Results tagged “Terry Morgan”

An Irish Take on 'Medea' Makes For Powerful Drama In 'By The Bog of Cats'

Audience identification is an interesting phenomenon. It's the fact that audiences will have sympathy for a possibly repellent character simply because he or she is the protagonist in a story—perhaps it's an artistic variant of Stockholm Syndrome?

Political Correctness Gets Skewered in 'The Pain And The Itch'

Having seen a couple of plays written by Bruce Norris, (Clybourne Park and The Parallelogram) I'm beginning to detect a theme in his writing. He seems to find the purportedly liberal beliefs of certain rich white people worthy of ridicule, specifically convictions of a "politically correct" strain.

Alison Pill Of 'The Newsroom' Brightens Up Revival of 'Wait Until Dark'

Knott's plot is a well-oiled tension machine, and the revival at the Geffen Playhouse (in a new adaptation by Jeffrey Hatcher) demonstrates that the machine still functions proficiently. Alison Pill is marvelous in the lead role, but unfortunately there are a couple of problems in this generally strong production that keeps it from firing on all cylinders.

Two Manipulators Vie For Control Of A Man's Life In Razor-Sharp 'Creditors'

The L.A. premiere of David Greig's adaptation of August Strindberg's 'Creditors' feels like something freshly written by Neil LaBute.

Theatre Review: 'The Liar' Gets A Witty, Modern Adaptation

Nicholas D'Agosto, Kate Maher and Gigi Bermingham in the Antaeus Company's production of "The Liar." Photo - Geoffrey Wade The Antaeus Company has delivered a sparkling production of Pierre Corneille's 17th-century play The Liar. It's a brilliant modern adaptation by David Ives and is one of the wittiest things I've seen in years. The downside of being a theatre company that specializes in the classics, such as the Antaeus Company, is that, rightly or...

'Lovecraft: Nightmare Suite' Is an Early Halloween Treat For Theater Fans

Scary plays are a rarity in the American theatrical landscape, but thankfully Los Angeles has several theatre companies that offer something macabre for horror aficionados.

AIDS Drama 'The Normal Heart' an Extraordinary Revival at The Fountain Theatre

The primary joy of the Fountain Theatre's current revival of "The Normal Heart" is the demonstration of what a strong, smart, character-driven play it is. The production is excellent on all levels, from Simon Levy's dynamic direction to the outstanding ensemble, with Tim Cummings delivering an electrifying, career-best lead performance.

'Lost Girls'' Story Is An Uninspiring Take On Alcoholism, Broken Homes & Young Romance

I've seen any number of plays about alcoholism and broken relationships and the beginning of young romance (albeit perhaps not all themes together in one show), and this one regrettably doesn't seem to have anything new to say on any of those subjects.

Philip K. Dick Fans Should Enjoy Production of 'Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?'

Kimberly Atkinson and Eric Curtis Johnson in the Sacred Fools production of "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" Photo - Jessica Sherman Photography Late great science fiction author Philip K. Dick's two thematic questions that ran through almost all of his work were "What is reality" and "What does it mean to be human?" While his novel The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch is an example of the former question, a nightmarish tale of...

'Rapture, Blister, Burn' Ignites Discussion On The Evolution Of Feminism

em>Rapture, Blister, Burn is a show that blends its discussion of changing views of feminism over the last several decades with a compelling story.

The Rapture Turns Out To Be Significantly Funnier Than Expected in 'Revelation'

There is clearly something in the zeitgeist these days about the imminent end of the world. One of the things this story structure allows for is a focus on character, after most external trappings have been stripped away. Revelation does just that and is very funny in the bargain.

Time Travel Becomes A Shallow Gimmick In 'A Parallelogram'

Although the cast is terrific and the production is top-notch and the play is amusing, it's somewhat shallow.

Immigration Explored In Funny & Touching 'Brendan'

The West Coast premiere of the play at Theatre Banshee is funny and touching in equal measure.

Pacific Resident Theatre's 'A View From The Bridge' Delivers Explosive Drama

The new production at Pacific Resident Theatre does Miller proud, with Vince Melocchi's explosive lead highlighting a superb ensemble.

The Problems With This 'Watson' Sequel Are Elementary

In November 2010, a play called Watson: The Last Great Tale of the Legendary Sherlock Holmes was one of my favorite shows. It is thus with regret that I have to report that the new sequel premiering at Sacred Fools, Watson And The Dark Art of Harry Houdini, is disappointing, a pale imitation of the original that only sporadically works.

