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.
★★★★When: 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, www.centertheatregroup.org.
ADLER & GIBB
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.