Stage Raw: Flesh and Blood
FLESH AND BLOOD X 2
Photo by Paul Outlaw
On Friday and Saturday, February 26 and 27, 8:30 p.m., Highways presents Flesh and Blood X 2 -- two theatrical works: "Crucio" by Johnny 2.0 in collaboration with horror icon Clive Barker; and "Porphryion's Revenge, written and performed by Paul Outlaw.
In "Crucio," one man must battle his faith and sexuality when confronted with them face to face. "Porphryion's Revenge" is a work of pure fantasy, a "supernatural musical" about an African American born in slavery, in a narrative that spans several centuries.
UP IN THE SKY
SkyPilot Theatre Company has revised its company mission, and now aims to "compete with this age of digital entertainment to bring our audience an authentic and moving theatre experience."
Not exactly sure what that means, but the troupe is encouraging new play submissions. Contact Literary Manger Manager Phillipe Simon at firstname.lastname@example.org Plays must not have been produced in Los Angeles. World premieres especially encouraged.
COMPREHENSIVE THEATER LISTINGS for February 12-18, 2010
Our critics are Paul Birchall, Lovell Estell III,Martin Hernandez, Mayank Keshaviah, Deborah Klugman, Steven Leigh Morris, Amy Nicholson, Tom Provenzano, Bill Raden, Luis Reyes, Sandra Ross and Neal Weaver. These listings were compiled by Derek Thomas
Productions are sequenced alphabetically in the following cagtegories: Opening This Week, Larger Theaters regionwide, Smaller Theaters in Hollywood, Smaller Theaters in the valleys , Smaller Theaters on the Westside and in beach towns. You can also search for any play by title, using your computer's search engine.
OPENING THIS WEEK
ABRAHAM LINCOLN'S BIG GAY VALENTINE BASH "Celebrating our first gay president with queer works about love, sex, and romance, hosted by Ian MacKinnon and featuring guests John Cantwell of The Nellie Olesons, Flint, DeadLee, Drew Mason, Diviana X Ingravallo, Dorian Wood, Mas, Hi-Fashion $9.99, Kevin Williamson, Tyler Dalay, and Drew Droege.". Highways Performance Space, 1651 18th St., Santa Monica; Feb. 12-13, 8:30 p.m.. (310) 315-1459.
BURLESQUE TO BROADWAY Directed by Joseph Hardy. Citrus College Haugh Performing Arts Center, 1000 W. Foothill Blvd., Glendora; Fri., Feb. 12, 8 p.m.. (626) 963-941.
CATCH THE TIGER Melvin Ishmael Johnson's play about Black Nationalist leader Marcus Garvey. The Complex, 6476 Santa Monica Blvd., L.A.; opens Feb. 12; Fri.-Sun., 8 p.m.; thru Feb. 21. (323) 850-4436.
CAVE QUEST Les Thomas' story of a video gamer looking for inner peace who tracks down a legendary American Buddhist nun in a Tibetan cave. East West Players, 120 N. Judge John Aiso St., L.A.; opens Feb. 17; Wed.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru March 14. (213) 625-7000.
CELADINE Charle Evered's bawdy comedy with spying, swordfighting and crossdressing. Colony Theatre, 555 N. Third St., Burbank; opens Feb. 13; Sat., Feb. 13, 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 & 7 p.m.; Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 3 & 8 p.m.; thru March 7, www.colonytheatre.org. (818) 558-7000.
THE COFFEE CLUB World premiere of David R. Zimmerman's drama about clients at a group therapy session. Write Act Theater, 6128 Yucca St., L.A.; opens Feb. 15; Mon.-Wed., 8 p.m.; Sat., 3 p.m.; Sun., Feb. 28, 5 p.m.; thru March 6. (323) 469-3113.
DEADLY DISCO CRUISE Mysteries en Brochette presents a disco-inspired Valentine's evening of interactive dinner theater. Boogie down with Captain Seaford as he officiates the shipboard wedding, try your luck at the '70s-themed bingo game, and show off your moves at the disco dance contest. Plus, a rare appearance by the Del Rey Village People. On the menu: grilled salmon, coq au vin or Mediterranean penne pasta., $75. Marina del Rey Hotel, 13534 Bali Way, Marina del Rey; Sun., Feb. 14, 6 p.m., www.mysteriesenbrochette.com...
DIGGING UP DAD Cris D'Annunzio's story of his father's mysterious death. Ruskin Group Theater, 3000 Airport Dr., Santa Monica; opens Feb. 12; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru March 20. (310) 397-3244.
DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS Interact Theatre Company presents the con-man musical comedy based on the 1988 film. NoHo Arts Center, 11136 Magnolia Blvd., North Hollywood; opens Feb. 12; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru March 21. (818) 508-7101.
DUAL CITIZENS Polish actress/puppeteer Anna Skubik and her Bulgarian-American partner Anthony Nikholchev star in this comedy-drama's American premiere. Odyssey Theatre, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., L.A.; opens Feb. 13; Wed.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., Feb. 14, 2 p.m.; Sun., Feb. 21, 7 p.m.; Sun., March 14, 7 p.m.; Sun., March 28, 7 p.m.; thru March 28. (310) 477-2055.
ELOVE, A MUSICAL.COM/EDY Two nights of "Champagne & Chocolate," presented by Sideways SmileyFace Productions. Book, music and lyrics by Wayland Pickard with additional lyrics by Sherry Netherland and Deborah Johnson, directed and choreographed by Cate Caplin. Lonny Chapman Group Repertory Theatre, 10900 Burbank Blvd., North Hollywood; Sat., Feb. 13, 3 p.m.; Sun., Feb. 14, 7 p.m.. (818) 700-4878.
GROUNDLINGS SHOWCASE SHOWDOWN All-new sketch and improv, directed by Mikey Day. Groundling Theater, 7307 Melrose Ave., L.A.; opens Feb. 12; Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 8 & 10 p.m.; thru April 24. (323) 934-9700.
THE HAPPY HAPPY SHOW April Hava Shenkman hosts this anything-goes comedy cabaret., free. El Cid, 4212 Sunset Blvd., L.A.; Thurs., 8 p.m.. (323) 668-0318.
HARRY THE DIRTY DOG ArtsPower National Touring Theatre's music production, written by Gene Zion. Pepperdine University, Smothers Theatre, 24255 Pacific Coast Hwy., Malibu; Sat., Feb. 13, 11 a.m. & 1 p.m.. (800) 982-2787.
HOT FLASH! Jenifer Lewis' one-woman show, written by Mark Alton Brown and Jenifer Lewis. L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center, Renberg Theatre, 1125 N. McCadden Pl., L.A.; opens Feb. 13; Sat., 7:30 p.m.; thru March 6. (323) 860-7302.
HOT FLICKS: LOVE SCENES FROM THE SILVER SCREEN Readings of romantic movie scenes, from Gone With the Wind to 500 Days of Summer, courtesy literary salon WordTheatre., $27, $10 food minimum. M Bar, 1253 Vine St., L.A.; Sun., Feb. 14, 6 p.m.. (323) 856-0036.
I LOVE YOU, YOU'RE PERFECT, NOW CHANGE Relevant Stage Theatre Company presents the musical revue, with book and lyrics by Joe DiPietro, music by Jimmy Roberts. Warner Grand Theatre, 478 W. Sixth St., San Pedro; opens Feb. 12; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., Feb. 14, 7 p.m.; Sun., 2:30 p.m.; thru Feb. 27. (800) 838-3006.
IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE Staged reading starring Salome Jens and Mitchell Ryan. Theatre 40 at the Reuben Cordova Theater, 241 Moreno Dr., Beverly Hills; Sun., Feb. 14, 7 p.m.; Tues., Feb. 16, 8 p.m.. (310) 364-0535.
JACK AND JILL: A ROMANCE Alive Theatrevolution presents Jane Martin's modern comedy of manners. HELLADA Gallery, 117 Linden Ave., Long Beach; Sat., Feb. 13, 8 p.m.; Sun., Feb. 14, 7 p.m.; Feb. 19-20, 8 p.m., www.alivetheatre.org. (562) 818-7364.
JOEY "THE SAINT" VALENTINE'S SPEAKEASY Long Beach Playhouse celebrates its 80th anniversary with a swanky trip back to 1929., $150-$250. Renaissance Hotel, 111 E. Ocean Blvd., Long Beach; Sat., Feb. 13, 6:30 p.m.. (866) 777-1041.
LITTLE WOMEN Adapted by Jacqueline Goldfinger from the book by Louisa May Alcott. North Coast Repertory Theatre, 987 Lomas Santa Fe Dr., Solana Beach; opens Feb. 14; Sun., Feb. 14, 2 p.m.; Sat., Feb. 20, 8 p.m.; Thurs.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2 & 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 & 7 p.m.; thru March 7, www.northcoastrep.org. (858) 481-2155.
LOBBY HERO Kenneth Lonergan's murder mystery about a hapless security guard. Pacific Stages, 2041 Rosecrans Avenue #170, El Segundo; opens Feb. 13; Sat., 3 & 8 p.m.; Sun., 5 p.m.; Thurs.-Fri., 8 p.m.; thru March 14. (310) 868-2631.
LOVE BITES -- VOL. 9 The Elephant Theatre Company's annual short-play festival, including Reality Romcom: Day 98 With My Attained Pixie Dreamgirl by Kerry Carney; This Little Piggy by Marek Glinski; Empowerment by Dominic Rains; Surprise by Mark Harvey Levine; Most Likely by Gloria Calderon Kellett; Tag by Tony Foster; Rox-N, Miss Thang by Barbara Blumenthal-Ehrlich; Hard by Steven Korbar. Elephant Theatre Lab, 1078 Lilian Way, L.A.; opens Feb. 14; Sun., 7 p.m.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru March 14, www.plays411.com/lovebites. (323) 960-4410.
MORTIFIED "Doomed Valentines Show." Confessions of adolescence, courtesy Mortified Live. Music by Garfunkel & Oates and the Mortified After School Orchestra., $20. King King, 6555 Hollywood Blvd., L.A.; Sun., Feb. 14, 8 p.m., www.getmortified.com/live. (323) 960-9234.
POLTERHEIST: A VALENTINE'S DAY PLAY Produced by Theatre Americana/Show of Support Productions in collaboration with the County of Los Angeles Parks and Recreation. Farnsworth Park's Davies Hall, 568 E. Mount Curve Ave., Altadena; Sat., Feb. 13, 8 p.m., www.theatreamericana.com...
POST OFFICE Staged reading of the mail musical, book and lyrics by Melissa James Gibson, music by Michael Friedman. Kirk Douglas Theatre, 9820 Washington Blvd., Culver City; Feb. 17-18, 8 p.m.; Feb. 20-21, 8 p.m.. (213) 628-2772.
THE PRICE Arthur Miller's 1968 play about estranged brothers disposing of their dead parents' property. Theatre West, 3333 Cahuenga Blvd. West, L.A.; opens Feb. 12; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru March 21. (323) 851-7977.
PUPPETRY OF THE PENIS: THE ANCIENT AUSTRALIAN ART OF GENITAL ORIGAMI Extra-bendy male performers twist their private parts into shocking works of art -- la balloon animals. Warning: Not for kids, and probably not for most adults., $45-$39. Coast Playhouse, 8325 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood; opens Feb. 17; Wed.-Thurs., 8 p.m.; Fri.-Sat., 7 & 9:30 p.m.; Sun., 5 & 7:30 p.m.; thru March 14...
SIX DEGREES OF SEPARATION Knightsbridge Theatre's "Greek chorus" adaptation of John Guare's drama. Knightsbridge Theater, 1944 Riverside Dr., L.A.; opens Feb. 13; Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru Feb. 27. (323) 667-0955.
V-DAY: THE VAGINA MONOLOGUES (In the Coffeehouse Theater.) Proceeds benefit the SCV Domestic Violence Center. California Institute of the Arts, 24700 McBean Pkwy., Valencia; Sun., Feb. 14, 3-5 p.m.. (661) 253-7800.
