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Archive for October 2012 – Page 2

Krapp’s Last Tape, CTG at the Kirk Douglas Theatre

Photo by Ryan Miller/Capture Imaging


Krapp’s Last Tape by Samuel Beckett.


Pauline Adamek – ArtsBeatLA

Samuel Beckett’s melancholy one man, one act play is being performed superbly by John Hurt in his first appearance on a Los Angeles stage, at the Kirk Douglas Theatre, in a production imported from the Gate Theatre in Dublin, Ireland. Much like Clint Eastwood waited until he was sufficiently old and grizzled enough to play the aging gunslinger in Unforgiven, Hurt seems to have arrived at the perfect point in his illustrious career to portray the decrepit Krapp. At 72, the Oscar-nominated British actor is actually a fraction older than the character (69). Hurt’s hair is short, spiky and powdered grey, his teeth appear rotten with a front one missing, his face is sagging and lined with the deep creases of a long life and Hurt even limps and leans on a walking stick throughout, at times grunting with the effort; the cane was still in use during opening night’s enthusiastic curtain call.   Read more…



Bob Verini – Variety

If there’s a bleak truth to be unearthed about the human condition, you can be sure Samuel Beckett peerlessly expressed it. His 1958 tiny masterpiece Krapp’s Last Tape is about the impermanence of memory — about how our recollections desert us just when they’re most needed to soften the blow of reviewing life’s disappointments. The emphasis on humor in Michael Colgan’s visiting Gate Theater Dublin production, executed by the brilliantly talented John Hurt, makes it easier to swallow Beckett’s bitter pill. Read more…


November, Center Theatre Group/Mark Taper Forum

Photo by Craig Schwartz.


November by David Mamet.


Pauline Adamek – ArtsBeatLA

David Mamet’s grubby and farcical political play November, now playing at the Mark Taper Forum Downtown, is a riot of foul language and racial epithets, all tumbling from the mouth of the President of the United States, as daffily portrayed by Ed Begley Jr.  Read more…


David C. Nichols – Backstage

It’s a week before Election Day, and U.S. President Charles Smith is going down the toilet. The polls have the incumbent dead in the water. The national head of Smith’s own party can’t come up with more than $4,000 for last-minute ad wars. A prominent Native American chief is calling in his tribe’s government-ordained claim on Nantucket. The representative from the National Association of Turkey and Turkey By-Products Manufacturers wants to get a jump on the annual Thanksgiving pardon. Even the constantly telephoning first lady knows they’re bidding the White House adieu. She wants to take their couch, but it was re-upholstered on the taxpayer’s dime, as trusted dog wagger Archer Brown informs his beleaguered boss. Read more…


Dany Margolies –

Many of the modern-day U.S. presidents have been great public speakers, most have had their moments of dignity, a few have done great acts to better the nation. But, in every case, haven’t you wondered what each is like in the privacy of the Oval Office? Read more…


Bob Verini – Variety

David Mamet’s fleet, foulmouthed November peels back the Oval Office wallpaper to reveal a shlubby, nonentity president (Ed Begley Jr.) who, facing disaster in next week’s reelection bid, will say or do anything for a chance to hang on. At the Mark Taper Forum, helmer Scott Zigler has found the properly cool, uninflected tone for making jokes land. Better still, for all Mamet’s exaggerations, we readily believe — hell, since the Nixon tapes, we actually know — our leaders really do talk and think this way about us. This is satire with a scorpion’s sting. Read more…


Hoyt Hilsman – Huffington Post

David Mamet’s political farce November, which ran for six months on Broadway in 2008, gets a crackling revival at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles. Of course, this is lightweight Mamet, stuffed with one-line throwaways and f-bombs. But, in this election season, with the presidential campaigns spending billions and the attack ads flooding the airwaves, even the most farfetched farce has a remarkable resonance. Read more…



Julius Caesar, The New American Theatre at McCadden Place Theatre

Photo by Jack Stehlin.


Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare.


Dany Margolies –

Apparently this Shakespeare play doesn’t need to be performed on the steps of a real-life city hall to impress. Here, a chamber version captures the story’s expanse while feeling immediate, near, and unfortunately modern. Add in the casting of women in traditionally male roles, modern-day business attire, and non-declamatory performances, and the production plays like an Aaron Sorkin series. Read more…



Cymbeline, A Noise Within

Photo by Craig Schwartz.


Cymbeline by William Shakespeare.


Terry Morgan –

There are two primary reasons Shakespeare lovers should go see the new production of Cymbeline at A Noise Within. The first is that the play is rarely produced, and here’s an opportunity to experience it as done by one of the best classics-based theatre companies in town. The second reason is that one will rarely see this play so well performed. Director Bart DeLorenzo and an outstanding cast take this obscurity by the Bard and bring it to witty and boisterous life.   Read more…


Dany Margolies –

The pros make it look so easy. This production has the breezy feel of an itinerant theater troupe mounting an impromptu version of one of Shakespeare’s lesser-known plays. Most things that look easy, however, result from planning and practice. That, plus years of training contribute to making the dialogue sound improvised here. And of course we can’t see the probably madcap goings on backstage: the swift crossings, the costume and wig changes, the actors and crew waiting in the wings to execute the rapid, economical scene changes. Read more…



Blue/Orange, Player King Productions

Photo by Patrick Viall Photography.


Blue/Orange by Joe Penhall.


Sharon Perlmutter –

I’ve been waiting for a Los Angeles production of Joe Penhall’s Blue/Orange ever since it won a bunch of awards in London back in 2000-2001. It’s a dark little piece about race, the human condition, degrees of insanity, and the way our own perceptions and biases influence our reality. Sort of an Oleanna by way of Equus, Blue/Orange centers on a power struggle between two mental health professionals as they disagree on the diagnosis of a patient, who is clearly caught in the middle.   Read more…




The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Astra Dance Company


The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari presented by Astra Dance Company.


Pauline Adamek – ArtsBeatLA

Astra Dance Company has interpreted the twisted, sinister plot and expressionistic style of the 1920s silent horror film classic to produce a gorgeous if disquieting acrobatic ballet. A breathtakingly talented troupe of 17 neoclassical dancers, contortionists and circus artists emote and perform the melodramatic tale of murder and mystery against a projected backdrop of animation and abstract, jagged settings. Best friends Francis (a superb Gaston Askey) and Alan (Olivia Bollfrass) vie for the affections of pretty Jane (Amy Highfill). When the menacing Dr. Caligari (Roger Fojas) comes to their small German town with his traveling carnival, a series of inexplicable murders send the townspeople into a frenzy of panic and mistrust.   Read more…