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Archive for Sharon Perlmutter

MY BARKING DOG at the Theatre @ Boston Court

mbd4

Photo by Ed Krieger

Bob Verini  -   Stage Raw

Talk about your call of the wild! The atavistic urge – the impulse to fall in with nature in its most primitive state – is an old standby in drama and literature, and it’s now being applied to strong effect in My Barking Dog,  Eric Coble’s startling two-hander at the Theatre @ Boston Court. Read more…

Deborah Klugman – LA Weekly

Like Taste, Benjamin Brand’s recent play about a man driven to devour his own flesh, My Barking Dog by Eric Coble shocks and surprises, and in a most brilliant and entertaining way. Read more…

Dany Margolies  -  Arts In LA

What is an audience to make of characters who claim they’re telling the truth but who clearly are not doing so? This question comes to mind as Eric Coble’s poetic My Barking Dog turns increasingly metaphoric and untrue to life. Read more…

Sharon Perlmutter  -  Talkin’ Broadway

My Barking Dog is one of those plays that starts out relatively normally and ends up someplace unbelievable. I generally dig plays like this Read more…

Now running through May 24.

SWITZERLAND at the Geffen Playhouse

switzerland-laura-linney

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.

THE THREEPENNY OPERA at A NOISE WITHIN

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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…

 

AMERICAN BUFFALO at the State Playhouse

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Photo by Noel Bass

Deborah Klugman – LA Weekly

Al Pacino and Robert Duvall are among the performers who have played Teach, the deluded, out-of-control conman who spurs much of the seamy shenanigans in David Mamet’s American Buffalo.

While I’ve never been privileged to see either in the role, I’d put money on the competitive excellence of Troy Kotsur, a signing performer whose sizzling portrayal dominates the current Deaf West production at Cal State L.A.’s State Playhouse. Read more...

Margaret Gray – LA Times

David Mamet’s “American Buffalo,” which premiered in Chicago in 1975, startled and delighted the theater world with its dialogue: broken, overlapping sentence fragments, studded with expletives, at once highly mannered and faithful to the rhythms of everyday conversation. Read more…

Sharon Perlmutter  -  Talkin’ Broadway

Troy Kotsur leaves it all on the stage. Playing Teach in the Deaf West/Cal State L.A. co-production of American Buffalo, he’s a force to be reckoned with. Kotsur’s Teach is attitude, anger, and simmering aggression. You know he’s going to lose control of his barely suppressed rage, and you worry for the health of anyone who might be nearby when the inevitable explosion occurs. Read more…

Dany Margolies  -  Arts In LA

This production of one of modern theater’s seminal plays is certainly interesting intellectually. David Mamet’s 1975 three-hander is in a co-production by Deaf West Theatre and California State University, Los Angeles. The involvement of Deaf West in a show means creative melding of spoken English and American Sign Language to seamlessly recount a story for its hearing and deaf audience members. Read more…

Paul Birchall  – Stage Raw

David Mamet’s ferociously grifty drama  of small-time thugs  gets a strikingly evocative staging in director Stephen Rothman’s innovative, adrenaline-driven production. Read more…

Now playing through March 8.

SPRING AWAKENING at Inner City Arts

Photo by Tate Tullier

Photo by Tate Tullier

Bob Verini  -   Stage Raw

Upon leaving the opening night performance of Deaf West and The Forest of Arden’s co-production Spring Awakening – Duncan Sheik and Steven Sater’s 2006 rock musical about sexual awakening/repression in 19th century European teens, based on the 1891 play by Frank Wedekind — I posted a blissful Tweet announcing that people should see this “beautiful” show, and I stand by that assessment. Read more…

Sharon Perlmutter  -  Talkin’ Broadway

My previous experience with Spring Awakening – its national tour stop at the Ahmanson – did not endear the show to me. Among other issues, I found it difficult to connect with the characters. I had sympathy for the teens (in 1891 Germany) who were trying to find their way despite parental-imposed sexual ignorance, but found the show ultimately unmoving. Read more…

Now running through Oct. 19.

