#HFF18 Reviews

Ghosts:A Whole New Immersive Theatre and The Color Collective

 

Stage Raw reviews for Ghosts: A Whole New Immersive Theatre at Thymele Arts and The Color Collective at The Complex(OMR). #hff18

 

 

http://stageraw.com/2018/06/12/ghosts-a-whole-new-immersive-theatre-theater-review/

http://stageraw.com/2018/06/12/the-color-collective-theater-review/

 

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Othello and Otis

Othello and Otis
Through June 21st

“I’m terrified at the moral apathy – the death of the heart – which is happening in my country.” Spoken by prolific writer James Baldwin in 1963, these powerful words could very well have been uttered today in response to the continued murder of African American citizens by a militarized police force, gross and persistent inequality, racial bias, continued atrocities exacted on the African American community and white apathy toward it all. Bag O’ Bones proposes an end to this cruel war in Othello and Otis, a powerful and impactful hour of examination of white apathy of the black experience.

Trayvon Martin was visiting his soon-to-be Stepmom’s house. He had walked to the 7-11 and was on him way back home neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman, on a personal errand at the time, followed Martin for several minutes because “this guy looks like he’s up to no good or on drug or something”. They had a altercation and Zimmerman fatally shot Martin in front of his Stepmom’s house.

He was 17 years old, unarmed, carrying skittles in his pocket.

There are hundreds who have suffered similar fate; unarmed, innocent african american people who are violently murdered by police. Trayvon Martin’s death is outrageous. More outrageously, there are hundreds of individuals who have suffered the same fate as Martin. Stephon Clark was shot in his own backyard. Eric Garner was murdered in NYC by being put in a chokehold- a maneuver prohibited by the NYPD. Michael Brown was shot six times in the middle of the street. Tamir Rice was 12 years old and unarmed. Philando Castile was murdered in front of his girlfriend and daughter as he reached for his driver license. There are hundreds more. Hundreds. The white community cannot continue to ignore the pain and suffering of the African American community.

The company expertly blends text from James Baldwin, Solange, Shakespeare, among others using Trayvon Martin’s death as a point of departure, a point of focus that encompasses hundreds of years of suffering and oppression at the hands of white people. Audio from President Obama’s remarks on the Trayvon Martin ruling is effectively interspersed throughout the piece and serves as a touchstone for the evening’s performance.

Selections of music by Otis Redding, performed by soulful Sandy Rather, adds depth and soul to the already powerful fusion of texts. She bellows, belts and mourns her way through a variety of Redding’s work. Her presence is raw and her pain visceral. Francesca Gamez’ straightforward performance is grounded and direct. Barika A. Croom brings sophistication and depth to her heightened text. Choreographer Paulina Gamiz captures emotion that transcends words. Director Tinks Lovelace has once again created a timely, necessary piece of theatre that packs a hard punch and lingers long after you’ve left the theatre.

As the President so eloquently conveys, there’s a lot of pain surrounding what happened to Martin. It is an ancient, festering pain. The African American community have a set of experiences and a history that inform how the community interprets what happened to Trayvon Martin and the many others that have followed. Martin’s murderer, George Zimmerman, was found not guilty on all counts citing Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law, claiming he was using self defense against the unarmed 17 year old. Outfuckingrageous.

Damn, we (the white community) need to be educated. We need to sit through uncomfortable truths. We must allow ourselves to be informed. We must whole-heartedly acknowledge the suffering and the heavy burden of injustice that we will never understand. My white privilege affords me a view of the world through rose-colored glasses. But that is no way to view the world, particularly when my neighbor, my brothers and sisters, my fellow citizens are suffering. More accurately, are still suffering. It’s easy to deny and ignore a problem that is painful and ugly by claiming ignorance, or imagining it has nothing to do with us. It has everything to do with us.

How can the white community re-enforce and support our African American community? Essentially listen and learn. Give a shit about the pain and suffering the African American community has endured for hundreds of years and continues to endure. Seek out stories about the black experience. Learn African American history. Honor and carry that history. Advocate for and seek to empower those who are not afforded equality. Acknowledge the pain caused by white privilege, ingrained racial bias, general apathy. It’s our minimal responsibility.