THE VAGINA MONOLOGUES By Eve Ensler, directed by Joni Panotta. Proceeds benefit V-Day.org and OPCC Sojourn, a battered women's shelter in Santa Monica. NoHo Actors Studios, 5215 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood; Feb. 12-13, 8 p.m.; Sun., Feb. 14, 2 p.m.. (818) 761-2166.
VALENTINE'S DAY LOVE SPECTACULAR Captured Aural Phantasy Theater presents live readings of pulp romance comics, including 1953's A Marriage Made in Heaven and 1955's Nightmare Lover., $10. Alexandria Hotel, 501 S. Spring St., L.A.; Feb. 12-13, 8 p.m., www.capturedauralphantasy.com. (866) 811-4111.
VAUDE Hart Pulse Dance Company's Valentine's weekend of vaudeville, featuring guest choreographers Samantha Giron (Samantha Giron Dance Project) and Rachel Pace, plus HPDC's own Amanda Hart, Sophie Olson and Holly Fletcher. Miles Memorial Playhouse, 1130 Lincoln Blvd., Santa Monica; Feb. 12-13, 8 p.m.; Sun., Feb. 14, 1 & 6 p.m., www.brownpapertickets.com/event/90830. (661) 755-2182.
WIREHEAD The Echo Theater Company presents the world premiere of a new play by Matthew Benjamin and Logan Brown. Stage 52 Theatre, 5299 W. Washington Blvd., L.A.; opens Feb. 13; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; thru March 14. (800) 413-8669.
WITH LOVE ON VALENTINE'S DAY Upright Cabaret presents Broadway star Sheryl Lee Ralph in an evening of solo cabaret. Vermont, 1714 N. Vermont Ave., L.A.; Sun., Feb. 14, 8 p.m.. (323) 661-6163.
A WRINKLE IN TIME South Coast Rep's original adaptation of Madeleine L'Engle's young adult novel. South Coast Repertory, 655 Town Center Dr., Costa Mesa; opens Feb. 13; Sat., 11 a.m., 2 & 4:30 p.m.; Sun., 2 & 4:30 p.m.; Fri., Feb. 19, 7 p.m.; thru Feb. 21. (714) 708-5555.
CONTINUING PERFORMANCES IN LARGER THEATERS REGIONWIDE
THE ANDREWS BROTHERS Roger Bean's 1940s musical parody, musical direction by Lloyd Cooper, choreography by Roger Castellano. Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza, Fred Kavli Theater, 2100 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd., Thousand Oaks; Thurs.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2 & 8 p.m.; thru Feb. 14. (805) 449-2787.
AURÉLIA'S ORATORIO Created and directed by Victoria Thierrée Chaplin, starring Aurélia Thierrée. La Jolla Playhouse, 2910 La Jolla Village Dr., La Jolla; Tues.-Wed., 7:30 p.m.; Thurs.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2 & 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru Feb. 28. (858) 550-1010.
THE COLOR PURPLE Starring American Idol Season 3 winner Fantasia Barrino. Pantages Theater, 6233 Hollywood Blvd., L.A.; Tues.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2 & 8 p.m.; Sun., 1 & 6:30 p.m.; thru Feb. 28. (213) 365-3500.
DOUBT: A PARABLE John Patrick Shanley's Tony- and Pulitzer Prize-winning play. Rubicon Theater, 1006 E. Main St., Ventura; Sun., 2 p.m.; Wed., 2 & 7 p.m.; Thurs.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2 & 8 p.m.; thru Feb. 21. (805) 667-2900.
THE FEMALE OF THE SPECIES Annette Bening stars in Joanna Murray-Smith's farce. With David Arquette, Mireille Enos, Julian Sands. Geffen Playhouse, 10886 Le Conte Ave., Westwood; Tues.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 3 & 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 & 7 p.m.; thru March 14. (310) 208-5454.
FENCES August Wilson's sixth entry in his Pittsburgh Cycle, set in the 1950s. South Coast Repertory, 655 Town Center Dr., Costa Mesa; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sat.-Sun., 2:30 p.m.; Tues.-Wed., Sun., 7:30 p.m.; thru Feb. 21. (714) 708-5555.
GEORGE GERSHWIN ALONE Music and lyrics by George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin, starring Hershey Felder. Laguna Playhouse, 606 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach; Sun., 2 p.m.; Tues.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2 & 8 p.m.; thru Feb. 21, www.lagunaplayhouse.com. (949) 497-2787.
NOISES OFF There are many stars in Geoff Elliott's accomplished staging of Michael Frayn's oft-produced backstage farce, but the ones that shine brightest may be the stagehands, who, between acts, hand-swivel Adam Lillibridge's elaborate, two-tiered living room set -- which represents the multitiered living room set of a play within the play, being performed somewhere in the British provinces -- inside out, so that the faux living room transforms into backstage directly behind the set, where the actors await their entrances. This is no easy feat, as the set almost touches the theater ceiling, but on opening night, they pulled it off in under 12 minutes, earning a round of applause from those standing by to watch. Frayn's farce is well known by now -- a theater production of a farce on the rails, with a world-weary director (Elliott) who's more than ready to move on to his next production, Richard III; a needy cast, one of whom (Stephen Rockwell) keeps insisting on psychological explanations for what's obviously a series of gags; another (Emily Kosloski, playing a dim-witted sex bomb) who keeps losing her contact lenses; and an elderly resident alcoholic (Apollo Dukakis) who creates dramatic tension from the question of whether or not he'll even show up to make his entrance. As the play-within-the-play continues its tour, in a production that grows increasingly chaotic, the ineptitude gets compounded by sexual dalliances among director, cast and crew that leave a trail of bruised feelings. Elliott's touch is both gentle and conservative, sidestepping many low-comedy sex gags that have accompanied other productions. It is nonetheless skillfully rendered, with lovely performances also by Deborah Strang, Mikael Salazar, Lenne Klingaman, Jill Hill and Shaun Anthony. (Steve Leigh Morris). A Noise Within, 234 S. Brand Blvd., Glendale; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 & 7 p.m.; thru Feb. 14. (818) 240-0910.
NORTH ATLANTIC The Wooster Group performs James Strahs' political satire. REDCAT, 631 W. Second St., L.A.; Tues.-Sat., 8:30 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; thru Feb. 21. (213) 237-2800.
GO POINT BREAK LIVE! Jaime Keeling's merciless skewering of the 1991 hyper-action flick starring Keanu Reeves and Gary Busey is loaded with laughs, as well as surprises, like picking an audience member to play Reeves' role of Special Agent Johnny Utah. It's damn good fun, cleverly staged by directors Eve Hars, Thomas Blake and George Spielvogel. (LE3). Dragonfly, 6510 Santa Monica Blvd., L.A.; Fri., 8:30 p.m.; Sat., 8 p.m.. (866) 811-4111.
GO THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG Geared to the 7-and-under set, this good-natured interactive musical exudes appeal beyond its demographic. Inspired by a German folktale, writers Lloyd Schwartz and Hope Juber's adaptation features a good fairy named Hyacinth (Mary Garripoli) as the prime mover of events. After she welcomes the audience with a song about the importance of "doin' good," along comes a prince (understudy Iain Gray) who sings about "lookin' good." His attitude so annoys Hyacinth that she turns him into a frog, stipulating that he can only return to his natural form if kissed by a princess. The rest of the story proceeds along more or less traditional lines: The frog recovers the lost ball of a querulous princess (Jenn Wiles) who is reluctant to keep her promise to kiss him until pressured by her father, the king (Anthony Gruppuso). Much of the piece's charm stems from the delight -- and the unintended comedic faux pas -- displayed by the youngsters called up on the stage to participate. The non-patronizing performers seem to be enjoying themselves as well. A song "Croak Croak, Ribbit, Ribbit" involving a couple of frog puppets is contagiously entertaining, whatever one's age. The uncredited costumes are fun too. Barbara Mallory Schwartz directs, with songs by Hope Jube and musical director Laurence Juber. (Deborah Klugman). Theatre West, 3333 Cahuenga Blvd. West, L.A.; Sat., 1 p.m.; thru Feb. 27. (323) 851-7977.
NEW REVIEW SOUVENIR The fascinating idea at the heart of Stephen Temperley's bio-comedy is the gaping divide between the music we hear in our hearts, and that same music heard by those around us. In the early 20th century, Florence Foster Jenkins made a career as an opera diva in New York, evidently oblivious that she couldn't sing in tune. Not only could she not manufacture a note anywhere near what others would call on pitch, she also couldn't hear the mocking laughter of her audiences. According to Temperley's play, she was in love with the music she heard in her head, as well as the fame it brought her via record sales and concert appearances. This is what makes the imperious stridency of Constance Hauman's performance as Jenkins so endearing. Unfortunately, every interesting insight the play offers gets overly narrated to us by her accompanist, Cosmo McMoon (Brent Schindele, who's terrific on the baby grand that anchors Mike Jespersen's set), and the two-character drama hangs on his moral struggle and failure to tell the truth to his employer, and thereby cash in on her delusions. Even with its elegant production design, including an NYC skyline that pops up when needed via slide projections, and Nick McCord's delicate lighting design, Gregg W. Brevvort's production is a one-trick pony. In her various songs and arias, rather than pursuing the elusive notes, which would create an excruciating tension from a musical game of cat-and-mouse, Hauman is (deliberately) seven miles away, and remains so. Meanwhile, Schindele's accompanist too often mugs his expressions of horror, when a more muted, droll response would not only be funnier, it would underscore his hidden agenda. The result is one very obvious joke about the essences of delusion, which are anything but obvious. Falcon Theater, 4252 Riverside Dr., Burbank; Wed.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 4 p.m.; thru Feb. 28. (818) 955-8101. (Steven Leigh Morris)
GO SWEENEY TODD Thirty years ago, Stephen Sondheim's gothic melodrama arrived on Broadway as the game-changer that would usher in an era of operatic opulence in musical theater -- paving the way for the juggernaut of Les Miserables, Miss Saigon and The Phantom of the Opera. In the decades that followed, Sweeney enjoyed revivals throughout regional theater, joined the repertoire of legit opera companies and was finally revived in a reduced concept in which the 10 performers also doubled as their own small orchestra. But now Musical Theatre West has returned Sweeney to his Grand Guignol roots, with a vast productions, faithful to Hal Prince's original effort. Director Calvin Remsberg, who toured as Beadle Bamford with the original Broadway cast, has re-created the original's power and majesty with help from a uniformly outstanding cast, partnered with musical director John Glaudini and his full orchestra. Not a moment of the nearly three hours lags in this gruesome story of the vengeful barber and the bakeshop proprietress, Mrs. Lovett, who contrive to make meat pies from unsuspecting tonsorial clients. Norman Large earns his last name in his huge performance as the cutthroat, and Debbie Prutsman is truly as fine as Angela Lansbury was in 1979. A Musical Theatre West production. (Tom Provenzano). Carpenter Performing Arts Center, 6200 Atherton St., Long Beach; Thurs.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2 & 8 p.m.; Sun., Feb. 14, 2 p.m.; thru Feb. 14. (562) 856-1999 x 4.
THE 25TH ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE Music and lyrics by William Finn, book by Rachel Sheinkin, conceived by Rebecca Feldman, choreography by DJ Gray, musical direction by David O, directed by Jeff Maynard. La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts, 14900 La Mirada Blvd., La Mirada; Sat., 2 & 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 & 7 p.m.; Tues.-Thurs., 7:30 p.m.; Fri., 8 p.m.; thru Feb. 21. (562) 944-9801.
