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Archive for MARK TAPER FORUM – Page 2

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

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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.

BUYER AND CELLAR at the Mark Taper Forum

Photo by Joan MarcuLes Spindle – Edge on the Net

Les Spindle – Edge on the Net

Michael Urie proves to be a virtuoso clown, a consummate actor, and a force of nature, all rolled into one, in his tour de force solo turn in Jonathan Tolins ‘ irresistible showbiz comedy, “Buyer & Cellar.” Read more…

Pauline Adamek  – Stage Raw

Sweet and snarky, with a few cheap shots and a lot of belly laughs, Buyer & Cellar is a hilarious one-person show about a struggling actor’s brief period of working for a major celebrity. Read more…

Myron Meisel – The Hollywood Reporter

Fresh off an acclaimed New York run where it won multiple awards for best solo show and performance, Jonathan Tolins’ snarky yet sneakily sentimental Buyer & Cellar, starring Emmy nominee Michael Urie (Marc St. James in the long-running series Ugly Betty), represents some kind of ne plus ultra of a mainstream gay one-hander. Read more…
Now running through August 17.


Photo by Joan Marcus

Les Spindle –  Frontiers L.A.

Michael Urie, beloved for his smartly nuanced portrayal of Marc St. James, the conniving assistant to diva magazine editor Wilhelmina (Vanessa Williams) in the hit sitcom Ugly Betty, is bringing his latest career breakthrough vehicle to L.A. this month. There’s a heaping helping of Barbra Streisand-aimed satire amid an evening’s worth of solo Urie in the hit off-Broadway comedy Buyer and Cellar. Read more…

Now playing through August 17.


Photo by Craig Schwartz

Photo by Craig Schwartz

Bob Verini -   Arts In LA

Noted monodrama writer and performer Daniel Beaty has clearly invested considerable emotion in researching his two-hour portrait of the great Paul Robeson (1898–1976), whose race, progressive politics, and insistence on doing and saying anything and consequences be damned literally demolished his career and reputation. Beaty’s labors are backed up at the Mark Taper Forum by a ton of stagecraft marshaled by director Moisés Kaufman… Read more…

Myron Meisel – The Hollywood Reporter

Paul Robeson, his father born in slavery, achieved international celebrity as an athlete and scholar, singer and actor, activist and role model. Still, even observed with the healing distance of time, he remains a polarizing figure, a spokesman for humankind yet resolutely his own man. He was widely reviled as a traitor during the Cold War even by his erstwhile allies, his passport revoked and his career destroyed. In our house, when the children were growing up, no Thanksgiving could be celebrated without hearing him sing the patriotic “Ballad for Americans,” which he first recorded in 1939.  Read more…
Now running through May 25.



Photo by Craig Schwartz

Bob Verini -   ArtsInLA

So you’re a distinguished playwright in your early 60s: a very Chekhovian age; an age when the mind drifts toward dreams once grasped, then compromised, then lost, and fixates on memories of simpler, happier times. You look around your Bucks County farmhouse and think, “Gosh, this looks a lot like one of those summer homes to which Chekhov’s characters retire to brood and despair and make one last lunge toward life.” There are even a few cherry trees—why, almost an orchard!—out back. And you say to yourself, “What if some modern Chekhovian characters lived here?   Read more…

Myron Meisel – The Hollywood Reporter

With its Tony Award for Best Play, Christopher Durang’s Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike presents the strongest comedy Broadway has to offer in a distinguished, sleekly professional production that makes the most of his frolicsome mash-up of melancholy and regret. A crazy-like-a-fox quilt of character and plot strands from The Sea Gull, The Three Sisters, The Cherry Orchard and Uncle Vanya set in today’s Bucks County, Pennsylvania, where the playwright lives, the story unfolds over an action-packed 24 hours that punctuates the otherwise uninterrupted monotony of the lives of siblings Vanya (Mark Blum) and Sonia (Kristine Nielsen) when their movie star sister Masha (Christine Ebersole) arrives for a visit with her boy-toy, hunky aspiring actor Spike (David Hull).    Read more…

Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

Despite the title, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike is not a revival of a lost Anton Chekhov play, but a refashioning of Chekhovian themes in a modern setting. Acclaimed parodist Christopher Durang has written a hysterical comedy of family most foul that has been seamlessly transferred to the Mark Taper Forum, with apt direction by David Hyde Pierce, who played Vanya in the Broadway production. Read more…

Terry Morgan  -  Talkin’ Broadway

I’ve found that at least once a year there is a show that is loved and lauded by public and critics alike, a play that garners awards and big box office, and yet bafflingly leaves me completely cold. This year, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike is that show. I was looking forward to seeing it; I like Christopher Durang and Anton Chekhov. I wasn’t in a bad mood and I held no grudge against the theatre company. Read more…

Les Spindle –  Frontiers L.A.

In its West Coast premiere, Center Theatre Group’s uproariously funny and surprisingly heartrending production of Christopher Durang’s Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike offers endless delights. With character names, themes, plot elements and seamless shifts between humor and heartbreak that all evoke the masterworks of the great Russian playwright Anton Chekhov, Vanya feels like an affectionate tribute to the legendary scribe’s oeuvre, infused with up-to-the-minute satirical relevance. Read more…

Don Shirley – LA Observed

If you’re aware that it won the Tony Award for best play last year, you might assume that it was, well, the best new play — at least among the shallow pool of new plays that appear on Broadway. Also, many theatergoers – include me in this group – might look forward to Durang’s latest because of fond memories of some of his earlier work and the plays of Chekhov, which Durang is gently spoofing here.  Read more…

Pauline Adamek  – ArtsBeatLA

Learning that Christopher Durang’s comedy Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike—now playing at the Mark Taper Forum until March 16—won the 2013 Tony Award and the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Best Play fills me with some degree of sadness. Read more…

Now running through March 16.


Bob Verini – ArtsInLA


Photo by Craig Schwartz

Having well and truly conquered James Tyrone (Long Day’s Journey Into Night), Hickey (The Iceman Cometh), Krapp (Krapp’s Last Tape), and Willy Loman (Death of a Salesman), Brian Dennehy sets up base camp at the Mark Taper Forum to take on his most daunting personal Everest yet. With its dozen or more lengthy, allusive monologues, and action encompassing seven decades of life in tumultuous Dublin, ending up in a filthy madhouse, Sebastian Barry’s The Steward of Christendom could very be the most demanding role in—well, in all Christendom.
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Les Spindle – Edge on the Net

Master actor Brian Dennehey tackles one of his most challenging roles in Sebastian Barry’s 1995 drama, “The Steward of Christendom,” an ambitious mix of history and dramaturgic speculation. The hard-hitting play explores the emotional and psychological journey of Thomas Dunne, the institutionalized former chief superintendent of the Dublin Metropolitan Police Department.
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Myron Meisel – The Hollywood Reporter

Thomas Dunne (Brian Dennehy), based upon the great-grandfather of playwright Sebastian Barry, had been commissioner of the Dublin Metropolitan Police in the years before Irish independence in 1922, responsible for enforcing order on behalf of British rule. His fellows derisively dismissed him as a “Castle Catholic.” In The Steward of Christendom, set 10 years later, Dunne now resides in a small room of his own atop a rural madhouse, stripped not only of authority and status but down to his dirty drawers and shoeless, a ranting King Lear of the civil service.
Read more…

Now running through January 5.

HUMOR ABUSE at the Mark Taper Forum


Photo by Mark Gavin


Les Spindle – Edge on the net

In a world so enamored with the modern-day equivalent of Barnum and Bailey-namely the dazzling extravaganzas offered by Cirque de Soleil-Lorenzo Pisoni might be referred to as the little clown who could.
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Pauline Adamek – LA Weekly

As the title indicates, Humor Abuse is no lighthearted evening of sidesplitting laughs. Demonstrating elaborate pratfalls, juggling and elegant comedy bits, Lorenzo Pisoni’s solo clown show charts his upbringing as a fourth-generation vaudevillian and performer, focusing mainly on a relationship with his father that was more work than play. Lorenzo took to the stage in his parents’ company, the Pickle Family Circus, when he was only 2 years old…..
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David C. Nichols – LA Times

This is a show about clowning, and I’m the straight man,” says actor Lorenzo Pisoni early on in “Humor Abuse,” currently sending Mark Taper Forum audiences skyward with the velocity of a helium balloon. He pauses, then adds, “Seriously.  Read more…


Now running through November 3.