One more performance on Thursday June 21st. Don’t miss it.

 

Trayvon Martin (1995-2012).

 

 

Othello and Otis; Three Clubs, 1123 N. Vine St., Hollywood. Running time: 45 minutes with no intermission.

Lorelei: I’m Coming Out!

Lorelei: I’m Coming Out! is a coming out story complete with lipstick and cynicism, heels and Grindr, tap dancing and shit talking, lip-syncing and ballad shrieking,costume changes and attitude for days. Lorelei confronts her demons and belts her face with wicked humor and colorful grace at the Three Clubs.

The story unfolds as sordid tale of a common OC twink traversing the wild, untamed beauty of L.A. And by “beauty” I mean the plastic, vegan, manicured, gluten-free, botoxed, mirco-bladed blue-bred boob job plumped up L.A. bitches. Naturally. Like any good drag queen worth her weight in glitter, Lorelei blazes onto the stage, the belle of the ball, demanding your attention and is entertaining as hell. Her sense of humor is razor sharp, almost prickly, and her humor is quick. She’ll claw and she’ll bite, but playfully.

Her parents, particularly her father, were clearly not supportive of her identity, which has clearly had an impact on her; it’s turned her into a fighter and gifted her with a healthy, hard-won dose of skepticism. Under that jagged, outrageous persona, there’s a truly beautiful human. Lorelei takes a serious turn to sing a few ballads toward the end of the show, and it’s a beautiful thing. As of today, she is not afraid to be Who She Is, proudly. The whole show is a celebration of her, a party the audience readily joins; she’s an excellent host.

The play itself may have one queen, but it certainly has multiple players. Band leader Raiah Rofsky serves as salty side-kick and occasional scene partner. The four-person band is awesome, particularly Yu-Ting Wu on violin. Their sound and skill raise the level of quality of the production because they are dope. What’s even more delightful, the band enjoys themselves as much as the audience.

Lorelei: I’m Coming Out is good and salty, boozy late-night fun. It’s a great show to bring a few friends and get rowdy (but not too rowdy bitches, not your show). You have to have a wicked sense of humor and don’t mind being called a bitch occasionally. But in Lorelei’s world bitch is a term of endearment. Ultimately, she wants to encourage you to be Who You Are.

Bitch, work.

http://hff18.org/5166

Lorelei: I’m Coming Out!; Three Clubs, 1123 N. Vine St., Hollywood. Running time: 50 minutes.

Sunday June 10th @3 p.m.
Thursday June 14th @ 7 p.m.
Friday June 22nd @ 7 p.m.
Saturday June 23rd @ 7 p.m.

Nephew of the Universe

Nephew of the Universe, a solo show now playing at the Lounge Theatre, follows the late adolescence and early adulthood of Rob Bruner, an unassuming, everyday guy from Canada with an unconventional, if not extraordinary upbringing.

Our hero spent his tender teenage years as a devoted disciple of Guru Sri Chimoy, an heavily influential Indian spiritual leader who taught meditation and spiritual practice in the U.S in the 60’s and 70’s. Bruner’s parents were embroiled in a bitter divorce, and his Aunt introduced him to meditation, guided and by the Guru himself.

Chinmoy attracted thousands of followers during his lifetime, including the likes of Carlos Santana (a one-time friend of Bruner) and John McLaughlin. He practiced celibacy and demand that his devotees remain celibate themselves and refrain from marriage. In fact, Guru wasn’t super down with things like education, independence or autonomy of any kind, dancing, drinking, socializing or basically anything fun and/or normal. Rob, coming of age and horny as hell, has a hard time complying with the many restrictions of spiritual life. Ultimately, Rob chooses secular life, his desire for companionship and a normal life ultimately usurps his devotion to the Guru.

