RSSAll Entries Tagged With: "bill raden"

THIEVES: 25% - BITTER

THIEVES: 25% – BITTER

BITTER Despite acting up a gale-force storm, the ensemble is finally unable to lift Miller’s language and situations from the earthbound and mundane into something more satisfyingly mythic. Director Daniel Talbott contributes some entertaining flourishes, but his penchant for chewed scenery proves a disservice to all. Bill Raden – LA Weekly SWEET Family relationships don’t […]

TREVOR: 100% - SWEET

TREVOR: 100% – SWEET

SWEET From that opening, the play’s grim trajectory becomes inevitable. That it also proves such a deliciously laugh-packed ride can finally be attributed to the split-second precision of an inspired ensemble (which includes Mary Elizabeth Ellis, Malcolm Barrett, Brenda Strong, Jim Ortlieb and Bob Clendenin) and director Stella Powell-Jones’ flawless production. Bill Raden – LA […]

THE OTHER PLACE: 92% - SWEET

THE OTHER PLACE: 92% – SWEET

SWEET Solid stagecraft, tautly quirky writing and crackerjack acting distinguish this compelling Los Angeles premiere of playwright Sharr White’s celebrated 2013 study of a neurologist who may be descending into dementia. David C. Nichols – LA Times SWEET In the end, “The Other Place,” the second show of the 2014-15 season, works because of a […]

THE TEMPTATION OF ST. ANTONY (FOUR LARKS): 100% - SWEET

THE TEMPTATION OF ST. ANTONY (FOUR LARKS): 100% – SWEET

SWEET Forgive them their voice-over. Give in to their Temptation and let the rest of text wash over you as you enjoy this immersive gem. And buy tickets now, this is one that’s sure to sell out. Anthony Byrnes – KCRW SWEET It is remarkable. Magnificent to watch. Abel Horwitz – Abel Horwitz SWEET A […]

THE PRICE (MARK TAPER FORUM): 82% - SWEET

THE PRICE (MARK TAPER FORUM): 82% – SWEET

BITTERSWEET Garry Hynes’ production, which opened Saturday at the Mark Taper Forum, is a shade too respectful. The Tony-winning Irish director treats the text as though it were a castle of poetry when it is a foursquare house made of prose. Exposition could have been judiciously cut, repetitions eliminated and some delaying tactics sped up. […]

FUGUE: 84% - SWEET

FUGUE: 84% – SWEET

SWEET The striking innovation here is in transposing the musical principles of fugue into narrative. Parallel elements of the three stories are underscored by impressively choreographed simultaneous delivery of words, phrases and, on occasion, orgasms. Philip Brandes – LA Times SWEET It is the movement, the timing and the brilliant staging of sex, suicide and […]

HELLMAN V. MCCARTHY (THEATRE 40): 100% - SWEET

HELLMAN V. MCCARTHY (THEATRE 40): 100% – SWEET

SWEET Except for some mis-staged lighting to allow Mr. Cavett to walk freely as is his obvious nature is as a renowned talk-show host, this play was surprisingly funny and yet really smart with a view into how this one-time incident that happened on Mr. Cavett’s show might have eventually affected our first amendment. I […]

GHOSTS OF THE UNDERGROUND: 100% - SWEET

GHOSTS OF THE UNDERGROUND: 100% – SWEET

SWEET Nevertheless, and in spite of the occasional sour note and shaky acting performance, Ghosts of the Underground racks up an impressive tally of theatrical coups, not the least of which is the sudden dawning that happens about three-quarters into the show of exactly which ancient tale Muñoz and Neubauer are so eloquently reinterpreting. To […]

THE MISSING PAGES OF LEWIS CARROLL: 71% - BITTERSWEET

THE MISSING PAGES OF LEWIS CARROLL: 71% – BITTERSWEET

SWEET Playwright Lily Blau receives a strong mounting of her world premiere The Missing Pages of Lewis Carroll at the Theatre @ Boston Court. Director Abigail Deser glides her able cast through what Blau has imagined would be in the missing pages of author Lewis Carroll’s actual diaries. Gil Kaan – BroadwayWorld BITTERSWEET Cummins’ transit […]

