‘A Cry in the Distance’ at Theatre/Teatro; ‘Sicily’s Grandchildren’ in Studio City; ‘Twelfth Night’ at Globe; ‘Revolution’ at Beyond Baroque


Theatre/Teatro, the only bilingual theater in the city, is staging a timely South American political play, “A Cry in the Distance,” which is powered by a searing performance by Annette Cardona.

It’s a theatrical, scenery-chewing role for an actor to play physical torture. But it’s a more difficult challenge to interpret the aftereffects of that torture.

That is precisely what Cardona enacts so well in the English-language production of South American playwright Jorge Diaz’s true-life drama at the Bilingual Foundation of the Arts.


Condemned by her leftist politics to exile in Madrid, and haunted by her legacy of rape and torture in a Chilean prison, Cardona’s psychological breakdown is fierce without being melodramatic. Credit director Margarita Galban’s restraint.

The other actors pale in this turmoil except for a convincing, metallic-cold turn by Rodrigo Catalan as a young hustler Cardona purposefully brings to her apartment to defile her body and exorcise her guilt over past demons.

Galban’s staging has its flat moments (notably in the first act), and the material can be taxing. But there’s passion here too. Translator Margarita Stocker (who plays the heroine in the alternating Spanish-language version) seems on top of her text.

The bristling dialogue that shapes the ruthlessly candid breakup between the suicidal Cardona and her bloodless, hapless husband (Richard Moffitt) is charged with sexual darkness that cuts to the woman’s soul.

Production values are fine. It’s refreshing to see the BFA take this topical plunge into South American politics.

At 421 N. Avenue 19 (Lincoln Heights), in English, Wednesdays and Thursdays, 8 p.m.; in Spanish, Fridays and Saturdays, 8 p.m., Sundays, 3 p.m. Through June 4. Tickets: $9-$12. (213) 225-4044.


‘Sicily’s Grandchildren’

The theatrical woods are strewn with playwrights who write about their own families. The perils are even greater when the playwright is an actor who reserves the key role for himself. More power to him if he pulls it off.

Debuting playwright Anthony J. Barbarotto plays the sulking brother in his semi-autobiographical play about a warring Italian-American family, “Sicily’s Grandchildren,” at the Chamber Theatre. Barbarotto has written some good dialogue but he hasn’t distanced himself enough from his material.

The play has no particular rhythm, and the production, directed by Dierk Torsek, is uneven and kind of clunky. Nothing’s larger than life. Everything’s a little too real, which is not a virtue in theater (Devin Meadows’ interior set and Chris Robert’s lighting are depressingly mundane).

On the other hand, Barbarotto, doesn’t fall on his face either. This is a kitchen-sink drama that builds to a genuine moment of reconciliation between embattled brothers (the morose Barbarotto and the more outgoing Rick Lohman).

And there are a couple of gems in the 11-member cast: Argentina Brunetti’s Sicilian grandmother, who pretends to be deaf, is the production’s sterling fixture. Ever so quietly, she steals the show. Another actress, orange-beehived Virginia Bingham, is a lark.

At 3759 Cahuenga Blvd. West (Studio City), Fridays and Saturdays, 8 p.m., Sundays, 2:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.; through May 28. Tickets: $12-$15. (213) 472-0525.

‘Twelfth Night’

The bard’s wardrobe at the Globe Playhouse looks like something out of “Cabaret.” Director Frederick Hoffman sees dark excesses in “Twelfth Night,” enough, in fact, to set Shakespeare’s bountiful comedy of love, lyricism and rowdy laughter in pre-Nazi Germany.

It’s a curious update that stretches awfully hard to make a discernible connection to the coming of the Black Shirts. Last year, the Company of Angels transported “Twelfth Night” (“If music be the food of love, play on”) to the rock music scene in L.A. The palm tree metaphor at least had a point. The Globe’s experiment seems irrelevant.

Basically, this is the traditional “Twelfth Night” in funny clothes. Notwithstanding an Art Deco phone and 1930s costumes (humorously designed by Ellie Shanahan), there’s no visual design concept here to remind you we’re in pre-war Germany. The period cries out for adventuresome design.

For another thing, the sentimentality and self-deluding figures in “Twelfth Night” hardly suggest the coming of the Holocaust. The debauchery is leggy, though. One key player (Steve Peterson’s super-stuffy Malvolio) attempts a guttural German accent that is incomprehensible, ruining an otherwise interesting performance.

Likewise, John Michalski’s clown Feste is vivid but also suffers from overkill and garbled diction. Elsewhere, the text is well-spoken. Finally, the production is a mishmash. But if you can ignore the quirks, you can enjoy its strengths: Terence Marinan’s misguided Duke Orsino, Koni McCurdy’s deft dual role as the wondrous Viola and the male-disguised page Caesario, Robin Christiaens’ amusing countess, and Alan Altshuld’s geeky Sir Andrew.

At 1107 N. Kings Road, Thursdays through Sundays, 8 p.m.; through June 3. Tickets: $8.50-$17.50. (213) 654-5623.

‘Revolution in America’

An absurdist piece on the corruption of our electioneering process, “Revolution in America,” features the talented Jan Munroe as a political Dr. Frankenstein, a pollster who kills a senator he manufactures from cloth.

Director Alec Doyle’s production at Beyond Baroque is astutely and tightly produced, with a sort of magician’s sleight of hand corresponding to the Munroe character’s bag of tricks. So it comes as something of a rude shock to find that, despite its cleverness, “Revolution in America” is annoying, grueling and ultimately boring.

Playwright Shem Bitterman has written what amounts to a discordant fugue on the maddening manipulators in our poll-happy society. But thematically Bitterman doesn’t say anything new and, theatrically, the production is dry and rather chilly.

The only whimsy comes from Jon Sharp’s programmed senator talking without trousers, socks or shoes. George Shannon and Seth Isler lend able support. This is a show you expect to like and discover it leaves you exasperated. It’s too facile for its own good.

At 681 Venice Blvd., Venice, Saturdays and Sundays, 8 p.m.; through May 8. Tickets: $5-$8. (213) 822-3006.