RSSArchive for February, 2009

Critique of the Week – Runner Up

Tartuffe by Neal Weaver – Backstage If this production is any indication, Josh Chambers belongs to the “shock and awe” school of directors: He’s determined to wow the audience at any cost, regardless of the playwright’s intentions or common sense. Molière seems to have thought he was writing a comedy, albeit a dark one, about […]

“The Increased Difficulty of Concentration”: 100% Sweet

SWEET This seldom seen absurdist comedy by Vaclav Havel, the great Czech playwright/ex-president, is oh-so-1968. A social scientist (Scott Rognlien) balances a nagging wife, sexy mistress and tempting secretary with the intrusions of another scientist (Amy Stiller), who’s trying to use a temperamental computer to analyze personalities. Stale sexual politics aside, the second act includes […]

“The Moving Lip is More Important than the Word it Forms” – Harold Pinter

The above is my favorite quote from the late great playwright Harold Pinter. Kinda my credo in many ways. A funny credo for a writer, seeing as how words are everything to me. But it makes sense. Distilled it means that actions speak louder than words. And yet we continue to let words rule our […]

“Tartuffe”: 67% Sweet – UPDATED

BITTER Moliere’s comedic indignation has been boiled down to a slightly glib nihilism. Donald Frame’s faithful and full-bodied verse translation is completely at odds with Chambers’ staging. The rhyming comes filled with whimsy, yet Chambers is tone-deaf to the humor inherent in the text. Moliere’s is a humor of behavior; Chambers’ is the humor of […]

“Double Indemnity”: 50% Bitter


Star Wars, a Musical Journey

The well is officially dry.

“Grand Motel”: 100% Sweet – UPDATED

SWEET Imagine, if you will, an ungodly theatrical love child of Tennessee Williams and those Little Annie Fanny playboy party jokes from the 1970s; and if your imagination is sufficiently jaundiced, you have the gist of Michael Sargent’s hilarious, saucy, and surprisingly mature sex comedy. Paul Birchall – Backstage BITTERSWEET There is a plot about […]

Making the “Rent”

It appears all is now well at that OC High School and the production of “Rent” will now GO ON! Was hoping the principal would just say something like, “Well, it’s not the homosexual themes I have a problem with really, it’s just that the play really sucks.” Ah, to dream.

Spider Man, the Musical

Nuff said.

The Monday Moment

The Monday Moment

Oh, those kooky kids.

Critique of the Week

Twilight of the Golds by Eve Meadows – Stagehappenings Today we have tests that can tell a parent if her unborn child is deformed, retarded, or seriously impaired; few would condemn a woman aborting a gravely deficient fetus for its sake as well as her own. But what if genetic scientists could tell us about […]

Critique of the Week – Runner Up

The Trial of the Catonsville Nine by Gina Shaffer – Stagehappenings As flames leaped up from smoldering pieces of paper in a trash bin, nine Catholic activists, among them two priests, stood in solidarity, watching the fire and waiting for police to arrest them. Their destruction of 378 draft files outside the Selective Service office […]

“Work that’s led by an audience is show business.”

Stumbled upon this post from Andrew Dickson over at the Guardian Theatre Blog. He is commenting on an event/debate between a trio of theatre artists, Dominick Cooke, Katie Mitchell and David Edgar. None of whom I personally am acquainted with. Thank God, apparently. Once again, as Andrew rightly points out, the audience is forgotten in […]

A Critic Unleashed

Man, they should have “fired” Steven Leigh Morris a long time ago. Ever since he was relieved of his mantle as “Theatre Editor” at the LA Weekly the man has literally been on fire. Or maybe I’m just starting notice. Either way, check out his latest at the LA Weekly where he takes the play […]

“A Don’t Hug Me County Fair”: 100% Sweet

SWEET I love to laugh, and I did, so I guess that’s all that matters, even when (I can’t help myself) I am pushed beyond the point where I have trouble suspending my sense of disbelief. This play is not for the pretentious, urban, sophisticate crowd. (I am often guilty of being one of those […]

“The Trial of the Catonsville Nine”: 50% Sweet – UPDATED

BITTER Yet Jon Kellam’s revival is rather staid, especially in contrast to that other recently revived Vietnam protest docudrama The Chicago Conspiracy Trial. Andrew E. Wheeler achieves the requisite passion as the author. In a bit of cross-gender casting, Adele Robbins plays the judge, who was entirely too polite and reasonable to generate much dramatic […]

