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Theater | Theater Review

Theater at the Mall Is Anything but Pedestrian

February 22, 2001|JANA J. MONJI | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

In Cornerstone Theater Company's intriguing reprisal, "Foot/Mouth," at Santa Monica Place, the voyeuristic quality of theater is cranked up a few notches.

"Foot/Mouth" interweaves Samuel Beckett's "Footfalls" and Alison Carey's adaptation of Luigi Pirandello's "The Man With the Flower in His Mouth." Some of the emotional impact of these two slender dramas is lost, but in its place is a whimsical suggestion of the personal dramas of each shopper.

Equipped with headphones and a radio, audience members gather on the third floor of the mall to watch a distracted gray-haired woman, May (Dorothy James), pacing on the second level across from them, speaking out loud to no one. Only the audience members can hear the voice-over of May's mother in "Footfalls."

Unlike the previous production, which set this character on a stage, this "Foot/Mouth" allows the woman to mingle and be judged by other shoppers. During the final preview performance, passersby either consciously ignored her or, in the case of one man, wordlessly mocked her.

In "The Man With the Flower in His Mouth," Armando Molina and Shishir Kurup blend in easily with the other shoppers. Waiting for their wives, the two men begin a casual conversation as they stroll about the mall.

Under the direction of Christopher Liam Moore, the notion of performers is enlarged. Shoppers gawked at the audience, an odd gaggle of people, craning their necks and intently staring at others. The actors are integrated with the shoppers but don't interact, although the reactions of passersby become part of the performance and all the world becomes a stage.

* "Foot/Mouth," Cornerstone Theater Company at Santa Monica Place, 4th and Broadway streets, Santa Monica. Thursdays and Fridays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 6 and 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m. Ends March 11. $9.99. (213) 613-1700, Ext. 33. Running time: 35 minutes.

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