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Archive for The Hollywood Reporter – Page 2

GHOST at the Pantages Theatre

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Myron Meisel – The Hollywood Reporter

If I pale at writing this review, it’s because I’ve just seen a Ghost. Screenwriter Bruce Joel Rubin won an Oscar for the 1990 film as did Whoopi Goldberg, supporting Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore. The film was also nominated for best picture back when there were only five a year. But all that star power and the sub-Borzage skills of director Jerry Zucker helped to camouflage the flimsy clunkiness of the story’s material… Read more...

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Now running through July 13.

STUPID F—ING BIRD The Theater@at Boston Court

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Photo by Ed Krieger

Neal Weaver  – Stage Raw

People are always doing things to Chekhov. At least since the 1950s, when Joshua Logan reset The Cherry Orchard to the post-Civil War American South in a short-lived adaptation called The Wisteria Trees, the Russian playwright has been adapted, spoofed, satirized, de-constructed, re-conceived, re-thought, re-written and plagiarized. Chekhov Derivatives and Recycling has become a growth industry. Aaron Posner’s Stupid Fucking Bird is part of that movement, but it’s more interesting than most because, despite its departures from the original text, it remains, for most of its length, true in spirit to Chekhov. Read more…

Myron Meisel – The Hollywood Reporter

The third Chekhov takeoff this year in Los Angeles (could I have missed any?), after The Country House and Vanya & Sonia & Masha & Spike, Stupid F—ing Bird may be the most self-consciously post-modern of the trio, with its resolutely present-day argot, deliberate ironic posturing and winking asides to the audience. Read more…

Steven Leigh Morris  – LA Weekly

In Anton Chekhov’s play The Seagull, about the theater and its ambiguous relationship to life, neurotic young playwright Konstantin Treplev speaks about the calcification of theater and of the necessity to create “new forms.” As Treplev ages, he evolves and devolves into a long-suffering, modestly successful author of quasi-inventive plays that might pretend to have new forms but actually don’t. Read more…

Now running through July 27.

THE CURSE OF OEDIPUS at the Antaeus Company

oedMyron Meisel – The Hollywood Reporter

If you feel that the Oedipus myth starts with the riddle and ends with the cathartic revelation, that’s just the beginning: here Oedipus (Ramon de Ocampo) blinds himself with Jocasta’s (Rhonda Aldrich) earrings barely an hour into a nearly three-hour evening. Read more…

Terry Morgan  -  Stage Raw

One of the great things about the Antaeus Company is that its deep talent pool and expertise in classical theater allow the group to tackle ambitious projects. The new production of Kenneth Cavander’s The Curse of Oedipus is one such project, a play that uses Sophocles’ famed trilogy and other historical sources to reform the story anew. Casey Stangl’s vibrant staging of the 22-person ensemble results in a brilliant, must-see show.

Neal Weaver  – Arts In LA

The dark and bloody legend of King Oedipus inspired the ancient Greek dramatists to create many plays recounting his fate. In Sophocles’s tragedy Oedipus the King, we learn how he fled his home city, Corinth, to escape a terrible prophecy that he would kill his father and marry his mother. But instead of evading his fate, he runs headlong into it, unwittingly fulfilling the prophecy. Read more…

the_curse_of_oedipus_a_pNow running through  August 10.

PENELOPE at the Rogue Machine Theatre

Photo by John Flynn

Photo by John Flynn

Neal Weaver  – Arts In LA

This grimly hilarious dark comedy by Irish playwright Enda Walsh (The New Electric Ballroom, The Walworth Farce) puts a snarky, post-modern spin on the Greek myth of Penelope, faithful wife of Odysseus. Odysseus sailed away to fight in the Trojan War and hasn’t been heard from since. Read more…

Myron Meisel – The Hollywood Reporter

If Nietzsche could announce the death of God in the late 19th century, it was certainly old news by the time of Sartre and Beckett. Similarly, the power of the absurdity of the modern condition has withered under the persistent shadow of theatrical giants. Our contemporary quandary may be not so much the struggle over a meaningless existence but what to do and where to go after raging about the dying of the light has itself lost its heroic dimension. Read more…

Now running through August 10.

 

THE COUNTRY HOUSE at the Geffen Playhouse

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Photo by Michael Lamont

Myron Meisel – The Hollywood Reporter

Given the omnipresent influence of Anton Chekhov on the theater of the past century, it seems surprisingly irresistible for playwrights to frankly filch his templates and spin their own variations. After Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, and mere weeks before the opening of Stupid Fucking Bird! at the Boston Court, Pulitzer Prize winning Donald Margulies (Dinner with Friends, Collected Stories, Sight Unseen) tries his hand at rotoscoping characters and situations, cutting and pasting from Uncle Vanya and The Seagull with an offhanded dexterity………Read more…

 

STONEFACE at the Pasadena Playhouse

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Photo by Jim Cox

Myron Meisel – The Hollywood Reporter

If one cares about the movies, and about comedy (and what can life be without them?), the soul of Buster Keaton (played here by French Stewart) needs must be spliced into one’s DNA. One cannot help but feel proprietary about one’s personal relationship to the bottomlessly expressive, impassive Keaton, so one can readily anticipate trepidation at the temerity of representing his art and life onstage.  Read more…

