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EST/LA presents Robert Joy and Eve Gordon in "The Ugly One" at the Atwater Village Theatre. Photo by Kevin Riggin.

THE UGLY ONE (EST/LA): 100% – SWEET

SWEET The director works her excellent actors to technical precision in timing and physicality, and they more than meet her energy. They improve on an already thrilling script, which of course is why one hires actors. Jason Rohrer – Stage and Cinema SWEET Given a sharply engaging English translation by Maja Zade, this West Coast [...]

Critique of the Week

Critique of the Week

Ernest really likes Firemen currently playing at the Atwater Village Theatre. So did I. But as usual – especially when he’s feeling good about something – he lays it all down much better than I ever could. FIREMEN Ernest Kearney – Working Author The Echo Theater Company’s production of “Firemen” by Tommy Smith is a [...]

Critique of the Week

Critique of the Week

The Giddy Roar. THE UGLY ONE Jason Rohrer – Stage and Cinema RICH AND BEAUTIFUL I like a play that vacuums the audience in the wake of its rocket so that we tumble after, happy travelers grateful for the bruises. We bounce and roll along, too ecstatic to imagine stopping as the play flashes and [...]

“Firemen’s” Pyrotechnics Subtle and Scorching

“Firemen’s” Pyrotechnics Subtle and Scorching

There’s no doubt my personal penchant for theater resides with the minimalist school. My favorite show so far this year – until last night – was Barry McGovern’s phenomenal interpretations of Beckett’s Trilogy at the Kirk Douglas entitled I’ll Go On. Once again proving to me that all you need to achieve great storytelling on [...]

"Firemen" at the Atwater Village Theatre. Photo:

FIREMEN: 93% – SWEET

SWEET Director Chris Fields’ stylishly sleight-of-hand staging (eloquently accented by Matt Richter’s dynamic lights) and a disarmingly appealing ensemble (including Amanda Saunders and Zach Callison) strike just the right balance between uneasy laughter and unpalatable titillation to drive home Smith’s unsettling portrait of a society whose most endangered species may be the moral and emotional [...]

Jim Kane and Sandy Yu in 'Dallas Non-Stop,' a Playwrights' Arena production at Atwater Village Theatre. Photo courtesy of Playwrights' Arena.

DALLAS NON-STOP: 100% – SWEET

SWEET The thoroughly stylish staging is buoyed by superlative design elements – most particularly Christopher Scott Murillo’s runway-like set and Adam Flemming’s projection design, which ranges from floating clouds to specific city milieus. The dream cast bonds into something very much like an extended family, with all the commensurate closeness and volatility. In Alvarez’s beautifully [...]

Brian Dare and Butch Klein in Celebration Theatre's "The Homosexuals" at the Atwater Village Theatre. Photo: Sean Lambert.

THE HOMOSEXUALS: 83% – SWEET

SWEET Each of the six scenes is interesting and entertaining, but there’s little real action and the narrative arc is weak — a fact emphasized by the playing of the scenes in reverse order, à la Merrily We Roll Along. But the piece is largely redeemed by director Michael Matthews’ fine production and excellent performances [...]

Jud Williford, Alana Dietze, Ahmed Best and Jacqueline Wright in "Bob: A Life in Five Acts" at the Atwater Village Theatre. Credit:

BOB: A LIFE IN FIVE ACTS: 75% – BITTERSWEET

SWEET Go see it by any means possible. If you have to drag yourself there with nothing but two arms and determination, and must collect the price of admission from fallen change, do it. This is one of the finest productions in Los Angeles this year, and I must recommend the viewing of it to [...]

Elizabeth Frances, left, Elia Saldana and Bianca Lemaire in "The Anatomy of Gazellas" presented by Playwrights' Arena at Atwater Village Theatre. Credit: Blake Boyd.

THE ANATOMY OF GAZELLAS: 87% – SWEET

SWEET Aided by a superb design team, director Jon Lawrence Rivera neatly addresses the play’s vagaries, balancing the playful and the mysterious in a thoroughly nifty production that contains a wealth of ingenious effects, most notably Keith Skretch’s knockout video design. And if we sometimes suspect that Schoenberg and Rivera are merely messing with our [...]

OUR CLASS: 86% – SWEET

OUR CLASS: 86% – SWEET

SWEET A performance so powerful that the audience and cast were shaken to their core. Some including myself could not help but cry afterwards. Spencer Cotter – The_Detective SWEET The cast here had to do more than realize these, but bring them to life. They did so with such heart and skill I did what [...]