A PARALLELOGRAM at the Mark Taper Forum

burkeBob Verini – ArtsInLA

If there’s a more sheerly interesting playwright in the United States these days than Bruce Norris, I don’t know who it is. In a continuing series of audacious, ambitious comedies, he has remained resolutely non-P.C. in questioning some of our culture’s most cherished assumptions on race (his Pulitzer winner Clybourne Park), compassionate liberalism (The Pain and the Itch), wounded warriors (Purple Heart), and sexual obsession (The Infidel).   Read more…

Steven Leigh Morris – LA Weekly

In Bruce Norris’ stark comedy A Parallelogram, 30-ish Bee (Marin Ireland) — a regional manager for Rite Aid, a job that’s “very fulfilling,” she quips — is in this inexorably doomed relationship with a slightly older man (Tom Irwin) whom, later in the play, the older Bee (Marylouise Burke) will refer to as “a gigantic asshole.”
Read more…

Pauline Adamek – ArtsBeatLA

An existential “comedy” in the bleakest sense, Bruce Norris’ new play A Parallelogram posits the question “What would you do if you knew your future but couldn’t do anything to change it?” and then explores the various facets of this conceit.  Read more…

Sharon Perlmutter – Talkin’ Broadway

Bad news, nerds: Bruce Norris’s A Parallelogram is not about math. Good news, though: It’s about time travel. Specifically, the play considers what happens when a woman, Bee, is visited by her future self (the unimaginatively named Bee 2), who brings some bad news about the future—both Bee’s personal future and the overall future of people on the planet.
Read more…

 Les Spindle –  Frontiers L.A.

The Steppenwolf-bred works of fast-rising playwright Bruce Norris—notably The Pain and the Itch and the Pulitzer Prize-winning Clybourne Park (seen at the Mark Taper Forum last season)—have explored thought-provoking themes in inventive and provocative ways. Those familiar with these earlier works shouldn’t be surprised that Norris’ new play, A Parallelogram, thrives on unexpected twists and turns and flights of fancy. It will keep viewers on their toes to fathom its unconventional dramatic conceits and sharp segues between sly humor and cerebral reflections.
Read more…

Photo by Craig Schwartz

Photo by Craig Schwartz

Now running through August 18.

JOE TURNER’S COME AND GONE at the Mark Taper Forum

Photo by Craig Schwartz

Photo by Craig Schwartz




Deborah Klugman – LA Weekly

For this critic August Wilson has always been eloquent on the page, a bit wordy on the stage. This second in his 10-play chronicle of the African-American experience takes place in 1911, a bare 46 years after the Civil War ended. Wilson’s vibrant characters are searching — for love, money, personal freedom or healing and spiritual salvation. Read more…


Pauline Adamek – ArtsBeatLA       May 24, 2013

The earthy reality of poverty and magic realism collide in Joe Turner’s Come and Gone by American playwright, August Wilson, now playing at Center Theatre Group’s Mark Taper Forum through June 9, 2013. Unfortunately, director Phylicia Rashad (renowned for a recent and brilliant staging at ERT and CTG of another American classic, Raisin in the Sun) fails to permit Wilson’s magic to take flight.
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Tribes, Center Theatre Group at the Mark Taper Forum

Photo by Craig Schwartz.


Tribes by Nina Raine.


Pauline Adamek – ArtsBeatLA

Intense and heartbreaking, Nina Raine’s drama Tribes is about a turbulent family and the one member who feels left out. A Bohemian British family consisting of a loud, domineering and profane writer father, a hippy mother, and three grown children — two sons and a daughter, who have all moved home — all interact in a raucous fashion, shouting each other down as they energetically exchange intellectual opinions. All but one… The youngest, Billy (Russell Harvard), is deaf. Having never learned to sign, Billy’s spent a lifetime being largely excluded from their vociferous debates.   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…