NEW REVIEW GO WRECKS
Photo courtesy of the Geffen Playhouse
The loaded situation in writer-director Neil LaBute's "love story" allows for a kind of velvet glove to reach inside one's heart, and then it swirls around the intestines for a while before making its withdrawal. This leaves us, well, touched, but in a way that's far from sentimental. Ed Harris stars in this monologue, set in a Northern Illinois funeral home. His wife's casket forms the centerpiece of Sibyl Wickersheimer's set - her photo perched on its lid. Cricket S. Meyers' sound design offers the whispers and echoes of voices in an ante-room, where our bereaved widower Ed Carr (Harris) ostensibly floats - that would be his public self. But that's not what we're seeing. He refers to himself being "back there" with "them" while he speaks to us through the mirror of his subconscious. What we get is his real eulogy, with the secrets he won't tell them, because he's a private person, he insists. (There are some secrets, such as his wife's final four words, that he won't tell us, either.) He has a blazingly clear reason to be so private, and that's the melodramatic revelation near play's end that forces us to confront the definition of love, and how that definition rubs up against social propriety. I didn't buy that revelation, not within the colloquial, ruminative and realistic confines of LaBute's direction. But that's a small matter. The big matter is the gorgeous combination of LaBute's digressive and piercingly insightful love letter with Harris' tender-furious child-like and ultimately profound interpretation. Ed Carr is a bit like a chain-smoking Dostoevskian narrator, who, while drifting onto free-associated topics and bilious commentary (on anti-smoking campaigns, for example), he is, finally, on message. And his message about the essence of love is upsetting and unimpeachable in the same breath. Geffen Playhouse, Tues.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat, 3 & 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru March 7. (310) 208-5454. (Steven Leigh Morris)
CONTINUING PERFORMANCES IN SMALLER THEATERS SITUATED IN HOLLYWOOD, WEST HOLLYWOOD AND THE DOWNTOWN AREAS
GO ACCOMPLICE: HOLLYWOOD Part game, part theater, part tour: It all begins with a phone call disclosing a secret meeting location. Aided by clues and mysterious cast members strewn throughout various locations, such as street corners, bars, iconic landmarks and out-of-the-way spots, the audience traverses the city streets, piecing together clues of a meticulously crafted plot. (Steven Leigh Morris). Hollywood Blvd., TBA, L.A.; Fri.-Sat., www.accomplicetheshow.com...
ACME SATURDAY NIGHT ACME's flagship sketch show, with celebrity guest hosts each week. Acme Comedy Theatre, 135 N. La Brea Ave., L.A.; Sat., 7 p.m.. (323) 525-0202.
ACME 2NITE New sketches and old favorites, ACME style. Acme Comedy Theatre, 135 N. La Brea Ave., L.A.; Sat., 9 p.m.. (323) 525-0202.
THE ANTARCTIC CHRONICLES Jessica Manuel's autobiographical comedy about her days working on the frozen underside of the earth. Hudson Guild Theater, 6539 Santa Monica Blvd., L.A.; Wed., 8 p.m.; thru March 10. (323) 960-7744.
AS THE GLOBE WARMS Heather Woodbury's improv story of small-town America colliding with the World Wide Web. ECHO CURIO, 1519 Sunset Blvd., L.A.; Sat., 8 p.m.; thru Feb. 27. (213) 977-1279.
BROAD COMEDY "Six irreverent and hilarious, multi-talented women, known for high-energy musical numbers, left-wing politics, women's issues, and R-rated shenanigans about, well, women's shenanigans.". Acme Comedy Theatre, 135 N. La Brea Ave., L.A.; Thurs., 8 p.m.; thru March 25. (323) 525-0202.
GO BAAL Peter Mellencamp's adaptation of Bertolt Brecht's early, poetical drama is about the cruelty and demise of a bacchanalian poet who recognizes, curses and is cursed by civilization's thin veneer. Ben Rock's staging is sometimes forced, more often intense and seductive, with Gregory Sims' growling title character bearing a physical resemblance to young Al Pacino but with a voice like Tom Waits. (Steven Leigh Morris). Sacred Fools Theater, 660 N. Heliotrope Dr., L.A.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru Feb. 20, www.vimeo.com/8382742. (310) 281-8337.
BARBRA'S WEDDING Daniel Stern's comedy about Barbra Streisand's Malibu neighbors. Second Stage Theater, 6500 Santa Monica Blvd., L.A.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., Feb. 28, 2 p.m.; Sun., March 7, 2 p.m.; thru March 7, www.barbraswedding.com. (866) 811-4111.
BEWARE OF CUPID Julia Cho directs a collection of original scenes and monologues all about love. Actor's Playpen, 1514 N. Gardner St., L.A.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru Feb. 21, www.bewareofcupid.com. (323) 874-1733.
GO BLOOD AND THUNDER In the Ninth Ward of New Orleans, Marcus (Keith Arthur Bolden) isn't scared of the newly arrived hurricane, Katrina. Marcus is an expert on everything -- at least, he watches a lot of TV -- and vows the water won't rise above 10 feet. But Marcus' theories and conclusions have always gotten him, brother Quentin (Tony Williams) and Marcus' girlfriend, Charlie (Candice Afia), in over their heads with one bad hustling scheme after another. Still, Marcus is convinced he's the brains of the group, even if he has to badger Quentin and Charlie until they agree. When Quentin limps in, sopping wet, still wearing his orange prison jumpsuit with a bullet hole in his thigh, the two siblings have a violent score to settle. Terence Anthony's taut one-act drama is effective agony. Two character twists may not add up, but while the audience perches practically in the living room of Jorge I. Velasquez's realistic, dingy set, with the rain hammering down, the tension is as thick as the storm clouds we imagine overhead. Solid performances keep the spell going, particularly by Afia as the strong-willed girlfriend trying to break free of Marcus' emotional abuse. Sara Wagner directs. (Amy Nicholson). Moving Arts, 1822 Hyperion Ave., L.A.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru Feb. 28. (323) 666-3259.
BOB BAKER MARIONETTE THEATER'S FIESTA First of five classic Bob Baker productions in a yearlong celebration of the marionette theater's 50th anniversary. Bob Baker Marionette Theater, 1345 W. First St., L.A.; Tues.-Fri., 10:30 a.m.; Sat.-Sun., 2:30 p.m.; thru April 11, www.bobbakermarionettes.com. (213) 250-9995.
THE BOB BENDICK PODCAST . Acme Comedy Theatre, 135 N. La Brea Ave., L.A.; Mon., 5:15 p.m.. (323) 525-0202.
GO BOBRAUSCHENBERGAMERICA When Bob Rauschenberg's mother (Mari Marks) delivers her tender slide-show about the rural Texas childhood of her artist son, and none of the slides matches the descriptions she's offered, you have to know something's up, conceptually. Whether or not you're familiar with the '50s-'60s collagist painter-sculptor, Charles L. Mee's 2001 extrapolation of what Rauschenberg might have written in order to explain how he assembled junk into evocative reflections on our place in the world stands alone. Marina Mouhibian's set decorates the stage and the proscenium walls with vintage kitsch as the 10-member ensemble plays out a series of somewhat interconnecting sketches about romances gone awry, violence, politics and metaphysics - though there are digressions for a series of chicken jokes. Bart DeLorenzo's staging preserves the tone, inherent the text, that's both wry and frivolous, abstract and pop, with one breakout poetical excursion into Walt Whitmanesque grandeur, delivered by a hobo (Brett Hren) and accompanied by Dvorak's Symphony from The New World. (Steven Leigh Morris). [Inside] the Ford, 2580 Cahuenga Blvd. E., L.A.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 & 7 p.m.; thru Feb. 28. (323) 461-3673.
CALLIOPE ROSE Bill Sterritt's mythological comedy. Studio/Stage, 520 N. Western Ave., L.A.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru March 7. (323) 463-3900.
COMEDY DEATH-RAY $5. Upright Citizens Brigade Theater, 5919 Franklin Ave., L.A.; Tues., 8:30 p.m.. (323) 908-8702.
GO CONFUSIONS Alan Ayckborn's 1974 slate of five one-acts, under John Pleshette's tight direction of an exemplary cast, illustrates the comical consequences when we choose not to listen to each other. In "Mother Figure," a quarreling couple (Steve Wilcox and Abigail Revasch) have to revert to childhood in order to connect with each other during an encounter with a formidably maternal neighbor (Mina Badie). "Drinking Companions" offers us a traveling salesman (Brendan Hunt) in a hotel bar masking his loneliness with pathetic yet hilarious attempts at seducing two increasingly harried young women (Revasch and Phoebe James). What a waiter (Hunt) hears is all that we hear too in "Between Mouthfuls," as dialogue of one dining couple (Adrian Neil and Bridget Ann White) is intercut with that of another (Wilcox and Jones), slyly revealing a salacious secret. "Gosforth's Fete" turns into a debacle as the organizer of a charity event (Neil) learns a secret from a local teacher (Badie) that wreaks havoc for him and the teacher's fianc<0x00E9> (Hunt). And in "A Talk in the Park," a quintet of disparate folks (Hunt, James, Neil, White and Wilcox) finds their desperate attempts to connect with each other sadly falling on deaf ears. (Martín Hernández). Lost Studio, 130 S. La Brea Ave., L.A.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 4 p.m.; thru March 7, www.plays411.com/confusions. (323) 960-5775.
NEW REVIEWS COOL NEGROES The opening tableau of writer-director Tony Robinson's "dramedy of generational proportion" is a tumbledown city park circa 1972, where a raucous cadre of black militants is protesting segregation. The revolutionary banter and posturing is soon silenced by police gunfire and the dropping of bodies. After this jarring scene, a flash forward takes us to the present day where the park is a haunt for a group of regulars: college professor Louis(Sammie Wayne, IV); Deborah(Teressa Taylor) a former flower child; Joe(Alex Morris), a city bureacrat; a gay cop named Mod(Mark Jones); the only caucasian in the group, Eric(Tom Hyler); a Buppie named Al( Dane Diamond); and the irrepressible Mother Barnes (the fine Diane Sellers), a blind sage. Not much transpires here; there is a lot of talking, which, thanks to Robinson's wit and ear for dialogue, somewhat allays the static structure of the play. But one gets the feeling that these entertaining characters overstay their welcome, thanks to a script that is overwritten and languorous. From the mix, Robinson constructs a flimsy storyline about black advancement, interracial romance, political correctness, spiritual redemption, the burden of guilt, and generational angst and conflict. Unfortunately, these motifs are neither skillfully nor insightfully probed. The acting is mostly passable, and Sellers is outstanding. Rounding out the cast are Prema Rosaura Cruz, Tené Carter Miller, and Leslie La'Raine. Stella Adler Theatre, 6773 Hollywood Blvd (2nd floor), Hollywood; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m., Sun., 3 p.,m.; thru Feb. 28. (213) 624-4796 A Towne Street Theatre production. (Lovell Estell III)
DITCH Taylor Coffman's "humorous look at the trials and tribulations of love.". Lounge Theatre, 6201 Santa Monica Blvd., L.A.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; thru Feb. 28, www.plays411.com/ditch. (323) 960-7787.
GO DOG SEES GOD: CONFESSIONS OF A TEENAGE BLOCKHEAD Yes, Charlie Brown, you're still a good man. But in Bert Royal's darkly funny parody of the Peanuts comic strip, the gang is all grown up, raising hell and dealing with some very adult issues. CB (Stephen John Williams) has lost his famous beagle to rabies and is questioning the meaning of life. Van, aka Linus (Brett Fleisher), has become an affable stoner who has smoked his beloved security blanket, and his sister Lucy (Dana DeRuyck) has been incarcerated in a psych ward for setting fire to one of her classmates. Tough guy "Pig Pen" now goes by the name of Matt (Brian Sounalath) -- a germaphobe with a trainload of emotional baggage. Most of what transpires entails watching the screwball antics of these foul-mouthed sex-obsessed hellions, which renders a goodly share of laughs (the "Peanuts" dance at the opening of Act 2 is a real hoot). But Royal's script isn't all about teenage angst and hijinks. The strip's original cartoonist, Charles Schulz, never backed away from controversy. Honoring that legacy, Royal's play explodes with physical and emotional abuse, and CB's coming out of the closet results in a tragic finale. This all unfolds neatly on Rebecca Patrick's set --two swings, a graffiti pocked wall and bleachers. Director Mike Dias would do better with sharper pacing, but he's skillfully balanced the light and dark elements. Rounding out the excellent cast are Lisa Valerie Morgan, Collins Reiter and Mikayla Park. (Lovell Estell III). Lounge Theatre, 6201 Santa Monica Blvd., L.A.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru Feb. 13. (323) 469-9988.