Audiences Should Probably Say No To 'Yes, Prime Minister'

When I read that Jay and Lynn had created a play called Yes, Prime Minister and had secured an impressive cast, I was excited to see it. Unfortunately, through no fault of the actors, the U.S. premiere of the production at the Geffen Playhouse is strained, prolonged and seems a bit dated.

"We Are Proud..." Is Witty, Thrilling Theatre

Joe Holt, Daniel Bess, John Sloan, Julanne Chidi Hill, Rebecca Mozo and Phil LaMarr in "We Are Proud..." at the Matrix Theatre. Photo - Jillian Armenante One of the truisms of theatre is that one doesn't need a lot of money to do it right; you just require creativity and talent. The latest example of this is a new show with a very long title: We Are Proud to Present a Presentation About The...

'The Scottsboro Boys' Is An Admirable Musical Misfire

At first glance, the idea of a musical dealing with the great historical tragedy referred to by the title seems possibly disrespectful, but that proves not to be the case. In many ways, the result is intelligent and daring, and the new production at the Ahmanson is well acted and directed. Unfortunately, it also doesn't quite work as well as it might.

'Dying City' Flops As A Good Production Of A Disappointing Play

It sometimes happens as a critic that you'll see a show that's been favorably reviewed, given awards or is simply a hit and wonder afterwards what all the praise was about.

Antaeus Company's 'The Crucible' Is a Blast of Theatre Glory

The new production by the Antaeus Company galvanizes the play with ferocious energy and a wealth of acting talent that instantly makes it one of the best shows of the year. This production is a righteous blast, my friends. Don't miss it.

LaBute's Adaptation of 'Miss Julie' a Major Disappointment

Neil LaBute's current adaptation of August Strindberg's Miss Julie is a lackluster affair, and miscasting in the Geffen Playhouse production hurts it further.

Middling 'The Parisian Woman' Livened Up By TV Stars, Strong Cast

Beau Willimon's new play, The Parisian Woman, offers a glimpse of unorthodox power plays in Washington, D.C. Its machinations, however, feel familiar. Although loaded with strong actors—several of whom you're likely to recognize from TV—the production is only mildly entertaining.

'American Misfit' Lives Up to Its Title at Boston Court

The world premiere production of "American Misfit" by the Theatre @ Boston Court is unable to rise above the problems of the script, and unfortunately adds a few of its own.

Neil Gaiman's 'Neverwhere' a Big-Canvas Fantasy With Charm at Sacred Fools

Sacred Fools have done it again with 'Neverwhere,' a big-canvas fantasy that, while rough around the edges, still preserves the charm and magic of Neil Gaiman's novel.

Center Theatre Group's 'The Nether' Boldly Tackles Pedophilia—Too Bad It's Unbelievable

People (including myself) often criticize Center Theatre Group for playing it safe, relying on proven hits imported from Broadway and London instead of taking a chance on original plays. Thus it is only fair when CTG does something original, they should be praised for it, and so I congratulate them for the artistic impulse that led them to produce The Nether, a show with genuinely controversial subject matter. I just wish it were a better play.

A Smart, Sharp Take On George Bernard Shaw's Controversial 'Mrs. Warren's Profession'

The thing about George Bernard Shaw's plays, what makes them still compelling a century on, is that they weren't intended to make his audiences comfortable. Either he'd find a way to offend or confuse you right away, or even better, he'd allow you to feel superior to all those people who were so easily offended. Then, right when you were smugly enjoying yourself, he'd turn back around and agree with the other side.

Erotic Thriller 'Songs of Bilitis' Is A Dull Disappointment

Rogue Artists Ensemble has been a unique company for some time now, using theatre tools and multimedia in impressive ways that have set them apart as an intriguing presence in L.A. theatre. Their production of Songs of Bilitis is, unfortunately, a well-intentioned disappointment.

An FBI Agent And An Internet Predator Square Off in 'Sexsting'

One thing theatre arguably does better than film or novels is dealing with uncomfortable issues. This has worked from works as disparate as Saved to Equus, and it works again in Doris Baizley and Susan Raffanti's Sexsting, which is currently receiving its West Coast premiere in a strong production at the Skylight Theatre Complex.

