Baby Doll, Forgotten, On Holy Ground and other new reviews . . .
|Tony Gatto and Lulu Brud, in Tennessee Williams "Baby Doll" at the Lillian|
Lovell Estell III found Tony Gatto's performance to be a highlight of this week's, Pick of the Week, Tennessee Williams Baby Doll at the Lillian.Recommendations also for Pat Kinevane's solo performance about four aged characters, Forgotten, at the Odyssey Theatre, and Stephanie Liss' play about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, On Holy Ground at the Met. For the latest New Reviews, go the jump.
Also check out some thoughts on A Noise Within's new Pasadena digs.
Happy Thanksgiving!New Theater Reviews: Scheduled for Publication November 24, 2011
|Daniel G. Lam|
PICK OF THE WEEK: BABY DOLL:
DESIRE UNDER THE ELMS
ELEKTRA I've seen many stagings of Aeschylus' tragedy, but never one where Orestes' first words to his sister Elektra are, "You smell like shit." You can't accuse director and translator Joel Raffee of being slavish to the source material: Orestes (Chris White) is a drawling cowboy, Aegisthus (James Edward Shippy) wears Air Jordans, the chorus (LoraBeth Barr and Laura Nunez) is dressed like Marilyn Monroe, and murderous mom Clytemnestra (also White) sports a British accent, gold leotard, thigh-highs and a beard. If it's meant to be a comedy, Raffee hasn't told his strikingly muscular leading lady Elizabeth Miller, whose grief-stricken Elektra spends the play shackled to a post screaming and thrashing her chains like a hybrid of Marley's ghost and Linda Hamilton in Terminator 2. The chaos distracts from Aeschylus' questions about vengeance -- Clytemnestra and Elektra's debate over the slain Agamemnon's original guilt is particularly bungled -- but if audiences get confused, the program's comic book preface explains everything. Loft Ensemble, 929 E. Second St., #105, dwntn.; Sat.-Sun., 8 p.m.; through Dec. 11. (213) 680-0392, stokastik.org, loftensemble.com (Amy Nicholson)
GO FORGOTTEN: Written and performed by Pat Kinevane. Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Continues through Dec. 4. Odyssey Theatre, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles, 310-477-2055, odysseytheatre.com. See Stage Feature.
GO ON HOLY GROUND Religion or politics should never be discussed in polite circles, so they say, but Stephanie Liss' world-premiere play does both, focusing on the Israeli-Palestine conflict as seen through the eyes of three interconnected women. Henrietta Szold (Salome Jens), who proposed a binational state in Palestine and was a co-founder of Hadassah, the Woman's Zionist Organization of America, provides historical perspective in Act 1. In the second act, two mothers, one Jewish (Lisa Richards) and the other a Jihadist (Abbe Rowlins), share a loss. Separated by just a fence, their ideologies stretch the distance between them into an insurmountable length. Though Liss' script needs a good trimming, especially in Act 1, she fleshes out a complicated political situation. Meanwhile, director L. Flint Esquerra's cast takes what could be a dry textbook and gives it a throbbing heart. Jens has the difficult job of sustaining attention while never leaving her chair, and though she seemed at first to be reading lines from the book sitting on her lap, she's talented enough to eventually sweep the audience up. But the real power of the script comes from the story of the two mothers, as Richards and Rowlins both find the cores of their characters. Rowlins sheds light on the surprisingly convincing motivation of a devout Jihadist, and while Liss' script attempts to focus more on a discussion of the maternal instinct, it's far more interesting to consider that religious zealotry trumps all inherent tendencies. The MET Theatre, 1089 N. Oxford Ave.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; through Dec. 18; (800) 838-3006. (Rebecca Haithcoat)
POSING STRAP PIRATES Playwright Michael Van Duzer pays affectionate homage to the gay pulp novels and physique magazines of the 1950s and '60s. Nubile young Buck Toye (David Robert May) is aboard the ship Dorian Gray when it's captured by pirate captain Rake Matelot (flamboyantly hammy Kerr Seth Lordygan). Matelot immediately falls in love/lust with Buck, while Buck is equally smitten with cabin-boy Beau Ideal (Jeffrey Patrick Olson). Eventually they all strip down to the mandatory posing straps. This should amuse lovers of gay camp, but others may find it heavy-handed and predictable. Eclectic Company Theatre, 5312 Laurel Canyon Blvd., Valley Village; Fri.-Sat., 10 p.m.; Thurs., 8 p.m., through Dec. 10. (818) 508-3003, eclecticcompanytheatre.org. (Neal Weaver)
THE SECOND COMING: A ONE-WOMAN COMEDY OF BIBLICAL PROPORTIONS Imagine Erma Bombeck collaborating with Judy Chicago on a rewrite of Genesis and you'll have an idea of the whimsical feminist flavors in solo-performer Sherry Glaser's genial revision of the Judeo-Christian creation myth. According to the Gospel of Glaser, the Great Mother Goddess -- call her Ma -- has returned after a 5,000-year nap to set the biblical record straight: Her husband, God, did not create the cosmos alone. Ma's unlikely choice of a prophet is Miguel (Glaser in a moustache and soul patch), a 42-year-old waiter, who, aided by a bottle of tequila, physically transforms into Ma (Glaser in a spandex body suit), to spread Her word. Glaser, who is built like the Venus of Willendorf, certainly fills the bill. Yet while her Yiddish-spouting, Jewish-mother divinity is always amusing, the evening lacks the sharp edges needed for laugh-out-loud comedy. Gail Feldman directs. Two Roads Theater, 4348 Tujunga Ave., Studio City; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m., Sun., 2 p.m.; through Dec. 18. (818) 762-2282, tworoadsgallery.com. (Bill Raden)