RSSAll Entries in the "Low Rated" Category

Byron Arreola, Anne Yatco, Jaime Barcelon, Jennifer Hubilla, Kerry K. Carnahan, Ren Hanami, and Michael Hagiwara in "Cinnamon Girl" at the Greenway Court Theatre. Photo: Blake Boyd.

CINNAMON GIRL: 33% – BITTER

SWEET Velina Hasu Houston and Nathan Wang transport us to another time, another place, another world in their magical, mystical, marvelous new musical Cinnamon Girl, now playing at the Greenway Court Theatre. Steven Stanley – StageSceneLA BITTER Cause and effect are rendered haphazardly or not at all. The characters all undergo astonishing changes of personality, [...]

Jennie Mary Tai Liu, left, and Catherine Ventura in "Five Small Fires" at Bootleg Theater. Photo: Jesse Bonnell.

FIVE SMALL FIRES: 50% – BITTER

BITTER If all this is intended to suggest that we, the audience, are secondary to the performers’ self-absorption, point taken. Yet if Bonnell and his fellow bacchantes aim for a shared sacramental experience, they fall short of the mark. The group’s repetitive and aimless antics may transport the actors themselves to a state of meditative [...]

TALHOTBLOND: 25% – BITTER

TALHOTBLOND: 25% – BITTER

BITTER The underlying sadness and tragedy of how anyone may be so swept away by fantasy lacks essential power to bring the audience emotionally into the fray. Thomas’s feelings and commitment waffle back and forth time and again, even in the face of his being found out by his wife, Cheryl (Katleen O’Grady). Unlike Catfish [...]

Robert Sherry, Jesse Welch and Jay Antonos in "The Lake House Project" at the Hudson Guild Theatre. Photo: Randall Gray.

THE LAKE HOUSE PROJECT: 25% – BITTER

BITTER “The Lake House Project” is poorly written, sloppily directed and offensive. I do not get offended easily, but this production managed to do it and do it so thoroughly that I was willing to sit through both acts so that I could write a review in good conscience. Kat Michels – Kat Michels BITTER [...]

GOD’S GYPSY: 49% – BITTER

GOD’S GYPSY: 49% – BITTER

BITTER Daavid, in addition to designing the set, directed the play. But it wasn’t his direction that was at fault. It was the script. If it were cut to 90 minutes, the play might be worth seeing. Mostly, though, the “worth seeing” part is confined to Lili Haydn, a spectacular violinist and composer whose introductory [...]

Pete Caslavka in "Live! From the Last Night of My Life" at Sacred Fools. Photo: Sacred Fools Publicity.

LIVE! FROM THE LAST NIGHT OF MY LIFE: 13% – BITTER

BITTER Wayne Rawley’s play failed. I didn’t make it fail. It did by his conceit. He broke a pact several times over. What do you want from me? I tell the truth, painful, harsh, sexual explicit but dammit all to hell you know where I stand. M.R. Hunter – EyeSpyLA BITTER Rawley’s structurally problematic script [...]

The ensemble of "Titus Andronicus: A Vaudeville" at the Stella Adler Theatre Lab. Photo: Julio J. Vargas.

TITUS ANDRONICUS: A VAUDEVILLE (STELLA ADLER LAB THEATRE): 17% – BITTER

BITTER Very little about Shakespeare’s blood-soaked earliest tragedy lends itself to reimagining the play as an old-time variety show, and lacking the ingenuity to make the concept work Stella Adler Theatre Lab’s “Titus Andronicus: A Vaudeville” is an overreach so ill-advised it seems to have been guided by some planet in retrograde. Philip Brandes – [...]

John Marzilli, left, and David Ghilardi in "Greeks 6 - Trojans 5" at Whitefire Theatre. Photo: Joel Daavid.

GREEKS 6 – TROJANS 5: 40% – BITTER

BITTER The result is suspense — not for the audience, unfortunately, but for the characters, whom we must watch trotted in and out of cumbersome misunderstandings before, during and even after their quest, until we fear that we are subjects in a sociological experiment designed to test the limits of human civility. Margaret Gray – [...]

Ben Fuller, Emilia Richeson and David Jeffe in Brimmer Street's "Pack Up the Moon" at the Lounge Theatre. Photo: Michael Lamont.

PACK UP THE MOON: 13% – BITTER

BITTER There is much talent onstage and behind the scenes in Pack Up The Moon. I wish it had turned out to be the play and production I was hoping for. Steven Stanley – StageSceneLA BITTER Christina Cigala’s soap operatic script is an uphill challenge; the play’s first half is especially uninvolving as a result [...]

Ashley Platz, left, Joel Swetow and Murielle Zuker in "The Assassination of Leon Trotsky: A Comedy" at the Odyssey. Photo: Ed Krieger.

