RSSAll Entries in the "LemonMeter" Category

MARJORIE PRIME: 67% - BITTERSWEET

MARJORIE PRIME: 67% – BITTERSWEET

BITTER A terrible play, and depressing as well, playwright Jordan Harrison’s Marjorie Prime is set in a not-too-distant future and imagines a world where sophisticated robots have been fashioned as human companions. Harrison’s one-act drama doesn’t really have a plot — it’s more of a character study. We see a series of scenes within which […]

TOSCA (PACIFIC OPERA PROJECT): 100% - SWEET

TOSCA (PACIFIC OPERA PROJECT): 100% – SWEET

SWEET Opera newbies will find this production effective and thought-provoking, while veterans who think they’ve sat through one too many Toscas should come to see and hear Blackwell and Cheney from a few rows away. Christian Hertzog – LA Weekly SWEET Music Director Stephen Karr ably conducts a crack orchestra of about 15 players, and […]

KISS ME, KATE (PASADENA PLAYHOUSE): 89% - SWEET

KISS ME, KATE (PASADENA PLAYHOUSE): 89% – SWEET

SWEET “Let’s Make a Deal’s” Wayne Brady as the lead in a revival of “Kiss Me, Kate”: It almost sounds like an especially wacky draft in some fantasy stunt-casting league for theater directors. Sheldon Epps of the Pasadena Playhouse has not only made it happen, he has used it as the inspiration for an ingenious […]

THE WHY (BLANK THEATRE REVIVAL): 80% - SWEET

THE WHY (BLANK THEATRE REVIVAL): 80% – SWEET

SWEET Mixing what might be called tragic farce with psychological inquiry, this multi-pronged, rapid-fire investigation (performed with all-out sketch-comedy attack by Ben Crowley, Nicholas Cutro, Jen Landon and Jeff Witzke) is better at parodying the media than cracking the mind-set of a disaffected teenage killer. Charles McNulty – LA Times BITTERSWEET At the same time, […]

CHOIR BOY (GEFFEN PLAYHOUSE): 85% - SWEET

CHOIR BOY (GEFFEN PLAYHOUSE): 85% – SWEET

BITTER Tarell Alvin McCraney’s 2012 Choir Boy is a tantalizing, underdeveloped play-with-music not entirely improved by Trip Cullman’s direction, now at the Geffen a year after the production’s Manhattan Theater Club bow. Jason Michael Webb’s tasteful vocal arrangements sound terrific via Fitz Patton’s crisp sound design, but the very assurance and gravity of the “negro […]

THE GOAT OR, WHO IS SYLVIA? (L.A. GAY AND LESBIAN CENTER): 94% - SWEET

THE GOAT OR, WHO IS SYLVIA? (L.A. GAY AND LESBIAN CENTER): 94% – SWEET

SWEET Every Los Angeles theatergoer should be so lucky as to see a show this ecstatic. Because all this work is in service of literature that evaluates the sexual morality, the emotional fidelity, the personal integrity we all would like to claim; and it asks of these things what they say about our natures. You […]

2 ACROSS (SANTA MONICA PLAYHOUSE): 83% - SWEET

2 ACROSS (SANTA MONICA PLAYHOUSE): 83% – SWEET

SWEET Josh (Kip Gilman) & Janet (Wendy Michaels), who come from seemingly different worlds, prove that the adage ‘opposites attract’ rings true. Each of these lost souls struggle to ultimately find the answer to the puzzle of their own life journey. Their chance meeting is rather a touch of fate, as they yearn to complete […]

ROAR: 67% - BITTERSWEET

ROAR: 67% – BITTERSWEET

BITTERSWEET Like Rockwell’s last cabaret-style show “The Album Project: Jagged Little Pill,” this tries to mix a profoundly emotional story with modern pop music. And while “Pill” seemed a more cohesive piece, “Roar” feels a bit disjointed and scattered. While the story of a lesbian couple’s fight with breast cancer was the most compelling, the […]

IT'S JUST SEX (SECRET ROSE THEATRE): 67% - SWEET

IT’S JUST SEX (SECRET ROSE THEATRE): 67% – SWEET

BITTER The production is somewhat elevated by the quality of the performances, but that’s not enough to salvage it. Lovell Estell III – Stage Raw SWEET An exquisite top flight ensemble brings layers to these characters along with laugh out loud moments throughout. Dianne Williams – NoHoArtsDistrict SWEET Short, swift, often side-splitting, and most importantly, […]

THE BEHAVIOR OF BROADUS: 100% - SWEET

THE BEHAVIOR OF BROADUS: 100% – SWEET

SWEET As delightfully self-assured as it is comically self-referential, made up of equal parts whimsy, wacky, profane and profound, this cracked experiment in satirical musical development is a wickedly entertaining watershed for Sacred Fools Theater Company, the Burglars of Hamm, Center Theatre Group and the general theatrical landscape. David C. Nichols – LA Times SWEET […]

HOLLYWOOD PARTY: 67% - BITTERSWEET

HOLLYWOOD PARTY: 67% – BITTERSWEET

BITTERSWEET When one of LA’s top fashion designers writes and directs a play set at an elegant showbiz party, you know the costumes are going to be divine. But if only the number of laughs at Octavio Carlin’s 1920s set comedy had matched the gasps which greeted each of the leading lady’s stunning dresses, he […]

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: 95% - SWEET

COCK: 95% – 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): 85% - SWEET

ANIMALS OUT OF PAPER (EAST WEST PLAYERS): 85% – 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: 74% - BITTERSWEET

WHAT I LEARNED IN PARIS: 74% – 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): 80% - SWEET

BURIED CHILD (WHITEFIRE THEATRE): 80% – SWEET

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): 80% - SWEET

CONVICTION (RUBICON THEATRE): 80% – 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): 89% - SWEET

EQUIVOCATION (THEATRICUM BOTANICUM): 89% – 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): 93% - SWEET

THE TEMPEST (SOUTH COAST REP): 93% – 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): 84% - SWEET

WOMEN (THEATRE ASYLUM): 84% – 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): 95% - SWEET

THE WESTERN UNSCRIPTED (FALCON THEATRE): 95% – 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): 69% - BITTERSWEET

RACE (KIRK DOUGLAS THEATRE): 69% – 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 […]