'Mad Women' at Skylight Theatre
John Fleck's whirlwind one-man show about two women -- his mom and Judy Garland -- is currently playing at Skylight Theatre is Los Feliz. Fleck's narrative concurrently enacts Garland's last performance in Los Angeles and sentimental moments with his own mother, Josephine, near the end of her life after an Alzheimer's disease diagnosis. The performance features multi-media, a rare Garland recording, and audience participation. Fleck plays a barrage of characters in Mad Women including Garland, Joseph and Lorna Luft, and Liza and Vincent Minelli. His impersonation style is energetic and endearing with elements of physical comedy and cabaret. At times, Fleck makes quick transitions from a hysterical and drunken Garland to his own mother that can be confusing, but are quickly clarified by showy breaks into a Garland standard. Fleck's devotion to both Garland and his mother (who coincidentally looks uncannily like Garland in her young and wholesome days) is clearly evidenced in the warmth with which he channels their memory.
Direction by Ric Montejano is adequate, but feels rushed. This may be an attempt to replicate the mental instability of the "mad women" featured in the play. Multi-media video, audio, and photographic images used in the Mad Women are excellent. Thr use of minimal set design to creatively invoke Garland recalls childhood dress-up games well suited to context of the play.
Mad Women is playing through June 26 at Skylight Theatre. Tickets are available online through Katselas Theatre Company or via phone at 702-582-8587. Tickets are $15 to $20.