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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 […]

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 […]

KCRW's Anthony Byrnes on the Economic Realities of LA's 99 Seat Plan

KCRW’s Anthony Byrnes on the Economic Realities of LA’s 99 Seat Plan

More Sturm und Drang on that old 99 Seat Plan, this time from T-Burn over at KCRW. Here’s the meat of his matter: What’s missing from this dialogue is the broader point and economic reality – all non-profit theater is subsidized. There isn’t a non-profit theater in Los Angeles, from the largest to the smallest, where […]

Critique of the Week

Critique of the Week

A-Burn at his best. An authentically “Los Angeles” voice no doubt. Not many can draw out the metaphors between stage and city better than this dude. HIT Anthony Byrnes – KCRW Okay – there’s Zankou Chicken falling from the ceiling, there’s sex after a car crash, there’s Cafe Tropical, continual comparisons to New York, and […]

HIT: 80% - SWEET

HIT: 80% – SWEET

BITTER The new play Hit by Alice Tuan, currently playing Los Angeles Theatre Center, unevenly shifts from hard-hitting drama to black comedy to avant-garde theater yet never makes clear its intentions. And though the actors are skilled professionals, they are not able to make the script’s unlikable characters relatable. Jonas Schwartz – TheaterMania BITTERSWEET Still, […]

DEATH OF THE AUTHOR: 75% - BITTERSWEET

DEATH OF THE AUTHOR: 75% – BITTERSWEET

SWEET It is smart, suspenseful, surprising, downright sensational writing, and with DeLorenzo in the director’s chair and a superb cast giving it added layers and depth, it makes for a play and production I could easily see again and again. Steven Stanley – StageSceneLA SWEET Early on, the jokes and exposition feel a bit sitcom-y […]

DIFFERENT WORDS FOR THE SAME THING: 75% - BITTERSWEET

DIFFERENT WORDS FOR THE SAME THING: 75% – BITTERSWEET

BITTERSWEET In the case of “different words,” the ghost finally learns, as part of the climax, exactly how she died. Unfortunately, this is the weakest moment of an otherwise fine-grained play, because the explanation introduces a complicated subplot — briefly sketched only in words, not in action — that doesn’t seem to have much relevance […]

MAN IN A CASE (BROAD STAGE): 56% - BITTERSWEET

MAN IN A CASE (BROAD STAGE): 56% – BITTERSWEET

BITTER Instead, Lazar and his cohorts have kicked Chekhov aside and substituted their own sensibilities for his. Subtle realism has been replaced by vaudeville shtick. In other words, the director has declared himself superior to the lonely Greek teacher in a small Russian town. Clad in a black suit and porkpie hat, Baryshnikov channels Buster […]

THE SUIT (FREUD PLAYHOUSE): 86% - SWEET

THE SUIT (FREUD PLAYHOUSE): 86% – SWEET

SWEET Three years ago, also with the help of Estienne and Krawczyk, Brook reduced Mozart’s “The Magic Flute” down to its ritualistic essences, removing the magic and retaining the humanity. In the “The Suit,” however, the horrors won’t go away. But by making theater, music and dance inseparably one, Brook’s art reaches that cleansing Bachian […]

A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM (BROAD STAGE): 82% - SWEET

A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM (BROAD STAGE): 82% – SWEET

BITTERSWEET Still, the production, by War Horse director Tom Morris, is surprisingly uninvolving. The main quartet of lovers and their foibles feel too separate from the puppet business, a big reason that the puppets’ theatricality doesn’t translate into emotional heft. Zachary Pincus-Roth – LA Weekly SWEET Nonetheless, this inventive production will send you home with […]

ORPHEUS (FOUR LARKS): 93% - SWEET

ORPHEUS (FOUR LARKS): 93% – SWEET

SWEET Throughout, the beige-clad and slight grubby (!) performers move, sway, declaim, sing and either perform percussion or play musical instruments—all in a deftly choreographed and pleasingly natural fashion, like the ebb and flow of a gentle tide. Pauline Adamek – ArtsBeatLA BITTERSWEET Orpheus is lovely in so many ways, but makes a couple of […]

WHITE (THE WALLIS): 100% - SWEET

WHITE (THE WALLIS): 100% – SWEET

SWEET The space, and its cute set, is entirely white. Audience members perch on low, white, wooden benches and there are little mats on the floor for kids to lounge on. The show is only 30 or so minutes long—perfect for short attention spans. The little ones who attended the show were completely enchanted by […]

CRY, TROJANS! (TROILUS AND CRESSIDA): 55% - BITTERSWEET

CRY, TROJANS! (TROILUS AND CRESSIDA): 55% – BITTERSWEET

BITTERSWEET The result is an uncharacteristically tame production, one that left me time to ponder the awkward politics of an overwhelmingly white ensemble horsing around with cultural caricatures of race. Charles McNulty – LA Times BITTERSWEET Still and all, though the monotony of its stubborn deviations from conventional dramaturgy demands hard effort from the audience […]

VILLON: 70% - BITTERSWEET

VILLON: 70% – BITTERSWEET

BITTER A play about a murderous French poet, told by a troupe of vaudevillian-style actors, seems it would be enough to spark some interest in an audience, but unfortunately Murray Mednick’s “Villon” falls seriously flat in its execution. Savannah L. Barker – Neon Tommy SWEET Like Villon’s troupe, these actors make sturdy, faithful companions to […]

VANYA AND SONIA AND MASHA AND SPIKE: 84% - SWEET

VANYA AND SONIA AND MASHA AND SPIKE: 84% – SWEET

SWEET The show, directed by David Hyde Pierce following Nicholas Martin’s Broadway staging, opened at the Mark Taper Forum on Sunday in tiptop shape. Indeed, you can mark this down as a shimmering example of an out-of-town production improving the touted original. Charles McNulty – LA Times SWEET An actor must deliver in the here […]