S.O.E.: 75% – BITTERSWEET

S.O.E.: 75% – BITTERSWEET

BITTERSWEET Director Darin Anthony’s dynamic direction shifts seamlessly from the light-hearted to the cataclysmic, and his well-matched performers chart that progression with completely credible craft. However, once the play shifts from character study to unfolding mystery, Brandli should have conformed to the rules of the mystery genre. As it is now, her play devolves into [...]

THE FISHERMAN’S WIFE: 80% – SWEET

THE FISHERMAN’S WIFE: 80% – SWEET

BITTERSWEET What puts this craziness over are the actors, who achieve a high-water level of mayhem, righteously plowing ahead when the laughs don’t come. That indicates the show’s liability: Yockey has some bright ideas and a knack for deliberate repetition and well-placed F-bombs, but the relatively shallow content and underused theatrical self-reference warrant another round [...]

"Doesn't Anyone Know What a Pancreas Is?" at the Atwater Village Theatre. Credit: Company.

DOESN’T ANYONE KNOW WHAT A PANCREAS IS?: 67% – BITTERSWEET

BITTERSWEET The play certainly has potential with some further finessing, but for now, it is a enjoyable, but flawed new work. Katie Buenneke – Neon Tommy BITTERSWEET Real continuously misses rich opportunities to create outrageous conflict, settling instead for more jokes. For now, her short filmic scenes, played out between unnecessary furniture shuffling in interminable [...]

Anthony Manough, Sean Spann, Meghan Maureen McDonagh, James Black, Kate Morgan Chadwick, Ian Merrigan, Larry Clarke, Lauren Hillman, Lina Patel and Mapuana Makia in "Bad Apples" at the Atwater Village Theatre. Credit: Jeff Galfer.

BAD APPLES: 77% – SWEET

SWEET Anybody concerned that Circle X’s new musical about America’s most notorious prisoner-torture atrocity was going to be some sort of Abu Ghraib: The Musical! can rest easy; Bad Apples is a thoughtful, penetrating and theatrically thrilling meditation on the all-too-human dimensions of what Hannah Arendt famously called the banality of evil. LA Weekly BITTER [...]

YEAR OF THE RABBIT: 82% – SWEET

YEAR OF THE RABBIT: 82% – SWEET

BITTERSWEET The gravity of the text and the production illustrate the sober care the author and her director, James Eckhouse, have taken in telling this harrowing story. But given the complicated issues it raises and the intricate character arcs it describes, the play would work better if it were twice as long and (to assist [...]

"Komitas" at Atwater Village Theatre. Credit: Kevin Mills

KOMITAS: 67% – BITTERSWEET

  SWEET Komitas is an interesting, engaging and emotional play that has all of the major elements of one man’s struggle within himself: his passions and choices vs. his destiny. Arpine Eloyan – OnStageLosAngeles SWEET It’s an interesting and absorbing play, but as I indicated earlier, it helps if you’re Armenian. Cynthia Citron – LA [...]

Newsflash: Theatre is Alive and Well in LA

Newsflash: Theatre is Alive and Well in LA

First off, do yourself a favor and go to the Geffen Playhouse, get some rush tickets if you need to and go see Good People. There is no better example of how to tell a story on stage running in Los Angeles right now. Much of what I see in town is Spectacle looking for [...]

The cast of "Eternal Thou" at the Atwater Village Theatre. Credit: Matthew McCray.

ETERNAL THOU: 91% – SWEET

SWEET Matt McCray distinguishes himself with Eternal Thou as one of the most inventive and, pardon the pun, plugged-in theater makers in LA. He’ll leave you thinking about that iPhone in your pocket a little differently. Anthony Byrnes – Opening the Curtain SWEET McCray’s staging blurs the distinctions between the actors-as-tech-components and actors-as-people, so that [...]

DEsnie Crosby and Jaqueline Wright in "House of Gold" at the Atwater Village Theatre. Credit: Thom Bertelson.

HOUSE OF GOLD: 77% – SWEET

SWEET The beauty of McFadden’s and her professional crew’s efforts for this production and the other shows I’ve seen at the Atwater Village Theatre is that they spend the energy and truly invest talent and cash to commit fully to the edgy and innovative productions they opt to mount. This is disturbing material and though [...]

Doug Sutherland and Katharine Noon in "Stranger Things" at the Atwater Village Theatre. Credit: Jose Diaz.