WE WILL ROCK YOU at the Ahmanson Theater

Photo by Lawrence . Ho

Photo by Lawrence K. Ho

Neal Weaver  – Arts In LA

This show is an exuberant, enthusiastic, unabashed homage to the rock group Queen and its lead singer, the late Freddie Mercury. It is also splashy, a little bit silly, and loud enough to rattle your ribcage, with a rock-concert-style light show that is occasionally blinding. Read more…

Photo by Paul Kolnik

Photo by Paul Kolnik

 

Sharon Perlmutter  -  Talkin’ Broadway

Whenever I travel, in an attempt to overcome jet lag, I try to find the loudest, most obnoxious musical I can find, in the hopes that it will keep me awake my first night in town. I have seen quite a few shows on this principle, and none suits the task quite as well as We Will Rock You. It’s currently playing the Ahmanson, as part of a national tour, and though it has been Americanized (and not necessarily for the better) since I saw it in London, it’s still just as loud and just as brash. Read more…

Now running through August 24.

 

THE FANTASTICKS at the Lillian Theatre

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Neal Weaver  – ArtsInLA

When this modest little musical, with book and lyrics by Tom Jones and music by Harvey Schmidt, first opened Off-Broadway in 1960, no one could have predicted the astonishing success it would achieve. It ran for a grand 42 years, racking up an astronomical 17,162 performances, and has since been performed all over the world.   Read more…

Sharon Perlmutter  -  Talkin’ Broadway

Last year, Good People Theater Company burst onto the L.A. theatre scene at the Hollywood Fringe Festival with an honest, beautiful production of A Man of No Importance, which reduced me, not just to tears, but to genuine shoulder-shaking sobs. For its return to the Fringe, Good People aims not so much for sobs, but sniffles, with a production of The Fantasticks.   Read more…

Now running through June 29.

DORIAN’S DESCENT at the MET Theatre

Photo by Silvia Spross

Photo by Silvia Spross

Neal Weaver  – ArtsInLA

Oscar Wilde’s novel The Picture of Dorian Gray has exerted a powerful fascination for both the general public and later generations of artists, ever since it was written in 1890. Its publication was controversial, and, even in a heavily censored version, it was widely condemned on moral grounds. But scandal has never been an impediment to success. Read more…

Sharon Perlmutter  -  Talkin’ Broadway

I have seen several attempts to put The Picture of Dorian Gray on stage. Be it play, musical, or dance, people keep trying to dramatize the piece, sensing its inherent theatricality. And while each of these attempts has had something to recommend it, none of them have ever actually gotten it right, and the productions have had no further life. Regrettably, DOMA Theatre Company’s Dorian’s Descent is another such flawed attempt, which will, I expect, similarly live on only in memory.

Read more…

 

Now running through June 23.

 

GRUESOME PLAYGROUND INJURIES at the Rogue Machine Theatre

Photo by John Perrin Flynn

Photo by John Perrin Flynn

Bob Verini -   Arts In LA

Rogue Machine has turned itself into the go-to organization for provocative two-handers. If Rajiv Joseph’s Gruesome Playground Injuries lacks the dread of 2011’s Blackbird or the contemporary relevance of 2013’s Dying City, this production, directed by Larissa Kokernot, demonstrates anew the Pico Boulevard company’s knack for finding something precious in the confrontation of one man and one woman in space and time.  Read more…

Pauline Adamek  – Stage Raw

Playwright Rajiv Joseph gained notoriety when his politically charged play, Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo — which debuted at the Kirk Douglas Theatre in May 2009 before moving to Broadway — was shortlisted for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Gruesome Playground Injuries had its world premiere later that same year. Both are different animals indeed. Read more…

Steven Leigh Morris  – LA Weekly

“I am big. It’s the pictures that got small,” Norma Desmond says in Sunset Boulevard.

