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"The Deep Throat Sex Scandal" at the Zephyr Theatre. Credit: Ed Krieger.

THE DEEP THROAT SEX SCANDAL: 75% – BITTERSWEET

BITTERSWEET There have been so many derivative works based on the same history, from the more thorough and reliable 2005 documentary Inside Deep Throat to the splendidly inventive and perceptive 2009 locally premiered rock musical, Lovelace, that this pleasant and sympathetic yet relatively pedestrian rendering lacks much justification save for those thoroughly uninitiated. Myron Meisel [...]

Pamela J. Gray and Katie MacNichol in Noel Coward's "Fallen Angels" at the Pasadena Playhouse. Credit: Jim Cox.

FALLEN ANGELS (PASADENA PLAYHOUSE): 100% – SWEET

SWEET Shrug off that fur, have a cocktail and dish the dirt with “Fallen Angels,” Art Manke’s irresistible production of a rarely seen Noel Coward comedy, now at the Pasadena Playhouse. Charlotte Stoudt – LA Times SWEET The direction by Art Manke keeps the comic motor chugging smoothly, and he gives the women all the [...]

"Cassiopeia" at the Theatre @ Boston Court. Credit: Ed Krieger.

CASSIOPEIA: 71% – BITTERSWEET

SWEET If you’re in a mood to give yourself over to rich imagery richly (sometimes too richly) conveyed, you’ll encounter something rare and beautiful. Bob Verini – Variety SWEET Part dream drama, part choreo-poem, the 75-minute three-character work, directed by Emilie Beck, charms both the brain and the senses. Evan Henerson – Backstage SWEET Still, [...]

"The Grand Irrationality" at the Lost Studio. Credit: Dima Otvertchenko.

THE GRAND IRRATIONALITY: 60% – BITTERSWEET

BITTER Kennedy’s characters may talk about big ideas and make many sales pitches, but it’s unlikely that audiences will be sold on “The Grand Irrationality.” Katherine Davis – Backstage SWEET Is this play funny? Yes. Will Kennedy’s outlet for revenge stand the test of time and become a classic for the ages? Probably not. Is [...]

Pat Kinevane in "Silent" at the Odyssey Theatre. Credit: Fishamble Company.

SILENT: 100% – SWEET

SWEET This is a performance worth your time and will linger in your imagination for a long time to come. Sarah A. Spitz – Santa Monica Daily Press SWEET It makes for daring, bravura-like theater. Willard Manus – Total Theater SWEET His flair for speaking on behalf of society’s throwaways was showcased in the Odyssey [...]

in "Nothing to Hide" at the Geffen Playhouse. Credit: Michael Lamont.

NOTHING TO HIDE: 93% – SWEET

BITTERSWEET If Penn and Teller were post-modern, these inevitably self-aware practitioners are post-Penn and Teller. They candidly eschew any hint of the phony, a historical hazard for magicians and a shibboleth of the contemporary sensibility. Yet their purposefully affectless manner gradually edges them toward the bland, so that by the end even their most spectacular [...]

TEA, WITH MUSIC: 60% – BITTERSWEET

TEA, WITH MUSIC: 60% – BITTERSWEET

BITTER But too much of director Jon Lawrence Rivera’s production feels episodic. The flashback scenes play as narration, not drama. Characters come and go so quickly it’s hard to connect with any of them, and a few performances are flat. Houston, who has written cannily about cross-cultural relationships, can’t bring her characters here to sustained [...]

Critique of the Week

Critique of the Week

I dunno, I just liked this review from Charlotte. Something about the way she is trying to participate in the process, how she’s trying to connect the dots from the past to the present. Or maybe it’s just the “Mad Men” reference. THE BALD SOPRANO Charlotte Stoudt – LA Times It looks like “Mad Men,” [...]

David E. Frank in "The Bald Soprano: A Christmas Anti-Play" at City Garage in Santa Monica. Credit: Paul M. Rubenstein.

THE BALD SOPRANO (CITY GARAGE): 92% – SWEET

BITTERSWEET The City Garage staging of Eugene Ionesco’s midcentury absurdist farce “The Bald Soprano: A Christmas Anti-Play” has all the ingredients for intoxication but goes down like one of Sally’s Shirley Temples – it’s a classic but lacks a certain kick. Charlotte Stoudt – LA Times SWEET It’s an early and classic example of theatre [...]

"Faith: Part I of a Mexican Trilogy" at LATC. Credit: Pablo Santiago.

FAITH: PART I OF A MEXICAN TRILOGY: 100% – SWEET

SWEET The cast could not be better. Not only do America, de la Rocha, and Delgado resemble actual sisters, they are selflessly attuned to each other, the parents of Rodriguez and Lopez, Fernandez’s surrogate mom, and both suitors, with the decision to double cast Delgado as young Esperanza and Ponce as a priest quietly inspired. [...]

