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Archive for Deborah Klugman

MONIECE CLARK by Barker Room Rep at The Broadwater

Ekeme Ekanem in Moniece Clark. Photo courtesy of Barker Room Rep.

Ekeme Ekanem in Moniece Clark. Photo courtesy of Barker Room Rep.

Deborah Klugman – Stage Raw

LaShea Delaney’s drama, Moniece Clark is about the media’s exploitation of crimes against women and the tendency of law enforcement to downplay those crimes if the victim is a woman of color. You don’t have to look far to uncover the deplorable statistics behind those concerns, to be found in the Department of Justice’s National Missing and Unidentified Persons System or UN Women (an agency affiliated with the United Nations) which will inform you that such crimes are “under-reported, under-investigated, and under-prosecuted.” Read more…

Through October 2

A GREAT WILDERNESS by Rogue Machine at The Matrix Theatre

John-Perrin-Flynn and Jeffrey-Delfin in A Great Wilderness. Photo by Alex Neher.

John-Perrin-Flynn and Jeffrey-Delfin in A Great Wilderness. Photo by Alex Neher.

Terry Morgan – ArtsBeat LA

In my experience, ninety percent of the time that there’s an issue with a theatrical production, the problem is the play itself. It’s surprisingly rare for the main trouble to be with the acting or direction or design. And so it is with Samuel D. Hunter’s A Great Wilderness. I’ve enjoyed other works by Hunter, such as Pocatello or The Whale, but Wilderness has major structural issues that derail whatever impact it might have had. Rogue Machine’s Los Angeles premiere benefits from a strong lead performance by producing artistic director John Perrin Flynn and a handsome set but ultimately can’t transcend the unfocused writing. Read more…

Deborah Klugman – Stage Raw

One of the marks of playwright Samuel D. Hunter’s work is how skillfully he portrays people who lead lives in desperate isolation. In A Great Wilderness, produced by Rogue Machine at the Matrix Theatre, that scenario might apply to Walt (John Perrin Flynn), an elderly man, arguably in the first stages of dementia, who’s dedicated his life to the egregious practice of conversion therapy. Read more…

Through October 31

BABE, Echo Theatre Company at Atwater Village Theatre

Sal Viscuso, Wylie Anderson and Julie Dretzin in Babe. Photo by Cooper Bates.

Sal Viscuso, Wylie Anderson and Julie Dretzin in Babe. Photo by Cooper Bates.

Deborah Klugman – Stage Raw

Babe, Jessica Goldberg’s incisive, skillfully wrought play about sexual harassment (and what should or should not be deemed politically correct), is so titled because, in the course of the narrative, it’s applied, rather casually, to Abigail (Julie Dretzin), one of the playwright’s four exceedingly well-drawn characters. Read more…

Katie Buenneke – Theatre Digest

This is a strange play, because I feel like it has a lot of potential, but this world premiere staging feels unfinished. The performances felt more like rehearsal than opening night, the transitions were sluggish, and the script clocked in at a slow 70 minutes, ending in a way that could be interpreted as intermission if the cast hadn’t come out for bows. But there’s a lot of interesting, exciting groundwork laid out in the interplay between an old-school record exec (played by Sal Viscuso), who’s pretty much a walking microaggression (you know the type), his colleague Abigail (Julie Dretzin), who’s done more work than she’ll ever get credit for, and Kaitlyn (Wylie Anderson), a millennial who thinks her workplace should be less toxic. Read more…

Through October 24

GHOSTS at Odyssey Theatre

Pamela J. Gray and Barry Del Sherman in Ghosts. Photo by Cooper Bates.

Pamela J. Gray and Barry Del Sherman in Ghosts. Photo by Cooper Bates.

Deborah Klugman – Stage Raw

Plays we now regard as classics aren’t always well-received when they debut. Like The Birthday Party (reviewed on this site in June), Henrik Ibsen’s Ghosts was much disparaged when it appeared in 1881— not for being too cryptic, which was the complaint lodged against Pinter, but for being salacious and grossly offensive. Launched in book form before it was staged (as was often the custom at that time), Ghosts stirred widespread indignation for taking on taboo topics like free love, euthanasia and venereal disease, the latter an especially hush-hush matter among that era’s “genteel” classes. Read more…

Through October 23

ANIMAL FARM at A Noise Within

Photo by Craig Schwartz

Photo by Craig Schwartz

Deborah Klugman – Stage Raw

George Orwell began writing Animal Farm in the waning months of 1943. The book was conceived in response to the evils of Stalinist Russia and the disturbing tendency of many left-leaning British intellectuals to excuse the regime’s murderous excesses and cruelties. Never an officially declared socialist or communist, Orwell had been a member of Britain’s Independent Labour Party, which strove to represent the interests of the working class; in the 1930s, he also enlisted in the Popular Front in its fight against Franco. From the beginning his writings reflected empathy with the downtrodden and oppressed and, as time went on, with identifying and calling out totalitarian entities that utilized propaganda to eviscerate human rights. Read more…