'Ladyhouse Blues' Showcases The Complicated Lives Of Women During World War I

In the 70's, Ladyhouse Blues premiered in the late '70s was one of the most produced plays in the country in part because it provides five solid roles for women, a relative rarity in modern American theatre. The new production by Andak Stage Company revels in this fact, presenting a moving character study and a showcase for some terrific acting.

'Chinglish' at South Coast Repertory A Smart, Funny Look at Cultural Differences

The complicated issues that arise when trying to do business in a foreign country is the theme of David Henry Hwang's entertaining and thought-provoking new play Chinglish, which is receiving a first-rate production at South Coast Repertory.

'Cassiopeia' Reaches For The Stars, But Is Left Grasping At Air

I've come to the inescapable conclusion that a lot of the shows I'm covering these days fall into the capacious category of "a great production of a disappointing play." This is, unfortunately, yet another of those reviews.

'The Grand Irrationality' Features A Talented Cast In A Frustrating Show

The Lost Studio's new production of Jemma Kennedy's "The Grand Irrationality:" a play where good actors make the best of an uneven script and suffer through a surfeit of set changes so ponderous they sink the show.

Terrific Performances Redeem Uneven 'Other Desert Cities'

The commingling of the political and the personal in a play is a delicate business. A political piece, by its nature, is message-heavy, whereas most drama concerns the subtleties of relationships. An occasional show can pull off this mixture brilliantly, such as Angels in America, but often the results can be uneven.

Is the 8-Hour Show Based On "The Great Gatsby" Worth The Time?

It's a commendable experiment, with every word of the book narrated or performed in character, the kind of audaciously big theatre that one rarely sees anymore. The ensemble is terrific, the direction provides some amazing set pieces, and it left me with a new appreciation of the novel.

"Coney Island Christmas" Delivers Mild Holiday Cheer

The Geffen Playhouse has commissioned a show it would like to be its own regular holiday show, Donald Margulies' Coney Island Christmas, but unfortunately, while this is a solid production, the play is at best a mildly entertaining trifle.

'Intimate Apparel' Succeeds as Effective Melodrama

While it's great that some plays have important messages and others are triumphs of style and wit, it's worthwhile to remember the considerable pleasures of investing in the trials and tribulations of a sympathetic character. Such is the appeal of Lynn Nottage's Intimate Apparel, receiving a solidly satisfying production right now at the Pasadena Playhouse.

'The Muesli Belt' Tackles Gentrification On The Emerald Isle

Theatre Banshee's latest show, the U.S. premiere of Murphy's The Muesli Belt, is a moving and funny character study buoyed by terrific performances.

Circle X's 'Bad Apples' Is Audacious, Exciting Theatre

Circle X Theatre Co. has been one of the best theatre companies in Los Angeles for fifteen years now. One thing the company has never lacked for is ambition, and this admirable quality is on display in their current world premiere, Bad Apples. It's a musical concerning the Abu Ghraib prison scandal in 2003 and the people involved in it.

Shakespeare's Obscure 'Cymbeline' Gets A Superb Production

There's two reasons to see this show: the play is rarely produced, and here's an opportunity to experience it as done by one of the best classics-based theatre companies in town. The second reason is that one will rarely see this play so well performed.

"Vera Stark" Tackles An Interesting Subject With Disappointing Results

Lynn Nottage's play, By the Way, Meet Vera Stark, is more intriguing as a concept than a reality. It looks at the marginalization of African-American actors in the twentieth century, an undeniably interesting subject, but then stumbles in multiple ways. The fault, unfortunately, is in the writing, and the strong cast in the new production at the Geffen Playhouse isn't able to overcome this problem.

"Silence! The Musical" Is One of the Funniest Shows of the Year

When Thomas Harris wrote his classic thriller The Silence of The Lambs, I don't imagine he ever pictured a troupe of tap-dancing lambs. And yet here we are, decades later, presented with Silence! The Musical. And it's a good thing, too, because it's bloody hilarious.

Athol Fugard's "The Blue Iris" Is Compelling But Uneven

Athol Fugard's latest work, The Blue Iris, is intermittently compelling but ultimately seems undercooked.

"Red" Impresses With Its Acting, But Underwhelms as a Play

John Logan's play, Red, arrives in Los Angeles presold to theatre lovers, and not without cause. After successful runs in London and New York, culminating with the Tony Award for Best Play, the prestige is certainly there.

