RSSAll Entries in the "LemonMeter" Category

HAPPY DAYS (BOSTON COURT): 100% - SWEET

HAPPY DAYS (BOSTON COURT): 100% – SWEET

SWEET This production, which features Broadway veteran and multiple Emmy winner Tony Shalhoub, Adams’ real-life husband, in the role of Willie, Winnie’s there-but-not-there life partner, preserves the universality of Beckett’s vivid stage metaphor while making it seem right at home in Southern California. Charles McNulty – LA Times SWEET No other dramatist has ever been […]

SPRING AWAKENING (DEAF WEST): 100% - SWEET

SPRING AWAKENING (DEAF WEST): 100% – SWEET

SWEET The ensemble numbers are precisely choreographed by Director Michael Arden and Choreographer Spencer Liff; the signing never gets in the way, and each cast member is vitally utilized like in a giant, coordinated human body, each part giving life to the whole. The second act unfolds into the ultimate tragedy the piece becomes as […]

COCK: 100% - SWEET

COCK: 100% – SWEET

SWEET The ideal convergence of Mike Bartlett’s incredibly realistic script vividly emoted by the very talented four member cast, as tightly directed by Cameron Watson, make for a totally engrossing 90 minutes. Gil Kaan – BroadwayWorld SWEET Only a highly talented group of actors could deliver the play’s potent message, and the cast at the […]

ANIMALS OUT OF PAPER (EAST WEST PLAYERS): 90% - SWEET

ANIMALS OUT OF PAPER (EAST WEST PLAYERS): 90% – SWEET

SWEET Joseph captures the highs and lows of this unique three-way love affair, its laughter and tears, its joys and sorrows. He’s greatly aided by the sure-handed direction of Jennifer Chang and by the skilled acting of C.S. Lee, Tess Lina and Kapil Talkwalker (a student at USC!). Willard Manus – Total Theater SWEET It’s […]

O'NEILL'S GHOSTS (ODYSSEY THEATRE): 46% - BITTER

O’NEILL’S GHOSTS (ODYSSEY THEATRE): 46% – BITTER

BITTERSWEET Showing O’Neill working on a play years after neurological disease forced him to quit writing, and misstating the nature of a major character’s death are among the historical inaccuracies—or creative licenses, if you prefer—that limit the conclusions to be drawn about the complicated life of Eugene O’Neill. Phillip Brandes – LA Times BITTER The […]

WHAT I LEARNED IN PARIS: 71% - BITTERSWEET

WHAT I LEARNED IN PARIS: 71% – BITTERSWEET

SWEET It’s enjoyable enough, dominated by the vibrant presence of L. Scott Caldwell as the ex-wife who has returned from transformational adventures in California to become Atlanta’s hostess with the mostest in Atlanta’s interracial post-election future. It’s fascinating to see how Cleage, who is black, downplays the role of race in her play – as […]

BURIED CHILD (WHITEFIRE THEATRE): 71% - BITTERSWEET

BURIED CHILD (WHITEFIRE THEATRE): 71% – BITTERSWEET

SWEET In the end, this “Buried Child,” then, produced 35 years after the play won Shepard his only Pulitzer Prize, is the prolific playwright at his very best: naked, robust, and oh, so true. The Whitefire production is an ode to Shepard, ghosts and all, and a warning against sloth, envy and greed as only […]

CONVICTION (RUBICON THEATRE): 88% - SWEET

CONVICTION (RUBICON THEATRE): 88% – SWEET

BITTERSWEET Conviction is a two-edged sword. On the upside, it can be belief in a person or purpose that warrants a positive reaction. In Carey Crim’s drama “Conviction” now at Ventura’s Rubicon Theatre Company, it could be that but it also refers to something that becomes obvious within the first 10 minutes of the topical […]

EQUIVOCATION (THEATRICUM BOTANICUM): 93% - SWEET

EQUIVOCATION (THEATRICUM BOTANICUM): 93% – SWEET

BITTERSWEET And while Peebler and his muscular ensemble prove expert at seductively selling Cain’s quasi-historical premise, his audience-flattering allusions and lively turns of phrase, it does not take long for the troubling hollowness masked by such glibness to make itself felt. Perhaps the most problematic aspect of the entire enterprise is Cain’s primary suspense device […]

THE TEMPEST (SOUTH COAST REP): 94% - SWEET

THE TEMPEST (SOUTH COAST REP): 94% – SWEET

BITTERSWEET I wish I could report that the acting was equal to the scenic imagination. This still strikes me as a production that doesn’t have all that much faith in Shakespeare’s ability to captivate a modern audience. Charles McNulty – LA Times SWEET To avoid being the one person in your circle not to have […]

THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE (GLENDALE CENTRE THEATRE): 100% - SWEET

THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE (GLENDALE CENTRE THEATRE): 100% – SWEET

SWEET A Tony-winning 2002 musical based on the 1967 Julie Andrews film of the same name, “Thoroughly Modern Millie” is a smorgasbord of giddy fluff. Director Danny Michaels’ and co-director/choreographer Orlando Alexander’s bare-bones production, staged in the round with virtually no scenery, makes up for its lack of glitz with spirited comic performances in a […]

WOMEN (THEATRE ASYLUM): 79% - SWEET

WOMEN (THEATRE ASYLUM): 79% – SWEET

SWEET More Louisa May than Lena, the affectionate send-up Women recasts Alcott’s Civil War–era novel of feminine blossoming (as told by Gillian Armstrong’s unapologetically saccharine ’90s film version, starring Winona Ryder) in the self-conscious, rapid-fire but impeccably articulated chatter of HBO’s Girls. Written by Chiara Atik and directed by Stephanie Ward, this expertly timed, tirelessly […]

THE LIFE AND SORT OF DEATH OF ERIC ARGYLE (SON OF SEMELE): 90% - SWEET

THE LIFE AND SORT OF DEATH OF ERIC ARGYLE (SON OF SEMELE): 90% – SWEET

BITTERSWEET I teetered early on the verge of boredom, staved off by the fine production until the last twenty minutes, the end a foregone conclusion in a play that just wouldn’t stop chattering. Jason Rohrer – Stage and Cinema SWEET Eventually there’s a twist to the story that, along with the play’s heavy exposition, did […]

THE WESTERN UNSCRIPTED (FALCON THEATRE): 94% - SWEET

THE WESTERN UNSCRIPTED (FALCON THEATRE): 94% – SWEET

SWEET It’s such a confident company that there are very few showboats. Long-form improvisation allows the inspiration of the moment – requires it – to drive the story; a couple months back I saw Fredrickson run wild upon a Sondheim UnScripted show with a series of intelligent, perceptive writing decisions and wildly successful character choices. […]

RACE (KIRK DOUGLAS THEATRE): 57% - BITTERSWEET

RACE (KIRK DOUGLAS THEATRE): 57% – BITTERSWEET

BITTERSWEET Under Scott Zigler’s crisply slick direction, the production features a dynamic cast and design team that would be hard to better. And even though Mamet has created Susan as far more three-dimensional and instrumental to the plot than are any of his past female characters, something is missing here, especially in the play’s highly […]

PERSIANS (GETTY VILLA): 78% - SWEET

PERSIANS (GETTY VILLA): 78% – SWEET

BITTERSWEET Twice or three times in ninety minutes, arresting images are allowed to loiter unto dissipation. There is less of permanence in this production than of stasis. Perhaps its primary historical draw is the chance to experience what theater was like in Brooklyn in 1994. Jason Rohrer – Stage and Cinema BITTERSWEET In general, the […]

6 RMS RIV VU (SIERRA MADRE PLAYHOUSE): 76% - SWEET

6 RMS RIV VU (SIERRA MADRE PLAYHOUSE): 76% – SWEET

BITTER The problem is that while “to cheat or not to cheat” may be a theme that transcends time and place, these particular characters and the dialogue they employ do not. Their small-talk pretty much replicates the chitchat of a particular class of urbanites at a particular time in the 20th century. In short, this […]

PSYCHE: A MODERN ROCK OPERA: 62% - BITTERSWEET

PSYCHE: A MODERN ROCK OPERA: 62% – BITTERSWEET

SWEET Creator Cindy Shapiro has fashioned a vibrant and exciting rock-opera from this richly romantic source material, investing her book, music and lyrics with a magical blend of timeless antiquity combined with the contemporary. Pounding drums and haunting electric guitar riffs are underscored by mournful cello and sweet strains of violins. What the songs may […]

MEET & GREET (ELEPHANT THEATRE): 79% - SWEET

MEET & GREET (ELEPHANT THEATRE): 79% – SWEET

SWEET Zimmerman’s direction is fast and furious, which ideal for a piece like this as the one-liners just keep flying. Most all of them hit their intended targets. No subject is safe — social media, Netflix series, reality television and the general vapidity of Hollywood are all skewered. There’s a twist near the end that […]

TRYING (INTERNATIONAL CITY THEATRE): 100% - SWEET

TRYING (INTERNATIONAL CITY THEATRE): 100% – SWEET

SWEET What the script lacks in surprises, it makes up for in its nuanced, beautifully written portrait of Biddle, an inestimable gift to an actor, and one that the wonderful Abatemarco, under the skillful direction of John Henry Davis, exploits to the fullest. Margaret Gray – LA Times SWEET Long Beach’s International City Theatre (ICT) […]