THE ASSASSINATION OF LEON TROTSKY: A COMEDY: 50% – BITTER

SWEET All of the humor is broad, bawdy and cartoonish, but fast and funny nonetheless. Farce always presents a tough theatrical challenge, but the playwright and his cast manage to handle it well, helped greatly by the deft work of director Terri Hanauer. Joel Daavid’s sumptuous hacienda set is another big plus. Willard Manus – [...]

Credit: Randall Gray

TRUE WEST (STAGES OF GRAY): 33% – BITTER

BITTER However, I felt this project was just too ambitious for this new theater company. I want a large stage for Shepard’s plays; there exhausting and I feel you need the space between the actors and the audience. Gray tried to use too different casts one with a traditional approach and one group more edgy. [...]

Emily Padgett in "Flashdance, the Musical" at Segerstrom Center for the Arts. Credit: Kyle Froman.

FLASHDANCE, THE MUSICAL (SEGERSTROM CENTER): 42% – SWEET

BITTER Most of the original score, though, is period-unspecific, ultra-low-grade, ingénue-with-a-dream stuff. Poor Alex has to sing what seem like thousands of lines about “knowing that this is my moment” and how leaping and falling is better than never leaping at all — generic, yearning ballads that Ariel, Beauty, and the heroine of “Tangled” all [...]

John Combs and William Jones in "Alabama Baggage" at Theatre Asylum. Credit: Doug Dobransky and Nick Weber.

ALABAMA BAGGAGE: 13% – BITTER

BITTER Taking aim at a topic as loaded as the revolver with which its characters take turns menacing one another, Buddy Farmer’s “Alabama Baggage” centers on the traumatic scars of childhood sexual abuse. The drama’s first full staging at Theatre Asylum falls short of its serious intentions, however, with the need for further development still [...]

"The Gift" at the Geffen Playhouse. Credit: Michael Lamont.

THE GIFT: 55% – BITTERSWEET

BITTER An appealing and capable cast keeps the flicker of hope alive that Joanna Murray-Smith’s play “The Gift” will be worth our time despite the mounting evidence to the contrary. But by the end of this 90-minute comedy even the actors seem done in by the effort of sustaining the illusion that there’s something important [...]

Laura Michl, from left, Tyler Derench, Edmund Wyson and John Dickey in "The Gambler's Daughter" at the Eclectic Company Theatre. Credit: David Nott.

THE GAMBLER’S DAUGHTER: 17% – BITTER

BITTER Brian E. Smith’s staging underserves North’s script. As a result, the conflicts are uninvolving and the sometimes sharp dialogue falls flat. You’re better off putting your money on a different horse. Philip Brandes – LA Times SWEET This was a fun production with some serious commentary on jobs, gambling issues and the idea that [...]

Nina Sallinen, left, and Jim Kane in "Slipped Disc," a Green Card Theatre production at Son of Semele. Credit: Beth Payne.

SLIPPED DISC: 0% – BITTER

BITTER Perhaps something is lost in the translation, but there are so many ideas tossed around—from the real to the imagined to the metaphysical to the philosophical—that nothing really sticks. The end result is a feeling of arbitrary inclusion with no real design on consistency of tone, style or message. Tom Chaits – Stage and [...]

Gina Manziello, left, and Arva Rose in 'Surviving Mama' at Edgemar Center for the Arts. Credit: Eric Wade.

SURVIVING MAMA: 28% – BITTER

BITTERSWEET The play has great potential and I would like to see it again if it was shortened and reworked a little. Rose Desena – The Los Angeles Post BITTER “Surviving Mama,” now in its world premiere at Edgemar Center for the Arts, is a frustratingly disjointed play that feels like a protracted examination of [...]

Joe McGovern and Lela Loren in "Sweet Thursday" at Pacific Resident Theatre. Credit: Vitor Martins.

SWEET THURSDAY (PACIFIC RESIDENT): 29% – BITTER

BITTER What results is an attenuated hodge-podge with scene after scene — including several inadequately rendered musical numbers — that do little to further the action. F. Kathleen Foley – LA Times SWEET Robb Derringer and Matt McKenzie (who also directs) have beautifully adapted novelist John Steinbeck’s sequel to Cannery Row, Sweet Thursday, into a [...]

"All the King's Men" at the El Portal Theatre. Credit: Liz Reinhardt.

ALL THE KING’S MEN (EL PORTAL): 49% – BITTER

BITTER The script spans a period of 15 years, from 1922 to 1937, but its nonlinear structure and frequent back-and-forth shifts in time make the narrative difficult to follow. The problem is compounded by director David Chrzanowski’s wildly uneven pacing, which turns this nearly three-hour production into something of an ordeal. Lovell Estell III – [...]

in "The Little Dog Laughed" at the Zephyr Theatre. Credit: Richard Michael Johnson.