David C. Nichols

More than one legend gets their due in “Stoneface,” which is only as it should be. In a felicitous transfer from the Sacred Fools Theater Company, Vanessa Claire Stewart’s surreal smash about the rise and fall and rise of Buster Keaton moves to the Pasadena Playhouse — and scores an absorbing coup. Read more…   stn

Jonas Schwartz -  TheaterMania

It takes chutzpah to play actual footage of the genius Buster Keaton for audiences entering thePasadena Playhouse before actors take the stage to perform those pratfalls and stunts. But this technique pays off when you have the stupendous, heartbreaking, and hysterical actor French Stewart starring as “the great stone face” himself.  Read more…

Pauline Adamek  – ArtsBeatLA

Stoneface is a truly brilliant play about Buster Keaton, renowned star of the silent movie screen, and this production is not to be missed! Vanessa Claire Stewart’s marvelous comedy/drama has been handsomely adapted for the spacious Pasadena Playhouse stage, and newly remounted with almost its entire original cast as well as the addition of several gorgeous new sets. Read more…

Neal Weaver  – Stage Raw

This homage to silent comedian Buster Keaton began as a birthday present from actress-playwright Vanessa Claire Stewart to her husband French Stewart, who is a long-time Keaton fan and she thought, the perfect actor to play him. They took the script to director Jaime Robledo over at Sacred Fools Theatre Company, which mounted a modest 99-seat theatre production, with French Stewart as its star. Read more…

Photo by Jim Cox

Photo by Jim Cox

 

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 BROTHERS SIZE at the Fountain Theatre and DROP DEAD at NoHo Arts Center

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Steven Leigh Morris  – LA Weekly

Tarell Alvin McCraney’s tender, poetical drama The Brothers Size (Fountain Theatre) and Billy Van Zandt & Jane Milmore’s meta-theatrical farce Drop Dead! (presented by Theatre 68, at North Hollywood’s NoHo Arts Center) share one salient commonality: Each production has moments when the actors recite stage directions about their own characters. Tarell Alvin McCraney’s tender, poetical drama The Brothers Size (Fountain Theatre) and Billy Van Zandt & Jane Milmore’s meta-theatrical farce Drop Dead! (presented by Theatre 68, at North Hollywood’s NoHo Arts Center) share one salient commonality: Each production has moments when the actors recite stage directions about their own characters. Read more…

Myron Meisel – The Hollywood Reporter

Playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney boasts a rare talent: an utterly distinctive voice. He sounds like no one else, his cadences hearty and beautiful. I am in love with his voice, and in all likelihood you will feel the same way. For better, and sometimes less so, so be he. Read more…

Margaret Gray – LA Times

The Fountain Theatre follows up its award-winning 2012 production of Tarell Alvin McCraney’s “In the Red and Brown Water” with a vibrant incarnation of “The Brothers Size,” the second installment in McCraney’s acclaimed trilogy.      Read more…

 

Now running through July 27.

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.

DIFFERENT WORDS FOR THE SAME THING at the Kirk Douglas Theatre

Photo by Craig Schwartz

Photo by Craig Schwartz

Bob Verini -   Arts In LA

Kimber Lee’s different words for the same thing, directed by Neel Keller, seems intended as an Our Town for our time. Like the Thornton Wilder classic, it takes a cross-section of a little burg to investigate themes of love, death, and community, though Lee’s strategy is more tightly focused on a single catastrophic event, and she brings in issues of race, ethnicity, and class on which Wilder was mute.  Read more…

Deborah Klugman – LA Weekly

Stage dramas are sometimes weighed down with exposition, but in Kimber Lee’s different words for the same thing, a moody piece with lyric qualities, the opposite is true. A work about love, loss and the road to healing, it’s nearly half over before the links between its characters clearly emerge and its story begins to cohere.   Read more…

Myron Meisel – The Hollywood Reporter

Part of the frenzy of reaction to the demographic and social changes in the United States has been the panicky realization that the impending threat of diversity has been irreversibly underway for such a considerable time that a more heterogeneous culture has already progressed in many ways toward acceptance as a norm. The arts have properly been in the vanguard of advocating for this new reality….. Read more…

 
Now running through June 1.

A DELICATE BALANCE at the Odyssey Theatre

Photo by Enci Box

Photo by Enci Box

Myron Meisel – The Hollywood Reporter

A Delicate Balance (1967) won the Pulitzer Prize shamefully denied Edward Albee for Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?. Spiky, stilted and maybe maddening to many, it was probably the most abstruse honoree at that point in the award’s history. Albee managed the difficult feat of being muskily dated and vanguardishly visionary at the same time. Read more…

Terry Morgan  -  Talkin’ Broadway

It’s interesting how differently one perceives things at different points in one’s life. When I first read Edward Albee’s A Delicate Balancein my twenties, I liked it but mostly fixated on the oddness and darkness. Seeing it done now, in my late forties, it seems like a much broader canvas, a play about what specifically holds society together. The Odyssey Theatre Ensemble production is superb, with an amazing cast that demonstrates how extraordinary this work really is. Read more…

Pauline Adamek  – Stage Raw

In Edward Albee’s first (of three) Pulitzer-prize winning plays (also including Seascape (1975) and Three Tall Women (1994), booze ever present and consumed, even at dawn. Naturally, the alcohol lubricates the conversation and so we watch the social exchange of this domestic drama grow increasingly feral as the story progresses.   Read more…

Now running through June 15.