BULRUSHER: 75% - BITTERSWEET

BULRUSHER: 75% – BITTERSWEET

SWEET Despite its flaws, Bulrusher is a reminder that while more than half a century has passed, race relations have remained strained even six decades later. Bulrusher reads fortunes. If she were alive today, would she foretell black men still being brutalized, their blood still running in the streets, 60 years from now? Rebecca Haithcoat […]

BIRD LIVES! (CHROMOLUME THEATRE): 81% - SWEET

BIRD LIVES! (CHROMOLUME THEATRE): 81% – SWEET

SWEET I saw one of the most powerful, raw, awesome and tragically-moving performances in memory. Oh, my, it really shook me up. Jay Weston – Huffington Post SWEET The effect is an emotionally exhausting but humanizing depiction of the bebop jazz pioneer. Even though Parker passed away much too soon, at age 34, for 70 […]

REASONS TO BE PRETTY (GEFFEN PLAYHOUSE): 75% - BITTERSWEET

REASONS TO BE PRETTY (GEFFEN PLAYHOUSE): 75% – BITTERSWEET

SWEET Director Randall Arney deftly captures every nuance in the relationships and their unfolding. He keeps the comedy flowing, the realizations only gradually emerging. And he has assembled a terrific cast, knowing and expert. Neal Weaver – ArtsInLA BITTERSWEET It isn’t a bad play, by any means. The set design is detailed and nails the […]

I WANNA HOLD YOUR HAND: 83% - SWEET

I WANNA HOLD YOUR HAND: 83% – SWEET

SWEET It’s full of dynamic characters going through interesting changes, and they say funny and moving things all the time; the emotional flow is well-ordered and effective. Exciting images, such as a spiritually bereft agnostic using John Lennon as an understandable face of God, populate a lively story. This premiere production by David Bickford, Jenny […]

THE FACE IN THE REEDS: 90% - SWEET

THE FACE IN THE REEDS: 90% – SWEET

BITTERSWEET As the cast takes turns revealing their little secrets, and I must admit there are a few doozies, I said, “Self this is one screwed-up bunch” but in reality, nothing new or unexpected. There was just too much going on and by the time the story arched to the predictable climax I was more […]

MOON OVER BUFFALO (GROVE THEATRE CENTER): 100% - SWEET

MOON OVER BUFFALO (GROVE THEATRE CENTER): 100% – SWEET

SWEET Ludwig’s play, like an old-fashioned steam locomotive, starts out slowly and a bit laboriously, but it soon builds up a head of comic steam, puffing along merrily and careening dizzily into the madcap finale. Director Kiff Scholl has assembled an expert cast, supplied them with a wonderful array of pratfalls, and pulled off a […]

ALL'S WELL THAT ENDS WELL (THEATRICUM BOTANICUM): 96% - SWEET

ALL’S WELL THAT ENDS WELL (THEATRICUM BOTANICUM): 96% – SWEET

SWEET That we follow the largely unedited text through its dark moments and plot convolutions to an earned happy conclusion testifies to the curiosity factor and the clarity of storytelling at play. “All’s Well” may not be a flawless work, but it nonetheless ends well here. David C. Nichols – LA Times SWEET If you […]

ECHO ONE ACTS 2014: 88% - SWEET

ECHO ONE ACTS 2014: 88% – SWEET

BITTERSWEET I notice that I have used the pejorative “little” for some of these scripts, and not for others. There’s a reason. “As We Sleep” does not feel little, despite its short running time, because of its universal truths and earned laughs. The not-much-longer “General Sherman’s Hollow Body,” despite seeming unfinished, feels epic in its […]

ONE IN THE CHAMBER: 100% - SWEET

ONE IN THE CHAMBER: 100% – SWEET

SWEET For committed theatergoers, there’s no happier occasion than stumbling upon a mature, polished work of dramatic art where you never expected to find one. In the little hole-in-the-wall Lounge on Santa Monica Boulevard, 6140 Productions is putting up the world premiere of Marja-Lewis Ryan’s One in the Chamber, and you will not encounter a […]

WITHOUT ANNETTE: 78% - SWEET

WITHOUT ANNETTE: 78% – SWEET

SWEET Improvisation is the ability to perform without preparation, about being in a moment of truth and bringing the audience with you. This connection creates a spontaneous reaction between performer and audience, resulting in anything from uproarious laughter to anguished tears – or any emotion in between. Anyone wishing to experience this sensation should get […]