PASSION PLAY (ODYSSEY/EVIDENCE ROOM): 79% - SWEET

PASSION PLAY (ODYSSEY/EVIDENCE ROOM): 79% – SWEET

BITTERSWEET If, like me, you’re a fan of the Evidence Room, go to enjoy the familiar faces. Otherwise enjoy the small stuff and forgive the production for not tying everything up. Anthony Byrnes – KCRW BITTERSWEET Despite their many strengths, I found parts one and two curiously uninvolving. It wasn’t until Ruhl came closer to […]

AN ILIAD (BROAD STAGE): 100% - SWEET

AN ILIAD (BROAD STAGE): 100% – SWEET

SWEET If you’re not already convinced that this is a show you miss at your own peril — Mr. O’Hare’s performance is an hour and 40 minute tour de force. Without giving away too much — he even makes sense out of Homer’s litanies — delivering the poignant reminder that what we’d like to think […]

I'LL GO ON (KIRK DOUGLAS THEATRE): 100% - SWEET

I’LL GO ON (KIRK DOUGLAS THEATRE): 100% – SWEET

SWEET This performance is as fine as any performance can be. Steven Leigh Morris – LA Weekly SWEET McGovern has all the qualities of a superb Beckett interpreter. He relishes the comic brio even at its most scatological and possesses a voice that can draw out all the various hues of the verbal brilliance. Vehemence […]

Anthony Byrnes on "Staying Local" to Los Angeles Theater

Anthony Byrnes on “Staying Local” to Los Angeles Theater

Though I found this to be an interesting offering from A-Burn over at his KCRW site  - and I’m pretty sure I know what he’s TRYING to say – I’m still not exactly sure he’s clearly made the point I THINK he was TRYING to make. How’s that for a labyrinthian opening? He’s pivoting off of […]

KCRW's Anthony Byrnes' Best of Los Angeles Theater 2013

KCRW’s Anthony Byrnes’ Best of Los Angeles Theater 2013

The lists keep on rolling out! The latest is from the always insightful Anthony Byrnes of KCRW – or as I like to affectionately call him A-Burn – he’s taken a more abstract way, listing a mixture of trends, events and shows to form his final concoction. Definitely give it a read if you can […]

PETER AND THE STARCATCHER (AHMANSON): 77% - SWEET

PETER AND THE STARCATCHER (AHMANSON): 77% – SWEET

BITTERSWEET If, in the first act, the wit varies so vertiginously that it flirts with the tiresome, then in a deliriously delicious opening musical number of the second act, the entire cast sings and dances in delectable drag as fish mutated by the pollution of the ocean with starstuff into cross-dressing mermaids. This sort of […]

PARFUMERIE (WALLIS ANNENBERG CENTER): 80% - SWEET

PARFUMERIE (WALLIS ANNENBERG CENTER): 80% – SWEET

SWEET That said, the crisply assured performances, and Brokaw’s clockwork pacing, give the text its best possible production, though we sometimes sense we’re seeing a show that doesn’t have much faith in the possibility of multi-dimensional psychology. Tony Frankel – Stage and Cinema SWEET Don’t get me wrong: “Parfumerie” is entertaining and a great choice […]

Critique of the Week

Critique of the Week

A-Burn goes against the grain with nuance and smarts and keeps the conversation going. PLAY DEAD Anthony Byrnes – KCRW It’s tempting to think that magic is about the trick. Whether it’s pulling a quarter out of your ear or a bunny out of a hat, it’s easy to think it’s about the quarter or […]

PLAY DEAD: 97% - SWEET

PLAY DEAD: 97% – SWEET

SWEET The illusions themselves vary in impressiveness. Maybe not all will blow your mind. It won’t matter. The dark, the gore, the morbid anecdotes — and that eye-twinkle — will put you into a state of nervous excitement like nothing since pre-teen slumber parties. Margaret Gray – LA Times SWEET In “Play Dead,” there is […]

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 – […]

GIDION'S KNOT: 100% - SWEET

GIDION’S KNOT: 100% – SWEET

SWEET Nothing would work in this perilously tricky play without the utter commitment and attentive shading brought to the roles by these two contrastingly arresting performers. Cale Lisbe (five seasons as Joanie Hansen on Providence) and Martin (a founding member of The Furious) are riveting, supplying utmost conviction even when the character development may be […]

MOSKVA: 90% - SWEET

MOSKVA: 90% – SWEET

SWEET I have a suspicion that if I were more steeped in the original text and the Russia of the last several decades, I would be equally moved by the rest of the play. If you’ve got the keys to those kingdoms this play will speak to you. If you don’t, buckle up: it’s a […]

Critique of the Week

Critique of the Week

These are the types of reviews that sometimes transcend their own medium. When critics have the ability to see these types of connections between the art, the artists and the culture within which they work and then communicate that type of vision, they become artists themselves and should not only be applauded, but should be […]

Another Saturday Saying

Another Saturday Saying

‘”Invisible Cities” stumbles upon an ironic and unfortunately apt metaphor for Los Angeles: here are the privileged elite wandering around a historic relic, oddly cut off from one another by technology, searching for the center of the invisible city that surrounds them.’ Anthony Byrnes – from his review of “Invisible Cites” at Union Station (KCRW)

INVISIBLE CITIES: 100% - SWEET

INVISIBLE CITIES: 100% – SWEET

SWEET It would not have, thus, been hard for Sharon’s herculean act of coordination and inventive production to overwhelm a delicate and beautiful opera. Importantly, it didn’t. Somehow, even the performance, conducted by Marc Lowenstein, remained sensitive in so intimidating a performance space. Mark Swed – LA Times SWEET The happening itself, however, is far […]