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ARCHDUKE at the Mark Taper Forum

Photo by Craig Schwartz

Photo by Craig Schwartz

Erin Conley – OnStage

Most people know about the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, the event historically seen as the inciting incident of World War I. But what do we really know about the assassins? In Archduke, a new play by Rajiv Joseph currently making its world premiere at Center Theatre Group’s Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles, we look at the weeks leading up to the 1914 assassination and the unlikely path of a few young men who are recruited into terrorism at a particularly vulnerable time in their lives. Read more…

Deborah Klugman – LA Weekly

What drives a young person to commit an act of terror? Is he propelled by his own volition or are there other, more sinister individuals or forces pulling the strings?

Now running through June 4


ZOOT SUIT at the Mark Taper Forum


Photo by Craig Schwartz

Erin Conley – OnStage

It is not every day that a hat receives entrance applause at the theater. However, it is also not every day that Zoot Suit returns to Center Theatre Group’s Mark Taper Forum, the very theater that commissioned and hosted its world premiere in 1978. Read more…

Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

Luis Valdez, founder of El Teatro Campesino and writer/director of the 1978 play with music Zoot Suit, says in his program notes for the current revival at the Mark Taper Forum, “On opening night, when the character of El Pachuco, memorably played by Edward James Olmos, swaggered onto the Taper stage, Chicano theatre became American theatre.” Read more…

Frances Baum Nicholson – The Daily Breeze

The return of Luis Valdez’s groundbreaking musical “Zoot Suit” to the Mark Taper Forum is less of a theatrical milestone than it is a major cultural event.   Read more…

Pauline Adamek – ArtsBeatLA

Swinging social commentary abounds with the lively, if overlong Zoot Suit, a mostly upbeat revival now playing at the Mark Taper Forum. With swagger and flair, Demian Bichir haunts the stage as ‘El Pachuco’ – the play’s Zoot-suited narrator – singing and growling in a (sometimes) unintelligible yet authentic Pachuco idiom. Ann Closs-Farley’s costume creations deserve special mention for their vibrancy, as does Maria Torres for her superb choreography. Read more…

Now running through March 26


(© Stephen Cummiskey)

(© Stephen Cummiskey)

Jonas Schwartz – TheaterMania

Marie Mullen won the best actress Tony for the original Broadway production of  The Beauty Queen of Leenane as a tortured daughter. Now she has returned almost 20 years later to play the tormentor — her cruel, selfish mother.Read more…

Deborah Klugman – Stage Raw

In 1998, The Druid Theatre Company’s production of Martin McDonagh’s The Beauty Queen of Leenane won four Tonys, including the award for Best Direction to Garry Hynes (a first for a woman) and one for Best Featured Actress to Marie Mullen. As co-founders of Druid, Hynes and Mullen were the first to secure the rights to the play, premiering it in 1996 in County Galway, West Ireland, where the company is based, and where the story takes place. Read more…

Pauline Adamek  – ArtsBeatLA

The Beauty Queen of Leenane launched British-born (of Irish descent) playwright Martin McDonagh onto the theater scene in 1996. His first play is a black comedy is about a tempestuous mother-daughter relationship and is set in rural Ireland during the early 90s…….Read more…

Now running through December 18

MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM at the Mark Taper Forum

L-R: Jason Dirden, Glynn Turman, Damon Gupton, Keith David and Lillias White in August Wilson?s ?Ma Rainey?s Black Bottom,? directed by Phylicia Rashad, playing through October 16, 2016, at Center Theatre Group/Mark Taper Forum at the Los Angeles Music Center. For tickets and information, please visit or call (213) 628-2772. Contact: (213) 972-7376. Photo by Craig Schwartz.

Photo by Craig Schwartz.

Paul Birchall  – Stage Raw

At the Opening Night performance of director Phylicia Rashad’s powerful staging of playwright August Wilson’s modern classic Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, I found myself seated next to a gentleman who claimed to be one of the agents for one of the performers in the show. He promptly loosened his tie and shrugged off his blazer. “Better make myself comfortable,” he noted. “It’s kind of warm in here and Wilson doesn’t write short.” Read more…

Dany Margolies – The Daily Breeze

The late, greatly missed August Wilson wrote 10 plays for the 10 decades of the last century. Some of them come through Los Angeles often enough that we can compare productions, particularly because Mark Taper Forum and Fountain Theatre have a penchant for, and a talent for, Wilson’s works. Read more…

Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

Center Theatre Group’s vibrant production of August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom fills the Mark Taper Forum stage with powerhouse performances. Lillias White brings down the house with her rendition of the title song, but it is the four band members, played by Keith David, Glynn Turman, Damon Gupton, and Jason Dirden, who take center stage with electricity and chemistry. Read more…

Now running through October 16

THE MYSTERY OF LOVE AND SEX at the Mark Taper Forum

Photo by Craig Schwartz

Photo by Craig Schwartz

Lovell Estell III – Stage Raw

The sneaky, overworked phrase “friends with benefits” takes on new meaning in this watery comedy by Bathsheba Doran. Read more…

Dany Margolies – L.A. Daily News

Family has not changed since ancient times. Our perceptions of family have. Playwright Bathsheba Doran seems to celebrate this in her play “The Mystery of Love & Sex.” That’s the lovely part of this work. Read more…


Now running through March 10


THE CHRISTIANS at the Mark Taper Forum

Photo by Craig Schwartz

Photo by Craig Schwartz

Jenny Lower – Stage Raw

“I have a powerful urge to communicate with you, but I find the distance between us insurmountable.”