EARLY SHAKER SPIRITUALS: A RECORD ALBUM INTERPRETATION (REDCAT/WOOSTER GROUP): 94% - SWEET

EARLY SHAKER SPIRITUALS: A RECORD ALBUM INTERPRETATION (REDCAT/WOOSTER GROUP): 94% – SWEET

SWEET With the addition of eerie harmonies and then, in the evening’s finale, reconstructed Shaker dances, Early Shaker Spirituals soars beyond a canny ethnomusicological evocation to become something more deeply poignant and wonderfully enchanting. Bill Raden – LA Weekly SWEET What a difference! I’d never actually seen such. Just woodcuts and illustrations. Now, in this […]

THE LIFE OF THE NIGHT (SON OF SEMELE COMPANY CREATION FESTIVAL): 83% - SWEET

THE LIFE OF THE NIGHT (SON OF SEMELE COMPANY CREATION FESTIVAL): 83% – SWEET

SWEET The Life of the Night engages us with real people caught in the tides of love and need, and the mysteries of the night. It moves us to suffer with them, and it makes us laugh. And all in an hour, which ends as suddenly as love does. Don’t miss it. Mark Hein – […]

MORRISON CHRISTMAS (ZOMBIE JOE'S UNDERGROUND): 100% - SWEET

MORRISON CHRISTMAS (ZOMBIE JOE’S UNDERGROUND): 100% – SWEET

SWEET And if Morrison Christmas sets out to recapitulate the death-rebirth cycle in its theatrical arc, its more profound achievement is to progressively remove the ironic quotation marks from its source material in what emerges as a rather touching and surprisingly sincere reaffirmation by the company of its venerable artistic roots. Bill Raden – Stage […]

A SILVER LINING: 80% - SWEET

A SILVER LINING: 80% – SWEET

SWEET Writers Matt Soson and Vika Stubblebine’s witty, 90-minute intellectual thrill ride takes its 12-member audiences down a harrowing narrative rabbit hole. The show satirizes the conventional tropes of immersive theater even as it expertly uses the immersion experience, along with a purposefully hackneyed, Dr. Who–like sci-fi plot to dramatically embody the coercive aspects of […]

COMPLETENESS (VS THEATRE): 90% - SWEET

COMPLETENESS (VS THEATRE): 90% – SWEET

SWEET Itamar Moses’s Completeness is chockfull of discourse about protein processes and algorithmic probabilities, and if, like myself, you’re not of a scientific bent, you could drift off amidst the disquisition and the theory. Chances are you won’t, however. As directed by Matt Pfeiffer, VS. Theatre’s current production is so smart and the ensemble so […]

THIS IS BANNED: 72% - BITTERSWEET

THIS IS BANNED: 72% – BITTERSWEET

BITTERSWEET Though directors Price and JR Esposito prove far more self-assured with sci-fi than horror, their ungainly staging of the latter cannot fully obscure Macher’s thought-provoking meditation on the fragile denial that enables humankind’s most destructive of impulses. Bill Raden – LA Weekly SWEET Playwright Samantha Macher has a poetic command of language. Her use […]

VILLA THRILLA: 50% - BITTER

VILLA THRILLA: 50% – BITTER

BITTERSWEET It’s a great premise, wonderful set, excellent actors but there is something missing. Maybe it’s the timing, perhaps the situation is too convoluted or maybe the dialog is not quite as funny in performance as it was thought to be at the table read. Jose Ruiz – Reviewplays BITTERSWEET This is a valiant effort […]

THE DANCE OF DEATH (A NOISE WITHIN): 93% - SWEET

THE DANCE OF DEATH (A NOISE WITHIN): 93% – SWEET

BITTERSWEET The problem with his acting — and this pertains also to Angelo’s — is that it strives for a relaxed naturalness that often seems artificial. Instead of rising to meet Strindberg’s tragi-comic style, he opts to make his character appealingly relatable for contemporary theatergoers. Johnson is more successful at locating the playwright’s bracingly mercurial […]

