RSSAll Entries in the "Low Rated" Category

DORIAN'S DESCENT (DOMA): 38% - BITTER

DORIAN’S DESCENT (DOMA): 38% – BITTER

BITTER A quartet of stellar performers, a gifted composer/musical director, and L.A.’s costume designer du jour at his most over-the-top fabulous can’t, unfortunately, save the Oscar Wilde-based World Premiere musical Dorian’s Descent from descending into three hours’ worth of clichéd dialog and lyrics, jarring tonal shifts, and good intentions gone disastrously bad. Steven Stanley – […]

GAMES ON A BOMBED-OUT BEACH: 40% - BITTER

GAMES ON A BOMBED-OUT BEACH: 40% – BITTER

SWEET It is an insightful and soulful piece about three characters meshed together in the filmmaking business whose ideas of life and spiritual beliefs clash during their business stay on an ancient Greek island of temples and sunlit beauties. Nilofar Saraj – LifeInLA BITTER It’s difficult to tell from his rather muddled script just what […]

THE MINISTER'S BLACK VEIL (ECLECTIC COMPANY): 50% - BITTER

THE MINISTER’S BLACK VEIL (ECLECTIC COMPANY): 50% – BITTER

SWEET This one hour play, adapted by Timothy Sprague, captures the complex essence of the original piece. Dialogue and song have been included which has enhanced the organic unfolding of this work. Dianne Williams – NoHoArtsDistrict BITTER But if Timothy Sprague’s current adaptation of Hawthorne’s short story “The Minister’s Black Veil” is any indication, unlike […]

CINNAMON GIRL: 33% - BITTER

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, […]

FIVE SMALL FIRES: 50% - BITTER

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 […]

THE LAKE HOUSE PROJECT: 25% - BITTER

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 […]

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

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 […]

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

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 – […]

GREEKS 6 - TROJANS 5: 40% - BITTER

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 – […]

PACK UP THE MOON: 13% - BITTER

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 […]

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

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 – […]

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

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. […]

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

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 […]

ALABAMA BAGGAGE: 13% - BITTER

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: 55% - BITTERSWEET

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 […]

THE GAMBLER'S DAUGHTER: 17% - BITTER

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 […]

SLIPPED DISC: 0% - BITTER

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 […]

SURVIVING MAMA: 28% - BITTER

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 […]

SWEET THURSDAY (PACIFIC RESIDENT): 29% - BITTER

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 (EL PORTAL): 49% - BITTER

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 – […]

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

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 […]

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

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 LIFE OF SAVAGES (LATC): 38% - BITTER

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 EXORCIST (GEFFEN PLAYHOUSE): 46% - BITTER

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 […]

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

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 […]

SONGS FOR A NEW WORLD: 46% - BITTER

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 […]

MODIGLIANI (OPEN FIST): 46% - BITTER

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 […]