New Adaptation of Gogol's "The Government Inspector" Blazes With Hilarity

Nikolai Gogol’s 1836 play The Government Inspector has been much adapted, from film versions and an episode of Fawlty Towers to recent theatrical adaptations by Jeffrey Hatcher, David Harrower and Roddy Doyle. Now playwright Oded Gross has presented his version, and happily, it shimmers with brilliant wit.

The Antaeus Company Delivers an Expert Production of "Macbeth"

When the combined talents of the Antaeus Company take on a particular work, it's always worthy of one's time. The new production of Macbeth is expertly done, highlighted by Jessica Kubzansky's deft direction and superb performances from its two lead actors.

"War Horse" is a Triumph of Theatrical Imagination

Due to the fact that I live in Los Angeles and not New York or London, I had the unfortunate experience of seeing the film of War Horse before I saw the play. I know the movie has its defenders, and I would concede that there are moments where the picture works, but overall it was so overblown and sentimental it made Annie look like a hard-hitting exposé of child labor.

Fantastic Performances Light Up "New Electric Ballroom"

The New Electric Ballroomalso by Walsh is the story of three sisters so trapped by their pasts in a small Irish fishing village that they can neither leave nor move forward in their lives, reenacting a traumatic event like a CD on eternal replay.

A Familiar Plot and Few Laughs Weigh Down "The Inventor, the Escort, the Photographer, Her Boyfriend and His Girlfriend"

Much can be forgiven in a sex comedy if it’s funny. The plot doesn’t have to be particularly credible, the characters aren’t required to be three-dimensional and precepts of good taste are rudely shown the door.

Terrorism Paranoia Gets Plentiful Laughs in "The Sleeper"

While there have been a few dramatic plays dealing with the aftermath of 9/11 (notably The Guys and The Mercy Seat), comedies have been in short supply. Considering the tragic subject matter, that’s understandable.

With Frenemies Like These: A Vibrantly Creative Dive into 'Pool (No Water)'

Monkey Wrench Collective’s new production features brilliantly dark writing, protean choreography, confident direction and a superb ensemble. All that, and did I mention it’s funny to boot?

Medea's Kids Get Underwhelming Story in "The Children"

The new production at Boston Court, a modern take on the Medea story by playwright Michael Elyanow called The Children, is not a classic. In fact, it’s a bad play with the odd grace note of a strong conclusion that points clearly to how strong the show could be if rewritten extensively.

New Deaf West and Fountain Theatre Coproduction of "Cyrano" Is Skillful and Impressive

I’ve never seen a production of Cyrano de Bergerac I didn’t like. Although certain details of character and the plot have changed, the original heart of the play still beats steadfastly, buoyed up by terrific performances and dazzling video design.

Crimea River: Chekhov's Early Play "Ivanov" Splashes About In Shallow Waters

There's something undeniably thrilling about a theatre company unearthing an obscure play by a famous writer—one hopes one is about to see a forgotten masterpiece. Sometimes, however, an uncelebrated work is justifiably obscure, as is the case with Anton Chekhov’s Ivanov.

"Good People" Is a Great Production of an Okay Play

Although as a matter of habit I try to always keep my expectations low, the fact is that a tiny part of me is expecting some plays to be great, and I’m disappointed when they’re just good. Such is the case with David Lindsay-Abaire’s Good People, which gets a terrific production at the Geffen Playhouse, but the play itself never quite impressed me as first tier.

Circle X Gets 'Naked Before God' With Impressive Results

Pornography and religion are pretty obvious targets for satire, so it's no surprise when comedies concerning these subjects frequently fall short of awesome. Leo Geter's new play, Naked Before God, however, happily manages to avoid clichés. Although the circumstances of the play are deliberately farcical, the characters are not written condescendingly--they're not a joke. Even more happily, the play is very funny, and the current production by Circle X Theatre Company is smart and eminently enjoyable.

"Long Day’s Journey Into Night" Gets an Intense and Inspired Production by Actors Co-Op

William Faulkner once said: “The past isn’t dead. It isn’t even past.” Eugene O’Neill took that thought a step further when he wrote: “The past is the present. It’s the future too, isn’t it?”

