RSSAll Entries in the "LemonMeter" Category

THE DIVINERS (ACTORS CO-OP): 83% - SWEET

THE DIVINERS (ACTORS CO-OP): 83% – SWEET

BITTERSWEET Set in rural Indiana in the early 1930s, Jim Leonard Jr.’s 1980 play, “The Diviners,” drips with a period regionalism that is almost folkloric in tone. The play requires careful handling, or its characters can lapse into stereotype. In his current staging at Actors Co-op, director Mark Henderson does not always avoid that pitfall. […]

THE SHADOW BOX (RAVEN PLAYHOUSE): 100% - SWEET

THE SHADOW BOX (RAVEN PLAYHOUSE): 100% – SWEET

SWEET The direction under Catherine Michaels was light and pure. The staging was that of a seasoned ballet choreographer, beautifully seamless. Cheers are to be given to Catherine for allowing a piece, that could be complicated and heavy, to be something relatable and compassionate. Dianne Williams – NoHoArtsDistrict SWEET The crux of this story is […]

WEDDING BAND: A LOVE/HATE STORY IN BLACK & WHITE (ANTAEUS): 88% - SWEET

WEDDING BAND: A LOVE/HATE STORY IN BLACK & WHITE (ANTAEUS): 88% – SWEET

SWEET This rarely produced revival delivers a blistering indictment of the South’s anti-miscegenation laws against the backdrop of a deeply moving portrait of urban black life in the early 20th century. Directed by Gregg T. Daniel, the double-cast production now playing at the Antaeus Company offers some of the finest ensemble acting currently onstage (the […]

BROOMSTICK: 88% - SWEET

BROOMSTICK: 88% – SWEET

SWEET Perfect for Halloween or for anyone who enjoys taking a journey into the deep dark woods, “Broomstick” offers a frightfully fun time at the theater that might be especially fun at night! Candyce Columbus – LA Examiner SWEET Playwright John Biguenet’s delightful Halloween Season monologue is a flat out delight. It’s like a children’s […]

THE YEAR OF MAGICAL THINKING (LAGUNA PLAYHOUSE): 80% - SWEET

THE YEAR OF MAGICAL THINKING (LAGUNA PLAYHOUSE): 80% – SWEET

SWEET Adding depth and dimension to Didion’s script are Juan Sanson’s subtle sound effects and spare, softly ethereal music and Francois-Pierre Couture’s scenic work and color washes, projected onto a latticed screen behind Purl. More fierce than sorrowful, “Magical Thinking” is a remarkable portrait of grief and devotion. Eric Marchese – OC Register SWEET Under […]

VILLA THRILLA: 63% - BITTERSWEET

VILLA THRILLA: 63% – BITTERSWEET

BITTERSWEET It’s a great premise, wonderful set, excellent actors but there is something missing. Maybe it’s the timing, perhaps the situation is too convoluted or maybe the dialog is not quite as funny in performance as it was thought to be at the table read. Jose Ruiz – Reviewplays BITTERSWEET This is a valiant effort […]

THE DANCE OF DEATH (A NOISE WITHIN): 88% - SWEET

THE DANCE OF DEATH (A NOISE WITHIN): 88% – SWEET

BITTERSWEET The problem with his acting — and this pertains also to Angelo’s — is that it strives for a relaxed naturalness that often seems artificial. Instead of rising to meet Strindberg’s tragi-comic style, he opts to make his character appealingly relatable for contemporary theatergoers. Johnson is more successful at locating the playwright’s bracingly mercurial […]

GLORIOUS!: 67% - BITTERSWEET

GLORIOUS!: 67% – BITTERSWEET

BITTERSWEET The bad singing is handled better than the good jokes and if all the performers could, in the rest of the run, go as over the top as the funny script seems to calls for, then Glorious! might yet be a glorious comic experience. Sandro Monetti – Thespian Thoughts SWEET Needless to say, Quilter […]

WHEN THE RAIN STOPS FALLING: 75% - BITTERSWEET

WHEN THE RAIN STOPS FALLING: 75% – BITTERSWEET

SWEET There’s no sugarcoating the relentlessly downbeat mood here. Vivid impressions linger from Frédérique Michel’s fierce staging, which underscores the play’s austere geometric narrative structure with underplayed, admirably uniform performances and abstract choreography; the pent-up emotional floodgates open only in carefully controlled doses. Philip Brandes – LA Times SWEET From a fish magically dropping from […]

