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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.

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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

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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

 

Shakespeare and Chill

Who says Shakespeare can’t be hip? Bag O’ Bones Collective nails the chill vibe and youthful quality through an edgy mash-up of Bard’s many tales of love. The Three Clubs venue has a sexy atmosphere, and the audience cozies up in the dimly lit backroom cabaret-style space. The best way to summarize the evening was … chill.

The play itself feels like a cabaret; there’s music, hip hop, scenework, solo performances, interpretive dance, even a mime. It all flows together seamlessly though, and even the text itself feels fresh. “My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun” can still garner a hearty laugh from a young crowd, which I found extremely satisfying. Damn, Bill, you still got it. At times the text was under-voiced and under-energized, making it difficult to hear the more tender moments as the venue itself shares a wall with a loud, crowded bar (and should be noted that my theatre watching alter ego is a partially deaf cranky old lady).

Original music by Coates adds an edgy flare and stand-out performance by Jazzlyn K. Luckett elevates the quality of this production to a must-see. The innovative direction by Tinks Lovelace is refreshing; she’s not afraid to find new ways to tell old stories. Bag O’ Bones is really on to something here. Go get you some Shakespeare and Chill. Recommended.

Fringing it Up, 2017

I’m back, bitches.

Last year’s fringe was a wild and illuminating jaunt through the good, the bad and the completely baffling (see below). If I know anything about the fringe, I have plenty of sexy, screwball and sacrilegious art in my near future, and I’m reviewing it all for your reading pleasure.

If you’re interested in a review for your show, shoot me an email at DanaMartin18@gmail.com. Me, myself and my humble opinion will be there. My dance card is filling up fast, so get on that sh**.

Happy opening, all, and May the Fringe be with you.

Life Expectancy

Life Expectancy by Catherine Butterfield was an excellent, satisfying night of theatre- simple, finessed storytelling. Butterfield creates a rich world of complex relationships and well-rounded, identifiable characters. The incomparable Ron West directs with polish and specificity. A stellar writing/directing team. More please.

I knew I was in for a polished play when I entered the theatre and saw the arrangement of the set; always a tell-tale sign of impending success/disaster. It was simple ( a partition and a few blocks) and yet arranged in a way that created depth. Under West’s direction the play transitions efficiently from scene to scene with simple changes to the blocks and depends heavily on the acting. Directors, take notes.

The cast creates a gaggle of rich, authentic characters with whom we all recognize and/or identify. Every actor in this show is a stand-out, Alla Poberesky in particular. She’s mesmerizing.

The final scenes of this play brought tears to my eyes. We’re all in it together, friends. Make time for this one- you will not be disappointed.

http://hff16.org/3538

Doing it Yourself: A Solo Experience

They say if you want something done right, you’ve got to do it yourself. In the world of solo shows, that statement is sometimes true.

A Horse With a View, written and performed by Christopher Piehler, maintains a steady trot, never quite reaching a full gallop. Piehler weaves his experiences riding horses and his relationships with women together, creating a solid, unique and specified narrative. The way Piehler tells it, horses and women are both good company.

You just can’t help but like the guy. He’s a good, solid guy. The kind of guy that shows up on time, meets deadlines, irons his shirts.  The kind of guy that rides horses. With that being said- loosen up a little, bro. Breathe more deeply, sit more deeply into the saddle early on and settle in for the ride.  Ultimately,  Piehler achieves a wonderful, genuine connection with the audience.

The play held my attention throughout.  I’m fascinated with horses and therefore was keen to listen to his adventures.  Piehler is a seasoned playwright/performer and therefore constructs a good story.  Although this was only fringe show I’ve seen that utilized the projector, I would have loved to see actual pictures of his travels.  There were four separate horse tales; perhaps one too many.  I wonder what else he’s got? http://hff16.org/3721

Deana Barone’s MetaFam tackles a subject we know all too well: Family. Complicated, dysfunctional (at times), broken and beautiful family. Barone reveals herself fully in a compelling story of love and survival. It’s vulnerable, smart, playful, compelling.

A masterful storyteller, Barone fills the room with her powerful presence. Keen on the fine art of audience participation, her blunt style feels initially abrasive. I’m usually cool with participating as long I’m eased into it. I’m shy. Barone, in her own way, did just that. It was always inclusive, always creative and clever. It almost felt like we were in her living room- and she was glad we came.

Barone understands character specificity and authenticity. The way she “put on” the characters was fantastic. The way she played herself at younger, more tender ages was beautiful. Her characterizations of her parents and siblings were far more than impersonations- but carefully crafted characters filled with love and respect. I can only imagine what she discovered about her family by immersing herself so completely in their personas.