Rob Stevens – Haines His Way

British writer George Orwell is best known for his dystopian novel 1984, first published in 1949. Big Brother made Orwell famous. Four years earlier he published the allegorical novella Animal Farm in which animals rebel against their mean farmer and set up their own society. According to Orwell, his story reflected events leading up to the Russian Revolution and then on into the Stalinist era of the Soviet Union. Read more…

Katie Buenneke – Theatre Digest

This show is difficult to categorize, because everything about the production is top-notch, but while I respected it, I had a strong negative reaction. The cast is good, Julia Rodriguez-Elliot’s direction is strong, the songs by Adrian Mitchell and Richard Peaslee work, but I just did not like the show. Read more…

Through October 2

KING LIZ at Geffen Playhouse

Sabrina Sloan and Michelle Ortiz. Photo by Jeff Lorch

Sabrina Sloan and Michelle Ortiz. Photo by Jeff Lorch

Deborah Klugman – Stage Raw

Liz Rico (Sabrina Sloan) the central character in playwright Fernanda Coppel’s sports-themed drama, is one tough cookie. A woman-of-color, she’s hauled herself up by her bootstraps, transitioning through hard work from an impoverished childhood (her mom died of cancer because her dad couldn’t afford treatment) to Yale on a full scholarship to a pinnacled place as a sports agent with one of the most prestigious companies in the business. In her 40s and blazing hot in her 4-inch stilettos, Liz now owns a luxury condo on the Upper West Side in proximity to people like Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey. She’s been recognized several times in Forbes and Time magazines, and is viewed by her peers as one of the most formidable and relentless players in her game, which is still mostly dominated by men. Read more…

Now through August 14

IF I FORGET at The Fountain Theatre

Leo Marks, Sami Klein and Valerie Perri. Photo by Jenny Graham

Leo Marks, Sami Klein and Valerie Perri. Photo by Jenny Graham

Deborah Klugman – Stage Raw

Plays about fractious families may be common but toss politics and the Holocaust into the mix and you’ll have an intriguing drama.

Steven Levenson’s If I Forget takes place in an upper middle-class home in Washington DC, circa the year 2000. The central character, Michael Fischer (Leo Marks), is a professor of Jewish studies who’s written a book blasting prevailing Jewish attitudes towards the Holocaust. In the book, he suggests that historically enshrined memories of this monstrous event — perhaps best connoted by the ubiquitous slogan “Never Forget!” — are being exploited and abused by self-interested parties. It is Michael’s belief that Jews, both as individuals and collectively, would be better served if they recognized this exploitation and moved on. In his mind, this Holocaust obsession has clouded perspectives and pushed to the background other vital issues of concern, ranging from current genocide in Rwanda to glaring injustices here at home.
Read more…

Terry Morgan – ArtsBeat LA

Religion is ever with us, for good or ill. We humans seem to be hardwired with a need for the numinous. Steven Levenson’s play, If I Forget, begins with a psalm and ends with a vision, the psalm an exhortation for Jewish people not to forget their heritage, inviting misfortune if they forget. This stark prayer sets up a compelling and satisfyingly dramatic show about the tension between religious tradition and modern secularism. The new production at The Fountain Theatre in East Hollywood, directed by Jason Alexander, is a terrific showcase for its excellent cast and Levenson’s sharp writing, although it also features one major misstep. Read more…

Returns Oct 28 – Dec 18

A WICKED SOUL IN CHERRY HILL at Geffen Playhouse

Nicholas Mongiardo-Cooper and Rivkah Reyes. Photo by Jeff Lorch

Nicholas Mongiardo-Cooper and Rivkah Reyes. Photo by Jeff Lorch

Deborah Klugman – Stage Raw

There are many things to like about A Wicked Soul in Cherry Hill, a musical by composer/lyricist Matt Schatz that was developed in a writers’ workshop at Geffen Playhouse, where the production now runs through July 24. A lively upbeat score (performed on stage by a five-member band, musical direction/orchestration by Scott Anthony), clever lyrics that tell a good story, and a well-disciplined ensemble under Mike Donahue’s very able direction are among the production’s strengths. Read more…

Jonas Schwartz-Owen

If you ever wondered what it would be like for composer William Finn (Falsettos) to musicalize an episode of Dateline, your dream has come true. A world premiere folk musical, A Wicked Soul in Cherry Hill, now running at the Geffen Playhouse, features the germ of a good idea, but the execution is sloppy and confounding. Read more…