Fascinatingly, Bruner and Chinmoy shared a father/son dynamic, and his own father made him feel ashamed for following the Guru. The Guru behaved like a father to Bruner in many ways , but also placed many restrictions on Bruner’s behavior that impeded his growth,  maturity, and his ability to lead a healthy, normal life. Bruner ultimately separates from the Guru in favor of normal relationships, and his expression relief and newfound freedom is weirdly cathartic. Although Bruner’s portrayal of the Guru is respectful and even reverent, one gets the sense that he escaped from an unhealthy, oppressive situation.

There are several projected images meant to enhance the storytelling but slowed the evening’s pace significantly due to the many technical difficulties (which will no doubt be ironed out for the show’s official opening). The script itself could use a trim; a 75 minute story that could be told in an hour or less. Director Jessica Lynn Johnson keeps the staging simple and straightforward enough, though the pacing feels sluggish at times.

Bruner is endearing and it’s certainly interesting to hear the tale unfold. He is at his best when he’s relaxed and riffing, the script seems to trip him up at times. He is a fun character actor and embodies Santana, his therapist and even Chinmoy himself with playful ease.

Ultimately, the show is a success; Bruner is an engaging actor telling and he has an unusual story to tell. Ultimately, his: Be a Good Person. That’s a story worth hearing over and over again.

Nephew of the Universe, Lounge Theatre, 6201 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood.
Thursday June 7th @ 8 p.m.
Saturday June 16th @ 6 p.m.
Saturday June 23rd @ 2 p.m.

http://hff18.org/5010

Hollywood Fringe Festival 2018 ReadySetGo

Here we are again, friends. A year older, maybe wiser, probably fatter, hopefully happier. Regardless, break out the bubbly cause the Fringe is back and you guys- she’s HUGE.

Ye Old Hollywood Fringe returns for it’s 8th and biggest season to date. For those of you who are like “what’s a fringe festival”? It’s a chance for us theatre nerds to run around town like drunken sailors looking for the next Good Time. Except our Good Time is in the nearest dark theatre, and there are plenty of Good Times to be had this month. This year there are 31 venues and 380  registered shows that play throughout the day and into the night, so you can choose your own adventure and see multiple shows in one day (my current record is 5. Sounds wimpy but you try it).

The criteria for entering a show in the fringe festival is pretty loose. Basically, you need a show and a venue.  Quality widely, dramatically varies, which is part of the fun. I’ve taken shots with Macbeth, thrown stuff at actors, had a fake gun held to my head (pro tip: don’t fucking do that), won stuff, hugged my friends, cried my damn eyes out, cringed at the white Othello (for real), and have learned a LOT about theatre-making. And myself, really, like theatre is meant to do.

My fringe motto is “quantity over quality.” Most shows entered in the fringe are not published plays, but new and original work, so any jane shmo playwright can have her work seen at the festival. I’ve seen masterpieces and ridiculous garbage all on the same day, even in the same theatre space. It’s a mixed bag of crazy, scrappy, innovative, weird, awesome, terrible. Kinda like L.A.

One of the many things I love about the Hollywood fringe is that most of the theatres are walking distance from one another, which is a beautiful thing here in the land of no parking. Also, the community is super supportive and super into it.  People come from all over the world. The community spirit of the festival is the most intoxicating element. Most of your theatre friends have something going on this month at the festival and it’s your friend duty to support them.

The Fringe is like Theatre Coachella, but not as hot, better costumes, probably cheaper, mindful of recycling, don’t have to hang out in the dirt, lineup not old and tired, can still smoke all the weed in the world, and directly support artists. Beyonce probs won’t be joining us though.

 

OPENING NIGHT PARTY DETAILS HERE:

http://hff18.org/5442

 

Happy Fringing, ya’ll. Hope to see you out there, looking for the next Good Time.

 

 

 

 

Lear’s Daughters

Lear’s Daughters
Third Culture at 2nd Stage Theatre
Through December 10th

Third Culture Theatre make their L.A. Theatre debut with Lear’s Daughters by Elaine Feinstein, the topical prequel to Shakespeare’s King Lear. The play examines the royal family’s tangled,  origins by narrowing its focus on the complicated outcome of  assault; how elusive it is to identify, and how speaking about it (until very recently) remains stigmatized.  Third Culture’s inaugural production proves as ambitious as it is passionate.

