September 2, 2013 |
As a snapshot of Harlem in 1943, John Henry Redwood's “The Old Settler” evokes some historical artifacts that have faded into obscurity - party line telephones, the Savoy Ballroom - and others that stubbornly endure in more camouflaged form, i.e., segregationist tactics that stack the economic deck. Nevertheless, Redwood's 1998 romantic dramedy is first and foremost a humanist work with a vision of endurance and connectedness that transcends race and politics, and its best qualities are admirably served in William Stanford Davis' fine staging at the Pico Playhouse.
June 25, 2013 |
Anyone familiar with Will Geer's Theatricum Botanicum -- the scenic Topanga Canyon outdoor theater operated by the late actor's family -- will immediately appreciate the slyly apropos casting for its charming revival of George S. Kaufman and Edna Ferber's “The Royal Family.” Though this 1927 satirical portrait of a showbiz dynasty was modeled on the contemporaneous Barrymores, some foibles never go out of style -- and who better to illustrate them...
May 18, 2010 |
Alan Ayckbourn's "How the Other Half Loves" is built of the standard sex farce elements: spiraling lies, compromising situations and comeuppances barely avoided. But it also offers some thoughtful assessments about why people are so disastrously susceptible to infidelity. It's easy to see why the 1969 comedy is often revived — even if one might wish it were a tad more rambunctious. And even if one is aware that there are other, better plays among the British playwright's more than 70 full-length works that keep getting overlooked.
November 23, 2012 |
Childhood alienation may be painful, but it can be mined later for entertaining anecdotes. In a new comedy, “Mrs. Mannerly,” receiving its West Coast premiere at Theatre 40, playwright Jeffrey Hatcher dramatizes his experience as a misfit boy in Steubenville, Ohio. Nine-year-old Jeffrey (Richard Horvitz) is sent to an etiquette class taught by Mrs. Mannerly (Nan Tepper), a local legend who, although nearing obsolescence in 1967, doggedly preaches proper posture and table setting.
December 5, 2011 |
If the new Cirque du Soleil tribute to Michael Jackson, "Immortal," confirms one thing, it's that the King of Pop's presence, even in death, sure can rile up a crowd. Every time the late singer's image popped on-screen during the show's Las Vegas premiere on Saturday night, whether as a tyke with a golden voice as part of the Jackson 5 or as a Thriller with a sequined glove and a miraculous body for dance, the sold-out venue erupted, if only for a snapshot moment. But clips of Jackson being MJ, however magnetic, can't sustain an hour-and-a-half show dedicated to his music, nor can a dancing Bubbles the chimpanzee, big-Afroed J5 impersonators, a baffling mid-show cello solo, a sexy contortionist act atop a children's book, groups of synchronized mummies in hoop skirts and, most curiously, a life-sized dancing glove that looked more like a half-dead starfish.
January 11, 2013 |
Before Quentin Tarantino, Martin McDonagh and all the other sadistic bad boys of film and theater, there was the 17th century dramatist John Ford testing his audience's tolerance for perverse blood sport. In his most popular play, " 'Tis Pity She's a Whore," now at Freud Playhouse through Saturday in an international touring production by the acclaimed London-based company Cheek by Jowl, Ford does his best to out-Jacobean the Jacobean playwrights he was weaned on. Revenge isn't just the main dish - it's the theme of his entire buffet.
March 26, 2013 |
In the musical "Avenue Q," there's a happy-go-lucky song about a dirty little computer secret. It's called "The Internet Is for Porn. " Theatergoers from the respectable middle class giggle helplessly throughout this number, but imagine how quickly the laughter would cease if government agents knocked on their door demanding to review their Internet browsing history. Such a scenario is underway in "The Nether," the daring new drama by Jennifer Haley that opened at the Kirk Douglas Theatre Sunday.
June 20, 2012 |
Enda Walsh's "The New Electric Ballroom" has returned to Los Angeles in a Rogue Machine production directed by John Perrin Flynn at Theatre/Theater. The play is rather hermetic in a neo-Beckettian fashion, and I don't think I fully appreciated it when the beautifully acted Druid Ireland production was presented by UCLA Live in 2009 along with its companion piece "The Walworth Farce," which I liked a good deal more. Some plays require repeated exposures before their secret music can be discerned.
November 19, 2012 |
Dorothy isn't the only one who got lost in Kansas. After World War II, more than 100,000 Japanese women married American GIs and resettled across the United States. We meet five of those brides, unmoored in the Midwest, in “Tea, With Music,” a bittersweet chamber musical with book and lyrics by Velina Hasu Houston and music by Nathan Wang, now at East West Players. The occasion is a tea ceremony - and an exorcism. In a small Kansas town, Himiko (Joan Almedilla) has killed herself after a downward spiral of loss and rage.
July 30, 2012 |
One percenters, hide those offshore accounts: Occupy LA - or something a lot like it - has been spotted at the Boston Court Performing Arts Center. The corruption of the privileged few is the comic target of Nikolai Gogol's “The Government Inspector,” now in an exuberant if overstated new adaptation by Oded Gross. We open on a scene that sounds suspiciously like a city council meeting in Bell: Mayor Anton (John Billingsley) alerts his cronies (Joe Fria, Alan Brooks, and Dana Kelly, Jr.)