GO EXILES Playwright Carlos Lacamara's drama puts a powerful human face on the Mariel boat lift, Fidel Castro's mean joke of 1980, when Cuban-Americans were invited to come to Cuba to fetch their loved ones, to take them to the Land of Opportunity but were instead subjected to a painful bait and switch. Cuban-American mechanic Rolando (Alex Fernandez) sails his rickety boat to Cuba, believing he's going to be bringing his beloved mother to his American home. Instead, the authorities force him to take Rolando's pompous brother-in-law, Joaquin (Lacamara), Joaquin's sullen daughter, Sadia (Heather Hemmens), and some other extra treats -- a maniac (Khary Payton) and a murderer (Mark Adair-Rios). Midway through the voyage, the boat's motor breaks and tensions flare amongst the passengers. Rolando's teenage son Roli (Ignacio Serricchio) falls for Sadia, while Rolando and his brother-in-law fight over long-ago wrongs. Then the murderer makes his move. In David Fofi's emotionally rich, character-driven production the conflicts brew and simmer, aided by the claustrophobic mood provided by John Iocavelli's beautifully rickety boat set. The show's pacing sags occasionally, particularly toward the end, which feels inordinately drawn out -- and the breakdown of the boat seems like a forced plot development to keep the characters from being able to get anywhere. Yet, the the play's emotions crackle, and the piece brims with real fury and regret, whether it's the anger of Fernandez's excellently rigid Rolando, or the snappishness of Hemmens' snide but vulnerable Sadia, forced to abruptly uproot her life. Payton's haunting turn as the maniac, whose lunacy, we discover, springs from years of torture, also stands out. Hayworth Theater in association with Fixed Mark Productions. (Paul Birchall). Hayworth, 2509 Wilshire Blvd., L.A.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru Feb. 27. (323) 960-4442.
F*CKING MEN Joe DiPietro's observations on the sex lives of modern urban gay America. Celebration Theatre, 7051-B Santa Monica Blvd., L.A.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru Feb. 14. (323) 957-1884.
GEOGRAPHY OF A HORSE DREAMER Neither a major nor even a very memorable member of the Sam Shepard canon, this 1974 script dates from the London-exile period in which Shepard was still trying to crack the nut of the beginning-middle-end dramatic structure. Which means it belongs to a handful of tween plays that share little of the poetical fireworks of the '60s or the craft and thematic riches of his post-Pulitzer prize work. Nevertheless, Shepard did write Geography of a Horse Dreamer as a comedy, and that's where director Jamie Wollrab and the playwright part company. Kris Lemche is Cody, a Wyoming cowboy whose onetime ability to dream horse-race winners has turned into a losing streak after he's kidnapped and imprisoned by gamblers Beaujo (John Markland) and Santee (the fine Scoot McNairy). When effete mob boss Fingers (an inspired Dov Tiefenbach) demotes the men to the dog tracks, Cody's prognosticative powers are temporarily restored but at the cost of his sanity, which leads Fingers' cadaverous, henchman/quack, the Doctor (Thurn Hoffman), to salvage Cody's valuable "dreaming bone" by cutting it out of the back of his neck. Essentially a seduction-of-the-artist allegory embroidered by a pastiche of plot and character archetypes from vintage Warner Bros. gangster melodramas, Shepard's surrealist aims -- along with their intended laughs -- are all but lost in Wollrab's realistic mise-en-scéne and some wildly uneven performances. (Bill Raden). Moth Theatre, 4359 Melrose Ave., L.A.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru March 6, www.brownpapertickets.com. (323) 666-2296.
GRAVITYWORKS L.A. premiere of creator-director-producer Russell Boast's cabaret that's "part comedy troupe/part vaudeville act/part kick-ass music.". Cinespace, 6356 Hollywood Blvd., Second Level, L.A.; Thurs., 7:30 p.m.; thru Feb. 25, www.gravityworkstheshow.com. (800) 838-3006.
NEW REVIEW GO HAMLET
Photo courtesy of The Porters of Hellsgate
When this Hamlet (Charles Pasternak) says he'll "put an antic disposition on," he really means it. Pasternak's Prince is sometimes maniacal, bounding around and turning somersaults. He brandishes his wit savagely and at times -- as in the closet scene with Gertrude (Jessica Temple) -- he can be downright brutal. He's particularly good in the comic scenes with Rosencrantz (director Thomas Bigley) and Guildenstern (Gus Krieger). There's not much of the "sweet prince" about him, but it's a performance that works. He receives solid support from Temple, Jack Leahy, doubling as Claudius and the Ghost, Jamey Hecht as Polonius, and Taylor Fisher as Ophelia. Director Bigley provides a mostly direct and straightforward production, despite a few gaffes: the First Actor's speech about Pyrrhus is so tricked out with superfluous business that it's both awkward and absurd. On the plus side, Bigley gives us a generous portion of the text, tactfully edited. Costumer Jessica Pasternak is clearly battling budgetary limitations, but her decision to try to convert modern men's suits into period costumes is more distracting than helpful. It's a long evening (over 3 hours) but an engrossing one. The Flight Theatre, 6472 Santa Monica Boulevard. Produced by The Porters of Hellsgate. Thurs. & Sat., 8 p.m.; thru Feb. 13. Playing in repertory with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. (951) 262-3030 (Neal Weaver)
JUST A SONG AT TWILIGHT Willard Manus has chosen an interesting subject -- growing up in a Jewish household with a deaf mother in the years of 1928-1942 -- but his autobiographical script seldom gains momentum. Henriette (Lene Pedersen) and her older sister Marion (Janne Halleskov Kindberg) hoped for singing careers, but both lose their hearing in early adulthood. The play centers on the plight of Henriette, her self-proclaimed Bolshevik husband, Izzy (Ilia Volok), and their son, Ben (Michael Hampton), who yearns to try out for the Giants before he's sent off to World War II. Stifling any sense of a dramatic trajectory, every scene introduces new and different thematic materials: a discourse on ear surgery in the 1920s; a debate over the relative merits of lipreading versus sign language; an argument about capitalism versus communism; rivalry between sisters;, father-son conflicts;, a lesson in lipreading taught by an amorous teacher (Darin Dahms); and a wartime romance between Ben and his girlfriend (Julie Bersani). All these elements could be combined in a successful drama, but here they don't mesh. There's good work by the cast, but director John DiFusco isn't able to focus the play's rambling structure. Songs of the times and a historical slide show do provide evocative period flavor. (Neal Weaver). Write Act Theater, 6128 Yucca St., L.A.; Thurs.-Sun..; thru Feb. 27. (323) 469-3113.
GO KATAKI Shimon Wincelberg's two-hander is set during World War II on a remote Pacific island (wonderfully depicted in painstaking detail by designer Potsch Boyd). Protagonist Alvin Coombs (Fernando Aldaz) literally drops into the story after he is forced to parachute from his plane during combat. Much to his dismay, the island is not deserted, and he finds himself at the hands of Kimura (Yas Takahashi), an armed Japanese solider who frisks him at knifepoint, taking his cigarettes and cash. Worse, Kimura speaks almost no English, and Alvin almost no Japanese. What begins as grunts, gestures and improvised sign language, however, soon turns into true communication, as the mortal enemies get to know each other. None of this is smooth by any means, but it stokes the drama, providing moments of humor, tension and poignancy. Director Peter Haskell brings out this emotional depth in the text, masterfully massaging stretches of silence into powerful conflict, and his elongated transitions between scenes come to embody the Beckettian pace of life for this stranded pair. Haskell is aided by Louis Roth's fight choreography, which is at times scary in its violence, and of course by Aldaz and Takahashi's moving performances, so authentic in their humanity. What is most enjoyable, though, is the return to theater's origins in basic movement and expression. This creates an atmosphere reminiscent of a time when we took more than a moment to contemplate life. (Mayank Keshaviah). McCadden Place Theatre, 1157 N. McCadden Pl., L.A.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru Feb. 13, www.kataki2010.com. (323) 856-0665.
KEEP IT CLEAN COMEDY Hosted by JC Coccoli., free. 1739 Public House, 1739 N. Vermont Ave., L.A.; Mon., 9:30 p.m.. (323) 663-1739.
GO LIFE COULD BE A DREAM This affectionate doo-wop jukebox musical by writer-director Roger Bean (The Marvelous Wonderettes), with clever choreography by Lee Martino, handsome set by Tom Buderwitz, and spectacular lighting by Luke Moyer, is designed to incorporate hit songs of the 1960s, ranging from the goofy "Sh Boom" and "Rama Lama Ding Dong" to anthems like "Earth Angel," "Unchained Melody," "The Great Pretender," and "The Glory of Love." In small-town Springfield, the local radio station is sponsoring a rock-and-roll contest, and go-getter Denny (Daniel Tatar) is convinced he can win and become a star. He enlists his klutzy, nerdish, endearing friend Eugene (Jim Holdridge) and church-choir singer Wally (Ryan Castellino) to join him. Needing a sponsor to provide the $50 entrance fee for the contest, they apply to the proprietor of the local auto chain. He sends his top mechanic, handsome, hunky Skip (Doug Carpenter), and his pretty daughter Lois (Jessica Keenan Wynn), to audition the guys, and by the end they're incorporated in the new group, Denny and the Dreamers. This is pure fluff, and the terrific ensemble makes every note count in this rousing good-time musical. (Neal Weaver). Hudson Mainstage Theatre, 6539 Santa Monica Blvd., L.A.; Thurs.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 3 & 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru April 25. (323) 960-4412.
THE LOST TOMB OF KING SUNDAY All-new sketch and improv, directed by Karen Maruyama. Groundling Theater, 7307 Melrose Ave., L.A.; Sun., 7:30 p.m.. (323) 934-9700.
LOVE WRITTEN IN THE STARS Magnum Opus Theatre stages an awful unsolicited screenplay. Sacred Fools Theater, 660 N. Heliotrope Dr., L.A.; Fri., 11 p.m.; thru Feb. 19. (310) 281-8337.
MALINCHE The life and influence of Malintzin Tepenal<0x201A> by Victor Hugo Rascon Banda. (Alternating perfs in English and Spanish; call for schedule.). Frida Kahlo Theater, 2332 W. Fourth St., L.A.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 6 p.m.; thru Feb. 28, www.fridakahlotheater.org. (213) 382-8133.
THE MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR Shakespeare's comedy, set in the frontier mining town of Windsor, Colorado. Lyric Theatre, 520 N. La Brea Ave., L.A.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru Feb. 14, www.LyricTheatreLA.com. (323) 939-9220.
M.O.I.S.T.! Mariann Aalda and Iona Morris are MILF-y inspirational sexperts, heading (so to speak) the Multiple Orgasm Initiative for Sexual Transformation. Hayworth, 2509 Wilshire Blvd., L.A.; Sun., 7 p.m.; thru Feb. 28, www.MoistOnStage.com. (323) 960-4442.
NAKED IN THE TROPICS Writer/director/producer Odalys Nanin's play (with a few songs by Nanin and Daniel Indart) focuses on lesbian immigration lawyer Alicia (Nanin), who is embarking on a love affair with the beautiful Isis (Natalie Salins). But Isis has a teenage son, Andy (Carlos Moreno, Jr.), and Andy is a very busy boy. In addition to impregnating his girlfriend, Linda (Castille Landon), he has also teamed up with Joe (Daniel Rivera), who introduces him to performing seminude (in faintly obscene peekaboo loincloths), gay sex, drugs and drug dealing. When Joe frames Andy to take the fall in a drug arrest, the boy is threatened with deportation to Cuba -- though he was born in the U.S. Lawyer Alicia must defend him in court, where her defense hinges on finding the midwife (drag performer Carey Embry, who plays the role as a Kate Hepburn wannabe, complete with accent, mannerisms and the Hepburn quiver) who delivered him, just north of the Mexican border. Nanin's predictable soap-opera script combines countless genres -- including lesbian romance, boylesk, after-school special, musical and courtroom drama -- to very little purpose, and the author's slack direction doesn't help. The cast strives mightily to score with thinly written characters who are trapped within the lackluster material. (Neal Weaver). Macha Theatre, 1107 N. Kings Road, West Hollywood; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; thru Feb. 21. (323) 960-1057.