"Walking on Turtle Island" Guides Audience Through Native American Culture and History

Actor and playwright Robert Owens-Greygrass is currently performing two one-man-shows in repertory for Native Voices, one of which is the intriguing and entertaining Walking on Turtle Island. The show is narrated by Iyeska, a trickster spirit guide, who surprises with his way of combining talk of traditional Native American culture with more up-to-date terminology, describing himself as a VIP (Virtual Interactive Persona) and delivering sly amusement.

"The Seagull" at The Antaeus Company Never Takes Flight

Anton Chekhov famously contended that his plays were meant to be comedies, albeit perhaps with a tinge of melancholy in their makeup but productions of his work over the last century have tended toward the languorous and dour.

"The Jacksonian" Offers Terrific Performances But an Uneven Play

Beth Henley's play The Jacksonian, a world premiere at the Geffen Playhouse, is an enjoyable and well-cast dark comedy/drama that is nevertheless marred by a well-meaning subplot that neither pays off in any interesting way nor adds anything to the main story.

'The Fall to Earth' Features Great Acting But Mixed Playwriting

Our reviewer, who was a fan of Joel Drake Johnson, had high expectations for The Fall to Earth, but unfortunately it was a disappointment. While the acting is superb, the play is a misfire that lags and strains credulity in equal measure.

Stellar Acting and Dark Revelations Lurk at 'The Water's Edge'

Theresa Rebeck’s The Water’s Edge, in a terrific West Coast premiere by the Road Theatre Company, may take things further in its look at family dynamics than most of us would ever go, but the complicated emotions underlying the characters will be familiar to us all.

"Our Town" Gets Superlative Production at Broad Stage

The thing about Our Town is that pretty much every theater-going adult has seen or read it multiple times, and likely has been in a production of it somewhere along the line.

Iffy Early Neal LaBute Play Gets a Poor Rethink at City Garage

Filthy Talk For Troubled Times was Neil LaBute's first produced play, and while it has moments that point to the playwright he has since become, overall it's crude in an uninteresting way. City Garage, however, has managed to make a weak play demonstrably worse.

A Noise Within Delivers a Passionate Revival of O'Neill's Classic 'Desire Under The Elms'

The current production of Desire Under The Elms at A Noise Within, a time bomb of repressed passion and naked avarice under Dámaso Rodriguez's sure direction, reminds us why it's a classic.

'The Night Watcher' Amuses With Mediocre Characters & Tales

Theatre managers love to put solo shows on their stages because they're very cost effective. When they don't work, however, the blame generally only has one target. Charlayne Woodard's new piece at the Douglas, The Night Watcher, is pleasant and generally amusing, but as an evening of theatre it feels thin.

Theater Review: 'Hermetically Sealed' Serves Up Tasty If Slightly Overcooked Drama

Hermetically Sealed, benefits from nuanced performances and detailed direction, and the writing is generally smart and acerbic. However, the main premise isn't believable, and, as the play goes on, it only becomes more unbelievable and overwrought.

Alan Alda's "Radiance" Shines A Dim Light On Marie Curie

The life and achievements of Marie Curie are certainly worthy subject matter for a play: her position as a pioneer in an otherwise male-dominated scientific establishment and her discovery of radium are full of theatrical possibility. Unfortunately Alan Alda's take on the story, Radiance: The Passion of Marie Curie, only casts a dim glow where the illumination should be brilliant.

Theatre Banshee Offers a Strong Production of the Uneven 'Dolly West's Kitchen'

Here’s something I learned this week: during World War II, Ireland remained neutral. Of course, saying you’re neutral and actually being neutral are two different things, and that psychological dichotomy underlies most of the tension in Frank McGuinness’ Dolly West’s Kitchen.

A Noise Within Stumbles With Uneven "Twelfth Night"

A Noise Within succeeding in its goal of building its own theatre in Pasadena is such an impressive achievement. Unfortunately, their first show in the new space, Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, is a bit disappointing. It's not bad, and a couple of the performances are deft, but it rarely shows us what A Noise Within is truly capable of when the company is on its game.

Theater Review: The Antaeus Company Produces Strong Revival of Noël Coward's Peace In Our Time

The current production is a speculative piece about how things might have been if Britain had been occupied by Germany during WWII, and under Casey Stangl's expert direction it offers the outstanding ensemble many chances to shine in this compelling show.

