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 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.)
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 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)
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.
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.
August 26, 2012 |
At 80, South African playwright Athol Fugard is still turning out plays at a rate that would be daunting for a dramatist half his age. A crucial witness to the warping effect of apartheid on his country's soul, Fugard has continued in the post-apartheid era to track the difficult moral journey of characters heeding and resisting the national imperative of reconciliation. His latest play, "The Blue Iris," receiving its U.S. premiere at the Fountain Theatre, is in keeping with the distilled, backward-looking, frankly mournful style that has dominated his late works.
September 7, 2012 |
Just a few years after writing his antiwar masterpiece, "The Trojan Women," Euripides was even more despondent about the reckless imperialist course of Athenian foreign policy. His response wasn't a louder shriek of lament but a rollicking romantic melodrama - escapist fare, really, but with a radical Euripidean twist. Conceived of during a low point in the long and costly Peloponnesian War, "Helen," a sentimental adventure tale with a biting undercurrent of social criticism, dares to debunk the rationale for the Trojan War by imagining an alternative narrative about the faithless beauty who infamously launched a thousand Greek ships.