Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Stage Reviews : Too Many Wild Punches By Cast Of 'Golden Boy'

September 25, 1987|MARK CHALON SMITH and 'Golden Boy' An Orange Repertory Theatre production of the Clifford Odets play. Directed by Jamie Baker. With Jim Matthis, Diane Dale, Fred Davis, Marv Torrez, Eddie Marquez, Tony Newhall, Chris Utley, Steve Webb, Tom Pletts, Julie Sepulveda, Mark Satin, Ted Tobin, Christi Steffich, Leo Soderman and David Snowden. Sets by Walter Brown and Jamie Baker. Lighting by Leo Soderman. Costumes by Jamie Baker. Plays at 8 p.m. today and Saturday; 7 p.m. Sunday. Closes Sunday. Tickets: $5. Cypress Cultural Arts Center, Barclay College, 5172 Orange Ave., Cypress; (714) 528-7347.

Clifford Odets' "Golden Boy" is perilously melodramatic: The drama about a ghetto kid who gives up the violin for the boxing ring often moves its audience with shots to the gut, rather graceful counterpunches.

Director Jamie Baker, in the Orange Repertory Theatre's first offering, evidently recognizes the play's perils, generally using a spare approach that lightens the heavy sentimentality. But Baker is inconsistent--one moment the reins are held tight, the next the actors are allowed indulgent dramatics.

At one end is Chris Utley's performance as a shady boxing promoter who exploits the young fighter, Joe. Utley is resolutely low-key, a menacing figure who intimidates with a sneer instead of a shout. Diane Dale also offers an understated portrayal as Lorna, the soiled dove who loves Joe but marries his manager.

But what happened to Jim Matthis as the manager, Moody? Matthis overdoes Moody's anger at being a loser who never got the chance to get ahead. Nearly every line is a cry of existential angst. Keeping Moody so overwrought tends to make his pain seem irrelevant.

In the role of Joe, Fred Davis is appropriately restrained, but he somehow fails to fully inhabit the character. Only in the later scenes do we get an idea of the almost brutal passions that turned him away from art and toward the ring. Until then, he's little more than a confusing contradiction.

The show does score some points with Walter Brown's and Jamie Baker's minimalist sets--a battered table here, a soiled couch there--which, combined with Leo Soderman's hazy lighting, give everything a gritty, impoverished edge. There is also an imaginative bit of staging in a boxing sequence, in which shadows of flailing fighters are cast upon the stage.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|