Today, we review eight shows: Michael’s Daughter, On the Rag to Riches, There’s No Place Like… , Poe and Mathews, Drunk With Hope in Chicago, If Water Were Present It Would Be Called Drowning, Gumshoe McMonocle and D Is for Dog:
by Tracey Paleo~
Michael’s Daughter is based on actress/writer Ciera Payton’s paper trail relationship of hand written letters with her incarcerated father who is currently serving a seven year prison sentence in Cottonport, Louisiana for a non-violent drug offense.
It is a work in progress, bodied in great part by the intoxicating history of life in New Orleans, a small, intimate menage of her own drug addicted kin in an overcrowded home, and the added influence of growing up bi-racial in the South with her father’s family who is completely white.
What is remarkable about this story is how Ms. Payton relates herself independent of it. It is an account in some ways more about the people whose doorsteps she is left at, who take care of her, raise her, abandon her, advise her, champion her and fail her. Although she is every bit a part of this intriguingly, melodious score, there is a definitive unwillingness to accept it.
Acutely adept at impersonation (aunt, mother, father) she moves the audience through memory, voice and dream, investigating the complexities of her life and emotions that she wills herself to witness but not fully experience. Love, desire, guilt, her need to know how to value herself in the world and especially with men remain as elusive as the drums that beat inside her during sublimated visions where characters visit like specters. They force her to deal with her walls and embrace her heart, her life and herself fully – simply as, Michael’s daughter.
Stage direction and choreography could be a bit more quiet for a small black box venue but otherwise, exquisitely done.
Playing at Complex Theatre Flight, 6476 Santa Monica Blvd. No more performances at Fringe
by Tony Bartolone~
Katie Molinaro is On The Rag To Riches, and she’s invited the world to watch her on her way. I am ecstatic to have had one show rock my fuckin’ socks off before the end of The Fringe.
Punk never looked so good. Riot Grrrl bands have some competition from this little dose of TNT. Katie Molinaro grabs us by the balls and rushes us through her history of rebellion and boys. Molinaro is fearless, proclaiming, “Unless you die, every relationship ends.” Rather bleak options, don’t you think? It is either broken heart or heart attack. Despite the despondent lyric, the show is presented in an edgy, hilarious explosion of music and adolescent angst.
Molinaro shoves this unique, comedic gem in our face, and we can’t look away. Sweet, sexy and full of post-relationship rage, this female firestorm will blow you away. This is one of the funniest, fiercest, frosted flake love stories ever told. This show will kick your fucking ass. Beyond being a bloody bombshell, this is a bittersweet portrait of conflicted youth. There are real emotional scars and thought-provoking relationship commentary amongst the distorted guitar driven fury. Hedwig meets The Runaways in this raw, exciting, rock and roll livewire.
by Tracey Paleo~
“Dorothy called. She wants her house back!”
There’s no place like theatre when it is ‘unleashed.’ And in bringing it’s own brand of 24-hour theatre to the Hollywood Fringe where volunteer writers are given a specific topic and a single night to write a short play, cast it, rehearse it and present it in front of an audience, a hurricane of epic proportions can and most likely will be discharged.
In this fashion, Theatre Unleashed, handed over on Sunday night, June 17 a 6 play series of silly, quirky and utterly zany comedies with the theme of, There’s No Place Like…
There was no place like an elevator ready to fall – in space, a visit with your missing astronaut father in your dreams, a liberal all female pirate ship with a lascivious Lesbian captain, and a political campaigning, pamphlet writing, overeating martian who typically over-stays his welcome, to name a few. