Category: Theater

Martin McDonagh’s ‘Inishmaan’ dark comedy hurts so good in Torrance

Sticks and stones can break our bones, but words hurt more, in Martin McDonagh’s dark comedy “The Cripple of Inishmaan.”The sticks and stones are wielded by these all-too-human characters, but the more-damaging cruelty is in what they say to one another.And even when they try to be kind, the harm they may be doing might be worse than that caused by unsparing words.The time is decades ago, the place an island off the Irish coast, and the characters quirky, but the story feels strikingly immediate in the play’s production at Torrance Theatre Company.

They hire Babbybobby (Jonathan Fisher) to row them over.But Johnnypateenmike, who tends his 90-year-old Mammy (Christi Lynch) by pouring whiskey into her, might have gotten details of the film shoot and other bits of “news” he spreads rather wrong. Billy and Helen insist on heading to the filming location, certain stardom awaits them. But she is busy trading those kisses around town for products and services.The play’s plot is set in motion when news comes, via the town busybody Johnnypateenmike (John Ogden), that a film crew from Hollywood has landed on the neighboring island to make a movie. Billy longs for a kiss from the town’s prettiest girl, Helen (Alberie Rachele Hansen).
But his soul is even more damaged, as he has spent his life believing his parents didn’t want him because of his physical limitations.He lives with his Aunt Eileen (Shirley Hatton) and Aunt Kate (Virginia Brown), who run the local grocery. Eileen copes with life by sneakily stress-eating the store’s latest shipments of candy, and Kate calms herself through conversations with stones she lovingly cups in her hands. It centers on Cripple Billy (Kawika Aguilar), a good-hearted young man whose hand is paralyzed and who walks with a limp.

Sasha Stewart Miller directs, leaving no stone unturned. She brings out whatever truths to glean about each character, and her staging puts the action together like a jigsaw puzzle.That action leaps from store to moored rowboat to bedside, on scenic designer Mark Wood’s compact, sturdy, effective set, mistily lit by Katy Streeter of StreetLite LLC.McDonagh writes in levels of meaning and knotted plot twists. By the play’s end, the audience might be growing less certain about who has done what and why.

★★&#x2605&#x2605When: 8 p.m. on April 20; no performances Easter weekend, April 15-16).Where: Torrance Theatre, 1316 Cabrillo Ave., Torrance.Tickets: $30.Suitability: Audiences are cautioned about “adult language and content.”Length: 2 hours, 40 minutes, including intermission.Information: 424-243-6882, (Additional performance 8 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays, through April 23.

It’s ‘King Lear’ with a twist at Pasadena’s A Noise Within

It is an interesting new spin on Shakespeare’s “King Lear” to look at the downfall of this unwise ruler from the lens of Alzheimer’s disease. That is what director Julia Rodriguez-Elliott does in the production now in repertory at A Noise Within.It turns the focus almost exclusively on Lear and allows for his admittedly conniving daughters to seem legitimate in their frustrations and outrage with him (at least at first). As someone who has watched a parent dissolve into this dreaded disease, I can say that the concept makes for interesting conversation.
★★&#x2605When: In repertory through May 6; 7:30 p.m. Foothill Blvd., Pasadena.Tickets: From $44, $20 student rush.Length: 2 hours and 40 minutes, with intermission.Suitability: Some violence and onstage blood.Information: 626-356-3100, April 8, 14, 23 and May 5; 2 p.m. April 13 and May 4; 8 p.m. April 8, 23 and May 6.Where: A Noise Within, 3352 E.

Freddy Douglass radiates evil in every tone as the deadly Edmund, and Rafael Goldstein handles desperation well as the maligned Edgar. Trisha Miller and Arie Thompson advance the two older sisters from a radiation of privilege and power to a sense of self-focused obsessive, destructive behavior. In this they are matched by Jeremy Rabb as Regan’s noble, but easily vicious husband, while Christopher Franciosa provides an increasingly empowered foil for Goneril as her equally high-ranking spouse. Still, as expected, Elliot uses Shakespearean language as if it were his own, and consistently stays true to the concept of this particular form of human disintegration.Indeed, the cast itself is splendid. Finally, this interpretation leaves Elliott’s Lear without much room to expand. By making him significantly altered even at the start, he blossoms into what becomes (in this interpretation) an unreasoning fury so early that the rest of his long journey becomes a certain amount of emotional station-keeping.
It could (though actually does not) make a uniquely wrenching star turn for Geoff Elliott in the title role, but at what cost? When he insists his daughters say how much they love him, he gets two fulsome answers and one honest, practical one, and turns on this last as a sign of disrespect. Thus, he hands over power to the two women who have his interests least at heart, and their own greed at the fore. However, when taken as a whole, to dismiss his behavior as the result of this condition is to negate much of the rest of what Shakespeare has to say about familial love, envy and lust for power. Having ruled his country with intensely loyal people around him, he is used to expecting richly voiced praise. He becomes an inconvenience, and they whittle away at his dignity and even ability to defend himself until there is nothing left. It is too easy on Lear, for one thing, and twists the focus away from other important themes.Essentially, Lear is a foolish man.

Madness, thus, becomes a thing of circumstance, playing on a weak mind but not on a disabled one, as one can tell when he comes to himself toward the play’s end.In the ANW production, this last thing is made tricky by the disease itself, one which is emphasized over and over by projections of MRIs of slices of the brain, which add color to the intentionally bleak set. It also makes the dogged, sacrificial devotion to Lear by the banished Earl of Kent make less sense, and it makes the king’s Fool occasionally rather superfluous. When you descend into Alzheimers, you forget who you are. No coming back from that.Still, the larger loss is to the importance of and subtext about the moral decay present in daughters Goneril and Regan, and in the villainous Edmund, who determinedly destroys his legitimate brother Edgar and his father, the Earl of Gloucester.


With Trump’s rhetoric as a muse, ‘Building the Wall’ reveals some construction defects

Mondays, through May 21.Where: Fountain Theatre, 5060 Fountain Ave., Los Angeles.Tickets: $15-$35 (avoid sitting at house right, where sightlines may be impeded).Suitability: Teens and adults for intense subject matter.Length: 90 minutes.Information: 323-663-1525, ★★&#x2605When: 8 p.m. Sundays, 8 p.m. Saturdays, 2 p.m.

Schenkkan postulates our nation in 2019. Trump’s notions of curtailing immigration and deporting immigrants have become fully fledged policies and then grown monstrous.And as always seems to happen, a hardworking family man, ultimately responsible for horrific deaths in the tens of thousands, was only following orders.We meet this man, Rick (Bo Foxworth), after he has been tried and convicted and sits in a Texas prison, apparently awaiting a death sentence. A history professor, Gloria (Judith Moreland), is prepared to interview him, to hear the story his lawyers didn’t let him tell during his trial. Here it packs punch after punch.
Moreland is softer and less confident, and Foxworth brighter and more introspective, than they could have been in stereotypical portrayals of their “types.”But Schenkkan took an easy way out, putting an interviewer in an interrogation room for the purpose of prompting the prisoner to tell his story. Michael Michetti directs. In the playwright’s haste, he gave Gloria such ungainly lines as “What did they say?” and “What did you say?” He maintains suspense yet keeps the interview relatively balanced, even between this academic woman and the Southern, squarely blue-collar man who was squeezed up the ranks.Under Michetti’s helmsmanship, the characters are multidimensional.
Unlike other plays that are about a real-life person but speak metaphorically or use a pseudonym, “Building the Wall” refers to Donald Trump by name and by policy.This 90-minute work, by Robert Schenkkan (“The Kentucky Cycle,” “All the Way,” “Hacksaw Ridge”), hides behind nothing.Though Schenkkan is a Pulitzer- and Tony-winning playwright, his premiere of this work is at Hollywood’s tiny but mighty Fountain Theatre, which repeatedly attracts world-renowned playwrights. The current collaboration resulted from friendships and fleet-footedness. Schenkkan reportedly wanted the piece on the boards quickly, having written it in one week, and artistic director Stephen Sachs at the Fountain was able to provide the time slot as well as a superb slate of designers.
He served his country honorably in the Army, then went into private-prison management, where Trump spotted him and asked him to head detentions that would lead to deportations. That’s the audience’s first clue that this work may need a firm-handed rewrite. The politics and logistics involved are the subjects of Schenkkan’s storytelling, as they head down a dark, dangerous and strikingly familiar path.Gloria tells him they have very limited time for this interview, but somehow the black Gloria gets to talking about her background and her reactions to racial insensitivities.



Long Beach’s Garage Theatre launches season of ‘resistance’

Long Beach’s Garage Theatre is launching a season of “resistance.”Its four-play season starts on March 31 with the dark comedy “Stupid …Bird,” whose profane middle word of the title cannot be printed here.The play, written by Aaron Posner, is an adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s 1895 classic “The Seagull.” It runs at the black box theater through April 29.In Posner’s imaginative and somewhat anarchic version, the action is centered in 21st century America and revolves around an aspiring playwright named Con who wants to create a new form of theater while questioning the meaning and need of the art form.

“It certainly has comedic elements, but it’s also profound as well,” said longtime company member Paul Knox, who portrays Trig. “It kind of hits all the notes.” Besides liking the boldness of the title, director Matthew Anderson said he was drawn to the piece by all the deep questions it raises about love, life, the purpose of theater and about the need to create. “And what it all comes down to is love and passion and why people do anything.” “What is so compelling about it is that it is so digestible, and it deals with real feelings and real struggles we all have,” Anderson said.
1, the company presents the premiere of David Finnigan’s satirical play “Kill Climate Deniers.” And since the play looks at the resistance of theater as an art form when it’s categorized as irrelevant, the play also sets the right tone for the season.“All of our plays that we’re doing this year have some sort of resistance theme,” Anderson said.The company will follow “Stupid … Bird” with “The Balcony,” which opens June 23.Anderson describes this play as a tale about the power of sex, money and those who hold that power.Then on Sept.

Seventh St., Long Beach.Tickets: $15-$20.Information: 8 p.m. March 31. When: Opens 8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays through April 29.Where: Garage Theatre, 251 E.
Bird Stupid …

He wants to make art but doesn’t quite get it right.” But things become more complicated as it’s revealed that everyone in the house is in love with someone else in the group, and they all end up questioning relationships, the idea of love and the need for art. “He doesn’t know how to focus his art and his feelings. “If you ever wanted to make art in your life, you’re going to relate to this guy,” said actor Joey Millin, referring to his character, Con. She’s a famous actress named Emma who has gathered a collection of friends, family members and her boyfriend, the famous writer Trig, at her house to see a play. He’s not only out to rebel against old ideas but also against his mother.


‘An American in Paris’ recalls the 1951 cinema classic at the Pantages

The musical theater version of “An American in Paris” is somewhat the same as the 1951 Oscar-winning film version. Adam Hochberg (Etai Benson), an American in Paris but not the American of the title, sets the scene and serves as host and sometimes narrator. If, however, you have favorite songs or Parisian backgrounds or styles of dance from the film, you might find they’re not in the stage version’s national tour, currently at the Pantages Theatre.Replacing them, however, are other gorgeous George and Ira Gershwin songs, an astonishing state-of-the-art scenic design, and ballet numbers also updated in style and technique.The musical’s book, by Craig Lucas, starts dark for a moment, but that darkness haunts the story for those who want to still feel it. Frankly, some of us miss him when he’s not onstage.
Sunday through April 9.Where: Hollywood Pantages Theatre, 6233 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles.Tickets: $35-$149.Length: 2 hrs. ★★★&#xbdWhen: 8 p.m. Saturday, 1 and 6:30 p.m. and 45 mins., including intermission.Suitability: Ages 6 and up. Children younger than 5 will not be admitted to the theater.Information: 800-982-2787, Tuesday–Friday, 2 and 8 p.m.

Unlike the film, in which Adam’s fantasies revolved around his career as a musician, here he likewise falls for Lise. If you adored the Gershwin sound in its original form and George Gershwin’s original piano versions of the pieces included here, you might disagree with the Tony voters. Adding conflict, another female voice to the score, and a reason for even more costumes that prove eye-popping — mostly in a good way — is the wealthy art patron Milo (Emily Ferranti).Christopher Austin and Bill Elliott’s orchestrations won a Tony Award.

One of them is, to Henri’s surprise and ours, is exceedingly proud of Henri. But the tunes are as jazzy and joyous as could be, and the dancing is superlative. Esty, formerly a soloist with Miami City Ballet (as is her alternate, her twin sister Leigh-Ann Esty), and Scribner, formerly a soloist with San Francisco Ballet and Nederlands Dans Theater, look perfect in the modern-dance, jazz-infused ballets, choreographed by the show’s extraordinarily imaginative director, Christopher Wheeldon.The dancing even builds to a spectacular musical-theater number, not for Jerry nor Lise but instead for Henri, who is rather awkward in his local nightclub debut, but who imagines himself the star at Radio City Music Hall, dancing to “I’ll Build a Stairway to Paradise.” His parents (Gayton Scott, Don Noble) happen by and see him performing.
It’s the end of World War II. She’s Lise (Sara Esty), she’s lovely, and of course we later find out that she feels obligated to marry the stiff but secretly heroic Henri (Nick Spangler). The Nazis are vanquished, marshal law is no more. But Parisians don’t know how to behave, whom to trust with their secrets that are not quite ripe for telling.Jerry Mulligan (Garen Scribner) has been a G.I. He’s now ready to head back stateside. Suddenly he spots a girl, and in a coup de foudre decides to stay in Paris.



Review: In ‘Carousel,’ a sad tale of doomed love goes round and round

Rodgers & Hammerstein have written some of the most heart-wrenching musicals ever to grace the American stage, none more tragic or poignant than “Carousel.”Its romantic protagonists are ashamed to admit their love for each other, and the story, based on Ferenc Molnar’s 1909 play “Liliom,” is as cruel, stark and unforgiving as any R&H opus: The hero slaps his girlfriend around, plans a violent robbery when he discovers she’s pregnant, and fatally stabs himself to avoid police capture.As Musical Theatre West’s revival proves, “Carousel” is R&H’s most moving show — as heartfelt as “South Pacific” or “The King and I” but minus much of the schmaltz.

Sundays, 6 p.m. Sunday, 8 p.m. 4; Thursday.Where: Richard and Karen Carpenter Performing Arts Center, 6200 E. Atherton St., Long Beach.Tickets: $17-$95.Length: 3 hrs.Suitability: All ages.Information: 562-856-1999, ext. Fridays, 2 and 8 p.m. ★★★&#xbdWhen: Through April 9. 8 p.m. Saturdays, 1 p.m.
The bulk of the actors deliver spot-on New England/Maine dialects, in pleasing contrast to Carpenter’s New Yorkese as Billy, who hails from Coney Island.Billy Bigelow is one of theater’s most ambivalent characters, a roustabout who wants to turn his life around and do right by Julie but isn’t up to the task. In Carpenter’s hands, this casually flirty ladies man is foolhardy, yet hard to dislike – brimming with bravado that’s mostly a pose. MTW’s staging fairly crackles with tension and atmosphere, and it doesn’t hurt that the show’s book and dialogue favor realism over artifice.

Mullin and Jeff Skowron as Jigger Craigin – but that only partly explains its considerable strengths. In fact, MTW’s revival is beautifully directed by Joe Langworth, music-directed by Dennis Castellano and choreographed by Daniel Smith for maximum dramatic and musical impact.The staging’s success is bolstered by top-notch lead performances – Doug Carpenter and Amanda Leigh Jerry as doomed lovers Billy Bigelow and Julie Jordan; Amanda Hootman and Justin Cowden as Carrie Pipperidge and Enoch Snow; and Sarah Uriarte Berry as Nettie Fowler, Erica Hanrahan-Ball as Mrs.

Karen St. Mullin and Billy and her antagonism toward Julie and Carrie. Pierre’s costumes cover two distinct eras — 1879 and 1894 — and two distinct social classes — the workaday sailors, fishermen and mill workers of a small Maine coastal town, and their wealthier neighbors.The opening scene introduces the characters as they interact in pantomime to the haunting “Carousel Waltz,” its climax shrewdly using the stage’s turntable to create the illusion of a working carousel, replete with colorfully painted horses.Director Langworth doesn’t overplay the show’s comedic aspects — “Carousel” is, after all, essentially a late 19th-century soap opera; he sets the stage early on by playing the light comedy, yet ratcheting up the palpable tension between Mrs.


Trump and Obama: ‘Transition’ finds the funny and frightful in an Oval Office meet-up

Sometimes the conversation seems completely, chillingly, real; sometimes it’s hilariously unreal.Pete Hickok’s set includes Obama’s rug into which was woven Martin Luther King’s quote: “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” Trump wants a sign on his Oval Office desk that reads, “The buck starts here.” That’s how the balance between these two starts out. They discuss pretty much everything we’d imagine: gun control, health care, tweeting, fast food inside the White House, real estate and Elizabeth Warren.

Sure, the piece feels like a long comedy sketch. His facial features may more resemble those of George W. Bush, but Murphy has captured the breathing patterns, facial expressions and hand gestures of Trump.Joshua Wolf Coleman portrays Obama, perfectly matching our former president’s vocal quality, speech cadences and physical tics. But that sketch is well-rendered by all involved.Under Lee Costello’s direction, the comedy stays out of the danger zone of ludicrousness, even when the situation doesn’t.Harry S. Murphy plays Donald Trump, yes under a wig of thick, golden, carefully tended hair.
But these performances are not just Vegas impressions. Though onstage infrequently, he displays crisp comedic timing and a few looks that could kill — but don’t, because no one involved is suborning a homicide. Really.But Richmond is in the leadership position here, and he gives us something we might not expect.He starts with audios of Obama calling Trump “unfit” and Trump calling Obama “a disaster.” And then we see the two as they’re now obligated to graciously come face to face in the Oval Office — starting with Trump’s oft-mocked handshake. They get to the crux of these men, particularly Coleman, as Obama finds his world and ours turned on end.Trevor Alkazian portrays a presidential aide.
Friday-Saturday, 3 p.m. ★★&#x2605When: 8 p.m. Sunday (dark today), through April 16.Where: Lounge Theatre, 6201 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles.Length: 85 mins., no intermission.Suitability: Teens and adults.Tickets: $25.Information: 323-960-4418,

In it, Richmond imagines what was said at that historic meeting, and his version is probably as close to the real-life goings-on as we’ll get in the near future. To borrow from a previous administration, this much is known known.What’s not known, and won’t be known until the lure of a tell-all book is too much for one of them to resist, is what they revealed to each other as they interacted there, just the two of them, in the presumably wiretap-free Oval Office.Right now, though, we have Ray Richmond’s world premiere comedy “Transition,” at West Hollywood’s Lounge Theatre through April 16. 10, 2016, President Barack Obama and President-elect Donald Trump met for nearly 90 minutes at the White House. By Dany MargoliesOn Nov.



Renaissance Pleasure Faire tips and tricks from real wenches, knights and fools

Arrow Highway, Irwindale.Tickets: $29.95 adults, $15 children 5-12 and free for children under 5.Information: 626-969-4750, When: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays April 8-May 21.Where: Santa Fe Dam Recreation Area, 15501 E.

Sportive Tricks is a folk-rock group with Irish influences that offers original and traditional tunes. Adults seeking something a little more rowdy and bawdy can visit Rogue’s Reef to take in the wonderful singing and fun antics of the Poxy Boggards or the saucy grrrl power of the Merry Wives of Windsor. Best play or show: MooNie the Magnif’Cent, classic clowning and slack-rope work, and Broon, stand-up comedy while juggling bowling balls and eating fire, are both very entertaining and suitable for the whole family. The theater troupe Sound & Fury offers comic genre parody plays and invites audience participation.Best music performance: If you are seeking traditional sounds, Glen Morgan plays a mean hammer dulcimer and Ad Hoc Consort performs real Renaissance music on instruments of the time period.
If you want to meet the Queen in person, have tea with her at 4 p.m. daily, $26 adults, $13 children, reservations required Gamers’ Row has challenges and prizes for upper grades and teens. Get an overview of the shire on RenQuest, an interactive adventure for all ages. Best children’s and family activities: Toddlers through grade schoolers can find fun, like the Gnome Hunt, “Beauty and the Beast” onstage, and digging in the sandbox for pirate treasure, at Kids’ Kingdom. If you need a little quiet time, visit Queen’s College, which has traditionally-based crafts for all ages.Best way to see the Queen: Sure, you can fight the throng of those trying to get a peek at Her Highness as she travels through the streets to her appointments, but you can be assured of a better view during the daily Queen’s Show.

Healthy eaters will savor the Greek booth’s gyros dished out by ever-cheerful servers, plus there are also sandwiches for both meat lovers and vegans. Top one off with a plate of bacon-wrapped poppers from the Food Court. Best food: Hearty eaters will like the meat pies served near the top of Gamers’ Row, as they are easy to eat, have a good crust and can be doused with brown sauce. For something sweet, try Sin-on-a-Stick, a frozen wedge of chocolate-covered cheesecake on a stick, or on a hot afternoon refresh yourself with a fruit ice in flavors like orange, lemon, pineapple, mango and coconut at the top of the Food Court.

With so much to see, do and eat, we asked a panel of experts — that is, Faire performers — to give us their tips for a great day. As well, you can always pack a cooler with supplies to leave in the car (coolers aren’t allowed in) and stock it with food and cool drinks that you can go out and consume after getting your hand stamped. ‘Tis spring, which means maidens, wenches, knights and fools are heading to the Original Renaissance Pleasure Faire in Irwindale April 8-May 21. Before we get to those, we must first encourage you to bring sunscreen, hats, water (you can bring in one unopened bottle per person, or an empty cup to fill at a fountain) as well as snacks (you should check ahead as the Faire limits what you can bring inside — see here — but you can bring items if you have special dietary needs or need to bring baby food).


‘Treasure Island’ offers surprise treats at Long Beach Playhouse

Sundays through May 6. Anaheim St., Long Beach. Preview show 8 p.m. When: Opens 8 p.m. April 8. Shows are 8 p.m. Where: Long Beach Playhouse, 5021 E. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Information: 562-494-104 or Tickets: $10 for preview, $27 opening night, $14-$24 thereafter. April 7.

“I think it makes it a lot more interesting.” It certainly makes things better for the story, too, says Erik Celso Mann, who plays Long John Silver.“We kind of hype that up in the story, showing how women are equally strong or even better than men,” he said. It’s just stretching history a little but not a whole lot,” Jones said. While Willmott’s adaptation stays true to the classic tale, this time there are just as many women pirates as there are men. “There were women pirates back then, so it wasn’t an usual thing. “The deadliest pirate in this play is a female, and you wouldn’t want to mess with her.”

This familiar tale, presented by the swashbucklers at the Long Beach Playhouse, has a bit of a twist.“If they’re familiar with the story, I hope they say this was a great way of telling that story,” said Dale Jones, who is directing Phil Willmott’s 2005 adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s 19th century classic “Treasure Island.”The play opens April 8 on the Playhouse’s Mainstage Theater and runs through May 6.The high-seas tale follows 14-year-old Jim Hawkins, a treasure map and his quest for adventure aboard the Hispaniola along with Long John Silver and his band of pirates. Ahoy, mateys! A pirate’s tale is coming to Long Beach.But shiver me timbers!

Mann will look extra cool when he plays Long John Silver, because he’ll be sporting a solid pirate beard that he grew even before he got the part. Months before even hearing about the play, the Long Beach resident decided to start growing a beard, and it was already pretty long when he heard about the show.“I was a the doctor’s office and I looked up just thinking, ‘God give me a role that fits what I look like now.’ Then I saw the ad (for auditions) as I said that on my phone,” he said with a laugh.

The pirate costumes are really cool, too.” The lead role of Jim Hawkins also went to a female, who at the age of 12 is already a company veteran. “I get to play with like swords and stuff, and it’s a really cool set,” she said. Carmel Artstein, who appeared as Tiny Tim in the 2015 production of “A Christmas Carol,” will portray a boy again when she takes on the role of Jim.For Artstein the play is fun on many levels, in particular because she’s in the middle of a pirate adventure. “I’ve seen the costumes.


‘Man of La Mancha’ gets a time, location reset by A Noise Within in Pasadena

Foothill Blvd., Pasadena.Tickets: From $25.Running time: 1 hr., 50 min. April 16 and 30, May 21; 8 p.m. with no intermission.Suitability: Not for young children due to violence and sexual situations.Information: 626-356-3100, today, May 6, 12 and 13; 2 p.m. matinees April 16, 22 and 30, May 7, 13 and 21.Where: A Noise Within, 3352 E. ★★&#x2605When: Through May 21; 7 p.m.

As musical director Dr. Indeed, a work like “Julius Caesar,” about ancient Roman politics, has been reset by various great companies in Mussolini’s Italy, in JFK’s America, or even in a dystopian future without losing its integrity. As a consistent modern interpreter of Shakespeare, ANW co-Artistic Director Julia Rodriguez-Elliott knows this. So, her decision that “La Mancha” can handle the same treatment seems particularly apt.What may be less wise on Rodriguez-Elliott’s part arises from the demands of this particular work. Melissa Sky-Eagle states up front, “Despite the folk-inspired nature of the music itself, the voices required (in “Man of La Mancha”) need to be almost operatic in nature.”
There he must defend himself against the other prisoners, who are out to steal what goods he has. He does so by enacting for them the tale he carries in a manuscript — the manuscript for his finest work, “Don Quixote de La Mancha.” Don Miguel de Cervantes, the poet, playwright and novelist seen by many as the Spanish equivalent (at least in literary impact) to William Shakespeare, has been thrown into prison by the Inquisition while awaiting trial. This creates an imbalance which sometimes distracts from not only the original message of the show, but the additional intent of this new staging.The story is, of course, a story-within-a-story. While many of the performers — a number of them new to ANW — are very much up to this demand, some of ANW’s stock players are not, really.

Yet, it is one of the hallmarks of a theatrical work that it can stand up to being reset, both in time and location. When one first hears that A Noise Within has reset the powerful 1960s musical “Man of La Mancha” in a modern prison in the developing world, it can make one nervous. The new physical trappings of the tale can inform a wider understanding of the impact of the piece, even if the actual language stays the same. After all, it is based not only on one of the great works of international literature, but a historical figure who actually did end up imprisoned by the Inquisition for a segment of time.How can one take the piece out of its historical context?
Rather, Don Quixote and Sancho ride mops as if they were hobby horses. For one, there is no dancing and thus no faux horse and mule. Interrupted on occasion by the guards, he pulls his hearers into his story, both literally — to create the needed characters — and figuratively, as they come to appreciate his view of the world.For those who know more traditional productions of this work, there are a few things missing. And that transformative moment when Cervantes becomes Quixote is dulled a bit, in that this Cervantes already has so much facial hair there is little need to add much. The props are less things that Cervantes has brought with him, and more found objects from the prison itself.


Tennessee Williams’ ‘Cat on a Hot Tin Roof’ is a double shot for Antaeus Theatre Company

Maggie, who sets the tone and offers pages of exposition at the top of the play, is portrayed by Rebecca Mozo and Linda Park.Mozo’s Maggie is a relentlessly chatty, egotistic, glamorous celebutante. Brick is in the room, but it could be anyone, as long as she has an audience. In Antaeus’ signature style, the production is double cast, presenting different actor pairings at each performance. Park’s Maggie talks because she believes Brick will eventually listen, and she keeps looking for eye contact from him.
This couple is having, politely put, marital issues, and being under the family’s scrutiny day and night isn’t helping.The more the self-centered Maggie opens her mouth to rage about Brick’s coldness and their failure to have children, the more Brick retreats into Echo Spring, Williams’ gorgeously ironic brand name for Brick’s favorite bourbon. Williams didn’t set the entire play in Brick and Maggie’s bedroom, then have the extended family, plus physician and minister, traipse through, by accident.

Thursdays-Fridays, 2 and 8 p.m. (Allow time to find parking; some public lots post 3-hour limits.)Tickets: $30-$34.Length: 3 hours, including two intermissions.Suitability: Mature teens and adults, for situations, language and nudity.Information: 818-506-1983, 110 E. Broadway, Glendale. ★★★&#xbdWhen: 8 p.m. Sundays, through May 7.Where: Kiki & David Gindler Performing Arts Center. Saturdays, 2 p.m.

It’s stunning, then, to see how deep Philips goes, what a lifetime of an emotional well he has plunged Brick into and what dark, angry layers he comes back up with.The freshly showered Brick drops his towel mid-scene. As Ross Philips plays him, opposite Mozo, at first we wonder if the young actor has anything to offer the character, so withdrawn is the portrayal. In neither case does it get a perceptible reaction from Maggie. It’s a taunt when Philips does it, our first hint that this Brick is not a dullard. It’s careless when Bess does it. The way Daniel Bess has created Brick, paired with Park at the performances reviewed, this young husband doesn’t exactly hate Maggie, but he can’t crank up any feeling for her. Considering how so much else of what Brick does sets off an avalanche of reactions in her, this seeming failure to notice is baffling.
Like an abandoned lover, the double bed at the center of Brick and Maggie’s bedroom seems to writhe and cry out in loneliness, in Antaeus Theatre Company’s production of “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.” But, as does the play, it harbors secrets, too many of which are still unrevealed by the play’s end.Tennessee Williams wrote this Pulitzer Prize winner in the 1950s, yet as it unfolds here, under Cameron Watson’s direction, these characters are people we know, suffering agonies we still experience.They’re hiding, though, under societal expectations and stylized theatricality. At the end of the play’s three hours, we can only look longingly at them and wish we had an unornamented few minutes alone with each.


Review: Dated ‘Complete History of Comedy (abridged)’ hits highs, lows at the Falcon

There are also slide shows illustrating what is, and what isn’t funny. For the most part, these work too, though some seem a bit forced. The best of what follows is a true homage to the history of comedy: the introduction (to many) of the characters in commedia del arte, including use of an actual slapstick, definitions of various “takes,” burlesque silliness, visual comedy of various kinds, and the recurring gag of potential attack with cream pies. There are sendups of medieval Catholicism, modern politics, and even an homage to Chekhov, whose wry comic takes on the self-absorption of the Russian aristocracy were produced as if they were tragedies.
Wednesdays-Saturdays, 4 p.m. Sundays.Where: The Falcon Theatre, 4252 Riverside, Burbank.Tickets: $30-$45.Running time: 2 hours with intermission.Suitability: Includes sexual and scatological references.Information: 818-955-8101, ★&#x2605When: Through April 23, 8 p.m.

The best-known is the wildly funny “Complete Works of Shakespeare (abridged),” which even had them falling out of their chairs in London. The comic playwriting team of Reed Martin and Austin Tichenor has created several funny sendups of classics, known as the “Complete (abridged)” plays. Thus, a chance to see their more recent concoction, “The Complete History of Comedy (abridged)” here in the Los Angeles area seemed a no-brainer.Now at the Falcon Theatre, it has another hallmark, being the last show of the last season orchestrated by Falcon founder, the late Garry Marshall, himself no slouch in the comedy department.


But there is a lot of dated material. There are other references to personalities only the older members of the audience will remember with that detail, particularly Joseph McCarthy (or Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy, for that matter) and Richard Nixon.Indeed, between this and the need to resolve the “who is the man in the bowler hat” scenario, the second act begins to drag and a lot of it simply becomes unfunny. For example, a big musical number about the Supreme Court makes fun of a very alive Antonin Scalia, though he has been dead for over a year.
Sadly, though there are a number of funny moments, this “Complete History …” does not quite hold up. Well-performed by a trio of very talented, high-energy and versatile actors, it still suffers from two essential flaws: a convoluted and unfunny construct, which becomes the show’s driving force and supposed aim, and too little material that is funny enough (or not too dated) to power a full two acts of performance.First, the construct: Supposedly a famous Chinese manuscript written by the brother of “The Art of War” writer Sun Tsu, called “The Art of Comedy” (by Ah Tsu … get it?) has been uncovered in a trunk, though it is missing its final chapter. Presenting this fictitious book, and trying to figure out its final chapter, becomes the focus of the show, leading to the uncovering of the identity of the bowler-hatted mystery force that brought the book to light. The discovery was made thanks to guidance from a mysterious man in a bowler hat and clown nose.


A wonderful cast highlights ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ at Claremont’s Candlelight Pavilion

As it moved quickly to stage, and then to film, it developed a new, wider audience, and the show has rarely been off the boards since.Now at the Candlelight Pavilion Dinner Theater in Claremont, “Jesus Christ Superstar” — for those who don’t already know — gives a comparatively modern spin to the tale of the last few weeks of Jesus’ life. Though ostensibly “humanizing” the story (i.e.: making it more about the man than a deity), it stays fairly faithful to the commonly held storyline, while embracing what is always a dramatist’s challenge: finding a motivation for Judas’ betrayal. The first major splash made by the songwriting team of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber was a 1971 concept rock opera album titled “Jesus Christ Superstar.”For many of my generation, that was how we first encountered this work, allowing our imaginations to fill in what the characters looked like and the setting they would wander through. And the music is literally classic Lloyd Webber: lush in spots, stridently rock ’n’roll in others, somewhat thematically repetitive, with that unforgettable quality which has kept him a success for decades.

One just wishes that the shadow of his final demise looked a bit more like a person, but that is nitpicking. Bermudez has the combination of vocal strength and articulation necessary for what becomes the binding storyline behind the obvious. A remarkable ensemble, including Orlando Montes as Peter, sings well, dances with enthusiasm and skill, and creates the atmospheres necessary — whether of fawning, devotion, delight, demand, or panic — to make the piece work.A true standout in all of this is Richard Bermudez as the angsty Judas, angry and horrified, and in the end sure he’s been duped into his actions.

Pacing is everything in this show, and band director Alan Waddington never lets the thing slow down or pause. Indeed, the final tableau as the lights go out is particularly powerful. Putting a band on the small Candlelight stage means the large ensemble must be maneuvered with skill in front of and even above the musicians at times, which works remarkably well except when someone in a long robe has to climb a ladder in a hurry — a bit nerve-wracking to watch.Still, the two directors have a gift for the visual, and some moments prove especially impressive, including the very last sequence, as Jesus is executed.

for lunch matinees Saturday-Sunday.Where: Candlelight Pavilion Dinner Theater, 455 W. Sunday, and 11 a.m. Friday-Saturday, 5 p.m. Foothill Blvd., Claremont.Tickets: $61-$76 adults, $30-$35 children, meals inclusive.Running time: 2 hrs., including intermission (but not time for the meal).Suitability: Best for older children and up.Information: 909-626-1254, ext. 100; ★★&#x2605When: Through April 29; doors open for dinner at 6 p.m.

Heading that list, Kyle Short makes an effective Jesus, balancing his dynamism against his exhaustion and fear. Emily Chelsea gives Mary Magdalene’s songs a slight country lilt, but it works.Stanton Kane Morales as Pontius Pilate develops a rather wistful tone, which works well. Camilo Castro, a true bass, gives Caiaphas the aura of villainy necessary for this show’s spin on events. At Candlelight, co-directors Chuck Ketter and John LaLonde have assembled a fine cast. They look right, sing with skill and intention, and create the atmosphere necessary for the show to be a success.Also necessary for success are a few key players.


Stephen Sondheim classic ‘Into the Woods’ gets classic treatment at the Ahmanson

If anything, the net result proves the power of the work itself: “Into the Woods,” with its fatalistic take on fairy tales, has such a finely constructed core, and such an engrossing story to tell, that it doesn’t need all the elaborate trappings of a more standard Broadway musical to be a success. Indeed, stripped of some of the froth, it proves more powerful than before.This is, in large part due to the vision of directors Noah Brody and Ben Steinfeld, the interwoven individualistic movements created by choreographer Lisa Shriver, and a truly remarkable ensemble cast. Innovative use of simple props, shadows and sound, nonstop energy and movement, all work together to involve the audience, fill the entire stage, and, in the end, make one startled to have sat comfortably and totally engrossed through what is an admittedly long show.

SundaysWhere: The Ahmanson Theatre, 135 N. Grand Ave., Los AngelesTickets: $25-$125Length: 2 hours, 45 minutes, with intermissionSuitability: Not a fairy tale, but should be OK for older childrenInformation: 213-972-4400, Tuesdays-Fridays, 2 and 8 p.m. ★★&#x2605&#x2605When: Through May 14, 8 p.m. Saturdays, 1 and 6:30 p.m.
They give the convoluted tale the Story Theater approach, playing all 18 parts on a single, fanciful set, playing additional musical instruments as needed for emphasis or sound effects. Such is the case with the Fiasco Theater production of James Lapine and Stephen Sondheim’s “Into the Woods,” now at the Ahmanson.Under the inspired direction of Noah Brody and Ben Steinfeld, this usually elaborately staged musical has been stripped down to its essence: 10 performers and a pianist. Every once in a while there comes an opportunity to experience an extraordinarily rich theatrical performance.
One of the wonders of this production — especially at the Ahmanson, where one’s ability to hear can often be dictated by one’s location in the theater — is that every single word is crisp and understandable but at no sacrifice to the artistry of song itself.Still, what strikes one most is the artistry, energy, humor, fluidity and coordination of the ensemble cast. In “Into the Woods,” almost all of what is important to know is sung. And then there are the songs. Evan Harrington and Eleasha Gamble tie the recognizable tales together with one created by Lapine, as a baker and his wife trying to overcome a curse in order to have a child. The two radiate a genuineness that connects the audience to their plight, and their balance of hopefulness and practicality unify the other storylines. Sondheim’s lyrics are always intricate and poetically pointed.

Anthony Chatmon II and Darick Pead play the two prince charmings, as well as Cinderella’s two ugly stepsisters, while Chatmon takes on Red Ridinghood’s wolf, and Pead becomes a true standout as Jack’s cow.Bonne Kramer handles the two sides of motherhood as Cinderella’s stepmother and Jack’s desperate mother, while Patrick Mulryan plays both Jack and an officious steward to Cinderella’s prince. Fred Rose hovers over things as the Mysterious Man, and Stephanie Umoh becomes an impressively balanced and understandable Witch. Lisa Helm Johanson becomes Little Red Ridinghood and Rapunzel, giving both of them their own distinctive goofy innocence. Laurie Veldheer is both a very practical spin on Cinderella, and Red’s granny.


How one machine becomes human in ‘Uncanny Valley’ at O’Neill Theatre

“Although the story is humorous and touching there’s so much to think about and it’s so timely right now because they’re making such progress in this field and so quickly,” desai said. The story is set in the not so distant future when a neuroscientist named Claire creates a “non-biological” being named Julian.The robot is meant to be a vessel for an old rich man who is terminally ill but not ready to die just yet, so instead he has paid millions to have his consciousness downloaded into Julian.Before developing his assigned human consciousness, Julian starts off as just a talking head. He eventually receives a torso, arms and legs while Claire tries to teach him what it means to be human before the download takes place.