ON CARING FOR THE BEAST Cornerstone Theater Company presents Shishir Kurup's play "exploring the struggle between spirit and flesh, hope and despair, love and fear.". Inner City Arts, 720 Kohler St., L.A.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; Wed., 8 p.m.; thru Feb. 24, www.CornerstoneTheater.org. (213) 627-9621.
GO ORPHEUS DESCENDING Lou Pepe stages Tennessee Williams' study of a singer-songwriter, Val Xavier (Gale Harold) who wanders into a Southern mercantile shop, a reluctant seducing machine living in and belonging to a different world. Being both a updated interpretation of the Orpheus' visit to the underworld, with Biblical allusions heavily laced into the plot, Williams' saga is study in the how the otherworldy artist becomes scapegoated and sacrificed to the prosaic reality of the here-and-now. The theater is a bit of an echo chamber, and Brandon Baruch's murky lighting doesn't really help Pepe's decisions to eliminate distracting details such as walls and knicknacks in order to place us inside Val Xavier elevated head and heart. That said, the ensemble saves and elevates the event, particularly Denise Crosby, Claudia Mason and Francesca Casale as the women whose hearts become wrenched by the musician in the house. (Steven Leigh Morris). Theatre/Theater, 5041 Pico Blvd., L.A.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru Feb. 21, www.brownpapertickets.com/event/92508. (800) 838-3006.
NEW REVIEW PARADISE STREET
Photo courtesy of Title3
Title3 is a new company dedicated to giving women strong, unusual, fascinating roles. For their first production, they've chosen Constance Congdon's dark sociological piece about class resentment and privilege. Jane (Molly Leland), a brilliant, assured and beautiful professor of gender and semiotics -- who drops phrases like "The nomenclature of the patriarchal case for hegemony" as easily as ordering a club sandwich -- has just moved to a small college town with her self-centered elderly mother (Danielle Kennedy). Just before the semester starts, Jane's battered into a coma by a homeless woman (Lane Allison, in a menacing portrayal), who's bitter at being one of society's invisibles. As Jane struggles to make at best a partial recovery from irreversible brain damage, her attacker steals Jane's identity, and is delighted to find that she's treated as an icon. (At conferences, she's paid $1000 to sit on stage and grunt one word answers like Buddha -- let the masses, or the critics, figure out what she means. It's true: the Haves get more while the Have-nots suffer. The mechanics of Congdon's plot don't make a lick of sense, but we're hooked by the premise, and by director Courtney Munch's great ensemble -- filled out by Jiehae Park, Jane Montosi and Lorene Chesley in a variety of roles. By intermission, however, the play has made its point. It nonetheless continues to pad along, wedging in scenes where a Puerto Rican social worker shows Jane's mother how to use a Kegel exerciser, one of Montosi's characters silently mops an entire floor, and the homeless attacker babysits her publisher's drug-addicted daughter. To paraphrase a program note, Congdon needs to appraise this two-and-a-half hour muddle and chip away everything that doesn't look like the very smart play about class tensions buried inside. The Attic Theatre and Film Center, 5429 W. Washington Blvd., L.A.; opens Jan. 29; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru Feb. 21. (323) 525-0661. A Title3 production. (Amy Nicholson)
NEW REVIEW THE PEACOCK MEN
Photo courtesy of Company of Angels
Deconstructing American masculinity can be a sticky thicket even in the best of analyses. Add issues of race and representation to the mix, however, and its order of complexity increases exponentially. So it's no surprise that playwright Ronald McCants' idea-packed, satiric foray into the psychic minefield of black male identity can be as profoundly disorienting as it is provocative. For McCants' hapless cast of circus-performing Peacock Men -- African-Americans who, like their brilliantly plumed namesake, have been domesticated into gender-warped docility -- the ride is also downright deadly. One performer, Robert Mapplethorpe's horse-hung The Man in the Polyester Suit (Hari Williams), has already succumbed after his reduction to an erotically objectified exhibit and his mysterious disappearance by the sadistic, white-faced Ringmaster, Steve (Will Dixon). So when avaricious street rapper Cash (Chris P. Daniels) signs on as a replacement, he finds himself with a job both physically and existentially more perilous than he bargained for. Turns out Steve's circus is more of a torture funhouse in which Cash and his cohorts (John J. Jordan & Michael A. Thompson) are subjected to humiliations and acts of violence scripted right out of real-world headlines (Rodney King, Amadou Diallo, etc.). And while Ayana Cahrr's staging loses crucial dramatic momentum during some of the play's lengthier, overly didactic passages (the show could easily benefit from a judicious, 30-minute trim), McCants' nightmare vaudeville proves a field day for its terrifically talented ensemble. Company of Angels, Alexandria Hotel, 501 S. Spring St., downtown; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; thru March 7. (323) 883-1717. (Bill Raden)
PICASSO AT THE LAPIN AGILE Steve Martin's 1993 comedy. East Theatre at the Complex, 6468 Santa Monica Blvd., L.A.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru Feb. 13. (323) 960-7714.
SEASCAPE WITH SHARKS AND DANCER Don Nigro's romantic comedy about love at first sight. Studio/Stage, 520 N. Western Ave., L.A.; Wed.-Thurs., Sun., 8 p.m.; thru March 5, www.sharksanddancer.com. (800) 838-3006.
SEX, DREAMS & SELF CONTROL Kevin Thornton's coming-out memoir., $10. Cavern Club Theater at Casita del Campo, 1920 Hyperion Ave., L.A.; Tues., Feb. 16, 8 p.m., http://www.cavernclubtheater.com/SEXDREAMS.HTML. (323) 969-2530.
GO SHAKESPEARE UNSCRIPTED The Impro Theatre specializes in improvising full-length plays in the literary style of prominent writers, including Jane Austen, Tennessee Williams and Stephen Sondheim. Here, under the direction of artistic directors Brian Lohman and Dan O'Connor, they're tackling the Bard, taking the most minimal suggestions from the audience and spinning them into dizzily amusing mock-Shakespearean epics. At the performance I attended, they created a comedy that might be called Much Ado About Bluebirds. Miranda (Lisa Frederickson) is the slightly deaf daughter (she seems to hear clearly only the songs of bluebirds) of the Duke of Kent (Lohman). Kent has decided to marry her off to the elderly Duke of York (Floyd Van Buskirk), but she has already developed a fancy for Price (O'Connor), a young man from the village, who loves her, and has learned to tweet like a bluebird to woo her. The course of true love is threatened by a couple of mischievous fairies (Brian Jones and Edi Patterson) and a man-eating bear, until the blissful final scene, which is as sententious as any old Will created. The company (including Michele Spears and Stephen Kearin) is clever, nimble and quick on its feet, and the result is an amiable, crowd-pleasing divertissement. (Neal Weaver). Theatre Asylum, 6320 Santa Monica Blvd., L.A.; Sun., 8 p.m.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru Feb. 14, www.plays411.com/shakespeareunscripted. (323) 401-9793.
GO STAGE DOOR In 1936, when Edna Ferber and George S. Kaufman's comedy and homage to The Theater (that would be Broadway) showed the divide between the legit stage and the vulgar movie biz in Hollywood (an industry where "You only have to learn a line at a time and they just keep taking it until you get it," and "You don't even have to be alive to be in the pictures,"), the authors were playing off an East Coast/West Coast divide. How strangely apt, then, that the play may now speak more to L.A. theater, and its ongoing love-hate relationship with Hollywood, than to the Broadway of yore. If you think this revival is just a valentine to a bygone era, think again. This week, the Pasadena Playhouse is closing its doors. The year after Stage Door premiered on Broadway, the Pasadena Playhouse was named the State Theater of California. It had, in its 12-year existence, produced the entire Shakespearean canon, as well as 500 new plays. In August 1937, Tempe E. Allison described the Playhouse in The New York Times, as "theatrical refreshment in this dust bowl, if not desert, of the legitimate stage, which has been sucked dry by the gigantic growth of its next-door neighbor, Hollywood." Though that kind of mythology has shifted over the decades, and our legitimate stage is anything but a dust bowl, the authors' portrayal of the theater as a somewhat quixotic and poverty-stricken home for actresses placing an odds-defying bet on a rare moment of spiritual fulfillment has a current sting of truth, even after more than 70 years. The home, here, is a boardinghouse for actresses called The Footlights Club. Some like Louis (Katy Tyszkiewicz) are surrendering into marriages they dread while others, like pretty Jean Maitland (Kim Swennen), get swept away by Hollywood and one of its dapper producers, David Kingsley (Arthur Hanket). Problem is, pretty Jean can't really act, even though she's thriving out West as cover-girl material in a land where artists become employees for hire -- and often they're hired to sit around in the sun. This theory is tested when Jean gets shoveled back by the Studio to star on Broadway -- a cynical marketing ploy. Mephistophelean Kingsley, dripping with self-loathing (a nice turn by Hacket), pushes to replace Jean with his own flame, Terry Randall (a smart, sensitive portrayal by Amanda Weier). Terry, who has talent, has no desire for Hollywood and its games. In her deft and stylish staging of a cast that tops two dozen, Barbara Schofield pits the brunette Terry against blond Jean, the talented against the talentless. Terry had been dating a lefty playwright (Matt Roe) who sold out his pedantically stated ideals quicker than it now takes to swipe a credit card. This production comes on the heels of last year's Light Up the Sky, demonstrating that this company's firm grip on smart, sassy period comedies. Detailed set by James Spencer and Shon LeBlanc's textured costumes further feed the ambiance. (Steven Leigh Morris). Open Fist Theatre, 6209 Santa Monica Blvd., L.A.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru March 13, www.openfist.org. (323) 882-6912.
THROW LIKE A GIRL Bill Becker's transgender portrait. Gardner Stages, 1501 N. Gardner St., L.A.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru Feb. 21. (323) 876-1501.
TITUS ANDRONICUS William Shakespeare's tragedy. Theatre of NOTE, 1517 N. Cahuenga Blvd., L.A.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; thru March 13. (323) 856-8611.
THE TOMORROW SHOW Late-night variety show created by Craig Anton, Ron Lynch and Brendon Small. Steve Allen Theater, at the Center for Inquiry-West, 4773 Hollywood Blvd., L.A.; Sat., midnight. (323) 960-7785.