The play explores abuse, manipulation and control, through the eyes of the abused;Lear’s daughters.The perpetrator, Lear himself (Katrina Kirkpatrick), is a physically and emotional abusive man and a roundly terrible father. But it’s the daughter’s desire for connection to their unstable mother (Kirkpatrick) and Nanny that proves most compelling. The play’s poetic language and descriptive prose blends modern language and the Bard, though often gave the play a reader’s theatre quality and less the sense of the play’s immediacy.

Sofia Hurtado plays Goneril, Lear’s oldest and most ambitious daughter, ferocious in her attempts to jockey for power and dominate her sisters. She’s beautiful and cunning, a compelling combination, but also very guarded. Kristen Couture wields a withdrawn energy as Lear’s middle child, Regan, the seeming black sheep of the family. She explores a deep vulnerability as she embodies shame and vulnerability intertwined. Sandy Rather’s performance as Cordelia, Lear’s youngest and most favored daughter, is vibrant and well-measured. This character serves as the play’s moral compass which Rather seems to embrace. The dissolution of her innocence is particularly painful.

Katrina Kirkpatrick plays a fool with a heart of gold. She variously embodies both Lear and Queen as as the Fool, a character that both comments upon and participates in the action. She has a way of enticing an audience, she’s two parts humor and one part magic. Kirkpatrick shape-shifts smoothly though physical blocking slows the show’s pace. Jasmine Williams finds a savage strength as Nurse, the girl’s true mother-figure and only sense of parental love and security. Williams taps in to a primal motherly instinct of a chronically abused woman who is then cruelly betrayed and has a grounded and quiet and deeply powerful presence. Her reveal the the end of the play is both chilling and justified, we understand why she’s exacted her revenge, heinous as it may be. Williams is at times under-voiced; her entire performance deserves to be heard.

The well-guided vision of director Lauren Boone keeps the storytelling tight and the staging clean. Boone uses the space appropriately and keeps the story focused and on message. Costume design by Zebonia Duncan is excellent. The clothing is simple and elegant and serves as extensions of each of the character’s unique personalities and taste.

Lear’s Daughters most clearly speaks to the fragility and sacral bond between parent and child, the lasting effect of both support or neglect. Telling Lear’s story from a female point of view is no small task, but it’s a story that needs to be told, it’s a light that must be shined so that the story can be changed. And for Third Culture Theatre, a noteworthy debut indeed.

 

2nd Stage Theatre, 6500 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood; Fri.,- Sat., 8 p.m., Sun. 2 p.m.; through December 10th. Tickets: third-culture-theatre.ticketleap.com/lears-daughters/.  Running time 90 minutes with no intermission.

Boeing Boeing at Little Fish Theatre

 

Boeing Boeing
Reviewed by Dana Martin
Through October 21st

 

Boeing LFT 01

Justin Joseph and Kenny Toll in Boeing Boeing at the Little Fish Theatre. (Photo by Mickey Elliott)

 

It’s the 60’s, baby. The girls are flying high, and when they’re away, the boys will play. Three fiancés, one apartment, a surly maid and an idiotic friend equals lots of kissing, room switching and near-missing. Marc Camoletti’s Boeing Boeing touches down at the Little Fish Theatre as an outlandishly misogynistic romp through the perils and pitfalls of infidelity.

Slick bachelor Bernard (Kenny Toll), is engaged to Gloria (Julia Elk). And, it just so happens, he’s also engaged to Gabriella (Andria Kozica). And Gretchen (Bridget Garwood). The unsuspecting women are all flight attendants, so at least he’s consistent. He has a careful orchestration of flight paths, schedules and time zones, making sure the women only cross paths in the sky. Not creepy at all. A storm’s a-brewin’ as unwitting accomplice Robert arrives, and the lady’s paths are unexpectedly altered as a ridiculous comedy of errors ensues.

