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Archive for November 2012

Slipped Disc, Son of Semele Theater

Photo Credit: Green Card Theatre


Slipped Disc by Ingrid Lausund.


Mayank Keshaviah – LA Weekly

Bertolt Brecht, in defining his vision of “epic theater,” coined the term Verfremdungseffekt, or “alienation effect,” which implied that in order to be effective, theater should keep an audience from fully losing itself in the story being told. Playwright Ingrid Lausund, also German, seems to have embraced Brecht’s vision, but she and Green Card Theatre perhaps take the concept of alienation further than the master had intended.   Read more…



The Morini Strad, Colony Theatre Company

Photo by Michael Lamont.


The Morini Strad by Willy Holtzman.


Sharon Perlmutter –

I have to admit out front that I’m not a huge fan of “unlikely friendship” plays, in which two complete opposites start out hating each other, but ultimately end up with a mutual respect. Willy Holtzman’s The Morini Strad is a better than average example of the genre, largely because it doesn’t try to oversell the friendship, but also because there’s a bit more to it than that.  Read more…



David C. Nichols – L.A. Times

“When one is young, one hears only the word ‘great.’ When one is less young, one hears only the word ‘next.’ ”  So says the spiky centrifuge of The Morini Strad at the Colony Theatre. In its elegant West Coast premiere, Willy Holtzman’s fact-based drama about virtuoso Erica Morini and the instrument she yearns to restore traces a moving reverie on classical mastery, the realities of aging and the cost of artistic ambition.  Read more…



One November Yankee, NoHo Arts Center

Photo by Robert Arbogast.


One November Yankee by Joshua Ravetch.


Sharon Perlmutter –

Joshua Ravetch’s One November Yankee is a play for two performers and an airplane. In the NoHo Arts Center world premiere production, that’s Harry Hamlin, Loretta Swit, and a two-seater yellow Piper Cub. The actors play three different brother/sister pairs as we follow the story of the plane through three critical scenes: when it crashed in the woods of New Hampshire, carrying siblings on their way to a wedding; when the wreck was discovered, five years later, by a pair of hikers; and, two days later (this part of the timeline doesn’t quite work), when the crumpled plane is displayed by an artist and his sister as a new piece of modern art. The stories are not told in chronological order; two scenes in the museum bookend the crash and the plane’s discovery.  Read more…



The Coarse Acting Show, Sacred Fools Theater Company

Photo credit: Pete Caslavka.


The Coarse Acting Show by Michael Green, adapted by Paul Plunkett.


David C. Nichols – Backstage

In his priceless 1964 volume “The Art of Coarse Acting,” English journalist and humorist Michael Green typifies a coarse actor as “one who can remember his lines, but not the order in which they come.” After more pointed examples, Green notes: “His problems? Everyone else connected with the production.”   Read more…



86′d, 68 Cent Crew Theatre Company

Photo credit: Matt McVay.


86′d by Jon Polito and Darryl Armbruster.


David C. Nichols – L.A. Times

Would that all indie films translated to the stage as well as “86’d” at Theatre 68. Jon Polito and Darryl Armbruster’s dark comedy about collective moral equivalency in a late-night diner weathers some blips in tone and casting to hold us in uncomfortably laughing thrall. Read more…



Intimate Apparel, Pasadena Playhouse

Photo by Jim Cox.


Intimate Apparel by Lynn Nottage.


Pauline Adamek – ArtsBeatLA

A persuasive melodrama, Intimate Apparel is perhaps Lynn Nottage’s best known play, although she won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for Ruined in 2009. Written and first staged at Center Stage in Baltimore almost ten years ago, Intimate Apparel has a pleasing contemporary relevance. Although Nottage’s drama is set in New York City in 1905, in the love letter romance there are parallels with the perils of contemporary online dating, as well as a slight nod to the pretext of Cyrano de Bergerac.   Read more…


Terry Morgan – LAist

There’s a lot to be said for the virtues of a compelling tale well told. It hearkens back to the initial reasons people get interested in narrative art in the first place: the seduction of story. While it’s great that some plays have important messages and others are triumphs of style and wit, it’s worthwhile to remember the considerable pleasures of investing in the trials and tribulations of a sympathetic character. Such is the appeal of Lynn Nottage’s Intimate Apparel, receiving a solidly satisfying production right now at the Pasadena PlayhouseRead more…



Hah Nah, The Lounge Theatre

Photo by Amy Texter.