NEW REVIEW TWELFTH NIGHT
Photo courtesy of Chalk Repertory CompanyThe idea of traipsing through a dark, damp graveyard on a weekend night to watch a Shakespeare play may be a daunting prospect, but at least audiences who attend director Jerry Ruiz's smooth and energetic production will be assured of seeing a engaging rendition of one of the Bard's jolliest comedies. The show is actually presented inside the picturesque (and grave-free) Masonic Lodge on the cemetery property, which provides a striking, dramatic backdrop for any play. (The beautifully constructed, colorfully decorated ceiling beams of the auditorium are worth seeing, even aside from the play.) Viola (Hilary Ward) dresses in drag to serve Count Orsino (Owiso Odera) and falls in love with him, but the woman Orsino has his eye on, beautiful Olivia (Teri Reeves), falls for Viola. Meanwhile, Olivia's drunkard Uncle, Sir Toby Belch (Matt Gaydos) and his ne'er do well pals play a mean spirited prank on Olivia's prissy, Puritan steward Malvolio (Charles Janasz). Ruiz's staging is both intelligently introspective and energetic, even though some of the comic shtick doesn't seem to naturally flow from the text and comes across as being weakly timed. Still, the production possesses a commendable clarity, which itself makes it a fine, competently rendered version of the show. It also boasts some remarkably well defined character work. Reeves's nicely brittle Olivia warms amusingly to Ward's befuddled Viola, while Guilford Adams's glum fool Feste plays nicely off of Gaydos's decadent Sir Toby. However, it's Janasz's brilliantly uptight Malvolio, and his ghoulishly hilarious attempts to woo Olivia all cross gartered and leering like a gassy Jack O'Lantern, that truly offers this show's standout performance. Hollywood Forever Cemetery, 6000 Santa Monica Blvd, Hollywood: Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; thru Feb. 28. (800) 838-3006. Chalk Repertory Company. (Paul Birchall)
TWENTY-TWO A friend once explained his decision to quit cocaine as his weariness of the disreputable types with whom he was forced to deal and of the even scarier places where they invariably dealt. So it is in actor-playwright Julia Morizawa's hyperkinetic, autobiographical addiction nightmare. For Leila (Morizawa), the story's 22-year-old heroine, however, no amount of unsavory associations can deter her from her unapologetic, single-minded snorting of coke with the fierce efficiency of a Shop-Vac. Her unbridled enthusiasm for the powder soon ensnares her two best friends, Zoe (Shaina Vorspan) and the musician, Danny (Matthew Black), whose cluttered apartment becomes Leila's de facto drug den. With her boyfriend/dealer, Eric (Raymond Donahey), as their enabler/supplier, the friends' walk on the sordid side quickly careens into a coked-up version of Mr. Toad's Wild Ride. Director Donahey intensifies the luridness of the proceedings by seating the audience on the set like so many uninvited guests. But Morizawa's restricting focus on the outward spectacle of her characters' free fall rarely musters pathos for their plunge. While the play hints at deeper demons whetting Leila's manic appetite (i.e., fear and self-loathing), the evening's most poignant and revealing moment belongs not to its protagonist but to its bogeyman, Sol (the fine James Adam Patterson), when the unscrupulous street dealer speaks with pride over a daughter's scholastic achievements. Had Morizawa been as generous with her other characters, she might have delivered something more engaging than sideshow debasement and morbid, voyeuristic thrills. (Bill Raden). Knightsbridge Theater, 1944 Riverside Dr., L.A.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru Feb. 13. (323) 667-0955.NEW REVIEW WHO IS CURTIS LEE?
Photo by Lynne Conner
The titular question of this play by Ashford J. Thomas (who also plays Curtis Lee) set in 1950s Greensboro, North Carolina is sparked by the appearance of a young man in a ramshackle tavern who immediately attracts the attention of regulars Herman (Gerrence George) and Otis (Carl Crudup), as well as owner Joe (Logan Alexander). Despite his shabby appearance, the visitor Curtis claims to be a songwriter for radio icon Miss Wanda Denise (Kelley Chatman), as well as being a boxer. Herman and Otis don't buy either story, but Curtis' buying them drinks keeps them mollified. Unfortunately Curtis has no money, bringing him into conflict with the normally staid Joe, who, after threatening Curtis, takes pity on him and puts him to work. Complicating this situation are Calvin Hunt (Richard Lewis Warren), a greedy white developer trying to force Joe to sell the place, Mitchell (James E. Hurd, Jr.), a black gangster to whom Curtis owes money, and Angel (Paris Rumford), Otis' ironically-named promiscuous daughter. Director L. Flint Esquerra skillfully mines the comedy in the text, and Paul Koslo's weathered set provides an authentic mise-en-scène. Alexander shines in his gruff, pained portrayal of Joe, Crudup and George have solid comic timing, and Hurd, Jr. is menacing in his brief appearance. Thomas delivers the sincerity and hotheaded anger of youth, but his writing, characterized by powerful, resonant themes, doesn't always cohere. MET Theatre, downstairs in the Great Scott Theatre, 1089 N. Oxford Ave., Hollywood; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru February 28. (323) 957-1152. www.themettheatre.com A Thought Collective Productions Production. (Mayank Keshaviah)
NEW REVIEW GO WHY TORTURE IS WRONG, AND THE PEOPLE WHO LOVE THEM
Photo by Rick Baumgartner
Christopher Durang's Loony Tunes aesthetic - with the help of Daniel Henning's perfectly modulated direction - gets swashed onto our so-called war on terror. Thank goodness Durang has moved beyond family dysfunction. Still, you'd think our recent history, propelled by some deranged Might Makes Right cabal from a powerful coven of loons, has been exhausted by American playwrights by now. Durang's outrage and piety, however, get channeled into breaths of comedic napalm, something like a cross between The Marriage of Bette and Boo and Dr. Strangelove. Durang has now joined ranks with Dario Fo. Sweet Felicity (stylish Rhea Seehorn, trying to be sensible in a world with no sense) wakes up in bed with a stranger, Zamir (Sunil Malhotra), after a night out at a bar. Turns out, Zamir slipped her a drug, raped and married her -- none of which she remembers. The "priest" was Zamir's friend, porno film maker Reverend Mike (Nicholas Brendon, sort of like Owen Wilson with a slow-mo brain). Zamir has anger management issues and feels badly that most of the women in his family are dead. This is cold comfort for Felicity. Yet she finds herself compelled to defend her "husband" when her Dick Cheney-emulating father, Leonard (Mike Genovese) - a volunteer in the "shadow government" -- drags Zamir into the torture chamber that he's been claiming is a private closet for his butterfly collection. Narrator and power-drill wielding torture-room assistant Loony Tunes (Alec Mapa) encourages Leonard to "bweak a finger, bweak a finger" -- all of which is based on a misunderstanding by Leonard's spy, Hildegard (Catherine Hicks, spending a good portion of the play with underwear swishing around her ankles), that Zamir's overheard conversation about a porno movie was actually a terrorist plot. Durang re-runs the ending a couple of times, trying to capture the moment where it all -- "it" being the sad plight of our country - went so wrong. I particularly enjoyed Christine Estabrook as Leonard's blissed-out seething wife, Luella, who can't stop talking about the theater, even while torture is being committed upstairs, because theater is what's "real." And what has she seen lately? "250 plays by Martin McDonagh and David Hare." Britain of course dominates our theater's new plays, obviously because "Americans are stupid." Durang is getting a lot off his chest, and off ours. The laughter he generates is from nonsense about nonsense, unnervingly true and cathartic, and beautifully performed. Stella Adler Theatre, 6773 Hollywood Blvd. (2nd floor), Hollywood; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; through March 14. (323) 661-9827 http://theblank.com A Blank Theatre Company production. (Steven Leigh Morris)
WISEGUYS Scenes from Casino, Carlito's Way, Bronx Tale, Scarface, Goodfellas, Raging Bull and The Godfather. Hollywood Fight Club Theater, 6767 W. Sunset Blvd., No. 6, L.A.; Wed., 8 p.m.; thru March 3, www.hollywoodfightclub.com. (323) 465-0800.
CONTINUING PERFORMANCES IN SMALLER THEATERS SITUATED IN THE VALLEYS
BAGELS Art Shulman's senior romance. Secret Rose Theater, 11246 Magnolia Blvd., North Hollywood; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru March 21, www.secretrose.com. (877) 620-7673.
CINDERELLA The MainStreet Theatre Company's kids musical, book by Phylis Ravel, music and lyrics by David Coleman. Lewis Family Playhouse, Victoria Gardens Cultural Center, 12505 Cultural Center Dr., Rancho Cucamonga; Sat., 1 & 4 p.m.; thru Feb. 13. (877) 858-8422.
GO CIRCUS WELT Reminiscent of Kander & Ebb's Cabaret (though sans music), this adaptation by director and producer Pavel Cerny of Leonid Andreyev's 1914 Russian play, He Who Gets Slapped, shifts the setting to Weimar Germany circa 1933. A small traveling circus run by Ludwig Bricke (John Moskal) and his common-law wife/lion-tamer, Maria (Stephanie T. Keefer), serves as a haven for those at the margins of society: Jackson (Jeff Williams), a black American clown in whiteface; Tilly and Polly (Justin Hertner and Lee Biolos), a long-standing gay couple; Bezano (Patrick Koffel), the communist horse trainer; and the newly arrived mysterious clown named He (an impressively nuanced Joshua Grenrock). As the story, which takes place entirely in the circus dressing room, unfolds, multiple love triangles emerge, though the one of greatest consequence involves Bezano, Maria and the bareback rider Consuelo (Tanya Goott), who is engaged by her father Count Mancini (Kurt Hargan) to the wealthy Baron Von Reinhardt (Ed Brigadier), the head of the local SA storm troopers. While the remaining vestiges of the original melodrama detract from what could be an extremely compelling piece of theater, Cerny has done his best to minimize them, and his Brechtian-style entr'acte additions, such as the "news clowns," provide girding for the menacing backdrop of Nazi Germany on the rise. An Orpheum Theater Corporation Production. (Mayank Keshaviah). Whitefire Theater, 13500 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks; Sun., 2:30 p.m.; Sun., 7:30 p.m.; thru Feb. 28. (866) 811-4111.
THE CITY Director Stan Mazin's adaptation and update of Clyde Fitch's 1909 play has a lot going for it. That said, references to Lady Gaga and Desperate Housewives can't disguise the fact that it's an overly talky melodrama. Act 1 takes place in Middlebrook, where wealthy patriarch George Sr. (Klair Bybee) holds forth on the values of small town life. However, his wife Molly (Kady Douglas), daughters Megan (Trisha Hershberger) and Teresa (Jaclyn Marfuggi), and especially his son, George Jr. (Hector Hank), are bucking for the lights and excitement of New York City. Interloper Fred Hannock (Glenn Collins) comes to blackmail George Sr. over financial improprieties, and before his unexpected demise, George Sr. reveals to George Jr. that Hannock is his half-brother. The overly long Act 2 takes place five years later in the family's new abode in New York City, where George Jr. is hoping to secure his party's nomination for senator. Lawyer Burt Vorhees (Bix Barnaba) begins the vetting process, asking George Jr. to pressure Teresa not to divorce her playboy husband (Alexander Leeb). But a bigger problem is how to get rid of the drug addicted Hannock who's been installed as George Jr.'s secretary. Mazin marshals the cast well, but some of the acting is uneven. Trefoni Michael Rizzi's plush scenic design can't be faulted. (Sandra Ross). Lonny Chapman Group Repertory Theatre, 10900 Burbank Blvd., North Hollywood; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru Feb. 28, www.thegrouprep.com. (818) 700-4878.
THE COLUMBINE PROJECT Paul Storiale directs an all-new cast in his play about the Columbine high school massacre. Avery Schreiber Theater, 11050 Magnolia Blvd., North Hollywood; Sun., 5 & 8 p.m.; thru Feb. 28. (818) 766-9100.
CONFESSIONS OF A VINTAGE BLACK QUEEN Billie Hall's autobiographical survival story ("child molestation, rape, physical abuse, homophobia, racism, and church abuse"). Avery Schreiber Theater, 11050 Magnolia Blvd., North Hollywood; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru Feb. 27. (818) 766-9100.