Ethan Rains, from left, Deborah Puette, Johnathan McClain and Adam Silver in "Creation" at Boston Court Performing Arts Center. Credit: Ed Krieger.

CREATION: 84% – SWEET

SWEET Still, “Creation” details the birth pangs of new art, new love, new selves. In its best moments, the play pushes beyond its cerebral premise toward something urgent and fully human. Charlotte Stoudt – LA Times SWEET One of the most fascinating new plays I’ve seen this past year, Kathryn Walat’s Creation is even better [...]

Leah Harf, clockwise from top left, Mariko Oka, Megan Penn and Daryl Keith Roach in "Orestes 3.0: Inferno" at the Bergamot Station Arts Center. Credit: Paul M. Rubenstein.

ORESTES 3.0: INFERNO: 67% – BITTERSWEET

BITTERSWEET Like Mee, Michel’s work tends to feel like an experiment rather than finished product. You admire her willingness to swing for the fences, even when the hits fall short. Did “Orestes 3.0” shed new light on Euripides’ dense and ancient text? Not really. But Michel stages one of the year’s most startling tableaux: A [...]

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 [...]

Kathleen Early, left, Tessa Auberjonois, Robert Curtis Brown, Colette Kilroy and JD Cullum in "Absurd Person Singular" at South Coast Repertory. Credit: Henry DiRocco.

ABSURD PERSON SINGULAR (SOUTH COAST REP): 88% – SWEET

BITTER Because we don’t get a palpable feel for these couples, the ironic reversals that befall them don’t land with much impact. We’re left hanging from punch line to punch line, with the sense that the cast too has somehow been stranded. Charlotte Stoudt – LA Times SWEET If the first act is a delightful [...]

Alana Dietzeand and Sean Thomas in "Under the Desert" at the Lounge Theatre. Credit: Matt Richter.

UNDER THE DESERT: 75% – BITTERSWEET

BITTERSWEET Dusty truck stop. Lonely waitress. Mysterious stranger. A hoary premise can come alive in expert hands, but in Raymond King Shurtz’s “Under the Desert” at the Lounge Theatre, familiarity doesn’t breed much freshness. Charlotte Stoudt – LA Times BITTERSWEET It’s not terrible, and there are good things in it, but I’m not happy I [...]

Courtney DeCosky, Phillip Wilburn, Constance Reese, and Derek Reid in “How Obama Got His Groove Back” at the Fremont Centre Theater. Credit: Nicholas Zill.

HOW OBAMA GOT HIS GROOVE BACK: 78% – SWEET

BITTERSWEET In short, “How Obama Got His Groove Back” is just good enough so that it should have been better. Frances Baum Nicholson – The Stage Struck Review SWEET How Obama Got His Groove Back is a romp of fitfully amusing political sketches. And when the jokes misfire, or knock you on the head for [...]

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 [...]

John Pick, left, and JB Waterman in "Tape," staged in a hotel room at the Los Feliz Hotel. Credit: Ian Forester.

TAPE (SMITH & MARTIN/NEEDTHEATER): 100% – SWEET

SWEET If you are a collector of site-specific shows, or have never seen “Tape,” this is your chance to enjoy a dirty little adventure with free parking. Charlotte Stoudt – LA Times SWEET Yet it’s not necessarily a demerit for Forester’s direction that his site-specific production assumes a quieter sense of irony about the situation, [...]

Independent Shakespeare Co. presents "The Comedy of Errors" at the Old Zoo in Griffith Park. Credit: Grettel Cortes.

THE COMEDY OF ERRORS (ISC): 100% – SWEET

SWEET The play’s humor makes it accessible to all audiences and a perfect choice for outdoor summer theater. Independent Shakespeare Co. has given the silly script a new setting and created an undeniably fun evening of free theater. Katherine Davis – Backstage SWEET The Independent Shakespeare Company’s production of The Comedy of Errors is fun [...]

"Hearts Like Fists" at Theatre of NOTE. Credit: Mandi Moss.

HEARTS LIKE FISTS: 100% – SWEET

SWEET Fun well done neatly sums up this brazenly silly and irresistibly funny show. Deborah Klugman – LA Weekly SWEET Don’t miss this show! Pauline Adamek – ArtsBeatLA SWEET Director Jaime Robledo, fresh from his Sacred Fools smashes Watson and Stoneface, now pops over to Theatre Of NOTE to stage Szymkowicz’s latest, a collaboration that [...]

Shannon Holt and Adam Hass Hunter in 'The Inspector General' at the Boston Court Performing Arts Center. Credit: Ed Krieger.

THE GOVERNMENT INSPECTOR: 84% – SWEET

BITTERSWEET This adaptation of “The Government Inspector” is well-acted, crisply directed and clever. As a farce – it’s fun. But what’s missing is the satirical bite of the original. The production lacks a moral anchor against which to push because you can’t really have comedy without a little tragedy. Anthony Byrnes – KCRW SWEET The [...]

