Looking back over 1993, some productions stick in memory, as proof that the Fabulous Invalid is in fine health after all.
“A Streetcar Named Desire” (Cal State Fullerton, October). The strongest impression is of three productions at Cal State Fullerton. Highlights of this interesting and forceful staging of Tennessee Williams’ classic included the humor of John Gonzalez’s Stanley and a refreshingly different slattern of Leslie Mitts’ Blanche.
“Kingdom of Earth” (Cal State Fullerton, November). A dark, moody staging of Williams’ difficult late play.
“The House of Blue Leaves” (Cal State Fullerton, December). The honesty of this delightfully naturalistic treatment made John Guare’s play look better than it is and still pertinent in the ‘90s.
“Equus” (Vanguard Theatre, Fullerton, March). A memorable production of Peter Shaffer’s drama that found the anguished core of the play and its humanity. Outstanding performances by James Cude as Allan Strang and M. Isaac Weishaus as Dr. Dysart, the psychiatrist.
“The Grapes of Wrath” (Fullerton College, May). Amazing staging and ensemble performances in the college’s tiny black box theater showed that there’s no staging problem that can’t be solved.
“Monsieur Shaherazad” (GroveShakespeare Festival, April). The most memorable performance of the year was Ron Campbell’s clever and terrified World
War II actor in the world premiere of Carol Wolf’s one-man play, also notable for the poetic and theatrical writing.
“Educating Rita” and “The Island” (Ensemble Theatre, Orange, May and July, respectively). The minuscule space occupied by this troupe was no obstacle to the production of two plays stylistically different: a literate and very funny “Rita” and a riveting, rarely done Athol Fugard play about discovering reality, and humor, in apartheid.
“The Voice of the Prairie” (Orange Coast College, Costa Mesa, September). John Olive’s tender, lyrical paean to the early days of radio, particularly in this notable production, proved--by its subtlety and understanding of the period--that a generation of young theater artists is not limited to its own era.
“Jesus Christ Superstar” (Buena Park Civic Theatre, August). The vibrant, pulsating outdoor staging of the Andrew Lloyd Webber-Tim Rice musical was irresistible.
“O. Henry Christmas” (California Repertory Company, Cal State Long Beach, December). For the holidays, the company kept to the spirit of the celebration in a rewardingly unusual and well-honed tribute to the author and his generosity toward human fallibility.
“Monday in America” (Sisyphus Company, System M, Long Beach, October). While there are highlights in our year, there are also black holes, the most annoying of which was this poorly conceived and juvenile attempt at obscurity as reality, a heavy-breathing exercise in bad writing and worse performance.