Today, we review seven plays: The Crucible, OOHLALA , 30 Minute Musicals, Follow, Four Clowns presents That Beautiful Laugh, The Secret of Sherlock Holmes and Pacific Conference:
by Marcus Kaye ~
Arthur Miller’s intense look at fear culture and blind faith gets another chance (outside the apathetic one I gave it in high school all those years ago) in this outstanding staging from director Bill Voorhees. Written in response to McCarthyism, but just as prevalent today, The Crucible is the story of the Salem Witch trials, the power of government, a villainous young woman, and the man who stood against them all: John Proctor.
Miller’s writing style and language can be abrasive at first, but was expertly handled by Voorhees’s cast (of which he is a part). The mounting tension of each scene reaches unbearable peaks and in its highest moments, the audience is also rewarded with the highest level of acting. The Crucible‘s actors shined most in those heated and passionate climaxes. Bernadette Speakes’ flawless portrayal of Tituba could serve as a master acting class with Rebecca Sigl (the conflicted Mary Warren) and Jessicah Neufeld’s (the wicked Abigail Williams), her expertly learned pupils.
Production value was high, including a beautiful set that morphed into various locations and clever costume, lighting and sound design that isolated John Proctor even further from the Puritanical society he’d removed himself from.
The biggest shame about this stellar presentation of The Crucible? That the audience was only half full.
The Crucible has remaining shows on June 22nd and 23rd @ 8PM, and June 24th @ 7PM at The Elephant Stages.
by Tracey Paleo~
The search for love and adventure seems to be a big hot mess for Ramsey Brown as illuminated in the comically, traumatic, self-effacing, 90 minute dialog, OOHLALA. Every girl grows up thinking, easy – get the job, get the man, get the house, get everything in the quest for everlasting happiness. But actually it’s not easy at all. In fact, it seems downright impossible especially when every OTHER girl seems to know the rules of the game but you!
As deliriously funny as Ms. Ramsey’s jaunts and mishaps at unsuccessful, even nerdy, attempts at sex in Paris, vomiting fits off the coast of New Zealand, accidental penguin sightings, and airline flights in costume on New Year’s Day, as her delusional outlooks on men including an ex-husband, it definitely registers with females of all shapes, sizes, colors and backgrounds. Somehow or another can can all relate to being there (ugh!) unfortunately.
We got the point in less than 45 minutes and didn’t really need the whole hour and a half, but witnessing another person’s insanity can make anyone feel better about themselves. This show offers an awesome and funny musical bit by her best friend on folk guitar, honing in the focal idea that we are who we are, ridiculous and all. Ms. Ramsey luckily comes to the conclusion that in the board game of life, self-love is more important and we all agree.
Last Performance – Friday, June 22nd @ 11:00pm
by Marcus Kaye ~
The title alone should tell you everything you need to know about 30 Minute Musicals. Telling the entirety of Jurassic Park in 30 minutes is no easy feat, let alone adding songs and placing it back-to-back with Showgirls. But that’s just what director Brooke Seguin has done. The result is a wildly successful spoof show that will leave your cheeks sore from smiling.
30 Minute Musicals doesn’t take itself seriously, poking fun at all of the iconic moments from both movies, but that’s not to say the cast isn’t talented. Gifted comedians with singing voices on par with their comedy chops pleasantly took me by surprise.
With music by Brooke Seguin and Rich Ramberg, the show cleverly adds songs into the storylines, like the stroke of genius that was giving the “rap”- tors a hip hop number. The raptors don’t get all the fun, though. Tom Lenk steals the show as the playfully flamboyant T-Rex.
Casting was spot on. Lindsay Wray is the perfect embodiment of Nomi Malone, perhaps even making her more likeable than Elizabeth Berkley and you’d be hard pressed to find someone better than Blaine Vedros to play Jeff Goldblum.
Producers Tom DeTrinis and Brooke Seguin have developed a show that’s the most fun you’ll have at the Fringe this year, so pack your bag for Vegas, detour at Jurassic Park, and never look back.
30 Minute Musicals: Showgirls and Jurassic Park played June 14th, 20th and 21st at The Lounge Theatre.
by Joel Elkins~
In the wake of Prop 8 and similar fights throughout the country, Michael Patrick Spillers has penned a most topical play “ripped from the headlines.” On Thursday, June 21, a receptive crowd was treated to a reading of this work in progress. It is warm, funny and incredibly moving, even given the limited rehearsal time, rudimentary lighting and sound, and zero costumes, sets or props.