FOREVER: 67% - BITTERSWEET

FOREVER: 67% – BITTERSWEET

BITTERSWEET From a theatrical perspective, unmodulated rage works best in small doses; too much of it stuns the senses. Subtler moments, as when she confesses her dreams of marrying the Irish cop who was kind to her after her rape, can be more effective. Margaret Gray – LA Times SWEET Forever concludes with the death […]

BANSHEE (THEATRE OF NOTE): 75% - BITTERSWEET

BANSHEE (THEATRE OF NOTE): 75% – BITTERSWEET

BITTERSWEET The result – a blend of an old-fashioned ghost story and a kitchen sink family drama – has moments of real sweetness, intervals of flagrant family dysfunction and a minute or two of genuinely gut-wrenching horror. However, the missed opportunities in Petti’s play render its sum less than its parts. F. Kathleen Foley – […]

VOX LUMIERE - THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (LATC): 64% - BITTERSWEET

VOX LUMIERE – THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (LATC): 64% – BITTERSWEET

SWEET Lon Chaney rocks out as this incredibly inventive rock opera experience brings sound to his seminal silent film. Staci Layne Wilson – Dread Central SWEET Vox’s version of the Phantom’s narrative is as provocative as it is genius. A literal coming-together of the main artistic mediums made available through modern technology. It is a […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

REASONS TO BE PRETTY (GEFFEN PLAYHOUSE): 75% - BITTERSWEET

REASONS TO BE PRETTY (GEFFEN PLAYHOUSE): 75% – BITTERSWEET

SWEET Director Randall Arney deftly captures every nuance in the relationships and their unfolding. He keeps the comedy flowing, the realizations only gradually emerging. And he has assembled a terrific cast, knowing and expert. Neal Weaver – ArtsInLA BITTERSWEET It isn’t a bad play, by any means. The set design is detailed and nails the […]

ECHO ONE ACTS 2014: 88% - SWEET

ECHO ONE ACTS 2014: 88% – SWEET

BITTERSWEET I notice that I have used the pejorative “little” for some of these scripts, and not for others. There’s a reason. “As We Sleep” does not feel little, despite its short running time, because of its universal truths and earned laughs. The not-much-longer “General Sherman’s Hollow Body,” despite seeming unfinished, feels epic in its […]

Critique of the Week

Critique of the Week

I missed this gem from the incomparable Bill Raden from a while back cuz I was out of town. Well it’s still good. There are few writers who can say so much so well in such a short amount of time as Bill Raden. This is an example. WE WILL ROCK YOU Bill Raden – […]

WE WILL ROCK YOU (AHMANSON THEATRE): 45% - BITTER

WE WILL ROCK YOU (AHMANSON THEATRE): 45% – BITTER

BITTER But it’s not the lame plot that’s the problem here. (Nobody else knows what “Bohemian Rhapsody” is about either.) Rather, “We Will Rock You,” with a script by Ben Elton, feels like such an affront because it embodies so many of the qualities that Queen renounced. It’s shallow. It’s cynical. And it’s dumb, dumb, […]

PENELOPE (ROGUE MACHINE): 82% - SWEET

PENELOPE (ROGUE MACHINE): 82% – SWEET

SWEET John Perrin Flynn and Brenda Davidson’s production of Penelope is so vivid that it’s hard for me to imagine the play in any other presentation – even though I’ve recently seen another that had its own strengths. Flynn’s direction is unequivocal, authoritative. He finds the excitement and narrative drive carefully laid underneath Enda Walsh’s […]

LAND LINE: 92% - SWEET

LAND LINE: 92% – SWEET

SWEET And yet I thoroughly enjoyed the mood I was in after the play. Dramatic issues aside, for at least one member of the demographic at whom the Rabbit Hole-esque drama seems to aim, it’s a very pleasant reverie on familiar traumas. It’s like going home at a comfortable remove, so much so that I […]