July 3, 2009 |
Anton Chekhov famously described "The Cherry Orchard" as "not a drama but a comedy, in places almost a farce." That is exactly how it blossoms at the Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum. Chekhov's final masterwork receives a gracefully rewarding production that uses aerated humor and inventive pertinence to illuminate its heartbroken core. Freely adapted by Heidi Helen Davis, who also directs, beautifully, and Ellen Geer, Chekhov's pre-revolutionary Russian aristocrats wind up outside Charlottesville, Va., circa 1970.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
December 21, 2011 |
Heidi Helen Davis, an actress, acting teacher and stage director who had a long association with the Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum in Topanga Canyon, died Thursday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, her family announced. She was 60 and had breast cancer. Since 1985, Davis directed more than 20 plays for the outdoor stage at the Theatricum Botanicum, including Tennessee Williams' "A Streetcar Named Desire" (1993), "The Glass Menagerie" (1994) and "Sweet Bird of Youth" (1997)
October 14, 2004 |
"Watch on the Rhine": When Lillian Hellman's drama opened in 1941, it gave human form to the fascist menace in Europe. The action took place in a house outside Washington, where a Nazi-friendly blackmailer threatened a European American family. Today, this famously pro-war drama is rarely performed. Intriguingly, it was part of the summer season at the Theatricum Botanicum.
October 26, 1990 |
The songs in "Songs of Harmony" are members of a Chinese-American family divided between Old World parents and three very New World daughters. Karen Huie's comedy at the East-West Players, the company's Silver Anniversary production, has an inordinately weak first act but gathers momentum thereafter and ends on a mirthful note. The production's singular, unqualified achievement is actress Cici Lau as the old-fashioned Chinese wife Mrs. Song.
January 27, 1995 |
New playwright Garrett H. Omata has a promising flair for irony and comic situations, judging from his first produced work, "S.A.M. I Am" at East West Players. Thoughtfully drawing on the dating-scene foibles confronting the single Asian male, Omata traces the lovelorn path of his hero John Hamabata (Doug Yasuda), a shy restaurant assistant manager, as he courts a beautiful news writer (Joanne Takahashi) whose romantic ideal is Sam Shepard.
July 10, 1998 |
A spunky revival of "Lettice & Lovage" at the Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum has a solid grasp on the complex thematic crosscurrents in Peter Shaffer's sharp-edged comedy, but opening-night jitters also demonstrated the need for polishing. Fortunately, the problems--dropped lines and some timing lapses--were symptomatic of premature birth rather than inherent interpretive flaws.