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Stage Beat

'Macbeth' at Globe / 'Real Pulp' at 21st Street / 'Playhouse of the Damned' at West Coast Ensemble / 'Family Tales' at Powerhouse

October 30, 1987|ROBERT KOEHLER

You know something's different at the Globe Playhouse when you're handed a program with typeset copy.

Could a good program be a sign of good Shakespeare? In this case, a good "Macbeth"? The program credits raised some doubts.

"Directed by Frederick Hoffman, text edited and arranged by Mr. Hoffman." Just what the doctor ordered: another director tyrannizing the text.

Then farther down the page: "Act I, The Instruments of Darkness; Act II, The Tyrant's Power Afoot; Act III, The Royalty of Nature." And you thought "Macbeth" was written in five acts.

For the Record
Los Angeles Times Monday November 2, 1987 Home Edition Calendar Part 6 Page 3 Column 1 Entertainment Desk 1 inches; 23 words Type of Material: Correction
Alan Paul Lee plays Gus the Ghoul in "Playhouse of the Damned," a visiting production at West Coast Ensemble. The actor was misidentified in the Stage Beat column.

Then, the play. What is soon clear is that whatever editing and rearrangements Hoffman decreed, it is meant to focus on the self-destructive thane. Rather than it being the case of a director's power afoot, this is simply a "Macbeth" with a point of view, something unheard of at the Globe.

An example: Hoffman cuts from Macbeth's vision of a ghost in the company of his kinsman and Lady Macbeth right to the witches showing Macbeth some bloody apparitions of the future--all in the same room. Hecate, plus a lot of the witching histrionics, are gone, with the vision Macbeth's alone (though the blood-stained dolls coming out of a pregnant, screaming woman doesn't work as an apparition).

In fact, for all the references to rituals in Hoffman's program notes and his idea for the witches to appear at the end of each act (Erica Rogers, Koni McCurdy and Victoria Waks), this "Macbeth" seems to go out of its way to emphasize the human over the supernatural. Blood flows profusely, warriors die in great pain and the broadswords clank with real fury (Joseph Della Sorte was the fight director).

Lane Davies' Macbeth completes the strategy, revealing a man who knows he's going straight to hell and having no clue what to do about it. Rather than portraying a regal witch, Cherie Brown draws a portrait of an intelligent but confused (possibly corrupted) Lady Macbeth. Terence Marinan's Banquo effectively suggests a man who knows he's losing the political war and everything else. The usual Globe style of shrill overacting is almost absent--only John Michalski as Macduff and the warriors in the final confrontation are guilty.

There's even some creative lighting (Eric U. Weinstein) and sporadically creative music (Dominic Messinger). If the Globe keeps this up, we might have reason to see the Bard in the dead of winter.

Performances are at 1107 N. Kings Road. Thursdays through Sundays, 8 p.m., until Nov. 14. Tickets: $8.50-$17.50; (213) 654-5623.

'Real Pulp'

The Globe is offering some treats, but the 21st Street Theatre Company has nothing but tricks with its new show, "Real Pulp."

Supposedly a spoof of the pulps of the '30s and '40s, "Real Pulp" comes off as bad camp and a worse excuse for a Waiver house to do something on a strained budget.

Yet this is one Waiver house that hasn't been a stranger to quality, making adaptor/director Sheldon Penner's slap-dash effort all the odder. (He did the interesting "Tales of the Great Depression" in this space two years ago.)

"Death's Detective," by Robert Leslie Bellem, is lame gumshoe stuff, with a hard-boiled sleuth lacking soul (Bruce Gerhard).

Stanley G. Weinbaum's "Parasite Planet," an aliens-versus-humans adventure linking an American man and a Soviet woman (John Howard Swain and Kirsten Vance), is neither thrilling, scary, nor funny. Madalyn Benn's performance as H. P. Lovecraft's "The Outsider" overplays the author's baroque prose.

Confusion reigns in the second half. A program insert informs us that because Marvel Comics has the rights to a character named Dr. Doom, Penner's adaptation of Grant Stockbridge's "The Spider in Hell's Factory" had to be retitled "The Spider Versus Doctor Death." Some of the actors last Sunday were still calling the doctor by his old name, however. Either way, the whole business was doomed.

Performances are at 11350 Palms Blvd. Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., Sundays at 3 p.m., through Nov. 29. Tickets: $5-$8; (213) 827-5655. 'The Playhouse of the Damned'

"Welcome to the Playhouse of the Damned," announces creepy Gus the Ghoul (Keith A. Williams). "This is the playhouse, and you are the damned!"

No joke. As a truly foul Halloween prank to play on unsuspecting friends, a gift of tickets to this unholy mess (a visiting production at the West Coast Ensemble) might be the thing--if you want them never talk to you again.

Gus, a male version of Elvira, introduces the four skits which comprise the hour-long show ("My friends asked me if I wanted to go out to dinner with them. I told them, 'Of corpse I will.' ").

At least Williams, with arched back and bony fingers (and some good make-up) gives Gus a little style. The rest of it--a send-up of Halloween witches, slasher flicks, Frankenstein and vampire induction by author Richard Nathan--is far more amateurish than anything it satirizes. Surely, director Patricia Leslie and her cast have something better to do at 11 p.m.

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