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THEATER REVIEWS

THEATER REVIEWS

In Rogue Machine's harrowing 'Daytona,' revenge rings the doorbell

The Rogue Machine production of “Daytona,” an American premiere, receives such an optimum treatment by director Elina de Santos and her cast that we can forgive the play’s psychoanalytic redundancies. It’s obvious that its author, longtime actor Oliver Cotton, can write. His many years on the other...

  • Paul Rudnick's 'Big Night': Comedy and crisis in the awards machine of Hollywood

    Paul Rudnick's 'Big Night': Comedy and crisis in the awards machine of Hollywood

    In a posh Beverly Hills hotel suite overflowing with gift baskets, Michael, the central character of Paul Rudnick’s tentative new comedy, “Big Night,” is anxiously primping for what may be the most important evening of his life. A dedicated gay actor whose career has balanced Shakespeare in the...

  • Comedy, and sex, in the cancer ward? 'A Funny Thing Happened' goes there with glee

    Comedy, and sex, in the cancer ward? 'A Funny Thing Happened' goes there with glee

    Karla, a struggling stand-up comic, is furiously jotting in her notebook while trying out different versions of a new routine. “I’ve been single for so long, I’ve started having sex dreams about my vibrator.” Would wet dreams, she wonders, be funnier? Wait, women don’t even have wet dreams. If...

  • Modern life is a fragmented place in 'Carmen Disruption' at City Garage

    Modern life is a fragmented place in 'Carmen Disruption' at City Garage

    The woman in red is the only familiar figure in the shattered world of “Carmen Disruption.” Make that semi-familiar, because this woman in Simon Stephens’ play is not exactly Carmen, but an opera singer who’s made a career of playing Carmen, while the actual Carmen is a rent boy who … Well, let’s...

  • Remembering theater director and Royal Shakespeare founder Peter Hall, who turned language into life

    Remembering theater director and Royal Shakespeare founder Peter Hall, who turned language into life

    Theater directors bear heavy responsibility for a production’s failure yet enjoy only a meager portion of the glory that playwrights and actors receive when a show catches fire. Auteurs rebel against this system, putting their distinctive stamp on work their productions in effect rewrite. But Peter...

  • At SCR, the musical 'Once' raises its hopeful voice

    At SCR, the musical 'Once' raises its hopeful voice

    Music is a gathering place that can be big enough to accommodate a crowd or small enough to nestle two yearning hearts. Rarely has this been as poignantly conveyed as in the 2007 movie “Once,” with its tale of two bruised souls who, through music, meet, bond and transform each other. When adapted...

  • The week ahead in L.A. theater, Sept. 17-24: 'Fixed,' 'The Red Shoes' and more

    The week ahead in L.A. theater, Sept. 17-24: 'Fixed,' 'The Red Shoes' and more

    Capsule reviews are by Philip Brandes (P.B.), F. Kathleen Foley (F.K.F.), Charles McNulty (C.M.) and Daryl H. Miller (D.H.M.). Openings Big Night An actor and nominee deals with demands on his time and attention from family and others on Oscar night in this world-premiere comedy from Paul Rudnick....

  • In 'Blackbird,' the wreckage of childhood abuse, laid out on the table

    In 'Blackbird,' the wreckage of childhood abuse, laid out on the table

    There are no easy outs in the Grove Theater Center revival of David Harrower’s “Blackbird” — not for its two characters locked in brutal psychological warfare, nor for anyone in the audience wishing for a moral framework that makes sense of their tortured relationship. That’s because Harrower’s...

  • 'Iphigenia in Aulis' at Getty Villa: Chasing the ever-elusive Euripides

    'Iphigenia in Aulis' at Getty Villa: Chasing the ever-elusive Euripides

    The straightforward production of “Iphigenia in Aulis” that opened Wednesday at the Getty Villa’s outdoor Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman Theater might be retitled “Clytemnestra,” so enlivening is Sandra Marquez’s performance as the mother of the young woman whose life must be sacrificed so that...

  • The week ahead in L.A. theater, Sept. 10-17: 'Runaway Home,' 'Ain't Misbehavin'' and more

    The week ahead in L.A. theater, Sept. 10-17: 'Runaway Home,' 'Ain't Misbehavin'' and more

    Capsule reviews are by Philip Brandes (P.B.), F. Kathleen Foley (F.K.F.) and Charles McNulty (C.M.). Betty White The sitcom star appears in conversation with Valerie Bertinelli. Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts, 18000 Park Plaza Drive, Cerritos. Sun., 2 p.m. $75-$200. (562) 916-8500. The Pirates...

  • Cast helps John Patrick Shanley's 'Dreamer' from being a complete snooze

    Cast helps John Patrick Shanley's 'Dreamer' from being a complete snooze

    First produced in the mid-1980s, John Patrick Shanley’s “The Dreamer Examines His Pillow,” now at the Lounge 2 Theatre, holds interest as an early work by a playwright still casting about for his artistic moorings. Awash in desultory emotionalism, the play offers a plethora of actors’ moments for...

