Theater review: ‘Fairy Tale Theatre: 18 and Over’ at the Matrix

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This review has been corrected. See note below.

Once upon a time, a newspaper called the Onion savaged cultural shibboleths of its day in print, while a television show called ‘Saturday Night Live’ did the same in sketch-comedy format. They’re still with us, barely, and fans of both entities should check out ‘Fairy Tale Theatre: 18 And Over’ at the Matrix.

The brainchild of author-performer J. Michael Feldman, who suggests the love child of Sacha Baron Cohen and Sandra Bernhard, this Inkwell Theater offering serves up twisted fables about the foibles of modernity. Cheekily un-PC, sweetly scabrous, with titles such as ‘The Tale of the Bipolar Bear and the Co-Dependent Eskimo,’ the stories don’t so much upend expectations as decimate them, to uproarious effect.


Assisted by three puppeteers (Jess McKay, Matt Cook and Tina Huang, all matched hoots), Feldman’s fey host Percy Rutherford deploys mime, sitcom and satirical attitudes with the same ease he and his colleagues wield designer Stephen Rowan’s wonderful props and costumes. A rotating roster of featured performers also participates, with pert Eileen Mullane taking top honors at the reviewed performance, especially in ‘The Tale of the Monkeys and Their Pet,’ a cracked look at ‘dog people.’

Under Annie McVey’s direction, the proceedings aren’t groundbreaking or consistently original -- the Groundlings do similar things on a regular basis. For all of Feldman’s talent, a whiff of personal showcase lingers between the guffaws. Yet he’s extremely talented, as are his fellow lunatics, and very funny. The moral of this ‘Fairy Tale’: Make reservations and leave the kids at home with ‘South Park.’ RELATED:

More theater reviews from the Los Angeles Times

-- David C. Nichols

‘Fairy Tale Theatre: 18 & Over,’ Matrix Theatre, 7657 Melrose Ave., L.A. 8 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays. Ends Feb. 11. Adult audiences. $25. (310) 559-0918 or Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes.

[For the record Jan. 27: An earlier verison of this review misidentified the actress in ‘The Tale of the Monkeys and Their Pet’ as Courtney Pauroso. Her name is Eileen Mullane.]