That refrain, repeated at various points throughout Lucas Hnath’s powerful, richly textured The Christians, could be the motto for any number of American ideological divides. Read more…

Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

Religion can be a great separator. Though it can bind people together, it can also create an us-vs.-them mentality. In The Christians playwright Lucas Hnath lights a charge in his audience by confronting head-on the dangers of absolute faith, particularly when that belief excludes others viewpoints. Read more…

Now running through January 10.

APPROPRIATE at the Mark Taper Forum


Photo by Craig Schwartz

Les Spindle –  Edge on the Net

In “Appropriate,” the initial conventionality in introducing the characters and basic storyline elicits raucous and sardonic laughs, as the depth of resentments among the siblings and their family members gradually come to light. Yet, there’s far more than garden-variety family baggage afoot here, Read more…

Pauline Adamek  – ArtsBeatLA

In Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ domestic drama Appropriate, three siblings squabble over an inheritance, piling on the recriminations. It’s well-trodden terrain for many playwrights and screenwriters; smoldering dysfunction tends to explode when there’s money at stake. So, some of the bickering and accusations feel all too familiar, a key plot point’s progression all too predictable… But Jacobs-Jenkins adds a layer of tension ….. Read more…

Terry Morgan  -  Stage Raw

Playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins made an impressive L.A. debut a few years back with the Matrix production of his play Neighbors. It was intense, funny, confrontational and it sought to make its audience uncomfortable in interesting ways. His latest L.A. production, the west coast premiere of Appropriate at the Mark Taper Forum, is a different sort of play. It still has moments intended to be shocking, but overall this is a tamer beast. em>Read more…

Now running through November 1.

BENT at the Mark Taper Forum

Photo by Ed Krieger

Photo by Ed Krieger

Jonas Schwartz -  Arts In LA

Bent, playwright Martin Sherman’s revelatory 1979 play about the gay experience in Nazi concentration camps, receives an arresting production at the Mark Taper Forum. Moisés Kaufman’s direction and his stellar cast will leave audiences breathless. Read more…

Jenny Lower – LA Weekly

It’s difficult and rare to come across stories that can illuminate the Holocaust in unfamiliar ways. Bentis such a play, and at the Mark Taper Forum it’s getting its first major revival since its 1979 Broadway debut. Read more…

Bob Verini  -   Stage Raw

Martin Sherman’s Bent is one of those plays whose revival isn’t just welcome but necessary. As much as popular culture, literature and scholarship keep revisiting the causes, crimes and legacy of the Nazi era, somehow or other it seems as if interest keeps drying up in the dismal story of Germany’s appalling treatment of homosexuals. Read more…

Les Spindle –  Frontiers L.A.

In this electrifying revival, Martin Sherman‘s brilliant, Tony-nominated 1979 drama, which originally starred Richard Gere, has lost none of its pertinence.

em>Read more…

Now running through August 23.

IMMEDIATE FAMILY at the Mark Taper Forum

Photo by Craig Schwartz

Photo by Craig Schwartz

Deborah Klugman – LA Weekly

Sometimes it’s OK to be predictable if what you have to say bears saying again.

Immediate Family, Paul Oakley Stovall’s first play now making its L.A. debut at the Mark Taper Forum, starts out as a high-spirited comedy, a kind of super-polished sitcom that centers on a group of African-American siblings who grew up in upscale Hyde Park outside Chicago.  Read more…

Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

It is not surprising that beloved TV mom Phylicia Rashad takes the helm of the new familial comedy Immediate Family at the Mark Taper Forum.  The former matriarch of The Cosby Show uses her eight years of living in a TV family to help her actors form credible performances as brothers and sisters who argue, laugh, and horseplay just like siblings who have spent much of their lives together, adding something very special to this average comedy.  Read more…

Bob Verini -   Arts In LA

If you didn’t know, going in, that the director of Immediate Family had a background in TV sitcoms, you’d get the hint in the first 10 minutes. The opening dialogue is that forced, the bickering banter that aggressive, the pace that frantic. Read more…

Now running through June 7.

THE PRICE at the Mark Taper Forum

Photo by Craig Schwartz

Photo by Craig Schwartz

Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

A revival of Arthur Miller’s 1967 The Price, in which a room full of furniture triggers a catharsis between a frustrated man, his wife, and his estranged brother, is now running at the Mark Taper Forum. Old wounds are pulled open and family trauma is finally able to mend in this stirring play, directed by Garry Hynes.   Read more…

Now running through March 22.

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.


MARJORIE PRIME at the Mark Taper Forum

Bob Verini -   Arts In LA

On the heels of Spike Jonze’s award-winning film Her comes another whimsical, futuristic, seriocomic speculation about artificial intelligence’s commercial and emotional potential.

This one is Jordan Harrison’s world premiere play at the Taper, titled Marjorie Prime, and concededly it lacks the heft of Jonze’s celebrated Oscar winner, not to mention its unforgettable strain of steamy sexuality.

Photo by Craig Schwartz

Read more

Myron Meisel – The Hollywood Reporter

Death takes a holiday from onstage depiction in Marjorie Prime, the new play by Jordan Harrison, a writer on Orange is The New Black. The same goes for grief and loss, though the drama is suffused with a piquant sense of all of them. Instead, the deceased appear only in the form of a computer program. Its aim is to provide solace by projecting the departed’s physical presence, based on detailed input from the bereaved. Read more…

Pauline Adamek  - ArtsBeatLA

A terrible play, and depressing as well, playwright Jordan Harrison’s Marjorie Prime is set in a not-too-distant future and imagines a world where sophisticated robots have been fashioned as human companions.  Read more…

Dany Margolies – The Daily News

Center Theatre Group’s “Marjorie Prime” doesn’t teach its audiences anything new, but it raises profound questions. Its manner of storytelling is captivating and seemed to touch many who were listening. Read more…


Now running through October 19.