  • The Odyssey tries to breathe some fresh air into a dusty, musty 'Arsenic and Old Lace'

    The Odyssey tries to breathe some fresh air into a dusty, musty 'Arsenic and Old Lace'

    Insanity doesn’t just run in the Brewster family — it practically gallops, as one member puts it. Two dotty spinster aunts euthanize their lonely lodgers, one of their nephews thinks he’s Teddy Roosevelt, another is a psychopathic killer on the lam, and the third is a drama critic. Who poses the...

  • The week ahead in L.A. theater, Sept. 3-10: 'Once' at South Coast Rep and more

    The week ahead in L.A. theater, Sept. 3-10: 'Once' at South Coast Rep and more

    Capsule reviews are by Philip Brandes (P.B.), F. Kathleen Foley (F.K.F.) and Charles McNulty (C.M.). Martha Ellen Melaver’s bio drama about modern-dance maven Martha Graham. The Whitefire Theatre, 13500 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks. Wed., 8 p.m.; also Sept. 30. $25. (818) 687-8559. Disney’s Aladdin...

  • The week ahead in L.A. theater, Aug. 27-Sept. 3: 'Pterodactyls' and more

    The week ahead in L.A. theater, Aug. 27-Sept. 3: 'Pterodactyls' and more

    THEATER Capsule reviews are by Philip Brandes and Charles McNulty. Openings Madness, Mayhem and Other Stimulants … When Women Write! Three-week festival spotlighting works by local female playwrights gets underway with a selection of seven short plays by Linda L. Rand. Write Act Repertory @ the...

  • 'Honky Tonk Laundry': A country-flavored jukebox musical, set to spin

    'Honky Tonk Laundry': A country-flavored jukebox musical, set to spin

    Playwright Roger Bean has based his career on jukebox musicals like “Life Could Be a Dream” and “The Marvelous Wonderettes,” durable crowd-pleasers that have been widely produced throughout the U.S. Bean’s formulaic froth follows a familiar pattern, namely the “let’s put on a show” scenario popular...

  • 'Hamilton' brings its tale of American idealism to L.A. at a moment when it's needed

    'Hamilton' brings its tale of American idealism to L.A. at a moment when it's needed

    More than two years after “Hamilton: An American Musical” had its world premiere at New York’s Public Theater, becoming the biggest theatrical sensation in at least a generation, it’s still up for grabs whether it was the brilliant hip-hop inflected score or the inclusive vision of American history...

  • The 'Curious Incident' of a young detective set loose to find life's truths

    The 'Curious Incident' of a young detective set loose to find life's truths

    “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time,” Simon Stephens’ Tony-winning adaptation of Mark Haddon’s bestselling novel, presents the world of Christopher Boone as this young accidental detective uniquely experiences it. Christopher’s condition isn’t named, but it has many of the hallmarks...

  • Pasadena Playhouse's 'Shout Sister Shout!': Why a rock trailblazer fails to ignite as theater

    Pasadena Playhouse's 'Shout Sister Shout!': Why a rock trailblazer fails to ignite as theater

    Add “Shout Sister Shout!” to the growing list of musicals that would make a more potent impression as a straightforward revue. The show, which is having its world premiere at Pasadena Playhouse, tells the story of Rosetta Tharpe, a guitar-strumming gospel, blues and rock singer who has been dubbed...

  • The week ahead in L.A. theater, Aug. 6-13: 'Hamlet,' 'Marlene' and more

    The week ahead in L.A. theater, Aug. 6-13: 'Hamlet,' 'Marlene' and more

    THEATER Capsule reviews are by Charles McNulty (C.M.), Philip Brandes (P.B.) and Daryl H. Miller (D.H.M.). Compiled by Matt Cooper. Openings Journey of the Monkey King Taiwan’s Rom Shing Hakka Opera Troupe makes its U.S. debut with this ancient Chinese folktale; Taiwan’s Lei Dance Theatre the...

  • In Antaeus Theatre Company's 'As You Like It,' missed connections foil romantic comedy

    In Antaeus Theatre Company's 'As You Like It,' missed connections foil romantic comedy

    “Sweet are the uses of adversity,” the exiled Duke Senior asserts from his campground in the Forest of Arden in “As You Like It.” For a drama critic attending a lackluster production of Shakespeare’s greatest comedy, these words are a reminder that there are lessons to be learned from even a limply...

  • Intelligence, wit and a marriage made in hell in ‘The Devil’s Wife’

    Intelligence, wit and a marriage made in hell in ‘The Devil’s Wife’

    It wouldn’t be the first time a reckless marriage led straight to hell. Rarely, however, has a spouse — however demonic — turned out to be literally Satan. Which somewhat raises the stakes for three sisters hoping a mysterious suitor will rescue them from desperate financial straits in “The Devil’s...

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