THE LITTLE DOG LAUGHED (SECRET ROSE/ZEPHYR): 49% – BITTER

BITTERSWEET The uneven revival at Secret Rose Theatre doesn’t quite do them justice — think of a crisp vodka tonic arriving watered down. Charlotte Stoudt – LA Times BITTER Douglas Carter Beane’s 2007 Tony-nominated play The Little Dog Laughed is a comedy. Apparently director Jon Cortez did not get that memo. Under his misguided, clueless [...]

Elizabeth Harmetz, Carissa Gipprich, Josh Shaw and E. Scott Levin in "I, Caligula" at the Secret Rose Theatre. Credit: Company.

I, CALIGULA: AN INSANITY MUSICAL: 46% – BITTER

BITTERSWEET A lot of hard work went into this production. Still, there’s room for improvement. Joe Straw – Joe Straw #9 BITTER Were this a spoof in the spirit of Waiting for Guffman, the agonizing, overwrought playing would begin to make sense, but by all accounts this is a serious outing. High production values are [...]

"The Psychic Lives of Savages" at Los Angeles Theatre Center. Credit. Inda Reid.

THE PSYCHIC LIFE OF SAVAGES (LATC): 38% – BITTER

BITTERSWEET Most of the actors on stage at the Los Angeles Theatre Center downtown gamely make a run at sustaining interest in the development of their characters and the shifting relations between them, but the self-indulgent crises and dilemmas of Freed’s poets aren’t compelling enough to justify two-plus hours of it all. Lyle Zimskind – [...]

The cast of "The Exorcist" at the Geffen Playhouse. Credit: Michael Lamont.

THE EXORCIST (GEFFEN PLAYHOUSE): 46% – BITTER

BITTER The physical production is just so much more persuasive than the dramatic encounters contained within it. The casting of Brooke Shields, lovely as always to look at, doesn’t enhance the work’s credibility, although I think she would be terrific in an alternative camp version directed by John Waters. Playing actress Chris MacNeil, the bewildered [...]

Dana DeRuyck, left, Dylan Vigus and Kate O'Toole in "The Merry Wives of Windsor" at the Whitmore Lindley. Credit: Greg Eident.

THE MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR (PORTERS OF HELLSGATE): 50% – BITTER

BITTER And to play “Merry Wives” with so much extraneous business, winking self-delight and thunderous volume is, alas, to jettison the humor of it. My affection for this risk-taking troupe notwithstanding, I cannot tell what the Dickens they were thinking. David C. Nichols – LA Times SWEET The Merry Wives of Windsor is a fast, [...]

LOS OTROS: 46% – BITTER

LOS OTROS: 46% – BITTER

BITTERSWEET “Los Otros” is curious about the manifold layers of personal identity, but in a desultory way that deprives the work of sufficient dramatic pressure. The Southern California lens adds local interest, but that and first-class underscoring aren’t enough to transform these essayistic compositions into riveting theater. Charles McNulty – LA Times BITTERSWEET While some [...]

Malek Hanna, AnnaLisa Erickson, Mookie Johnson and Andrea Arvanigian in "Songs for a New World". Credit: Michael Lamont.

SONGS FOR A NEW WORLD: 46% – BITTER

SWEET Each song is a stand alone experience that transports the audience to a realm of hope and guiding light. Serita Stevens – LASplash BITTERSWEET DOMA Theatre Company presents a mixed bag of vocal talents backed by a bang-up band in Tony Award-winning composer Jason Robert Brown’s “Songs for a New World,” an hour-and-45-minute theatrical [...]

Thrill Ride Productionts presents "Modigiliani" at the Open Fist Theatre. Credit: Maia Rosenfeld.

MODIGLIANI (OPEN FIST): 46% – BITTER

BITTER Directed by Bjorn Johnson, the uneven cast, on a borrowed set, is unable to find the intimate realities of the broke and drunk artists who lived in Paris in 1916. Dale Reynolds – Stagehappenings BITTER McIntyre has chosen a rich subject but makes disappointingly little of it. Neal Weaver – LA Weekly SWEET What [...]

Adam Kaokept and Addi McDaniel in "Cloudlands" at SCR. Credit: Henry DiRocco.

CLOUDLANDS: 50% – BITTER

SWEET The result is nothing short of a triumph for all concerned with this extraordinary new work. F. Kathleen Foley – LA Times BITTER Cloudlands does not elevate the storyline. It sinks it. The whole piece feels like a travelogue; the characters comment on their feelings, endlessly describing their unpleasant emotional experiences, yammering on and [...]