"Six Characters Looking for an Author" at the Promenade Playhouse. Credit: Company.

SIX CHARACTERS LOOKING FOR AN AUTHOR (PROMENADE PLAYHOUSE): 60% – BITTERSWEET

BITTER Less deserving is Douglas Matranga’s abysmally uninspired, leaden and half-baked staging. Matranga’s bizarre casting conceit of recruiting ticket buyers to “play” the two children of the titular six characters is only one of the insults that finally transform the under-rehearsed evening from the proverbial actor’s nightmare to the audience’s. Bill Raden – LA Weekly [...]

Laurie O'Brien in  "I Am Chrissie" at Skylight/Skylab Theatre. Credit: Ed Krieger.

I AM CHRISSIE: 100% – SWEET

SWEET This intense solo show about O’Brien’s theater work with the mentally ill during the 1970s feels unfinished, but its passion compels. Charlotte Stoudt – LA Times SWEET Director Tony Abatemarco guides this strong performer with a sure hand, and we follow the progress of the curious relationship between the two women. Though this may [...]

Patrick Quinlan, Shaun O'Hagan, Austin Hebert, Joe Pacheco, and Scott Conte in 'The Irish Curse,' now at the Odyssey Theatre. Credit: Ron Sossi.

THE IRISH CURSE: 85% – SWEET

SWEET “Curse” may be a play about insecurity, but director Andrew Barnicle’s staging has real confidence; tonally, it’s near faultless. The interplay among the men is fast and funny, with Pacheco quietly anchoring the outsized performances of his secular mates. Charlotte Stoudt – LA Times BITTERSWEET Casella’s an assured writer, and the piece gets a [...]

Susan Angelo, left, and Ellen Geer in "The Women of Lockerbie" at Theatricum Botanicum. Credit: Ian Flanders.

THE WOMEN OF LOCKERBIE (THEATRICUM BOTANICUM): 71% – BITTERSWEET

BITTERSWEET Melora Marshall’s production uses traditional Scottish music and instruments to atmospheric effect. But there’s not much the director can do about the playwright’s ham-fisted storytelling. Instead of trusting her subject matter to speak for itself, Brevroot can’t resist sanctimonious commentary. (“Grief needs to talk” “Grief is a guest who stays too long”). Charlotte Stoudt [...]

Melora Marshall and William Dennis Hunt in "Heartbreak House" at Theatricum Botanicum. Credit: Miriam Greer.

HEARTBREAK HOUSE (THEATRICUM BOTANICUM): 100% – SWEET

SWEET Rarely will you see a production of such an intricate comedy of ideas rendered so clearly, and with such a clear purpose. Steven Leigh Morris – LA Weekly SWEET The open-air theatre of Theatricum Botanicum struck me as an odd choice for the company to perform Shaw’s Heartbreak House. I was wrong, very wrong. [...]

Melanie Griffith and Scott Caan are larger-than-life mother and son in "No Way Around but Through"  at the Falcon Theatre. Credit: Chelsea Sutton.

NO WAY AROUND BUT THROUGH: 58% – BITTERSWEET

BITTER Something feels wrong when you’d rather follow the B story of Jacob and Holly’s best friends, sex addicts who at least get to the point (and amiably played by Bre Blair and Val Lauren, who also directs). Caan is interested in the limits of language, yet sometimes his muddled, logorrheic lovers suck too much [...]

Lily Holleman and Jeff Kober in "Where the Great Ones Run" at Theatre Theater. Credit: John Flynn

WHERE THE GREAT ONES RUN: 58% – BITTERSWEET

SWEET Roberts, the creator of “Mike & Molly,” has a quick way with a one-liner, even if he overpopulates the stage, proliferating subplots while missing the opportunity for more musical numbers. No matter. Kober is credible as a star, and Jennifer Pollono steals the show as a waitress who over-shares. Rode hard and put away [...]

"The Bewildered Herd" at the Greenway Court Theatre. Credit: Joel Daavid.

THE BEWILDERED HERD: 75% – BITTERSWEET

SWEET Still, director Laurie Woolery’s production features an excellent cast, with Richards giving a tart, moving performance as a befuddled widow, Getz every inch the smooth operative, and Cummins a prickly innocent. Henderson makes their confusion oddly compelling. Charlotte Stoudt – LA Times BITTERSWEET This is an exceptionally “chatty” play, and the major problem is [...]

Hershey Felder as Charles Leale in "Lincoln: An American Story" at the Pasadena Playhouse. Credit: Craig Schwartz.

LINCOLN: AN AMERICAN STORY: 74% – BITTERSWEET

SWEET In this his Lincoln – An American Story, Hershey Felder the actor, guided by Joel Zwick’s generously even direction, plays with great sensitivity, showing a seldom seen compassionate side of his artistic temperament. Don Grigware – Grigware Blogspot SWEET Despite its stylistic excesses, the substance of “Lincoln” resonates. In a time of national crisis, [...]