NEW REVIEW GO COUSIN BETTE
Photo by Michele K. Short
Drawn from Balzac's La Comedie Humaine, playwright Jeffrey Hatcher's adaptation revolves around a cunning woman's campaign to revenge herself on the rich relatives who have callously dismissed her as shabby and unimportant. Sheltered, and fed with scraps of food off her pretty cousin's plate, poor-relation Bette Fischer (Nike Doukas) grows up nurturing her hate, eventually evolving into a plain-faced spinster who is everybody's confidante and nobody's friend. Brilliantly Machiavellian, Bette's fastidious plot to destroy the family involves arranging a liaison between her attractive neighbor and abused wife Valerie (Jen Dede), and Hector (John Prosky) the lecherous and profligate husband of her virtuous cousin, Adeline (Emily Chase ). Bette also acquires wealth (and thus power) by promoting the work of a young Polish sculptor, Steinbock (Daniel Bess), whom she's fallen in love with - unfortunately for her, since he ends up betrothed to Adeline's daughter, Hortense (Kellie Matteson). Directed by Jeanie Hackett, the production purposefully underscores the source material's melodramatic elements; for example, heightening the narrative's key points with the melancholy refrains of Chopin. At least one key performance is over laden with shtick, and some fine-tuning of others is in order. Still, Doukas is terrific, delivering a consummate performance that arouses, for her long-suffering deceitful character , pity, disdain -- and admiration. Tony Amendola's licentious merchant is also top-notch. And alongside the story's bathos is its salient reminder of what cruelty, indifference and injustice can do to the human spirit. (The show is double-cast.) Deaf West Theatre, 5112 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood; Thurs.-Sat., 7:30 p.m.; Sun., 4 p.m.; thru March 21. (818) 506-5436. An Antaeus Company production. (Deborah Klugman)
DOROTHY AND THE WIZARD OF OZ Musical adventure by Steve and Kathy Hotchner, based on L. Frank Baum's classic fantasy. Sierra Madre Playhouse, 87 W. Sierra Madre Blvd., Sierra Madre; Sat., 11 a.m. & 2 p.m.; thru Feb. 13. (626) 256-3809.
HEAD OVER HEELS Eric Czuleger's new play follows the journey of six women. Lankershim Arts Center, 5108 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood; Thurs., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; thru Feb. 28. (800) 838-3006.
GO HOW I LEARNED TO DRIVE "Sometimes to tell a secret, you first have to teach a lesson," announces L'il Bit (Joanna Strapp) in the first lines of Paula Vogel's highly acclaimed and richly awarded play (including the 1998 Pulitzer Prize for Drama). Set in 1960s rural Maryland, the non-linear, episodic plot focuses on L'il Bit's questionable relationship with her Uncle Peck (David Youse) during the different stages of her adolescence. Because she is more educated than her blue-collar family and becomes well endowed at a young age, L'il Bit always feels out of place, finding solace in Peck's company, even if his advances aren't always appropriate. In addition to the two leads, the three members of the Greek chorus (Skip Pipo, Jennifer Sorenson, and Allie Grant--of Showtime's Weeds in her stage debut) fill out the cast, playing the other members of this dysfunctional family as well as secondary characters. Director August Viverito, who also designed the set, finds the perfect balance between the emotion and humor in the text, all while choreographing the rapid scene changes seamlessly. Strapp and Youse are captivating in their pas de deux, subtly expressing powerful emotions, and the chorus members convincingly shift personas while enhancing the theatricality of the piece with their secondary function as transition markers and set movers. As has been its hallmark, this company tackles the challenge of mounting theatrical classics in a "closet," and once again succeeds admirably, especially with such an intimate piece. (Mayank Keshaviah). Chandler Studio, 12443 Chandler Blvd., Valley Village; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru Feb. 20, www.theprodco.com. (800) 838-3006.
INDULGENCES IN THE LOUISVILLE HAREM John Orlock's story of two spinster sisters in 1902 Kentucky. Theatre Unlimited, 10943 Camarillo Ave., North Hollywood; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; thru March 14. (818) 238-0501.
IT'S JUST SEX Jeff Gould's comedy about "lust and trust.". Two Roads Theater, 4348 Tujunga Ave., Studio City; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7:30 p.m.; thru Feb. 28. (818) 762-2282.
THE JAMB Tuffer (Kerr Seth Lordygan) and Roderick (Brad C. Wilcox) are gay men who have been friends for 20 years. Though they seem to love one another, they've never had sex. Now they're on the scary threshold of age 40, and their conflicts are looming large. Tuffer is addicted to sex, alcohol, and meth, while Roderick is an angry control freak with a messiah complex. Tuffer can no longer bear Roderick's constant disapproval, while Roderick is fed up with having to rescue Tuffer from his own self-destructive impulses. In hopes of curing Tuffer's immaturity, Roderick invites him to come along with him on a visit to his ex-hippie mother (Kenlyn Kanouse) in New Mexico -- but Tuffer will come only if he can bring his boy-toy Brandon (Garrett Liggett), with whom, it emerges, he has never had sex. Gay men who only want to cuddle? Playwright J. Stephen Brantley gives a clever and quirkily amusing account of his oddball characters, and achieves a resolution of sorts. But his play doesn't always convince, and one senses a more complex, unexplored level beneath this tangle of relationships. Director Susan Lee provides a brisk, straightforward production, and elicits fine performances from the four actors. (Neal Weaver). Eclectic Company Theatre, 5312 Laurel Canyon Blvd., Valley Village; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; thru Feb. 21. (818) 508-3003.
GO JUST IMAGINE The fun of seeing and hearing Tim Piper's great John Lennon impersonation in an intimate setting with an outstanding band, under Greg Piper musical direction, is just undeniable. The evening, which includes a large portion of the Beatles catalogue followed by Lennon's solo work, never misses a beat or lick with Piper's perfectly pitched and accented voice and expert instrumentation: Don Butler's hot guitar, Morley Bartnoff's keyboard and Don Poncher's drums. The guys scruffily kowtow to Lennon's lead, creating the perfect illusion of superstar power. Jonathan Zenz's sound design achieves a powerful volume without killing our ears in the small Noho Arts Center space. Lighting by Luke Moyer along with Tim Piper's video images complete the double fantasy of Lennon before and after Yoko. The musical portion is so enjoyable, under the overall eye of director Steve Altman, that we hopefully forget the lame one-man play that slips between the songs. Perhaps the plan is to pull Lennon off his lofty saint-like perch, but the result of a plodding timeline narrative bio leaves Lennon sounding dull and whiney, until the music returns him to his proper place. (Tom Provenzano). Platinum Live, 11345 Ventura Blvd., Studio City; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.. (866) 811-4111.
GO THE KINGS OF THE KILBURN HIGH ROAD What is home to the emigrant? Is it, in the lowercase sense, merely the place where one lays ones hat? Or is it a more mythic capital -- an idea of both origin and aspiration in which the psychic distance between the two becomes the self-measure of the man? In Dublin playwright Jimmy Murphy's remorselessly probing elegy, the question is more than academic. For Murphy's six, middle-aged Irish expatriates who, 25 years earlier, left County Mayo to seek their fortunes in London's working-class Kilburn district, home has become a kind of spiritual sickness that, for one of them, has already proved fatal. And as the survivors gather in a local pub to mourn his passing, a potent cocktail of whisky, guilt and recrimination dissolves what's left of their camaraderie and dreams of youth to reveal only the bitter disillusionments and regrets of old men. Under Sean Branney's sure-handed direction, Dan Conroy gives a blistering performance as Jap, the hard-drinking men's bellicose, hair-triggered leader who, with his sidekick and flatmate, Git (the fine Matt Foyer), has the least to show for the lost years while being the most intransigent in his denial. Maurteen (a simmering Dan Harper) and Shay (John Jabaley) occupy a middle-ground of resigned acceptance of their meager circumstances, while Joe (Steve Marvel), as the group's single, successful exception, serves as the truth-seeking provocateur needling the friends to a lacerating self-knowledge. (Bill Raden). The Banshee, 3435 W. Magnolia Blvd., Burbank; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru Feb. 28, www.theatrebanshee.org. (818) 846-5323.
MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG Stephen Sondheim and George Furth's musical take on the 1934 Kaufman and Hart play. Chance Theatre, 5552 E. La Palma Ave., Anaheim; Sun., 2 & 7 p.m.; Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 3 & 8 p.m.; thru March 7. (714) 777-3033.
ON THE AIR Golden Age of Radio murder-mystery musical comedy. Whitefire Theater, 13500 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks; Sat., 8 p.m.; thru March 6, www.plays411.com/ontheair. (323) 960-4420.
ONE MAN, TWO PLAYS Dan Hildebrand in The Nonsense by Kevin Cotter and Whatever Gets You Through the Night by Andrew Kazamia. Sidewalk Studio Theatre, 4150 Riverside Dr., Burbank; Thurs., 8 p.m.; thru Feb. 25. (323) 960-5650.
A PRAYER FOR MY DAUGHTER Thomas Babe's cop drama. Crown City Theatre, 11031 Camarillo St., North Hollywood; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru March 6. (800) 838-3006.
GO PROOF What's the link between mathematics and madness? If you inherit your father's genius, will you also fall heir to his lunacy? Playwright David Auburn garnered a Pulitzer Prize and a Tony Award for this play that poses these questions within the framework of a family drama. The story begins a week after the death of Robert, an acclaimed mathematician (Brad Blaisdell, appearing in flashback ); mentally ill in his last years, he'd been cared for by his mirthless, troubled daughter, Catherine (Teal Sherer). Alone and grieving on her 25th birthday, Catherine can just barely tolerate the presence of Hal (Ryan Douglas) a former student of Robert's searching through his papers for some shred of intellectual value. More annoying to Catherine is her older sister Claire (Collette Foy), in from New York and intent on whisking Catherine back with her -- an option Catherine resents and resists. At the nub of the plot is whether, as Catherine claims, she wrote the mathematical proof uncovered in a locked drawer, or whether, as Hal and Claire suspect, Robert devised it during a period of clarity. For this critic, Auburn's script has always registered as contrived and lacking subtlety - but this production blows away this bias by virtue of Sherer's uniquely winning portrayal. That the character - like the performer -- is wheelchair-bound adds a layer of vulnerability that brings the play to life for me as it hadn't before. Make no mistake: Sherer's accomplished performance stands on its own; it's the material that's been enriched. Kudos also to Foy for excellent work. (Deborah Klugman). NoHo Arts Center, 11136 Magnolia Blvd., North Hollywood; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru Feb. 21. (323) 960-7863.
QUICKIES TOO! SCENES FROM A BAR Original short plays by seven writers, one director, and 23 actors. Whitefire Theater, 13500 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks; Fri., 8 p.m.; thru March 12. (818) 990-2324.
RAY BRADBURY'S WISDOM 2116 Two by science-fiction author Ray Bradbury: Wisdom (1916), a new play, and 2116, a new musical, book and lyrics by Bradbury, music by John Hoke, developed, directed and choreographed by Steve Josephson. Fremont Centre Theatre, 1000 Fremont Ave., South Pasadena; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru Feb. 27, www.Plays411.com/raybradbury. (323) 960-4451.
THE SENSUOUS SENATOR Michael Parker's 1988 bedroom farce. Sierra Madre Playhouse, 87 W. Sierra Madre Blvd., Sierra Madre; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2:30 p.m.; thru Feb. 27, www.sierramadreplayhouse.org. (626) 256-3809.
GO SIDHE Otherworldly shadows inhabit playwright Ann Noble's intense drama about two fugitives from Ireland and their ravaging effect on others' lives. On the run, smoldering Conall (Patrick Rieger) and his oddly passive companion, Jacquelyn (Jeanne Syquia), rent a dingy room above a Chicago bar from its tight-lipped owner, Louise (Noble). Louise's steadiest customer is her alcoholic brother-in-law, Vernon (the standout Rob Nagle), who remains inconsolable over the shooting death of his philandering wife, Amy, whom he'd worshipped unrequitedly. Bitter and unhappy, both Louise and Vernon are wont to tear at each other fiercely -- but their problems pale next to those of Louise's tenants, whose mysterious past hints at savage violence and unspeakable secrets. Just how terrifically unimaginable the latter prove to be is something we don't learn until well into Act 2. Adding a supernaturalistic element to this already densely miasmic plot is Jacquelyn's proclivity for experiencing strange apparitions: namely, the "Sidhe," a mythic tribe of pre-Gaelic fairies with startling powers to affect human -- in this case Jacquelyn's -- behavior. Full of dark turns, Noble's story is so packed with tension and conflict that at times it's hard to believe only four characters are taking part. Not every twist is credible, even given the play's supernatural standards. And sometimes the heavy Irish brogue makes essential details difficult to grasp. These qualifications notwithstanding, the production is often riveting, under Darin Anthony's direction. (Deborah Klugman) A Road Theatre production. Lankershim Arts Center, 5108 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru March 20, www.roadtheatre.org. (866) 811-4111.