Kenny Toll provides the right kind of boyish cockiness and naivete as everyone’s favorite womanizer, Bernard. Justin Joseph provides great energy as the put-upon house guest-turned- conspirator Robert, swinging between suave and frantic throughout. Julia Elk plays robust Gloria from Texas with high energy and southern warmth. She is the only character in the play that gets what she wants. Andria Kozica brings a sweetness and warmth as Italian Gabriella, and the only fiancé with an authentic relationship with Bernard. She’s suspicious but lenient, never fully unleashing the wrath of her temper Bernard so rightfully deserves. Bridget Garwood is larger-than-life as Gretchen, the fiery German. Kathryn Farren shines as french maid and reluctant accomplice Berthe. Farren is a delight, and her clear sense of humor and timing is underutilized throughout.

It would have been interesting to see how far the physical comedy could extend. Director Cylan Brown misses an opportunity to get the most out of the play’s farcical quality. Because the circumstances are improbable and outlandish, the lead characters have no real redeeming qualities (save their charm), the audience hopes to laugh at slapstick stupidity. Set designer Angeline Sandoval provides a sophisticated apartment with many doors and obstacles for the characters to trample through. Costume design by Olivia Schlueter-Corey provided appropriate sense of place and bright pops of color.

There’s an obvious chemistry between the cast that makes up for an otherwise flaccid script. It’s just sexy funny stupid fun. Re-route your schedule and make your way to the Little Fish Theatre, and quickly: Boeing Boeing flys away October 21st.

 

Boeing Boeing at the Little Fish Theatre, 777 Centre St, San Pedro; for tickets call (310) 512-6030 or visit littlefishtheatre.org. Wed. and Thurs. at 8 p.m. Through October 21st.

On the Verge or the Geography of Yearning at San Pedro’s Little Fish Theatre

On the Verge or the Geography of Yearning
Reviewed by Dana Martin
Through October 19th

OTV LFT 04

Branda Lock, Holly Baker-Kreiswirth and Presciliana Esparolini in On the Verge or the Geography of Yearning at Little Fish Theatre, San Pedro. (Photo by Mickey Elliott)

 

Eric Overmyer’s sentimental and overwritten play On the Verge or the Geography of Yearning receives playful and considerate treatment at the Little Fish Theatre in San Pedro.

The play centers around three sweetly optimistic Victorian Era time travelers, Mary (Holly Baker-Kreiswirth), Alex (Branda Lock) and Fanny (Presciliana Esparolini), who set out to explore Terra Incognita; new and unexplored land. The stealthy, clever women navigate uncharted time and territory, wax poetic about adventures passed, discover objects from the future, entertain often incorrect osmosis, and inexplicably land in 1955. The plays suggests the women long for individual independence, though the arc of each individual character is unclear.

While the script is often overwrought with wordplay, the performers navigate the many twist and turns of-phrase with humor and alacrity. Holly Baker-Kreiswirth finds steadfast cheer as Mary, the trio’s unofficial leader. She is a calm, reliable presence; the most experienced of the three travelers. Baker-Kreiswirth earns the trust of the audience in a well-measured performance. Branda Lock finds delicious naivete as Alex, the youngest and most inexperienced of the trio. Presciliana Esparolini’s conservative and cautious Fanny is in delightful contrast to her counterparts, and crafts the play’s most tender moments. Dexterous Don Schlossman provides tremendous support as the many characters the trio encounters through their travels. He was great fun to watch shift and change.

Director Richard Perloff keeps the staging simple and straightforward throughout, rightly relying on the audience’s imagination to fill in the vast and changing landscape. The play’s momentum loses a bit of steam in the second act, the staging becomes repetitive. Scenic designer Angeline Sandoval follows suit as the actors use three large blocks in imaginative ways as the characters navigate Terra Incognita. Diana Mann’s costumes were precisely detailed and playful- a colorful enhancement of the storytelling.