“Ixnay”: 0% Bitter

BITTER Scripter Paul Kikuchi’s undernourished ethnocentric comedy, “Ixnay,” unsuccessfully attempts to peruse the dynamics of contemporary Asian-American identity, prejudice and racial stereotyping as a diverse group of deceased mortals await their turn for rebirth at the Reincarnation Station. Helmer Jeff Liu’s meandering staging offers little help to a tentative, eight-member ensemble that could use more […]

“Divorce! The Musical”: 100% Sweet – UPDATED

SWEET If you think the premise for “Divorce! The Musical” now in its world premiere at the Hudson Mainstage, sounds a bit broad and simplistic, you couldn’t be more wrong. Erin Kamler, who wrote the book, music and lyrics for the show, skillfully negotiates her slippery subject and scores a theatrical hat trick. F. Kathleen […]

Critiquing Emilie Beck

Over at the LA Stage Blog, Emilie Beck offers her impassioned albeit somewhat long-winded take on the state of theatre criticism here in Los Angeles. For the most part Emilie is right on the nose offering ditties like this: The key to all of this is contextualization. It’s far more important to me to have […]

Bitter Lemons Update

Out of respect to the critic Geoff Hoff from LA Theatre Review, who felt his review for “Film” was more “bittersweet” than “bitter” (I tend to agree) I have made the change and updated the Lemon Meter accordingly for the show “Film” in this earlier post. Henceforth, those reviews that fall firmly on the fence […]

Failing to Pay the “Rent”

That OC High School teacher ain’t taking this “Rent” thing sitting down. Oh no. There will be “Rent” or hellfire shall be unleashed. Or at least “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” will be unleashed. Which could be worse.

The Theatre Reformation

The new site LA Theatre Review has a funny and sometimes poignant “99 Enemies of Theatre” list posted by Addison Dewitt. Kind of an ala Martin Luther-nailing-his-list-to-the-door-of-the-church-break-from-Catholicism kind of thing. Kinda. My favorite is #82: Assuming that simply because no one understands you you must be an artist. Heh. Go check it out though. Some […]

“Film”: 67% Sweet – UPDATED

SWEET The play is Schneider’s nightmare — an Absurdist nightmare, naturally — a comedy and inexplicably scintillating entertainment about artistic failure. Steven Leigh Morris – LA Weekly BITTERSWEET When the writer and director remember that they are doing a vaudeville (a form Becket often borrowed from), the play is very compelling, funny and a joy […]

“Dracula”: 100% Sweet – UPDATED

SWEET The new show at the NoHo Arts Center sucks; well it should it’s “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” in a delightful, scream-filled, and sexy new version of the classic story by Hamilton Dean and John L. Balderston. You know you are in for a treat when you enter the theatre and see the beautiful and multi- […]


Sorry. I saw it and had to share.

“Noises Off”: 100% Sweet

SWEET A door slams, trousers drop, a contact lens slips, and the members of a theatrical troupe are ready to tear each other to shreds. In other words, all’s right with the world. Art Manke’s direction is a whiz-bang package full of lunacy, hilarious at lightning speed and at rest. Evan Henerson – Backstage BITTERSWEET […]

Death of a Union

I’m sure a lot of people have seen this video already. And I know this is not exactly theatre grist, but if you get the chance and you’re involved in the entertainment industry, watch it. My take on how to solve the SAG crisis is here. And this video tends to support my idea. Level […]

Exposed to Tartuffe

I didn’t realize brief public nudity on stage was in conflict with the Muslim faith? Apparently it was for these three students. Hat tip to Steven Leigh Morris over at the Weekly. Now I know that having to sit through Xanadu is in direct conflict with my Catholic faith, but that goes without saying. Anybody […]

You’re a Good Gay Man, Charlie Brown

Oh boy. Will we ever move past this crap. Production of “Rent” cancelled in OC High School to be replaced by “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown”. Good Lord.

“The Jazz Age”: 70% Sweet – UPDATED

SWEET Director Michael Matthews and the fine cast follow Knee’s heavy-handed writing with fierce dramatics that effectively play like the most overarching characterizations of 1940s plays by Tennessee Williams – with Prete’s powerful Zelda resembling Blanche. Kurt Boetcher’s set evocatively transforms The Blank’s tiny space, pairing masculine wood frames with panels of effete Tiffany’s blue. […]