May 20, 2010 |
While filming "The Big Sleep," Howard Hawks asked author Raymond Chandler who killed a certain victim. Chandler's famous response: He had no idea. Hard-boiled plots can get lost in their own fog, a danger that bedevils "LA Noir Unscripted," the latest improvisational hijinks from Impro Theatre. The deadpan troupe, which has created original comic plays nightly in the style of Jane Austen, Tennessee Williams and Shakespeare, now dons fedoras and fishnets for this droll excursion into B-movie territory.
July 17, 2013 |
Fitting “The Tempest” in a teapot-sized theater is a daunting enough prospect, but the bigger challenges facing SkyPilot Theatre Company's “The Island,” a self-described “musical re-imagining” of Shakespeare's play, are the handicaps arising from its own unmet ambitions. In this new present-day adaptation by composer-book writer Jonathan Price and lyricist Chana Wise, and directed by Jeanette Farr, air travel, smartphones, Internet and hip-hop dance clubs coexist uneasily with “The Tempest's” familiar narrative elements (power-grabbing betrayal, magical spells, parental tribulations and raging teen hormones)
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.)
March 7, 2014 |
In “Stand-Off at Hwy #37,” a world premiere by Native Voices at the Autry, playwright Vickie Ramirez probes the ambiguous political landscape between Native and non-Native American territories. In upstate New York, residents of a reservation have organized a protest against an encroaching highway. A deceptively mild-mannered tribal elder, Aunt Bev (peppery LaVonne Rae Andrews), directs fellow protester Darrin (the scene-stealing Kalani Queypo) to place her armchair right on top of the disputed border.
June 27, 2012 |
They're looking for a few good denouements. The Promenade Players Theater Company's “Six Characters Looking for an Author” and Katselas Theatre Company's solo show “I Am Chrissie” both spark from the same premise: Those who don't stage their history are condemned to repeat it. “Six Characters” is a new version of Luigi Pirandello's one-act by David Harrower. In this surreal skit, a tedious theater rehearsal takes an unexpected turn when an agitated family enters and announces its members are characters from an unfinished play.
April 22, 2014 |
Among the revivals and West Coast premieres that dominate our theatrical offerings, the startling phrase “world premiere” implies an exhilarating, possibly risky novelty: You can't help expecting pyrotechnics. But Rachel Bonds' “Five Mile Lake,” receiving its world premiere at South Coast Repertory, is a small, quiet play in which nothing particularly momentous happens. In fact, you may forget you're watching a play at all, and that the people in whose every fleeting expression you have become so deeply absorbed are actors reciting memorized lines.
April 26, 2012 |
You'd be hard-pressed to find a musical with less dramatic tension than "Million Dollar Quartet" anywhere this side of a "My Little Pony" touring show. The production that opened Tuesday at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts really just wants to let the good times roll, so you can be glad it devotes only about 10 minutes of its 105-minute running time to drumming up token conflicts between Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Johnny Cash and their visionary producer, Sam Phillips.
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.