The heroines are strikingly wholesome, honest, ambitious. Their optimism is both idealistic and infectious; there’s no other way but forward, and you must hack your way through the brush, you must carve your own path. On the Verge… wants to make a statement about feminism and independence, though the final moments of the play leave much to be desired. Perhaps that’s the point; we have a long way to go. Regardless, ladies, just put some damn pants already and find your own way.

 

 

 

On the Verge or the Geography of Yearing at the Little Fish Theatre, 777 Centre St, San Pedro; for tickets call (310) 512-6030 or visit littlefishtheatre.org. Wed. and Thurs. at 8 p.m. through October 19th.

 

 

Portraits: Icons Unveiled

Lucille Ball once said “it’s a helluva way to start, being able to recognize what makes you happy.” For theatre lovers, feminists, storytellers, Portraits: Icons Unveiled, written and directed by Lucy Green and Sarah Wheeler, is a great start indeed.This charming fringe piece, set in a museum gallery, celebrates remarkable women in history.

The play itself combines two one-person shows based on the lives of Lucille Ball (Green) and Zelda Fitzgerald (Wheeler), two women who, while each famous and notable in her own right, have little- if nothing- in common.

Lucy Green weaves Ball’s personal life and public persona through a series short scenes depicting her rocky relationship with Desi Arnaz, her illustrious career as comedian and studio executive and punctuated by her iconic Vitameatavegiman skit. The pace and flow of the story suffers from too many blackouts. Green delivers Lucy as a serious and thoughtful individual, a generous and warm performer, but ultimately falls just short of Ball’s comedic mastery in the play’s unpoopular climax. With a skit as iconic and perfect as Vitameatavegiman, there’s no room for interpretation.

Sarah Wheeler tells the story of socialite and author Zelda Fitzgerald with grace and humor. Fitzgerald, married to famous writer F. Scott Fitzgerald, was wild, intelligent and troubled. She was diagnosed with Schizophrenia and spent the latter years of her brief life in and out of Sanatoriums. Wheeler finds emotional depth and manages to reveal the mastery of language and storytelling often attributed to her much more celebrated husband.

Both ladies seem to mainly focus on the husbands that let them down. Salacious indeed, but not what makes each of these women truly iconic. Although, it was Zelda herself that said “I don’t want to live, I want to love first and live incidentally.”

http://www.hollywoodfringe.org/projects/4711

Pagliaccis

Pagliaccis, a painfully serious piece by Harim Sanchez, tackles the messy aftermath of an unexpected suicide of Zane (Eric Barnard), a bright and troubled young man. The play achieves a deep level of sensitivity and surprising humor as those left behind search for answers and summarize the totality of their loss.

The story follows Tarik (Jesse Atijie Robertson) and Suzanne ( Daniela Rivera), Zane’s best friend and sister, as they hastily sort the disaster Zane has left in his wake. In a well measured performance, Robertson’s Tarik is evasive and withheld, revelatory of his relationship with Zane. He finds an emotional release during the final moments of the play that bring tears to my eyes as I write; primal and full of pain. Daniela Rivera’s performance as Suzanne is strong and steady; she’s the one to step in and take care of business.

An especially powerful performance by Eric Barnard as recently departed Zane offers a clear view into the complex persona of a deeply troubled man. Barnard plays the role with vulnerability and tenderness. The mask he wields is literally melting before our eyes as he drowns in self loathing and becomes increasingly isolated, both by his own actions and the intentional distancing of those closest to him. The fragility he finds in the final moments leading up to his suicide is almost too difficult to witness.

Director Eric White navigates with clarity and precision, finding ways to beautifully overlap time and place, creating the piece itself as a bit of a blur, wholly appropriate for characters in the throes of grief. A stellar debut by first-time playwright Harim Sanchez, who manages to capture the deeply felt pain and confusion of those dealing with the aftermath of a suicide in a way that is both potent and poetic, accessible and raw.

Suicide offers no closure,no answers, no peace. Only pain, regret, sorrow. There’s no right answer, except forgiveness. Love well, friends, you never know who’s life depends on it.

http://www.hollywoodfringe.org/projects/4465