Where: Beverly O’Neill Theater, 330 E. Friday with shows at 8 p.m. Preview performances are 8 p.m. Sundays through May 7. Wednesday and Thursday. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. When: Opens 8 p.m. Seaside Way, Long Beach.Information: 562-436-4610,

“They’re kind of dancing around the process of what is the difference between being a machine and being human and the lines begin to get blurred because they start talking about things like what it means to be conscious,” said Susan Denaker, who takes on the role of Claire.The play also wonders just what kind of human Julian will eventually become. “One of the very interesting things the play deals with is that there are kind of combinations,” said Jacob Sidney, who portrays Julian in the production. At first the lessons begin with simple things like shaking hands before they move on to music and even trying to understand humor.

“It’s relevant and something we need to be thinking about,” said caryn desai, ICT’s artistic director and producer who is directing the play that starts Friday and runs through May 7. International City Theatre is continuing its season of thought-provoking but entertaining shows with a play that asks very deep questions about what it means to be human.The Long Beach company will present the Los Angeles premiere of Thomas Gibbons’ “Uncanny Valley,” a play about artificial intelligence that offers a somewhat alarming but still humorous look at what could be ahead for humanity. There are two preview performances Wednesday and Thursday.

The premiere was followed by productions at San Diego Repertory Theatre, InterAct Theatre Company in Philadelphia and Capital Stage in Sacramento. Sidney explains that there are essentially three Julians in the play; one is the machine who can talk and interact before the human consciousness has been downloaded, the second is the consciousness of the old man and the other is something new that’s somewhere in between. “He has the personality and the memories of the old man Julian but he also has the capacity to continue to learn and grow,” Sidney said. The play premiered in New York in 2014 at the Contemporary American Theater Festival as a National New Play Network Rolling World Premiere.



‘Adler & Gibb’ is peculiar theater for a particular audience at the Kirk Douglas in Culver City

Louise is bloated with need and ego, soothed and stoked by her acting coach, Sam (Crouch).Sam and Louise do an acting exercise about trespassing on the retreat built by Adler and her life partner, Margaret Gibb (Gina Moxley). It ponders ownership — of art, artist, representations of art and artist, property, love, life. Adler is the subject of a proposed film, to be enacted by Louise (Cath Whitefield) and bankrolled by her (unseen) betrayed husband. It mocks the cult of the artist, it mocks art criticism. Then they’re either inside Gibb’s home, uninvited and unwanted or imagining they’re there.The script mocks art, but it does so in the most artistic of ways.

Instructing the child throughout this 90-minute work, Jasmine Woodcock-Stewart sits upstage, a microphone in hand, matter-of-factly showing the audience that art is being made with technology and with theater magic. As with all his work, it is not suitable for everyone, nor, probably, is it intended as mass entertainment. It is best enjoyed by those with an interest in theater and culture, or those with a thirst for and willingness to sit through something this different.Before it begins, or perhaps for its beginning, a child (on the night reviewed, the remarkably disciplined and adorable Olivia Abedor) interacts with the audience, handing out props and retrieving them, all based on instructions she hears via headphones.
Jillian Pullara is Student, beginning her academic presentation about art-world icon Janet Adler, who hit the heights in the 1980s, walked away and into obscurity in the 1990s, and died in circumstances prompting ghoulish speculation.Lest you wonder, Adler is fictitious, though you couldn’t prove it by “Adler & Gibb.” She seems real to the audience, perhaps more real than the people trying to describe her, perhaps more real in contrast to Crouch’s deliberately distancing, deconstructed, elliptical and fractured style of storytelling. As in conventional work, we watch an actor apparently playing a character. Then comes a slightly more concrete beginning.
★★&#x2605&#x2605When: 8 p.m. Saturday, 1 and 6:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 2 and 8 p.m. Sunday; ends Sunday.Where: Kirk Douglas Theatre, 9820 Washington Blvd., Culver City.Tickets: $25-$70.Length: 90 minutes.Suitability: Ages 16 and older for mature language, graphic imagery and adult subject matter.Information: 213-628-2772,

It’s co-directed with his frequent collaborators Andy Smith and Karl James. Something is strangely fascinating about “Adler & Gibb,” the latest from the strangely fascinating theatermaker Tim Crouch.In 2010, he brought to Los Angeles “An Oak Tree,” in which Crouch ushers an unprepared actor, different each night, onto the stage and feeds him or her direction and dialogue over earphones. In 2011, Crouch returned with “The Author,” about our various roles in and accountability for the theater.The British iconoclast is back with his 2014 work “Adler & Gibb,” about the nature, making, performing and celebrity of art.


Local performer’s one-woman show asks Long Beach ‘What If?’

For more information go to Tickets for the show are $20 and can reserved by calling 562-433-3363. The Found Theatre is at 599 Long Beach Blvd. — Richard Guzman
Shows are at 7 p.m. 20-21 and 4 p.m. Jan. Jan. The Millikan High School grad founded the Iris Theatre Company in 2009 and worked with Long Beach’s Musical Theatre West as the company’s education/outreach coordinator before leaving to pursue teaching and her one-woman shows. 22. After selling out the Found Theatre last year with her original cabaret show “Coming Home,” Long Beach-born performer Jenny Jacobs is returning to the downtown venue with her new one-woman show called “What If?” The new cabaret combines musical theater songs and American standards with stories from her childhood growing up in Long Beach and traveling abroad.


‘Beauty Queen of Leenane’ reigns at the Mark Taper Forum with charming, yet broken characters

There seems to be a pattern in modern Irish drama — one both constructed by and reflected in the work of playwright Martin McDonagh — of developing characters of great richness and charm, in situations which can appear darkly humorous until these same characters prove invested with fantastically fatal flaws.Such a work is “The Beauty Queen of Leenane,” at the Mark Taper Forum.This production by the Druid theater company of Galway, features essential elements of their premiere of the work in the 1990s: from director, and Druid Artistic Director Garry Hynes (the first woman to win a Tony for directing the New York production of this piece), to award-winning actress Marie Mullen, who created one role in the original production and returns to play another.
Each of these connections, fraught with friction, may lead to either happiness or terror.Central to the piece is Aisling O’Sullivan’s Maureen, edgy and consistently, sharply, seething with resentments. Mag’s interference brings up implications both imaginary and real, as Ray’s immature younger brother Pato is called upon to act as go-between when Ray returns to work in England. Indeed, she manages to make the audience like Mag and despise her all at once. Balancing this sharpness is the wry charm, and devious maneuvering of Mullen’s Mag, the sort of full-body performance (oh, those facial expressions) one can easily recognize as remarkable.