WHAT OF THE NIGHT? (THE VAGRANCY): 88% - SWEET

WHAT OF THE NIGHT? (THE VAGRANCY): 88% – SWEET

BITTERSWEET The play runs slightly over two hours with no intermission, an incredibly long time to ask an audience to sit and try to stay motivated watching such as disjointed play. The talented cast and hard-working crew deserve a more refined and cohesive production in which to showcase their brilliance. Shari Barrett – BroadwayWorld SWEET […]

RAGTIME (3D THEATRICALS): 100% - SWEET

RAGTIME (3D THEATRICALS): 100% – SWEET

SWEET The production is somewhat hampered by acoustical imbalances, a problem that has surfaced in past 3-D productions at Plummer Auditorium. This is generally not the case with the company’s subsequent run dates at the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center. This is not a ruinous flaw, though it is sometimes disappointing when the sublime lyrics […]

AFTER IT HAPPENED (INVERTIGO): 100% - SWEET

AFTER IT HAPPENED (INVERTIGO): 100% – SWEET

SWEET With wild abandon, slick partnering, and sensitive storytelling, Invertigo Dance Theatre presents After It Happened, a multidisciplinary theatre work of dance, acting, live music and song. The multidimensional work reveals the tragedy, comedy, transformation, and hope of a community that survives a disaster and must rebuild. Teresa Heiland – BachTrack SWEET After It Happened […]

FOREVER: 67% - BITTERSWEET

FOREVER: 67% – BITTERSWEET

BITTERSWEET From a theatrical perspective, unmodulated rage works best in small doses; too much of it stuns the senses. Subtler moments, as when she confesses her dreams of marrying the Irish cop who was kind to her after her rape, can be more effective. Margaret Gray – LA Times SWEET Forever concludes with the death […]

VENUS IN FUR (SOUTH COAST REP): 95% - SWEET

VENUS IN FUR (SOUTH COAST REP): 95% – SWEET

SWEET The erotic gamesmanship is fascinating to track. But by far the most delicious pleasure of “Venus in Fur” comes from watching two actors dazzle us in a psychosexual pas de deux expertly choreographed for the dramatic stage. Charles McNulty – LA Times BITTERSWEET Judging from Page’s femme fatale, it’s clear the script can play […]

CABARET (CROWN CITY THEATER): 100% - SWEET

CABARET (CROWN CITY THEATER): 100% – SWEET

SWEET It takes a combination of inspiration and chutzpah to reinvent a 58-year-old musical theater classic that’s been reinvented time and time again—but director Gary Lamb has done just that with Kander & Ebb’s Cabaret, his creative touches adding up to the best of the five intimate Cabarets I’ve seen and one of the top […]

DON'T HUG ME, WE'RE MARRIED (GROUP REP): 94% - SWEET

DON’T HUG ME, WE’RE MARRIED (GROUP REP): 94% – SWEET

BITTERSWEET The production’s silliness (in high-octane overdrive) really starts to wear thin by Act 2, though the music and dance routines are a kick, courtesy of Paul Olson’s score, Phil Olson’s off-the-wall lyrics, and Stan Mazin’s snappy choreography. Doug Engalla directs. Lovell Estell III – Stage Raw SWEET DON’T HUG ME, WE’RE MARRIED is the […]

WICKED LIT 2014: 100% - SWEET

WICKED LIT 2014: 100% – SWEET

SWEET It’s not an easy place to mount a production. As the last resting place of thousands, the space must be treated with respect. The productions themselves use many of the same corridors, so each scene must be well timed to avoid creeping up on a scene from a different play and to avoid sound […]

BANSHEE (THEATRE OF NOTE): 75% - BITTERSWEET

BANSHEE (THEATRE OF NOTE): 75% – BITTERSWEET

BITTERSWEET The result – a blend of an old-fashioned ghost story and a kitchen sink family drama – has moments of real sweetness, intervals of flagrant family dysfunction and a minute or two of genuinely gut-wrenching horror. However, the missed opportunities in Petti’s play render its sum less than its parts. F. Kathleen Foley – […]

THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST (A NOISE WITHIN): 88% - SWEET

THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST (A NOISE WITHIN): 88% – SWEET

SWEET Overall, “The Importance of Being Earnest” was an absolute delight. The actors suited their respective characters, the scenery was quite beautiful in a simplistic way, and there were plenty of laughs. As over the top and extravagant Oscar Wilde wants you to believe his characters to be, you can still find a humble side […]

BITCHES: 67% - BITTERSWEET

BITCHES: 67% – BITTERSWEET

BITTER Abley’s script and direction are vulgar, obvious, derivative, and misogynistic, but that’s apparently a winning combination for his audience, which giggled and guffawed throughout. Neal Weaver – Stage Raw SWEET The gender flip-flopping results are at the very heart of playwright Sean Abley’s mostly delightful, if slight, quirk-fest. Although the play, frankly, outstays its […]

