August 22, 2012 |
Enigmatic anecdote is the currency of Martin Crimp's "The City," having its U.S. premiere at Son of Semele Theater in a production directed by artistic director Matthew McCray. The characters don't so much engage in dialogue as indulge in a cryptic form of storytelling, in which puzzling incidents are set against a background of warfare, brutality and personal desolation. A foreboding air of menace invokes the work of Harold Pinter, though Crimp, a playwright better known in the States for his springy translations of French dramatic classics, is more abstract and diffuse.
January 3, 1996 |
Agatha Christie's talent for ingenious twists was never sharper than in "Witness for the Prosecution," and for devotees of the mystery genre, the surprise ending is probably worth wading through her stage adaptation. But in dramatic terms, the play's creaky construction and endless exposition make for very slow going, and Robert Craig's staging for Pasadena's Knightsbridge Theatre is further hampered by uneven casting and awkward blocking.
March 15, 1995 |
Sometimes a good novel is just that: a good novel. Its tone, plot and characters remain stubbornly resistant to transmutation into a theatrical form. When it comes to F. Scott Fitzgerald novels, this seems particularly true, as evidenced by Hollywood's pathetic string of "Great Gatsbys." None of these past failures intimidated playwright Simon Levy. He bravely adapted Fitzgerald's "Tender Is the Night" for the inaugural production of the American Literature Theatre Lab at the Fountain Theatre.
December 7, 1994 |
Clearly playwright Don L. Freeman doesn't want to hide his intentions in "God and Other Terrorists," at the Laguna Festival of the Arts Forum Theatre through Dec. 17. When you name your central character Emmet Surrey Force, you are putting something more than a character on stage: You're creating a presence as much as a person. Which is all to the good: The best characters are presences who resonate.
November 6, 2006 |
HOLD off on the novenas for "Sister Act: The Musical. " The show, which opened Friday at the Pasadena Playhouse, has Broadway blockbuster written all over it. But it's going to need a little divine intervention if it's to become more than just another generically manufactured hit. The whole project has an air of inevitability to it. Putting aside the clumsy lip-synching of its star, the 1992 Whoopi Goldberg movie most vividly came to life during...
January 16, 2013 |
Any show created by or with the late Jerome Robbins invariably retains its magic through decades of restagings. The scruffy-looking but endearing production of "Peter Pan" that opened Tuesday at the Pantages Theatre for a two-week run is no exception. His first show as both director and choreographer, "Peter Pan" found Robbins putting together the script from previous stage adaptations and author James Barrie's various editions and afterthoughts. He also invited Betty Comden, Adolph Green and Jule Styne to supplement the songs by Carolyn Leigh and Moose Charlap, and gave this patchwork of words and music the sense of a complete, living world that audiences soon came to recognize as a Robbins trademark.
March 19, 2013 |
Cormac is a law-school-bound young man living in a cramped apartment in New York's West Village with his financially strapped mother. Iris is a blogger, working from home in Queens, who hires "Mac" to spiff up her website. The love story that develops between them in Ken LaZebnik's drama "On the Spectrum," now at the Fountain Theatre, would be traditional to a fault were it not for a salient difference: Mac and Iris are characters with autism. Mac has Asperger's syndrome and lives a fairly mainstream life with help from his mother, who is there to nudge him when he gets stuck in one of his obsessive loops.
August 14, 2012 |
As imagined by John Logan in his Tony-winning drama "Red" and portrayed by the galvanizing Alfred Molina, painter Mark Rothko is a man of fierce convictions and fiery words. His opinions about art are delivered like biblical proclamations, spoken in the Old Testament cadences of a burning bush. As he holds forth on the nobility of highbrow ambition and the ignominy of commercial frivolity you might momentarily think you've stumbled into a town hall on the fate of the Museum of Contemporary Art. In fact, you are at the Mark Taper Forum, where this sensational production from London's Donmar Warehouse (and later Broadway)
October 17, 2012 |
Let's congratulate the Actors' Gang for at least bringing some novelty to our classical repertory. When American theater companies feel an itch to revive a work by Richard Brinsley Sheridan, they inevitably reach for "The School for Scandal," which has come to epitomize that post-Restoration genre known as 18th century comedy. "The Rivals," Sheridan's first play, is a more unwieldy affair, but there are hearty laughs to be had from this scattershot spray of silliness from 1775. To enjoy them, however, one most be willing to plod through dizzying stretches of ludicrous plot.
September 17, 2013 |
"Richard II," Shakespeare's history play about the fate of a king who talks a better game than he delivers, is given an entrancing stripped-down production at the Theatre @ Boston Court. Jessica Kubzansky, the theater's co-artistic director, has adapted and directed what she's calling "R II," a deft distillation of the drama that begins after Richard has been taken prisoner. Performed by an adroit cast of three, Kubzansky's version proceeds in flashbacks that are staged with laser-like precision, each scene offering another angle on this political object lesson.