identity. It attempts to be both visceral and abstract. The central figure is John (Patrick Stafford), the only character who is given a name. He has been living for some time with his lover M (for Man?), played by Matthew Elkins. John claims to love M, but when a young woman, here called W (Rebecca Mozo), takes an erotic interest in him, he succumbs almost immediately to her blandishments, and they tumble into bed. Read more…

Hoyt Hilsman  -  Huffington Post

British playwright Mike Bartlett’s play (whose actual title is less family-friendly) about the ambivalence of love and sexuality, which won the Olivier Award in its 2010 production in London, has both the rewards and the shortcomings of a traditional “problem play.” Read more…

Now running through November 3.

BACKYARD at Atwater Village Theatre

Photo by Jeff Galter Photography

Deborah Klugman – LA Weekly

Backyard wrestling – the emulation of the aggressive antics of professional wrestlers by ordinary folk – serves as the point of departure for Mickey Birnbaum’s funny, frenzied, probing play, Backyard.   Read more…

Hoyt Hilsman  -  Huffington Post

Mickey Birnbaum, one of LA’s most gifted playwrights, returns with the stunningly brilliant and hilarious tale of teenage backyard wrestling in the wasteland of San Diego’s border suburbs. Birnbaum’s gift for dialogue and unsentimental character portrayal is on full display here, as he dissects with great humor and insight the lives of a family of lost souls. Read more…

Now running through July 13.



Photo by Michelle Day

Over the past couple of decades, Australia has produced a bumper crop of movie icons, from Mel Gibson and Nicole Kidman to Hugh Jackman and Cate Blanchett. But what most fans don’t realize is that many of these movie stars – and lots of other budding Aussie talent in Hollywood – cut their teeth in a booming theater scene in the land of Oz.

Read more…

A COFFIN IN EGYPT at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts


Photo by Lynn Lane

Hoyt Hilsman  -  Huffington Post

A Coffin in Egypt, a rarely produced 1980 play by Horton Foote would seem an unlikely subject for an opera, but in the hands of the marvelous Frederica von Stade and the talented composer and librettist team of Ricky Ian Gordon and Leonard Foglia, it becomes a tour de force. Set in rural Texas, the opera is essentially a 90-minute operatic monologue that tells the story of the star-crossed life and unhappy marriage of Myrtle Bledsoe , elegantly portrayed by von Stade.   Read more…

Bob Verini -   Arts In LA

The legendary (it says so on the lobby cards) mezzo Frederica von Stade reasserts her claim to being the greatest actor among contemporary opera stars in Ricky Ian Gordon’s chamber piece A Coffin in Egypt, in town for a too-limited run. Horton Foote’s 1998 virtual monodrama for grande dame is as fertile a source for dramatization as was Jean Cocteau’s The Human Voice, musicalized by Francis Poulenc, and has much the same impact.  Read more…

MAN IN A CASE at the Broad Stage

Photo by T. Charles Erickson

Photo by T. Charles Erickson

Hoyt Hilsman  -  Huffington Post

Even in this subdued and somber rendering of a pair of Chekhov stories, Mikhail Baryshnikov and his creative partners from the Big Dance Theater display a magical grace and style that transcends the bleakness of Chekhov’s tales. Big Dance Theater directors Annie-B Parson and Paul Lazar, who also adapted the Chekhov stories, fuse techniques from theater, dance, music and video into a mélange performance. Read more…

Deborah Klugman – LA Weekly

Man in a Case, a Big Dance Theatre production conceived and directed by Annie-B Parson and Paul Lazar and featuring former Russian dance super-star Mikhail Baryshnikov, dramatizes two of Anton Chekhov’s short stories, layering his narratives with videography, music and dance. The aim, presumably, is to deepen and expand the Chekhovian experience. But while the multimedia effects may be imaginative, in the end their chaotic sturm und drang creates distance and disinterest rather than the empathy the writer sought to create.  Read more…

Myron Meisel – The Hollywood Reporter

Experimental art of all kinds requires the will to fail, necessarily more often than not. Nevertheless, there is a lot of interesting and innovative experimental theater afoot, but the avant-garde is not immune to trends, nor even to its own alternative brands of conformity.  Read more…

Melinda Schupmann – Arts In LA

The works of Anton Chekhov, arguably one of the greatest writers of short fiction, have been twisted and bent into countless play productions, attempting either to capture the soul of the work or to find an inventive approach that speaks to theatrical craft. Baryshnikov Productions’ conception of the stories at Broad Stage appears to be trying to do both and have moderate success in the main. Read more…

Now running through May 10.

FIREMEN at Atwater Village Theatre


Photo by Jeff Galfer Photography

Bob Verini -   ArtsInLA

The Echo Theater Company has gone to some lengths to sidestep, in its pre-opening publicity, the subject matter of Tommy Smith’s remarkable new play titled Firemen. The world premiere drama is described as “a different kind of love story” that “explores an unthinkable love relationship,” though what proves unthinkable is discussing the work without giving away what’s at its heart: namely, the extended sexual intimacy between a 14-year-old middle schooler and his school’s main-office secretary.    Read more…

Margaret Gray – LA Times

Pyromaniacs, at ease: No firefighters actually appear in Tommy Smith’s new play “Firemen,” in a world premiere by the formerly nomadic Echo Theater Company in its new home, Atwater Village Theatre. There are a few references to an offstage character said to be a fireman, but otherwise the flames in this black comedy are all metaphorical. Read more…

Deborah Klugman – ArtsBeatLA

Firemen is one of those intense discomfiting plays that can have you squirming in your seat, wishing you’d opted to see something less painfully and graphically real. It’s also, despite the spot-on dialogue, drawn out: the individual scenes could be briefer and the story could be told more concisely.  Read more..

Hoyt Hilsman  -  The Huffington Post

Beginning with the trial and conviction of schoolteacher Mary Kay Letourneau for having an affair with an underage student, the national media have taken a predictably salacious view of affairs between female teachers and male students. But in his world premiere play, Firemen at the Echo Theater in Los Angeles, playwright Tommy Smith paints a more nuanced and penetrating portrait of the tragic dynamics of this illicit and illegal liaison. Read more…

Now running through March 16.