The play tackles the issue of gay marriage but begins the discussion from the given that it is at least appropriate, if not a fundamental human right. Only one character disputes this, the protagonist’s fundamentalist preacher father, whose only support and, in fact, only consideration, is “you can’t change God’s laws.” All the other characters agree on the end, yet differ on the means.
It is said that the bitterest arguments occur between individuals who are ideologically adjacent, and, indeed, most of the conflicts in the play occur between these “like-minded” individuals. Whether to engage the “other side,” and risk giving them a forum or shut them out completely and risk alienating them. Whether there is benefit to dealing with LGBT issues by community or whether there is more benefit to unifying for the cause.
If there is one major weakness to the play, it is just how pervasively and heavy-handedly these conflicts are addressed. But Spillers writes exceptionally heartwarming, clever dialogue, and if he can manage to tone down the pedagogery and self-righteousness one notch, Spillers may just have a tour de force on his hands.
There are no more performances of Follow at the Fringe.
by Tony Bartolone~
That Beautiful Laugh is the kind of show I hope to see every time the light disappears, and a cool anticipatory excitement fills the darkness. Full of tricks, joy and laughter, this is one wonder of a show. Magic.
For children and adults alike, the show is a delish delight. There were moments that transformed my heart to that of a child. In this cynical world, this pleasure of a play successfully incites a childlike sense of wonder and adventure. Against the background of the jaded, industry-heavy, broken dreams of Los Angeles, That Beautiful Laugh rises above as if we were all floating high over the stress, pollution and traffic, high above the broken hearts and lost smiles, far beyond any earthly pain or pleasure… just floating like a dream.
There were stupendous physical and comedic performances across the board. These clowns endear themselves to every open heart. But it was not all happiness. There is also a striking sense of reality that pins us to our seats, and leaves us in a contemplative marvel. Throughout the relatively short run time (about an hour), we are completely captivated, shaken, fulfilled, tickled, moved, entertained as we all learned to love and cherish That Beautiful Laugh.
That Beautiful Laugh plays June 23 at 9pm.
by Tracey Paleo~
“…for it is the nature of biscuits to be dry, and these were biscuits to the core.” (~ Virginia Wolfe)
So it can be said for the uncanny and distinctive, external constitutions of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s iconic “consulting detective” and his stalwart, side kick in The Secret of Sherlock Holmes. Less adventure and more psycho-drama but alas, not so much thriller as “elementary,’ this version of the fantastical, forensic scientist picks apart the self-described very dark nature of the man and his mind as cataloged by his natural opposite but ultimately loyal friend, Dr. Watson. What the presentation lacked in outward intimacy, it thrived in skillful, quiet detail in the exact manner so characteristic of the hero/anti-hero we have all come to know over the years.
Tendered here are the shocking drug addictions, the mood swings, the disrespect of friends, childhood secrets and the flipside, intentional machinations of a criminal mind. And inside the psyche of London’s most methodical bohemian evolves the most elusive question that may or may not ever be answered — is there really a Professor Moriarty at all?
Occasionally faltering in the chronicling of time, which isn’t always clear, (the play is supposed to take place over the course of 13 years), this story leaves behind all the anxiety of a typically suspenseful cliffhanger and focuses more on the repartee of narrative, deductive thought and a mostly unemotional unravelling.
Marvelous, elaborate writing. Well directed.
Two more shows playing at Theatre Asylum, 6320 Santa Monica Blvd. on Saturday, June 23 @ 7:00pm and Sunday, June 24 @2:30pm
Pacific Conference at Fringe Central Mainstage
by Tony Bartolone~
Pacific Conference is a short, funny, fly-on-the-wall viewing. Though it is consistently funny, it feels incomplete overall.
Well acted and well written, this show has much potential, but it was almost like watching the first part to a “to be continued…” episode. It is commendably vulgar without feeling forced. The characters seem like real people with wants and needs. It’s a clever intertwining of characters, but the end is undeniably weak. It seemed to get cut off just as it really got going.
The dialogue is witty and the story comes in pieces with little to know slow exhibition. The play moves well, but I feel like it can explore the character’s relationships a bit more. Also, there can be made more of engaging climax. It is as though they jumped the gun and pulled out the rug from under themselves. Overall, it is a believable, interesting, hip piece that needs a little more development. I look forward to hopefully seeing future productions.