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Archive for TalkinBroadway.com

MY BARKING DOG at the Theatre @ Boston Court

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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

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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.

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 HUMAN SPIRIT at the Odyssey Theatre Ensemble

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Terry Morgan  -  Talkin’ Broadway

Theatre has many functions, and sometimes its job is to remind or teach people about history. The trick, of course, is to do it in such a way that the piece still works as theatre, so it isn’t essentially a PowerPoint presentation with actors instead of graphics. Playwright has an interesting and worthy story to tell in her apartheid drama The Human Spirit, but, unfortunately, her well-intentioned play doesn’t work as well as it might. Read more…

Dany Margolies  -  Arts In LA

Carole Eglash-Kosoff’s world premiere embodies the best and worst of storytelling. A fascinating, inspiring, informative slice of history is told with too-often ungainly craft, by the playwright and occasionally by director Donald Squires. Ultimately, though, because the audience cares for the characters, the result is uplifting. Read more…

 

Now running through June 29.

THE LAST CONFESSION at the Ahmanson Theatre

Photo by Craig Schwartz

Photo by Craig Schwartz

Dany Margolies  -  Arts In LA

Most Westerners of a certain age, certainly most Catholics, recall the startling day in 1978 when we learned that Pope John Paul I had died 33 days after the puff of white smoke announced his election to the papacy. Very few people, if anyone, knew the exact cause of death. Whether the Curia, the Vatican’s governmental cabinet, considered it unseemly to probe or the answers didn’t favor a perfectly innocent explanation, any investigations into his death seemed likewise to die swiftly. Read more…

Myron Meisel – The Hollywood Reporter

Organized around the star wattage of David Suchet, the celebrated and prolific British theater actor best known worldwide for his 74 television films as Agatha Christie’s detective Hercule Poiret, The Last Confession makes for a rather wan touring vehicle for his talents. Read more…

Bob Verini -   Stage Raw

The current tenant at the Ahmanson, Roger Craig’s The Last Confession, made me think about Charlton Heston and Jorge Mario Bergoglio.

The Heston musings may be the more surprising. But however you may feel about his stature as an actor, or his latter-year turn to the right and NRA leadership, Heston and the Ahmanson were prominently associated in the public’s mind in the 1970s and 1980s, thanks to his rarely letting a year go by without appearing there in a play of substance. Read more…

Terry Morgan  -  Talkin’ Broadway

Roger Crane’s The Last Confession has a doozy of an opening statement: “Forgive me, father, for I have sinned. I have killed the emissary of God.” The speaker refers to Pope John Paul I, who died under mysterious circumstances in 1978. It sounds compelling in theory—somebody murdered a pope in recent history? Read more…

Now running through July 6.

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.

DEATH OF THE AUTHOR at the Geffen Playhouse

Photo by Michael Lamont

Photo by Michael Lamont

Bob Verini -   Arts In LA

Steven Drukman’s Death of the Author is, hands down, one of the very best plays of the year. A mystery wrapped within a psychological portrait gallery within a stinging critique of academic politics, it satisfies on every level during its completely gripping 90 minutes. Angelenos lucky enough to catch it at the Geffen will steal a mark on audiences in, trust me, many, many cities around the United States in years to come. Read more…

Myron Meisel – The Hollywood Reporter

Having narrowly escaped academe with only soaked knees before the tsunami of structuralism hit with full force, this critic has been fortunate enough to contemplate its roiling waters at safe distance over its decades of circular dominance without needing to swim perilously against its tide. While the application of such theories can generate some genuine insights and no-longer-new perspectives, “postmodern” has long forfeited its revolutionary innovation to become the standard collegiate orthodoxy, aging into cant and cliché.   Read more…

Terry Morgan  -  Talkin’ Broadway

Things aren’t what they used to be in academia. Back in the day, if one turned in a less than optimal paper, the professor would give one a poor grade, and that was that. In modern times, however, if a student fails a class, his or her parents can sue the teacher or university for damages and win. The domain of higher education has become more treacherous in unexpected ways, and Steven Drukman’s clever new play Death of the Author charts the territory with pointed wit. It’s unfortunate, however, that the brilliance of the first hour sputters out in a weak and contrived finale. Read more…

Les Spindle –  Frontiers L.A.

This world premiere play by prolific scribe Steven Drukman offers a rich brew, blending humor in academia with a sly battle of wits, spiced up with homoerotic undertones. Ace director Bart DeLorenzo and a crackerjack cast parlay this taut 90-minute dramedy into a sophisticated and enthralling experience.

Read more…
Now running through June 22.

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.

ROMEO AND JULIET at the Independent Shakespeare Company Studio

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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.

BRIEF ENCOUNTER at the Bram Goldsmith Theater at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts

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 Myron Meisel – The Hollywood Reporter

Possibly his most recognized work, Noel Coward’s screenplay for David Lean’s 1945 British film Brief Encounter, with its proper and decent married lovers resolutely resisting adultery, was indubitably the adult romance of its time, with the swells of Rachmaninov’s Second Piano Concerto counterpointing the personal sacrifice of ardor for order and honor. What could be more archaic or ripe for ridicule in an era characterized by hookups on the one hand, and the puritanical concept of an “emotional affair” on the other, making a hash of moral distinctions based on actual behavior? Read more…

Pauline Adamek  – ArtsBeatLA

Noël Coward’s 1936 one-act play Still Life was expanded into a feature-length film, directed in 1945 by David Lean and scripted by Coward.

Now UK’s Kneehigh Theatre has brought their version to the Wallis, adapted and beautifully directed by Emma Rice. In this lively staging (which essentially is a mixture of the film and the short stage play) the basic plot line remains yet it is spun into a frothy confection of bittersweet romance enhanced by lush cinematic projected visuals, puppetry, live music, song and dance interludes and mild comedic flourishes. Read more…

Sharon Perlmutter  -  Talkin’ Broadway

I often think it’s a shame that most of our medium-to-large stages in town are generally only used to bring in out-of-town shows, instead of highlighting some of our best local companies. I’d love to see what Evidence Room or Antaeus could do with a bigger stage and a decent budget, for example. Read more...

Now running through March 23.