November 11, 1992 |
The father in A. R. Gurney's "The Cocktail Hour" frets about how he'll come off in the play (also named "The Cocktail Hour") that his son has written about him. With good reason. As played by Efrem Zimbalist Jr. at La Mirada Theatre, the character is a richly pompous windbag, as ripe for satire as someone out of Ben Jonson.
June 4, 2001 |
In the nicest way, Amy Freed's sparkling new comedy "The Beard of Avon" is the "JFK" of its chosen milieu: Elizabethan England in the time of William Shakespeare. Freed answers her central question--"Who wrote Shakespeare's plays?"--by opening an overstuffed rucksack of conspiracy theories.
May 1, 1987 |
The trick to doing a good play about a con man is that somehow the audience must be made to want his sting to work. That's not so hard in "The Rainmaker" and "The Music Man," where people are ultimately "conned" into hope and pride and feeling better about themselves. It's a tougher nut in "Sly Fox," a tale of greed outfoxing greed. Larry Gelbart's adaptation of Ben Jonson's "Volpone" was a great success in New York with George C.
March 13, 1998 |
"Go home and die and stink." This stunning insult is merely a pebble in the sea of villainy that is Ben Jonson's black comedy "Volpone." In Glendale, A Noise Within presents the 1605 satire--one of the darkest views of human nature ever written--with sporadic splashes of spunk and style. A watchful chorus of vultures observes the play, squawking at some of the more appalling goings-on. But for all its colorful high concept, "Volpone" remains at heart a dutiful rendition of a classic.
October 6, 2001 |
Ben Jonson, no hack though no Shakespeare, was right: The Bard of Avon was "not of an age, but for all time." In certain Shakespeare plays, however, timeless art runs smack into the prejudices of the age creating it. And the art cannot get up again, at least not without a struggle. "The Merchant of Venice" is one of those plays. It is controversial for a notorious, richly troubling one-word reason: Shylock.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
February 11, 2001 |
Oxnard is about to hire a sign consultant. As near as I can make out, this is a person who gives (actually sells) expert advice on the design and deployment of street signs. It occurs to me that if the city is about to invest in new street signage, this would be a propitious time to change the names of some of the streets in Oxnard's urban core. The identity of Oxnard's Original Sign Consultant (OSC) is, mercifully, obscured in history.
October 14, 1989 |
You had to smile, learning that actor-playwright Gregory Mortensen had adapted Ben Jonson's Renaissance London comedy, "The Alchemist," into a Gold Rush-era San Francisco comedy called "The Scoundrel." Jonson, Shakespeare's chief rival, is rarely done anymore, and when he is, it's usually "Volpone." His comedy is caustic, mellowed only by a lilting verse style. It would be nice to hear actors deal with the original Jonson, but we'll take any updating with a title like "The Scoundrel."
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
September 30, 1987
In 1623, seven years after William Shakespeare was buried in the parish church of Stratford-on-Avon, actors John Heminge and Henry Condell published a collection of his plays that came to be known as the First Folio. Their purpose, as they wrote in words that are significant to our story, was "only to keep the memory of so worthy a friend and fellow alive as was our Shakespeare . . . ."
January 19, 1989 |
The Grove Theatre Company in Garden Grove has unveiled sweeping plans to go professional and to consolidate its 12-month season into seven months--from June through December--with classical fare being offered at the indoor Gem Theatre and the outdoor Festival Amphitheatre.
September 25, 1986 |
Saying What You Mean: A Commonsense Guide to American Usage by Robert Claiborne (Norton: $16.95) This is one of the few books of which it can be said that much of the substance is in the introduction and that an important clue to its nature and thrust is in the acknowledgments. One acknowledgment: "Special thanks are due to Jim Quinn whose 'American Tongue and Cheek' . . . directly inspired me to write this book." Now, this isn't quite fair.