THEATER REVIEWS

THEATER REVIEWS

  • Free Shakespeare performances in Griffith Park return July 1, plus more L.A. theater picks

    Free Shakespeare performances in Griffith Park return July 1, plus more L.A. theater picks

    Let’s take a look at the week ahead in L.A. theater (June 25-July 1). Capsule reviews are by Philip Brandes (P.B.), F. Kathleen Foley (F.K.F.), Margaret Gray (M.G.), Charles McNulty (C.M.), Daryl H. Miller (D.H.M.) and David C. Nichols (D.C.N.) Openings Hollywood Fringe Festival 2017 Eighth annual...

  • In 'The Conduct of Life,' witness an American classic that's more often taught than staged

    In 'The Conduct of Life,' witness an American classic that's more often taught than staged

    Hero Theatre organized a festival last year in celebration of Cuban American playwright María Irene Fornés, a key figure in the off-off-Broadway theater movement who has had an influence on contemporary American drama that far exceeds her modest fame. Attendees of the festival had the opportunity...

  • Shylock, revisited, in Theatricum's 'Merchant of Venice'

    Shylock, revisited, in Theatricum's 'Merchant of Venice'

    The quality of mercy can in fact be strained, especially when it comes to the fate of a central character in one of Shakespeare’s greatest plays. Notwithstanding its oft-quoted proverbs and ingenious plot, “The Merchant of Venice” continues to spark controversy over its depiction of the Jewish...

  • Where's 'The Pride' in love? The way we've pursued it then and now

    Where's 'The Pride' in love? The way we've pursued it then and now

    The colors of the rainbow, a cheery symbol of gay pride, illuminate the lobby of the Wallis as visitors arrive for performances of a play called “The Pride.” Such a public display of solidarity would be inconceivable for half of the play’s characters, living as they do in the late 1950s. The other...

  • Black, white and the gulf in between in Lorraine Hansberry's 'Les Blancs'

    Black, white and the gulf in between in Lorraine Hansberry's 'Les Blancs'

    The playwright Lorraine Hansberry died of cancer in 1965 when she was only 34, leaving behind incomplete drafts of “Les Blancs” (“The Whites”), a play she had begun writing in 1960, soon after “A Raisin in the Sun” made her famous. Hansberry’s husband and literary executor, Robert Nemiroff, took...

  • Good times roll at Ebony Repertory's 'Five Guys Named Moe'

    Good times roll at Ebony Repertory's 'Five Guys Named Moe'

    You know when you stagger home after a night of drinking and turn on the radio, and it’s playing Louis Jordan’s version of “Five Guys Named Moe,” and suddenly five Moes in snazzy plaid jackets and wingtips appear in your living room to perform Jordan’s greatest hits for you? No? Right, this only...

  • L.A. theater openings and critics' choices, June 4-11: 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' and more

    L.A. theater openings and critics' choices, June 4-11: 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' and more

    Capsule reviews are by Philip Brandes (P.B.), F. Kathleen Foley (F.K.F.), Margaret Gray (M.G.), Charles McNulty (C.M.), Daryl H. Miller (D.H.M.) and David C. Nichols (D.C.N.) Openings The Blank Soirée The theater celebrates the 25th anniversary of its annual Young Playwrights Festival with...

  • At East West Players, the gut-wrenching emotion of 'Next to Normal' transcends race

    At East West Players, the gut-wrenching emotion of 'Next to Normal' transcends race

    East West Players wraps up its 51st season, dedicated to “the female perspective,” with a revival of “Next to Normal,” the Tony- and Pulitzer-winning musical about a suburban housewife’s struggle with mental illness and its effect on her family, played here by an Asian American cast. The emotional...

  • Getting down to the basics in Peter Brook's 'Battlefield'

    Getting down to the basics in Peter Brook's 'Battlefield'

    Peter Brook’s “Battlefield,” which opened at the Wallis on Wednesday for a brief run through Sunday, is itself the ultimate brief run. It is the last word in concentrated compression by theater’s greatest condenser. “We look for indefinably precise things,” Brook told The Times 30 years ago as...