A Rare Revival of 'The Robber Bridegroom' Is A Well-Crafted Pleasure

What do Driving Miss Daisy playwright Alfred Uhry and famed Southern short story writer Eudora Welty have in common? Uhry (with Robert Waldman) composed a musical from Welty’s “The Robber Bridegroom,” resulting in a 1975 show that formed the professional debuts of both Kevin Kline and Patti LuPone.

Theatre Review: 'I've Never Been So Happy' Is a Complete Misfire

In Bob Dylan's song, "Absolutely Sweet Marie," there's a lyric that reads: "to live outside the law you must be honest." Along the lines of that seemingly incongruous bit of wisdom runs my own thought on arty or avant-garde theatre — just being clever isn't enough. You have to demonstrate excellent quality and above all, be interesting.

Relationships are Murder In 'Love Sick'

Can a play with an abrasive and unsympathetic lead character succeed and be compelling for an audience? In the case of Kristina Poe’s new play, Love Sick, the answer is yes. Despite the psychotically self-righteous protagonist, the show is full of abundant dark comedy, and the world premiere production by the Elephant Theatre Company benefits from a terrific cast.

'Poor Behavior' Excites With A Barrage of Verbal Fireworks

In today's burgeoning plutocracy, where in the words of a Midnight Oil song "the rich get richer [and] the poor get the picture," selfishness has become a cardinal virtue. Not only do the ends not care about justifying the means, but finders are most definitely keepers and the losers are cordially invited to shut up about it.

Edward Albee's Funny But Imbalanced 'Seascape' Hasn't Evolved

It’s fair to say that when Edward Albee won a Pulitzer Prize in 1975 for his play Seascape, it was considered topical, intellectual and engaging. It’s also fair to say that it hasn’t aged well, and now seems quaint, a relic of its era.

'The Walworth Farce' Is Not A Laughing Matter

Theatre Banshee deserves a great deal of credit for taking a risk on a black comedy as dark and difficult as Enda Walsh's The Walworth Farce. It's a loud, confrontational, complicated play, more symbolic than realistic. It requires the audience to sit up and pay attention, to keep up with its tangle of tales and personas and tragedy.

'Heavier Than...' Revisits Greek Mythology

The new play at the Theatre@Boston Court, Steve Yockey's Heavier Than…, is a retelling of the old Greek myth of the minotaur in his labyrinth, but this time from the creature's point of view. It's a professionally done show with a strong cast and a distinctive look, but the play lacks ambition. It's enjoyable while it's going on, but not particularly memorable upon leaving the theatre--a solid base hit, but no home-run.

'Margo Veil' Is One of The Best Plays of The Year

It shouldn't be a surprise that a new show by Evidence Room is excellent, considering the group's history. For more than a decade the troupe has been one of the most well-respected companies in Los Angeles, winning awards and garnering nominations by the score. Regardless of all this, I was surprised and delighted at how fantastic their new show, the West Coast premiere of Margo Veil, is.

'D Is For Dog' Succeeds As Impressive Dark Comedy/Drama

Rogue Artists Ensemble has developed a reputation for wildly creative shows using multimedia, puppets and whatever theatre tools will help to realize their particular visions. The group’s current production, D Is For Dog, retains the striking design elements the Rogues are known for but has pared down the amount.

'Broadsword' Is Very Entertaining But Could Use Sharpening

Marco Ramirez's Broadsword: A Heavy Metal Play, now playing at the Black Dahlia Theatre is funny and well acted with an intriguing plot, and I think most audience members will enjoy it--but I don't think it's reached its full potential yet.

'Superior Donuts' Offers Delicious, if Familiar, Treats

Edi Gathegi and Gary Cole in "Superior Donuts." Photo - Michael Lamont With his award-winning drama August: Osage County, playwright Tracy Letts was swinging for the bleachers, although only time will tell if he managed to knock it out of the park. It’s understandable that he’d try to create something lighter and funnier as a follow-up, and in Superior Donuts he has succeeded. Although this new play is somewhat familiar and slight, it’s also...

'100 Saints You Should Know' Is Worth Getting To Know

Brendan Farrell and Kate Huffman in "100 Saints You Should Know." Photo - Sven Ellirand. It's somewhat of a novelty these days to see a Catholic priest in a modern play that isn’t automatically presented as a child molester. In older works, the clergy were perhaps treated too reverentially--genial, saintly figures in sweaters, invariably from Ireland. One of the great virtues of Kate Fodor’s 100 Saints You Should Know is that she portrays a...

