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Jay Johnson: The Two & Only!
Ventriloquism has a controversial and sordid history. Besides the daily Dick Cheney/George Bush routine, the Oracles of Delphi are suspected of being ventriloquists. It was considered spiritual, but mostly condemned as demonism throughout history. Within the 20th century, it transformed into performance.
Jay Johnson: The Two & Only! is an autobiography that includes the biography ventriloquism itself. Johnson goes far beyond the traditional stick control puppet and applies puppetry to everyday objects. It is quick wit and laugh-out-loud the whole way through.
However, L.A. Times theatre critic, Charles McNulty, was not impressed at all. The newly appointed critic, an OBIES judge himself, brought on an abundance of reader reviews telling him he was dead wrong. Cadre or not, their comments most likely led to another article four days later - a very neutral story by another staff writer.
LAist recommends you see it before it leaves the Brentwood Theatre for Broadway after February 19th. While it may not be deep or life changing, this is about feeling like a kid again. And that, in itself, is important. Johnson’s puppetry is better than anything Disney Imagineering can pull off - a caliber of ultra realistic perfection that is right on the mark. In the 94 minutes on stage, he never loses the energy, nor does the writing and direction. From the sassy wooden star of SOAP – Bob (ouch, plosive!), to a decapitated head, to Darwin (pictured above), all nine puppets (or objects turned into them) are impressive and just plain fun to watch. The Brentwood Theatre is the beautiful new facility that housed the Geffen until their theatre reopened last fall. The 499-seat theatre is tucked into a not so obvious place – the Veterans Administration Medical Center. There is enough parking at the Center for a NASCAR race, but we cringed when we had to park in the empty parking lot for $7. Supposedly, that is the Department of Veteran’s Affairs rule (how typical). But then we have to ask the theatre itself why they are using Ticketmaster? With an extra $7 for parking and $9.25/ticket Ticketmaster fee, the theatre just lost a good portion of their fiscally conservative audience.
Nevertheless, any show that has you leave with a huge smile that won't go away is worth it.