I caught glimpses of myself and my own family throughout this play. I learned something about myself. I felt braver. I felt inspired. I left feeling full and satisfied, and not just because I ended up with the bucket of oranges. Now that is a good day at the theatre. http://hff16.org/3568

 

As a white woman, I can safely say that white people love to make a big deal about basically nothing. We know this. The amount of time I’ve spent in the last few weeks in a darkened room listening to white women wax poetic about breakups and yoga, clothes and loads of other boring, inconsequential shit irritates and surprises me, and so I’ve created a Solo Show subcategory- WWC, or White Women Complaining.

Okay gals, rules of thumb: If you want to tell us a story, great! Do it boldly and fiercely. You’re a storyteller. If you’re compelled gather us together in order to complain about the shortcomings of your privilege, then go the fuck home. Seriously. Why? Because we’re not therapists, nor do we want to be. Entertain us, stop complaining. Figure out what’s real, immediate, dangerous. Tell us THAT story. If you have even the slightest notion that you’re complaining: RE-WRITE.

Cold Tangerines wasn’t technically a solo show, but it should have been. Adapted by Lynn Downey Braswell from the novel by Shauna Niequist, this is WWC incarnate. To sum up,it’s the story of a white woman deeply unsatisfied with her life of privilege. No real message, no real point. Of all the novels to adapt, why this one? I don’t get it. http://hff16.org/3416
Suddenly Split and Swiping Over by Tracy Held Potter is another prime example of WWC. Why, oh why am I watching a play about TV and texting? If I wanted to see those things, I would STAY HOME. I not interested that your shitty, non-committal boyfriend won’t text you back. Or about your tinder sexcapades. Or that you apparently love love love TV. That simply isn’t stage worthy.

The very last moments of the show were the most real and authentic of the evening.  This is where the play began, in my opinion.  The rest, I’m afraid,  is doomed to be white-washed into the bowels of my memory.  http://hff16.org/3791

 

SEX SEX SEX!

Sex sells people. The #hff16 is no exception.  Read on:

Black Widow Laughs by Nina Rose Carlin at the 3 Clubs is young blood at it’s finest. We’re transported back to Prohibition Era backroom secrecy- with an added bit of danger, courtesy of the Zwillman Family.

The script is fast-paced and well-structured; my favorite combo. The pay-off at the end of the play is clever- although the reveal should be total (meaning rip those pants off!). Deon Summerville is particularly delightful as Charles.

Overall, a good mix of camp and sexiness, never taking itself too seriously.
I really applaud this work. Nina Rose Carlin shows tremendous promise as a writer.  http://hff16.org/3466

 

Porno Dido by Sean Graney is sexy-silly romp through the inner-workings of creating quality porn.

The play begins with rehearsal. Porn rehearsal. Cue bored moans (which actually has a hilarious pay-off). All the expected archetypes are present and accounted for.  We’ve got the stressed-for-time director, the cynical star, the starry-eyed newcomer, the happy-go-lucky fluffer,  the drag queen, the predator, the mysterious backer.

The play is well-executed and manages to empower women, which was fucking great and the acting is also fucking great. Porno Dido could use a thorough cut of the script as the latter half of the rehearsal felt monotonous. The parallel of rehearsal and the story of mythical Dido of Cathage inter-spliced with the Big Bad Wolf wasn’t clearly established. I zoned out for like 30 seconds and then was completely confused. Predatory intentions of Jef, the sinister-yet- well-endowed male star steer the play into dark and dangerous waters.  An unapologetic performance by Sean Bolger.  As tone shifts drastically with the introduction of Jeff, the play itself never fully delivers the pay-off the audience deserves…we left with collective blue balls.

It feels funny when porn gets all serious.  http://hff16.org/3530

 

Speaking of porn, Absolute Zero (How Lovers and Sad People Hold Up the World) offers a surprisingly naked glimpse into the psyche of writer/actor Ryan Lisman.

The play opens with our protagonist Charles’ (Lisman) acceptance to Harvard. Shortly thereafter, Charles is kidnapped by Jim, some creepy guy who has been obsessed with Charles for some time, apparently, but not before he and girlfriend Iris (Lindsey Jean Rotezel) agree to wait until the big #18 to lose their virginity to one another. Unfortunately, in Charles’ absence, virgin Iris is oddly, crudely persuaded into performing sex acts with Charles’ older brother (to the collective sighs and head-shakes of the ladies in the room).
Meanwhile in creepy Jim’s basement, Charles and Jim are forging a romance of their own- and though Charles is but innocent and pure- he decides to “get with” Jim anyhow. Alas, their bliss is cut short, however, as creepy Jim is discovered by an affable-yet- inexplicably-clever cop. Jim is allowed escape from the world’s worst detective and promptly pops up at Charles’ apartment who eagerly strips naked for Jim and lets it all hang out. Cue music.

Is it just me or is this a porn plot? This is porn, right?

There are genuinely unsettling moments, particularly the very beginning of the play. Lisman shows promise as a writer. The play itself could benefit from additional re-writes.  While I do appreciate the blunt inclusion of sex- most plays seem to shy away from the pay-off- there is a fine line between art and porn.  http://hff16.org/3498