Hah Nah by Joy Cha.


Mayank Keshaviah – LA Weekly

A Korean U.S. Army field nurse trying to track down her missing father while encamped in his hometown during the Korean War seems like fertile ground. But
the tree that emerges from it, nurtured by writer and performer Joy Cha, unfortunately never bears fruit. Read more…



Fuddy Meers, Long Beach Playhouse

Photo credit – Jonathan Lewis.



Fuddy Meers by David Lindsay-Abaire.


Shirle Gottlieb – Gazette Newspapers

Some theater enthusiasts are still shaking their heads in disbelief. After so many years of featuring Agatha Christie-type mysteries and British living-room comedies, it’s hard to believe the Long Beach Playhouse is producing provocative, cutting-edge plays. Read more…



Their Eyes Saw Rain, Company of Angels

Photo by Company of Angels.


Their Eyes Saw Rain by West Liang.


Pauline Adamek – LA Weekly

Playwright West Liang also stars in his astonishingly intense ensemble drama, set in a fictitious small country town. The specter of tragedy hangs over the townspeople of Castle, emblematized by an ever-present decay caused by months of relentless rain. Or is that really the cause? Stern and unyielding, Terrance (Liang) bullies his two younger brothers Joanus (Kavin Panmeechao) and Billy (Marc Pelina) into community service, dropping books off at the homes of their neighbors and assisting where they can. With this goodwill mission, Terrance (as active reformer) struggles to fill their recently deceased father’s shoes, even as the mental illness that took him begins to crowd Terrance’s consciousness. Meanwhile a blossoming romance between Joanus and a young single mother Peach (Samantha Klein) provokes an eruption from her wanna-be sheriff boyfriend Jake (James Thomas Gilbert).   Read more…



A Bright New Boise, Rogue Machine at Theatre/Theater

Photo by Matthew Elkins.


A Bright New Boise by Samuel D. Hunter.


Dany Margolies –

This Samuel D. Hunter script is saying something, and other people say they hear its message. But some of us do not hear it. Why not? The play pleased a New York publication enough to win an Obie. The play then merited the interest of Rogue Machine theater company and director John Perrin Flynn, who are giving it its West Coast premiere. Read more…



Love, Chaos & Dinner, Teatro ZinZanni.

Tracy Martin / Segerstrom Center for the Arts.


Teatro ZinZanni: Love, Chaos & Dinner by Norman Langill, Kevin Kent, Joe de Paul, Mat Plendl, Juliana Rambaldi, Duffy Bishop, Manuela Horn, Hans Teuber and Jane Langill.


David C. Nichols – L.A. Times

Federico Fellini and Toulouse-Lautrec meet Garrison Keillor and Wolfgang Puck by way of Bricktop and Bob Fosse in Teatro ZinZanni’s “Love, Chaos & Dinner,” now catapulting its way around the collective id of Costa Mesa. This latest high-concept spectacle from the iconoclastic company serves up an immersive, uniquely enchanting theatrical repast.   Read more…



Red Barn, Independent Shakespeare Company in the ISC Studio


Red Barn by David Melville and Melissa Chalsma.


Dany Margolies –

Captivating storytelling hallmarks this world premiere musical in Los Angeles that centers on an 1827 crime in the English countryside. David Melville and Melissa Chalsma, better-known to summer-Shakespeare audiences as the makers of Independent Shakespeare Company’s outdoor seasons, wrote the book for Red Barn, in part because the story, told to Melville by his mother when he was a boy, continued to stay with him—an excellent recommendation for a tale. In it, the mole-catcher’s daughter, Maria, had an affair with the landowner’s son and heir, Matthew, and bore his daughter. Matthew would set wedding dates and then postpone, until his debauched lust pushed him into an even more irrevocable act. Read more…