STRANGER THINGS: 66% – BITTERSWEET

SWEET Johnson endows Helga with a curious charm, and the show’s somber, claustrophobic tone is leavened by dry wit (Mother: “This is what God is doing to us.” Helga: “God doesn’t care about us. We’re not his type.”). And just when the story seems predictable, it twists into something genuinely chilling. Charlotte Stoudt – LA [...]

Annabelle Borke, Ben Huber and Amelia Alvarez in "Between Us Chickens" at the Atwater Village Theatre.  Photo courtesy of Shane William Zwiener.

BETWEEN US CHICKENS: 67% – SWEET

SWEET In 90 minutes, Alvarez tackles the changing face of today’s 20-somethings. Unlike many youthful and superficial comedies, hers presents a somewhat darker face on surviving in a place like Los Angeles, suggesting that the inherent character of success may lead to an opportunistic and destructive ending. Debate certainly doesn’t end with the final curtain. [...]

It takes an Atwater Village Theatre…

It takes an Atwater Village Theatre…

If you haven’t been to the Atwater Village Theatre yet – go.  The two resident companies, Circle X and EST-LA are currently running a regular Tom Jacobson fest, The Chinese Massacre (Annotated) and House of the Rising Son respectively.  Both plays by Jacobson.  Saw House of the Rising Son and it was excellent. It truly [...]

Rod Menzie and John Patrick Hurley in "House of the Rising Son" at the Atwater Village Theatre.  Photo courtesy of Ensemble Studio Theatre-LA.

HOUSE OF THE RISING SON: 94% – SWEET

SWEET Tom Jacobson takes a giant step forward with his engrossing, provocative “House of the Rising Son” — note the spelling. It’s nothing less than a comprehensive homosexual ecology that kicks off in a graveyard and ends in a bed: life engagingly turned upside down. Bob Verini – Variety SWEET Still, The House of the [...]

THE CHINESE MASSACRE (ANNOTATED): 75% – SWEET

THE CHINESE MASSACRE (ANNOTATED): 75% – SWEET

SWEET The ensemble cast is expertly led by the visionary directing of Jeff Liu. Their collective talent carries the audience as the play vacillates between right brain emotionality and the rapid-fire delivery of historical dates and annotations designed to remove the viewer from the trauma of the events as they unfold. The cast delivers extraordinary [...]

The Potable Quotable

The Potable Quotable

The Atwater Village partnership of EST—LA and Circle X Theatre, discussed at greater detail here, may well turn out to be a model of how theater companies can cooperate. Far too many L.A. companies are oblivious to the existence of other companies. Members of the LA theatrical community should not meet one another only at [...]

Tonya Cornelisse and Graham Sibley in "Crack Whore Galore - Live!" at the Atwater Village Theatre.

CRACK WHORE GALORE: 100% – SWEET

SWEET It’s not a life-changing event, but the energy electrifies, the music is surprisingly good and the performances are top-tier. Steven Leigh Morris – LA Weekly SWEET This raw and rollicking hour of performance-based satire is funnier than even the first act of Mlle. God and a fitting riposte to Kazan’s Lulu, whose sexual appeal [...]

Atwater Village Theatre: THE Next Los Angeles Theatre Hot Spot

Atwater Village Theatre: THE Next Los Angeles Theatre Hot Spot

That’s right.  You heard it here first.  Well, actually, you probably didn’t.  Or you shouldn’t have.  Heard it here first.  Cuz it’s already hopping. What I’m trying to say is that there have already been numerous stories on this great new complex -AVT to those already in the know – home to Circle X Theatre [...]

John Nielsen and Annika Marks in "Mlle. God" at the Atwater Village Theatre. Photo courtesy of Patricia Williams.

MLLE. GOD: 77% – SWEET

BITTER There is certainly an argument for looking at the plays again and putting a contemporary spin on them. That is exactly what playwright Nicholas Kazan has attempted. And he has failed miserably. Noble intentions are to be praised, but there is simply no excuse for inadequacy. The writing is discursive and fatally dry. He [...]

Atwater Village a New Arts Destination

Atwater Village a New Arts Destination

Atwater Village “between the river and the tracks” It’s shaped like a banana and borders the 5 freeway. Neighboring areas include Elysian Valley, Glassell Park, Glendale, Griffith Park, Los Feliz and Silver Lake. Atwater Village is where you meet new friends at the Farmer’s Market and conduct ongoing conversations with your baristas. Many have experienced [...]