Discontented With 'The Malcontent'

Bo Foxworth in "The Malcontent." Photo - Geoffrey Wade The revelatory thing about productions of older plays is that age doesn't necessarily make a show dated--the human verities remain constant--and great art shrugs off accumulated centuries like water drops. The flip side of this, however, is that just because a play happens to be ancient and obscure, it isn't necessarily a classic. The Antaeus Company's raison d'etre is to shine a light on underappreciated...

'The Chinese Massacre (Annotated)' Is An Ambitious Misfire

Alex Levin, Jully Lee and Warren Davis in "The Chinese Massacre (Annotated)." (Photo: Shane William Zwiener.) The Chinese Massacre (Annotated) must have looked great on paper: Circle X is a well admired and award-winning theatre company, and Tom Jacobson (Bunbury, The Twentieth Century Way) is one of the best playwrights L.A. has. Combine that with a little known story of early Los Angeles mob violence, and the excitement of the show being Circle X's...

Philip Baker Hall Stars In Powerful Revival of 'I Never Sang For My Father'

Philip Baker Hall in "I Never Sang For My Father." Photo - Daniel G. Lam Thomas Wolfe famously opined that "you can't go home again," and that's true as far as it goes, but what if one never truly had a home in the first place? Where does one attempt to return to then? Robert Anderson's 1968 play I Never Sang For My Father tackles this sad issue head-on in its look at an...

The Masks of Civility Come Off In 'God of Carnage'

Hope Davis, Marcia Gay Harden, Jeff Daniels and James Gandolfini in "God of Carnage." Photo - Craig Schwartz After taking a breather upon winning the Tony award for best play in 2009, Yasmina Reza's God of Carnage is back in the spotlight. Its high-profile movie version, starring Kate Winslet and Jodie Foster, directed by Roman Polanski, is filming now. More importantly, the original Broadway production, cast and director intact, has been brought to the...

Martin McDonagh Entertainingly Dissects Small Town Life In 'The Cripple of Inishmaan'

Tadhg Murphy and Clare Dunne in "The Cripple of Inishmaan" (Photo by Craig Schwartz.) Largely, the world that Martin McDonagh writes about is one of cruelty and dark humor fitfully illuminated by explosions of sudden violence, from the steady accumulation of hatefulness in The Beauty Queen of Leenane to the poor bastard hung upside down from a cord and tortured in The Lieutenant of Inishmore. There is no lack of unkindness and mockery in...

Vs. Theatre Company Rides the Lightning With "The Mercy Seat"

Michelle Clunie and Johnny Clark in "The Mercy Seat" - Photo by Kimberly-Rose Wolter. The Mercy Seat is often referred to as Neil LaBute's "9/11 play," and while this is technically true, the events of 9/11 are not really what this play is about. It's actually a serious drama about a relationship in crisis, a struggle for dominance in the guise of a love story. The fact that this 2002 work is only now...

"The Frybread Queen" Succeeds As Surprising, Entertaining Drama

Shyla Marlin, Elizabeth Frances, Jane Lind and Kimberly Guerrero in "The Frybread Queen." (Photo by Tony Dontscheff Photography) The title of Carolyn Dunn's The Frybread Queen is mildly misleading. It's not really about frybread, the Native American staple, although there are several frybread recipes discussed. What the show is truly about is family, and the things people will do to keep it safe. Dunn's play, a world premiere by Native Voices at the Autry,...

"Re-Animator The Musical" Is Bloody Hilarious

Graham Skipper in "Re-Animator The Musical" - Photo by Thomas Hargis. Just because a film can be turned into a stage musical, it doesn't mean that it should be. Most 1980s horror films wouldn’t translate all that well to melodies and dance numbers, but cult classic Re-Animator was a gore-fest with a strong sense of humor, and that makes all the difference. The new production of Re-Animator The Musical at the Steve Allen Theater...

"A House Not Made to Stand" Suffers From a Weak Foundation

Sandy Martin and Daniel Billet in "A House Not Meant to Stand." (Photo by Ed Krieger) This is the centenary of Tennessee Williams' birth year, and as a result theatres all over the nation are honoring his plays, from the famous to the obscure. To this end, the Fountain Theatre has mounted a revival of A House Not Meant to Stand, his last produced work. Unfortunately, the script is a mess, combining warmed-over Williams...