  • Matthew Bourne opens the vault and pulls out gems: 'Early Adventures' at the Wallis

    Matthew Bourne opens the vault and pulls out gems: 'Early Adventures' at the Wallis

    Los Angeles has seen more of Matthew Bourne’s provocative dance dramas than any other American city. But on Wednesday, his London-based company, New Adventures, presented three works entirely new to us — new and old at the same time. In its sole U.S. engagement, Bourne’s “Early Adventures” came...

  • Mom and Dad sever all ties to you. But why? The compelling mystery of 'The House in Scarsdale'

    Mom and Dad sever all ties to you. But why? The compelling mystery of 'The House in Scarsdale'

    In “The House in Scarsdale: A Memoir for the Stage,” the poet and playwright Dan O’Brien dramatizes a mystery of his past. His fictive alter ego, also named Dan O’Brien (played by Brian Henderson), is a writer in his late 30s whose parents recently, with no explanation, severed ties with him. O’Brien...

  • For 'Fefu and Her Friends,' the curtain rises at Frank Lloyd Wright's Hollyhock House

    For 'Fefu and Her Friends,' the curtain rises at Frank Lloyd Wright's Hollyhock House

    I once went with a friend to a play performed in a downtown L.A. hotel room. A guide led us from the lobby into a vintage elevator and then through a warren of passages to an unmarked door, where we were pushed into pitch-darkness and arranged cheek-by-jowl with strangers along a wall. “You know,...

  • Family resentments roar to the surface in 'The Lyons'

    Family resentments roar to the surface in 'The Lyons'

    The characters in Nicky Silver’s plays tend to be laugh-out-loud funny but also — how shall we put this? — icky. Utterly devoid of impulse control, they unload their resentments in fusillades of shockingly cruel one-liners, leaving destruction, usually to their loved ones, in their wake. Yet, truth...

  • L.A. theater openings, May 21-28: 'Les Blancs,' 'Battlefield' and more

    L.A. theater openings, May 21-28: 'Les Blancs,' 'Battlefield' and more

    This week: Tales of colonial Africa, mythic India and ancient China. From Broadway to Main Street and Back Again! The Masters of Harmony perform. Carpenter Performing Arts Center, 6200 E. Atherton St., Long Beach. Sun., 3 p.m. $29, $39. (562) 985-7000. An Evening of Storytelling With Theatre 40’s...

  • Sex, consent, gender, race: A potent cocktail in 'Actually'

    Sex, consent, gender, race: A potent cocktail in 'Actually'

    He said, she said. Then he said more, and then she said more. They both kept saying things. But no matter how much they said, it was impossible to determine what had actually happened between the two freshmen in the Princeton University dorm room when they were very drunk. Was it consensual sex...

  • L.A theater openings, May 7-14: 'Archduke,' 'The Designated Mourner' and more

    L.A theater openings, May 7-14: 'Archduke,' 'The Designated Mourner' and more

    This week: A timely tale written by and starring Wallace Shawn comes to REDCAT, a new drama at the Geffen explores sexual assault on campus, and a darkly comedic historical fable from Rajiv Joseph has its world premiere at the Taper. Archduke World premiere of Rajiv Joseph’s dark comedy about three...

  • A critic's take on the Tony nominations: Kudos for rewarding inventive shows that take risks

    A critic's take on the Tony nominations: Kudos for rewarding inventive shows that take risks

    What a difference a year makes. When the 2016 Tony nominations were announced, the suspense was over how many “Hamilton” would get. The show was a lock in most of the major categories, shifting our interest from competition to coronation. There is a good deal more uncertainty this year. Yes, you...

  • The 34-year-old man who happens to be a robot: Welcome to 'Uncanny Valley'

    The 34-year-old man who happens to be a robot: Welcome to 'Uncanny Valley'

    No less a genius than Stephen Hawking has warned that artificial intelligence will spell the end of humankind. That existential threat is treated — but only lightly — in Thomas Gibbons’ “Uncanny Valley,” now at International City Theatre in Long Beach. Gibbons has smaller fish to fry in his complex,...

  • L.A. theater openings, April 30-May 7: 'The Gary Plays' and more

    L.A. theater openings, April 30-May 7: 'The Gary Plays' and more

    This week: A play cycle about an out-of-work L.A. actor, a decades-spanning romantic musical, and an evening of traditional Japanese theater in Little Tokyo. Four by Four Las Vegas-style revue celebrates the music of the Beach Boys, the Bee Gees and Motown. Carpenter Performing Arts Center, 6200...

75°