Now through July 24

CLOWNFISH at Theatre of NOTE

Sean Michael Boozer, Susan Louise O’Connor, Mara Shuster-Lefkowitz and Omari Williams. Photo by Brad C. Light

Sean Michael Boozer, Susan Louise O’Connor, Mara Shuster-Lefkowitz and Omari Williams. Photo by Brad C. Light

Deborah Klugman – Stage Raw

In comedy, silly plots are easily forgiven if the writing is witty or insightful, or if one or more performers is so engaging that other shortcomings can be overlooked. With Clownfish, Theatre of NOTE’s premiere production following the hiatus of the pandemic, none of this is so

Written by Amy Dellagiarino, the play takes place in an isolated cabin on the top of a mountain near Denver in the middle of winter. A wedding party has gathered to prepare for the wedding of Katie (Mara Shuster-Lefkowitz), a woman with a “wild” past, and Jake (Omari Williams), a conventional guy who has planned the event and who’s chosen this inauspicious locale because, well, it’s cheap. Outside the air is bitter cold, with snow drifts piling up, so you suspect from the start that Jake may come to regret his choice. Read more…

Harker Jones – BroadwayWorld

Theatre of NOTE returns after an enforced Covid break with a world premiere of a raucous ghost story. Six friends descend upon a Colorado mountain cabin in the middle of winter for a DIY wedding as a storm descends. Chaos and insanity ensue in addition to the eternal question: What is normal? Read more…

Now through August 6

QUEEN OF FISHTOWN at Namba Arts

Katierose Donohue Enriquez. Photo by Annie Lesser

Katierose Donohue Enriquez. Photo by Annie Lesser

Deborah Klugman – Stage Raw

“Few neighborhoods have changed as quickly and dynamically as Fishtown,” proclaims the website visitphilly.com, a promotional site for the City of Brotherly Love. The text goes on to explain how this once rundown working class neighborhood in the northeast part of the city is now home to a renaissance in culture, dining and nightlife. Displayed are photos of young people with backpacks and bicycles and a diversity of diners sampling the delights the restaurants there have to offer. Read more…

Now through July 9

THE BIRTHDAY PARTY at City Garage Theatre

Isaac Stackonis and Peggy Flood. Photo by Paul M. Rubenstein

Isaac Stackonis and Peggy Flood. Photo by Paul M. Rubenstein

Deborah Klugman – Stage Raw

The Birthday Party, Harold Pinter’s first full length play, opened in London in May 1958. Reviews were grim. Most critics, accustomed to the kitchen sink realism of writers like Sillitoe, Braine and Osborne, were incensed and/or bewildered by the non-sequiturs, contradictions and pauses in Pinter’s language, along with the murkiness of the play’s narrative and the perceived illogic of its characters. Collectively, they savaged it. The Daily Telegraph reviewer, referring to Petey, a character employed as a deckchair attendant at the beach, wrote, “I can give him one word of cheer. He might have been a dramatic critic, condemned to sit through plays like this.” Read more…

Now through July 23

DOG at The Broadwater – Hollywood Fringe Festival

Photo by Paul Holmes

Photo by Paul Holmes

Deborah Klugman – Stage Raw

Ben Moroski won a Best of Fringe award in 2012 for The Vicious Minute and a Top of the Fringe award in 2014 for his solo performance of The Wake. This year he’s back at The Fringe with his latest solo piece, Dog— a downer of a tale nonetheless presented with the same singular, mesmerizing intensity he brought to his earlier ones.

This time his character —we never learn this character’s given name but his yesteryear buddies call him Dog — is a 30-something alcoholic, prone to blackout bouts of drinking and other diverse forms of destructive behavior.  “Dog” has recently been given the heave-ho by his girlfriend Diane after their small pet dog somehow fell — or leapt! — from their balcony to his death. Read more…

Tracey Paleo – Gia On The Move

It’s been quite the decade for playwright and performer, Ben Moroski. Since his 2012 debut of his autobiographical one-man show, “This Vicious Minute”, Moroski has been a notable solo story creator in Los Angeles theater.

Delivering one deliciously bizarre narrative after another, his award-winning Hollywood Fringe hits like, “The Wake” (HFF14) and “TILT” (HFF16), and now a new solo play have all but proclaimed a rising trajectory that doesn’t seem to be letting up anytime soon. DOG, written and performed by himself and directed by Jordan Lane Shappell, confirms that Moroski’s inspiring genius has further evolved. His skills, edge, enthusiasm for storytelling, and intensity in the work have not wavered.
Read more…

Now through July 30