SIX DEGREES OF FORNICATION World premiere of David Wally's sex comedy. Whitefire Theater, 13500 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks; Thurs., 8 p.m.; thru March 4. (866) 811-4111.
TWELFTH NIGHT Presented by Chrysalis Stage. Vic Lopez Auditorium, 12417 E. Philadelphia St., Whittier; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; thru Feb. 21, www.chrysalisstage.com...
URBAN DEATH: ONCE UPON A NIGHTMARE Horror show by Zombie Joe's Underground. ZJU Theater Group, 4850 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood; Fri.-Sat., 8:30 p.m.; thru Feb. 27. (818) 202-4120.
CONTINUING PERFORMANCES IN SMALLER THEATERS SITUATED ON THE WESTSIDE AND IN BEACH TOWNS
GO THE BROWNING VERSION Though not as widely known or acclaimed as his contemporary British playwrights, Terence Rattigan was a superb dramatist and chronicler of human emotions. Here, Rattigan's The Browning Version, the gloomy story of an aging schoolteacher crushed by failure and disappointment, receives a stellar mounting by director Marilyn Fox. A well-regarded scholar of the classics, Andrew Crocker-Harris (the superb Bruce French) has spent the last 18 years as an instructor at a public school in England but must leave the position because of failing health to take a less-stressful job elsewhere. Now the object of jokes and ridicule by his students, and denied a pension by the school, he has a bearing that is subdued by sadness, yearning and a palpable "gallows" surrender to circumstance. His wife, Millie (Sally Smythe), has given up on being happy with him and has contented herself with numerous dalliances with his colleagues (which she delights in reminding him of), and cruelly undermining what remains of his sense of manhood. Her current lover, Frank (understudy David Rogge), is torn between a sense of guilt, his admiration for Andrew, and the dying embers of lust for Millie. It is only when the professor is presented with a rare translation of Agamemnon from a student (Justin Preston) that his mask of stoic restraint melts to reveal a desperately fragile inner life. From this sedate tapestry of characters, Rattigan artfully probes marriage, relationship and our perverse capacity to embrace lacerating emotional pain and self-deceit, which all unfolds beautifully on Norman Scott's cleverly designed sitting-room mock-up. Fox directs this piece with masterful subtlety and draws devastatingly convincing performances from her actors.(Lovell Estell III). Pacific Resident Theatre, 703 Venice Blvd., Venice; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru March 14. (310) 822-8392.
CHAPTER TWO Neil Simon's 1977 comedy about a widowed writer. Theater Palisades' Pierson Playhouse, 941 Temescal Canyon Road, Pacific Palisades; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru Feb. 14. (310) 454-1970.
THE COLLECTOR John Fowles' psychological and cunning thriller, adapted by Mark Healy. Ruskin Group Theater, 3000 Airport Dr., Santa Monica; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru March 6. (310) 397-3244.
COULD I HAVE THIS DANCE? Doug Havery's story of two daughters and their mother's incurable muscular degeneration. Theatre 40 at the Reuben Cordova Theater, 241 Moreno Dr., Beverly Hills; Wed.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru Feb. 28. (310) 364-0535.
THE EXONERATED Presented by the Long Beach Shakespeare Company. Old Expo Furniture Warehouse, 4321 Atlantic Ave., Long Beach; Thurs.-Sat., 7 p.m.; thru March 6...
IT'S CRIMINAL! THE COMEDY! Courtroom adventures with criminal defense attorney Murray Meyer. Santa Monica Playhouse, 1211 Fourth St., Santa Monica; Sat., 8 p.m.; thru Feb. 13. (323) 960-7780.
GO JUST 45 MINUTES FROM BROADWAY Suffused with a near-Chekhovian mix of the wistful and the melancholy, playwright Henry Jaglom's world premiere comedy is a delight - an intimate and thoughtful ensemble piece which is as much a paean to the theater as it is a meditation on the perils of living entirely by emotion. In a picturesque but run down country house in upstate New York (realized in Joel Daavid's beautiful detailed set), a theatrical clan spends what is probably for them a typical fall weekend of histrionics and melodrama. These are people who have lived their whole lives for art - which, one might say, means that dinner is never on time and no one gets up before noon. Elderly thespian George (Jack Heller) and his beloved wife Vivien (Diane Louise Salinger) are in the twilight of their careers, but regret nothing about a life spent on the road performing small plays. Also staying in their home is their beautiful, unstable daughter Pandora (Tanna Frederick), who is taking a "rest" from acting after getting over a recent failed romance. The typically "artsy" family chaos turns even more tumultuous with the arrival of the family's estranged eldest daughter Betsy (Julie Davis), who has grown weary of her eccentric family. When Betsy introduces her lawyer fiance Jimmy (David Garver) to the family, sparks unexpectedly fly - but the sparks are between Jimmy and free-spirited Pandora. Some overwritten sequences teeter on self indulgence, yet the piece is also wise to the follies of human behavior - and director Gary Imhoff's subtle staging elegantly juxtaposes the warmth and frustration underscoring the relationships within so many families. The ensemble work is sensitive, yet comically charged, with Frederick's calculatedly daffy turn as the ever-performing Pandora smartly offset by Davis' increasingly angry Betsy. Heller's leonine elderly actor-dad and Salinger's actress mom, tender and sad, wonderfully craft the sense of elders who have never truly grown up, and are amazed by what has happened to their bodies while their minds remain youthful. Edgemar Center for the Arts, 2437 Main Street, Santa Monica. Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 5 p.m.; thru Feb. 28. (310) 392-7327. A Rainbow Theatre Company production. (Paul Birchall). Edgemar Center for the Arts, 2437 Main St., Santa Monica; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 5 p.m.; thru Feb. 28. (310) 399-3666.
LEAVING KIEV West Coast Jewish Theatre presents Theodore Apstein's play about his family's migration during the Russian Revolution. Pico Playhouse, 10508 W. Pico Blvd., L.A.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru March 28. (323) 506-8024.
LOVE IN BLOOM By Chris DeCarlo and Evelyn Rudie. Santa Monica Playhouse, 1211 Fourth St., Santa Monica; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 6 p.m.; thru Feb. 26. (310) 394-9779.
LOYALTIES In Tony Pasqualini's drama, Frank (Michael Rothhaar) and Joy (Robin Becker) have lost a son, Andy, to the war in Iraq. Now they have become fanatical superpatriots, eager to condemn anyone who questions the war. Their best friends, Mel (Sarah Brooke) and Andrew (Pasqualini), also have an adopted son, Michael (Albert Meijer), an <0x00E9>migr<0x00E9> from a Muslim country. Andy and Michael were inseparable friends throughout their childhood, but their paths diverged. While Andy enlisted and went to his death in battle, Michael also enlisted but decided it was a mistake and deserted his post. Though Mel and Andrew are sympathetic to their son, Frank and Joy are determined to force the boy to face his fears and accept his duty, even by reporting his whereabouts to the authorities. This issue becomes a catalyst, leading to disaster for both families. Pasqualini's play is not really a thesis drama, but it often sounds like one, treating its characters as mouthpieces. There are, however, some potent scenes. Though we're clearly intended to sympathize with Michael, he's too whiny and self-centered to take seriously. Director David Gautreaux has able actors but sometimes allows them to succumb to wearisome hysteria and shouting. (Neal Weaver). Pacific Resident Theatre, 703 Venice Blvd., Venice; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru March 28, www.PacificResidentTheatre.com. (310) 822-8392.
MURDER ON THE HIGH C'S Book and Lyrics by Scott Ratner, music and lyrics by Tim Nelson. Westminster Rose Center Theater, 14140 All American Way, Westminster; Fri.-Sat., 7:30 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru Feb. 21...
GO AN OAK TREE On the simplest storytelling level, actor-performer Tim Crouch's play is the tale of a hypnotist falling apart at the seams, who after accidentally striking and killing a young girl with his car, one day finds the victim's father on his stage. Wrenching stuff. But on a conceptual level, the event takes this very emotional saga and uses it as a kind of Ping-Pong ball to bat around the idea of suspension of disbelief -- realities that we create through suggestion. In order to accomplish this, for each performance he employs a different actor, whom he meets less than one hour before the performance, and who reads the role of the father from a script. And so, through a frame of hypnotism that's just one of the play's many artifices, begins a breathtaking examination of the blurred line between what is real and what is suggested, of how we live in dream worlds in order to get by, and how theater itself is a kind of hypnosis that serves this very same purpose. Its brilliance is unfettered, and inexplicably moving, for being such a head trip. (Steven Leigh Morris). Odyssey Theatre, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., L.A.; Wed.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; Sat., 2 p.m.; thru Feb. 13. (310) 477-2055.
PICK OF THE VINE Nine original short plays selected from submissions by playwrights from around the world. Little Fish Theatre, 777 Centre St., San Pedro; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru Feb. 13. (310) 512-6030.
PRINCESS BEAN'S MESSY WORLD Rock & roll kids musical about a petite punk princess. Electric Lodge, 1416 Electric Ave., Venice; Sun., Feb. 14, 12:30 p.m., www.princessbean.com. (310) 490-2383.
RUN FOR YOUR WIFE Ray Cooney's marriage farce. Morgan-Wixson Theatre, 2627 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru Feb. 13, www.johnsmithcheats.com. (310) 828-7519.
SIX DEGREES OF SEPARATION The Kentwood Players present John Guare's drama. Westchester Playhouse, 8301 Hindry Ave., L.A.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru Feb. 13, www.kentwoodplayers.org. (310) 645-5156.
GO A SONG AT TWILIGHT "I've been in America too long. It's so lovely to see a steak that doesn't look like a bedroom slipper! . . . Memory is curiously implacable. It forgets joy, but rarely forgets humiliation." That's probably not the Noel Coward that you've ever heard before, but Noel Coward it is. Given that this 1966 bittersweet comedy was one of Coward's final plays, it's startling to learn that this James Glossman's beautifully mature staging is actually the show's West Coast premiere (a pruned one act version of the play was produced here in 1975 in a nationally touring double-bill called Noel Coward in Two Keys, starring Hume Cronyn.) Is it too late to nominate Coward for some kind of a "best new writer" award? Some have theorized that the show's explicit homosexuality-related themes were Coward's attempt at "coming out" - but even if one doesn't totally agree with the idea, the show still appears to be years ahead of its time - and this partially explains why it's so ripe for rediscovery. Ensconced in his Swiss hotel suite for the season, elderly author-legend Sir Hugo Latymer (Orson Bean) spits venom at his long suffering, astonishingly supportive wife Hilde (Alley Mills), who also serves as his secretary and dogsbody. In fading health, Sir Hugo realizes that his best days are behind him, but an unexpected visit an unexpected visit from from his former mistress, Carlotta (Laurie O-Brien), can still bring out the elderly writer's flamboyant rage. Retired leading lady actress Carlotta wants permission to publish their long ago love letters in her upcoming autobiography, but when Hugo refuses, it turns out the woman has an ace in her sleeve, involving other love letters to someone even further back in Hugo's past, and memory. Glossman's elegantly melancholy staging showcases both Coward's glittering writing and the unexpectedly piquant themes of regret and bitterness. Bean's crusty, curmudgeonly Sir Hugo may miss the smooth, veneer of civility we expect, but he adroitly conveys the sense of a twisted, petulant old tool, who's as dismayed by the loss of his physical faculties as he is regretful of his past mistakes. O'Brien's faded vixen is wonderfully snarky, with a mischievous malice suggesting a hurt creature who is enjoying her spiteful vengeance. Mills' understanding, but coolly clear-eyed wife, turns out to be unexpectedly powerful. (Paul Birchall). Odyssey Theatre, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., L.A.; Wed.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru March 7, www.odysseytheatre.com. (310) 477-2055.