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Arts and Entertainment

Theater of the New Ear

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Appearing at UCLA's Royce Hall tonight and tomorrow night only is Charlie Kaufman's amazing new theater experience, "The Theater of the New Ear". We highly suggest that you run, not walk, to your nearest UCLA box office, or some online venue and purchase tickets. Los Angeles is usually one of the last rungs on the theater ladder, getting touring shows months (sometimes years, sometimes never) after they have appeared on the east coast. Don't miss out, this is a true blue opportunity.

The play is split into two (unconnected) halves, which feature acting by Hope Davis, Peter Dinklage, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tom Noonan, Meryl Streep, David Thewlis, and music by Carter Burwell. The "play" is performed radio-style, complete with musicians, a sound effects man, and the actors reading their lines from chairs on stage. You can close your eyes and listen to the drama unfold, because there are no sets or props. The first half, "Anomalisa" (written and directed by Francis Fregoli), covers a customer service lecturer flying to a conference in Cincinatti, and the drama that unfolds in his life. The truly bizarre ending, which we won't spoil here, involves Jennifer Jason Leigh singing a tinny song coming from an antique Japanese sex toy.

After intermission, Kaufman doesn't just break down the fourth wall, it is demolished in front of you in the second sequence, "Hope Leaves The Theater". The actors play multiple roles, use multiple voices, and create a very bizarre sequence that jumps in time, locations, and situations. Meryl Streep plays herself in one scene, losing it on an audience member whose cell phone rings during the show. Classic. It really has to be seen to be believed.

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We're not sure if this is going to be touring, or later made available as an audio performance, but this gets our highest recommendation. Check it out if you can.