March 16, 1993 |
The Laguna Playhouse is offering a gently enjoyable production of Alan Ayckbourn's "Bedroom Farce," a very British comedy about married people. Ayckbourn is the theatrical muse of middle-class suburban England, and judging by the tremendous popularity he enjoys in his native land, one assumes that his comic barbs hit bull's-eyes there. American audiences, however, are not going to get the social satire, unless they are Anglophiles or die-hard devotees of the BBC.
March 15, 1993 |
South Coast Repertory's revival of "Waiting for Godot" would seem to have everything going for it: consummate actors, top-notch designers and a director not only sensitive to nuance but privy to Samuel Beckett's personal notes for staging his mid-Century masterwork. Given these advantages, the production should have scintillated. Yet on opening night Friday, despite all the talent deployed on the SCR Second Stage, this "Godot" was too often punctilious in execution and flat in tone.
March 4, 1993 |
To contort a phrase, you live by a medium, you die by a medium. Although video isn't absolutely central to the kind of shows put together by the Orange County Crazies comedy ensemble, it's a key aspect of the act. Besides, like most sketch and improv groups, the Crazies refer to television almost obsessively. Consider, for instance, the title of the troupe's new act: "Orange Trek: The Lost Generation."
March 2, 1993
It used to take people longer to grow up--before two world wars took away our innocence--and it wasn't always to their advantage. Awareness of this is at the core of Ken Prestininzi's "Mine," the first of two plays on one program at the New One-Act Theatre Ensemble. Prestininzi sets his play in a mining town in 1909, an era not noted for its rural sophistication. Jason and his sister, Izzy, have inherited a mine, which Jason runs.
February 25, 1993 |
Just a little hint to directors: One clue to a successful production of Shakespeare's "The Taming of the Shrew" is the casting of the seemingly subsidiary role of Grumio, servant to the male lead Petruchio. Director Phillip Beck found an actor whose inventiveness is one of the ingredients that brings this production to life. In Beck's staging at Rancho Santiago College, under the banner of the Professional Actors Conservatory, he not only has a superlative Grumio, he's taken a couple of chances.
February 19, 1993 |
"Velma & Jessie," a generational drama about a family curse, is a dreary, exasperating play that's further damaged by unappealing performances at the Third Stage in Burbank. Director Allan Hunt's efforts to draw empathy to this family, his whole mise en scene, is shot down by uneven performances. But tiresome characters will humble the best of actors.
February 18, 1993 |
To thoroughly get into the spirit of Jay Alan Quantrill's new musical at the Fountain Theatre, it helps to get inside the mind of a philosopher-mountebank. Set in the courtyard of a 16th-Century monastery, where itinerant actors, Gypsies and assorted travelers have put up for the night, "Viva Yo!" takes us on a musical tour of the emotions that is alternately soothing, ingratiating, affectionate and ribald.
February 17, 1993 |
The vulgar sexual satire of "Lysistrata" is getting a mild workout at Saddleback College's McKinney Theatre. This production is more notable for the pink-and-blue bedroom colors of its sleek design than for anything remotely provocative in the performances. Even so, it is virtually impossible to nullify the bawdy entertainment quotient of Aristophanes' anti-war comedy.
February 14, 1993 |
Edna St. Vincent Millay was a poet, first of all. But she was much more, as playwright Leigh Kaplan points out in her play "Millay--Poet, Pianist" at Long Beach Playhouse's Studio Theatre. Millay was also a musician (she wrote the libretto for a Deems Taylor opera) and an actress who appeared professionally at Greenwich Village's Provincetown Playhouse. She was one of the colorful creative personalities who gave the Village its many-splendored reputation in the two decades after World War I.
February 12, 1993 |
As a foreign visitor once told this writer, you can tell a lot about Americans by the way they sell meat in the markets: neatly packaged in nice plastic foam containers. The wish to stay at arm's length from the raw meat of existence pertains to many American playwrights as well. But not Ronald Ribman, and certainly not Ribman's intimate masterwork, "Cold Storage."