Add to this strong new performances from Druid regulars, and you have a work steeped in modern Irish thought and culture, filled with unforgettable characters recognizable as funny, infuriating and, on occasion, grippingly awful.Maureen Folan, in her 40s, is the sole caregiver to her somewhat hypochondriacal and manipulative mother, Mag. At a celebration nearby, she reconnects with the elder of two brothers from a neighboring farm, Ray, and begins to dream about a life outside of the drudgery of her current situation.

The aura of looming darkness and the moments of lighthearted humor seem likewise to have a sense of natural flow, and her respect for the language itself and the rich roundness of the characters brings with it a deep humanity which connects across all barriers of culture and framework. Aaron Monaghan creates, in Ray, an open, decent man whose straightforward nature provides a profound contrast to the roiling complexities of the Folan household. As the character often central to the comic relief, Marty Rea’s Pato radiates a constant restless energy and an obtuse, silly and selfish view of things which balances out the tensions and deviousness of the rest of the play.Hynes knows these characters from long acquaintance, bringing an organic feel to the play as if it rises out of its very setting, Francis O’Connor’s decayingly gray country cottage.
Tuesday-Friday, 2:30 and 8 p.m. Sunday; continues through Dec. ★★&#x2605&#x2605When: 8 p.m. 18Where: Mark Taper Forum, at the Music Center, 135 N. Saturday, 1 and 6:30 p.m. Grand Ave., Los AngelesTickets: $25-$85Running time: 2 hrs., 30 mins., including a 15 minute intermissionSuitability: Older teens and up, for implied violence and sexual referencesInformation: 213-628-2772 or


Theater review: ‘Icebergs’ stays on the surface at the Geffen Playhouse

Isolation and tribalism, art and commerce, privacy and over-sharing, global warming and geological cycles, commitment and divorce, parental frustration and parental adoration, instability and inevitability.Perhaps Alena Smith’s world premiere “Icebergs” includes even more themes and metaphors than these, but the mind grows weary of trying to sort them out and eventually just wants to care about anyone on the Geffen Playhouse stage.That someone might be Calder (Nate Corddry), a filmmaker living in Los Angeles and at the crossroads of turning his thoughtful, sensitive screenplay into a big-studio moneymaker and his unsteady life into responsible adulthood.
In this production, under the direction of Randall Arney, Calder is the character the audience is likely to identify with, to root for, among all these thirtysomethings. The others are notably self-involved.Calder’s wife, Abigail (Jennifer Mudge), is an actor, undecided between propelling her career and trying, as Calder would prefer, to become pregnant.Into their Silver Lake home this hot November day comes Calder’s college friend, Reed (Keith Powell), tempted to turn back into a partying young adult but feeling responsible as a scientist and father. In Corddry’s performance, Calder is a soother, a welcomer, the warm host and person carefully tending the house.
Or not.The characters circling around Calder are amped up by the cast, including a full, in-costume dance number to Drake’s “Hotline Bling.” That’s the tribalism portion of the play. After knowing her renter for a month, Molly married her in haste two weeks ago and doesn’t even want to take the time to repent in leisure, barging in here to announce her intention to divorce.Calder’s hip agent Nicky (Lucas Near-Verbrugghe) insists on coming by this afternoon, too, to deliver big, big news that will change his and his clients’ lives. It might leave the non-Drake generations among the audience floating away on a chilly iceberg, though. The five clad themselves in Halloween skeleton onesies, finding commonality in their generation’s beat. Also into the home comes the apparently dramaturgically obligatory quirky gay neighbor, this time lesbian Molly (Rebecca Henderson).

18.Where: Gil Cates Theater at Geffen Playhouse, 10886 Le Conte Ave., Los Angeles.Tickets: $32-$90.Length: 1 hr., 40 mins., no intermission.Suitability: Adults.Information: 310-208-5454, Saturday, 2 and 7 p.m. Sunday, through Dec. Tuesday–Friday, 3 and 8 p.m. &#x2605When: 8 p.m.
Like the tramps in “Waiting for Godot,” we go on.Dany Margolies is a Los Angeles–based freelance writer. We fear, we prop one another up. The final metaphor of this two-act but intermissionless work leaves Calder and Abigail adrift, making a decision to pursue a path we have no confidence they’ll stay on.But, if we look below the surface — and the many jokes about Los Angeles — for an overarching meaning in her work, Smith seems to be saying all of this happened before, 250 million years ago, a generation ago, this morning.


‘Dutchess of Malfi’ brings bloody betrayal to Long Beach

Written in 1612 by English playwright John Webster, the play tells the story of the duchess of Malfi. Later she secretly marries a man beneath her class, and when her brothers find out, they do anything necessary to take away her wealth and power, but it ends in tragedy for all involved. She’s a widow who is left with a lot of wealth and political power following the death of her husband. Clare, a widely recognized Shakespeare specialist who established the MA Classical Acting Course at London’s Central School of Speech and Drama, explained that, because of this play’s complex characters, he thinks it has a lot in common with the Bard’s best psychological tragedies. With this wealth and power she seeks to establish herself in a world dominated by men.

“It’s interesting to me because it’s all still very relevant.” She further describes the duchess as a woman hundreds of years ahead of her time struggling to be a great ruler and mother.And while the play was written centuries ago, Granata-Hunicutt sees many similarities to today’s political climate.“Given the energy in the country in the last week, I think it’s a really interesting coincidence that the story is about corrupt men in power trying to suppress and squelch the woman who is in power,” she said.
shows on Saturday and Dec. Where: Studio Theatre at Cal State Long Beach, 1200 Bellflower Blvd., Long Beach. Tuesdays through Saturdays with additional 2 p.m. Friday, 8 p.m. 10 and 11. Tickets: $14-$17. When: Opens 8 p.m. Information: 562-985-5526,

It’s an exciting story, but it’s a psychological thriller as well,” said Rob Clare, a former actor with the Royal Shakespeare Company. “What’s not to like about love, death and violence? This is a bloody and tragic macabre play driven by family betrayals and political greed.And it does not end well for anyone. But there’s a reason “The Duchess of Malfi” has been around for more than 400 years and why an acclaimed Shakespearean expert is directing it at Cal State Long Beach. 11. Clare is directing the Cal State Long Beach Theatre Arts Department production of the dark Jacobean-era play that runs at the Studio Theatre from Friday to Dec.

For Julie Granata-Hunicutt, who takes on the lead role of the duchess, the play is not only unique for the period because of the lead character, it also has some eerie connections to recent political events. “To me it fits beautifully alongside some of Shakespeare’s work,” he said. “There really aren’t any true tragic heroes that are women,” said Granata-Hunicutt. “There aren’t really any heroines that subscribe to all of the components, who have a real arc and who have all these qualities of a tragic hero except for the duchess.”