October 29, 1999 |
When first published in 1939, James Hadley Chase's gangster classic, "No Orchids for Miss Blandish," pushed the envelope of propriety to a shocking degree and wound up a perennial bestseller. The 1978 stage adaptation by Scottish producer and playwright Robert David MacDonald, presented at the Ivy Substation by the Evidence Room, is more camp than cutting edge, a no-holds-barred melodrama that goes as far over the top as a vintage Cagney movie.
March 12, 1996 |
What do a Russian witch, a Colombian goddess and King Arthur have in common? They're all part of the comical "New Wives Tales," the second in a new, free series of performances by the We Tell Stories children's theater troupe at the Ivy Substation in Culver City.
April 20, 2001 |
An obscure footnote in the annals of jazz, Charlie Leeds was a brilliant bass player who sacrificed his talent to his heroin habit. After serving in World War II, Leeds returned to the New York club scene and found himself on a slippery slope leading to a lifelong addiction and a constant round of hospital stays and jail terms.
July 12, 2002 |
Cost issues have forced the Center Theatre Group to drop plans for a 100-seat stage at its proposed Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City. The smaller space was to have supplemented the facility's primary 320-seat auditorium. The project, announced earlier this year, involves the renovation of the interior of the Culver Theater, a cinema that was opened in 1947, and the original plan called for the existing structure's balcony area to be used as a smaller stage.
June 15, 2001 |
"Legal Briefs" is a bill of four short plays about law. This Antaeus Company production at the Ivy Substation has some failures as well as some resounding successes. Billy K. Wells' vaudeville ditty, "The Ambulance Chaser," is a slight, throwaway piece with predictable jokes performed with over-the-top enthusiasm under the direction of Michael Clark Haney.
November 4, 1994 |
Some of the staging devices Alan Ayckbourn writes into his plays are ingenious. Others are gimmicky. "Taking Steps" offers an example of the latter. The gimmick in this farce, now in its area premiere at the Ivy Substation, is that three floors of a decrepit English house are all represented on one stage level. So the actors pretend to climb up and down stairs. A lot. At first it's mildly funny to see them miming their way up the "steps."
February 6, 1997 |
Approaching the end of Mac Wellman's new "The Lesser Magoo," at Ivy Substation, a character remarks that it's hard to have a conversation "with people acting so, so . . . random." That same quality also makes it hard to maintain interest in "The Lesser Magoo." It begins promisingly, with a scene depicting a job interview from hell.
September 16, 2005 |
How cagey of the Actors' Gang to revisit "Blood! Love! Madness!" at its new Ivy Substation venue. Cagier still, director Brent Hinkley, some superb designers and a brilliant cast attack this 1992 omnibus of Japanese one-acts as full-scale reconception, to mesmerizing effect. The original notion -- to wed Kabuki traditions to modernist energies with a little Noh and much moxie -- remains unchanged.
June 24, 2005 |
Few plays by William Shakespeare remain as controversial as "The Merchant of Venice," which the Los Angeles Women's Shakespeare Company clearly understands. Director-actress Lisa Wolpe and her all-female crew give the Bard's dark comic study of anti-Semitism and ambivalent romantic intrigue an invigorating boost. Wolpe aptly sets the action in 1942, with clashes unfolding amid the brick-and-marble levels and Christian icons of Katrina Coulorides' smart Ivy Substation set.