Local Hero: An Interview With Award-Winning Writer/Performer Heather Woodbury

Two things writer/performer Heather Woodbury doesn’t lack are talent and ambition. Her 1996 solo play What Ever was ten hours long and featured 100 characters, all of which she performed (often as several characters in conversation with each other), and it was described by the New York Times as “a masterwork of the solo form.” Her ensemble...

A Strong Revival of the Uneven 'Camino Real' at Boston Court

Marissa Chibas and Matthew Goodrich in "Camino Real" - Photo by Ed Krieger. For the centenary of Tennessee Williams’ birth year, the Theatre@Boston Court and CalArts School of Theater have collaborated on a production of his rarely produced 1953 work, Camino Real. The play is unique in Williams’ oeuvre in that it’s surreal and heavily symbolic without much in terms of traditional plot. It seems like Williams’ take on No Exit, albeit set in...

Neil LaBute Brings God Into the Mix in 'The Break of Noon'

Neil LaBute has become the poet laureate of bad behavior, the national chronicler of people treating each other abominably. He's gotten a rep for misogyny from movies such as In the Company of Men and plays such as Fat Pig, but I think this is a reductive and inaccurate view. In both of those works, his sympathy is clearly with the victims.

Theatre Review: 'Capulets' Presents A Fascinating Alternate Take on 'Romeo & Juliet'

Bruce Green, Benny Wills and Brett Colbeth in "The Capulets & the Montagues" -- Photo by John Apicella. Most theatergoers are familiar with Romeo & Juliet, and by now the classic tragedy has been performed and adapted to death. Well, at least the Shakespeare version has. Spanish playwright Lope de Vega, a contemporary of the Bard, wrote his own version from the same source material--and it's very different. It's funny, for example. It has...

Theater Review: Obie Award-Winning 'Circle Mirror Transformation' Disappoints

Linda Gehringer, Marin Hinkle, Brian Kerwin, Lily Holleman and Arye Gross in "Circle Mirror Transformation" at South Coast Repertory. Photo by Ben Horak/SCR. In reviewing, expectations are a big deal. Going into a show with expectations set either too high or too low can ultimately affect one's opinion. For a critic, it's a work hazard, and I try to be cognizant of keeping my expectations in check. However, when a play is being promoted...

Theatre Review: The Sunset Limited Is An Intense Dramatic Ride

Ron Bottitta and Tucker Smallwood in "The Sunset Limited" -- Photo by John Flynn. Cormac McCarthy isn't a "glass half full" kind of guy. Heroes rarely prevail in his novels, and if they do, as in The Road, the price paid for victory is often death. Being a moral person in an amoral universe is punishingly difficult, he seems to say. In his novels, this theme is generally disguised beneath a veil of plot,...

Theater Review: Watson Saves the Day in This Hilarious New Comedy

Joe Fria and Scott Leggett in "Watson." (Photo by Brian Taylor) There has been no lack of adaptations of Arthur Conan Doyle's most famous creation, Sherlock Holmes. He's infiltrated every form of media for the last hundred years, and as I write this, he's the lead in a big Hollywood franchise and the subject of a modernization via a BBC TV series. This begs the question: can anything new and significantly fresh be done...

Theater Review: Intelligent Drama Blooms in The Autumn Garden

Anne Gee Byrd, Stephen Caffrey, Jeanie Hackett and Zoe Perry in "The Autumn Garden." -- photo by Ed Krieger. Lillian Hellman chose the title of her play The Autumn Garden well. Its inhabitants are generally of an age where they have begun to grade their lives as to success and happiness to see if their story has been a comedy or a tragedy. They haven't settled into winter yet, where thoughts of mortality begin...

Theatre Review: A Pub Trivia Contest Explodes Into War

Donald Agnelli, Tim Cummings and Kevin Stidham in "War" -- photo by David Robertson. There's nothing wrong with a small cast or even a solo performer show--these forms are ideal for focusing intensely on character or theme. A large ensemble show, however, is inherently more theatrical, a trickier beast to tame. The folks at Theatre Banshee, however, have never lacked for ambition or talent, and their new production of Roddy Doyle's War (presented in...

1   2