4000 MILES (SIERRA MADRE PLAYHOUSE): 90% - SWEET

4000 MILES (SIERRA MADRE PLAYHOUSE): 90% – SWEET

SWEET Amy Herzog’s contemporary exploration of kinship, adulthood and self-discovery receives a warm, capable production in its Los Angeles debut at the Sierra Madre Playhouse. Directed by Christian Lebano, the show offers much to appreciate, from the well-appointed set to the spot-on costume design. But the actors, like their characters, are still finding their footing: […]

NICE THINGS: 75% - BITTERSWEET

NICE THINGS: 75% – BITTERSWEET

BITTERSWEET Director Elina de Santos turns in a polished production (on Sephanie Kerley Schwartz’s sleek, sliding-panel set), but the play’s meandering pace and easy affirmations undercut both the energy and the urgency of Melocchi’s message — namely, how the basic struggle for economic survival can bring home the distant tragedy of foreign war. Bill Raden […]

BRIGHT STAR (OLD GLOBE): 79% - SWEET

BRIGHT STAR (OLD GLOBE): 79% – SWEET

BITTERSWEET The drawbacks of this musical’s backward-glancing manner are most notable in Martin’s book, which is often floridly melodramatic. The action takes place just after the Second World War, with a soap opera-ish back story set 22 years earlier, but stylistically, the piece hearkens back to the 19th century before psychological realism started ruining everyone’s […]

SOMEWHERE: 63% - BITTERSWEET

SOMEWHERE: 63% – BITTERSWEET

BITTERSWEET “This is the void where you make sense of your life,” says Michael when he realizes that he is in a holding pattern. That statement could also be applied to the stages of bringing a new play to life. SOMEWHERE has already received developmental workshops in Manhattan, Sydney and London before coming to LA […]

MAPLE AND VINE (CHANCE THEATER): 92% - SWEET

MAPLE AND VINE (CHANCE THEATER): 92% – SWEET

SWEET The play ends with the most in-the-head character, Katha, still questioning the reality of her newfound faux world. And, in another masterful stroke by Harrison, backed by director Mark Ramont’s gentle hand at the helm, there is no easy answer provided. Is this world of close-knit neighbors and pigs in a blanket any different, […]

GOOD PEOPLE (LA MIRADA THEATRE): 100% - SWEET

GOOD PEOPLE (LA MIRADA THEATRE): 100% – SWEET

SWEET The dilemmas facing the life-battered protagonist of “Good People” are perhaps strategically manipulated, but that doesn’t make them any less relevant, humorous or dramatically engrossing. In fact, David Lindsay-Abaire’s 2011 comedy-drama of socioeconomic dynamics in South Boston is in some ways his finest construct to date, as its rock-solid rendering at La Mirada Theatre […]

AFFLUENCE: 94% - SWEET

AFFLUENCE: 94% – SWEET

BITTERSWEET The cast — Pedersen, Lord, Kulinska, Huff, Uhebe and Tepper — are all experienced actors and performed appropriately. I found Eisenberg’s direction to be slow, as if the audience might miss some significant step along the way. It also grew tiresome for the Kulinska and Huff characters to object, loudly and repeatedly, to their […]

THE CALL OF CTHULHU (VISCERAL COMPANY): 95% - SWEET

THE CALL OF CTHULHU (VISCERAL COMPANY): 95% – SWEET

SWEET Sick of this accursed heatwave? Longing for the thrills and chills of the Halloween season to commence? No need to pray to the Great Old Ones, just slither on down to the little theater on the corner of Lexington and McCadden and be indoctrinated into H.P. Lovecraft’s weird and terrifying universe. I don’t usually […]

THE TRIP TO BOUNTIFUL (AHMANSON THEATRE): 97% - SWEET

THE TRIP TO BOUNTIFUL (AHMANSON THEATRE): 97% – SWEET

SWEET Ultimately, what makes this harrowing “Trip” endurable, even uplifting, is Carrie’s hard-won humor and wisdom, and the peace she is able to make with her own unhappiness before she is caught and marched back to Houston. “There are worse things,” she dryly retorts when the sheriff reflects on her childhood friend’s “lonely death alone […]

SCARY MUSICAL, THE MUSICAL: 94% - SWEET

SCARY MUSICAL, THE MUSICAL: 94% – SWEET

SWEET Hochberg’s musical is, strictly speaking, slighter than it needs to be, and the book’s choppy structure and internal contradictions come across as being sloppy and inadequately thought through. That said, it’s certainly a mistake to expect this show to be anything other than frothy, ghoulish fun – and director James J. Mellon’s staging is […]