There’s a discernible condescension in a number of reviews of Rajiv Joseph’s 2011 play, Gruesome Playground Injuries, in its early productions. Mainly these reviews keep comparing it to Joseph’s “bigger” play, Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo, which world-premiered at L.A.’s Kirk Douglas Theatre in 2009.   Read more…

Sharon Perlmutter  -  Talkin’ Broadway

Sometimes, a playwright will use non-linear storytelling to devastating effect. Seeing the effect before the cause can make the cause—which may have otherwise appeared trivial—all the more important. At other times, telling the tale out of order engenders greater audience involvement, as the audience tries to pull the disparate pieces together to form one coherent story. Rajiv Joseph’s Gruesome Playground Injuries doesn’t do either of these things. Instead, it appears that the story is told out of order to disguise the fact that there just isn’t much of a story here.  Read more…

Myron Meisel – The Hollywood Reporter

Over the course of 30 years, from ages eight to 38, Kayleen (Jules Willcox) and Doug (Brad Fleischer) “meet cute” in various emergency rooms and hospitals when one or the other (and sometimes both) have been injured or otherwise grievously harmed. Doug is a risk-taking, accident-prone daredevil, Kayleen more apt to be psychically damaged, when not engaged in adolescent cutting. Read more…

Now running through July 14.

SJALUSI at Inside the Ford

Photo by Caroline Roka

Sharon Perlmutter  -  Talkin’ Broadway

I confess that a quick look at Esther Vilar’s Wikipedia page gave me a bit of insight into the production of Sjalusi (or Jealousy, or, perhaps Celos), having its U.S. premiere in a very brief run at [Inside] the Ford. Vilar is best known for a book entitled “The Manipulated Man,” in which she argued that, contrary to feminist theory, women in industrialized countries are not oppressed but, instead, manipulate men. Read more…

ROMEO AND JULIET at the Independent Shakespeare Company Studio

ROMEO & JULIET - 2

Phto by Grettel Cortes

Sharon Perlmutter  -  Talkin’ Broadway

I’ll be honest: what initially appealed to me about Independent Shakespeare Co.’s Romeo & Juliet was that it condensed the play. The play is performed with only eight actors. Some of the actors double up on roles; sometimes the lines of one character have been given to another. Thus, for example, Benvolio also covers some key lines normally given to Balthasar. And, the actress performing Benvolio also doubles as Lady Capulet. In addition to paring down the company, the script is also shortened. Read more…

Now running through May 25.

FLOYD COLLINS at La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts

Photo by Michael Lamont

Photo by Michael Lamont

Bob Verini -   Arts in LA

One of the most ambitious art musicals of recent years, Floyd Collins by Adam Guettel (music and lyrics) and Tina Landau (book and additional lyrics) is receiving an outstanding mounting from helmer Richard Israel and the management of the La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts. The producers, who regularly bring you the likes of Peter Pan and Cats, have blocked off their huge auditorium to place Rich Rose’s multilevel black-box set onto a three-quarter thrust with intimate seating.  Read more…

Margaret Gray – LA Times

I had never seen anything quite like it, and it grew on me slowly. But I can’t stop thinking about, and humming snippets from, La Mirada Theatre’s revival of “Floyd Collins,” the odd, haunting musical about the Kentucky cave explorer who got himself trapped underground in 1925. Read more.

Sharon Perlmutter  -  Talkin’ Broadway

Floyd Collins is not an easy show to direct. The show’s protagonist spends the majority of the play trapped underground in a cave and Adam Guettel’s score—which is discordant at times—can be a difficult sell. The last time I saw a production of the show in Los Angeles, I came out humming the direction of Richard Israel, who approached the task with skill, creativity and confidence, putting together a surprisingly effective production of the musical in a small space.  Read more…

Don Shirley – LA Observed

One of the best midsize venues for professional theater in LA County has a somewhat unusual location – its 199 seats are on located on the stage of La Mirada Theatre,
adjacent to the actors.

Normally, La Mirada tries to fill its proscenium-style theater’s 1,251 seats in the conventional way — with the audience facing the stage — but to get to the current “Floyd Collins,” the audience bypasses the regular auditorium. The ushers direct the spectators to chairs placed temporarily on the stage itself — in a raked, three-sided thrust around the action.

Read more…

Now running through April 13.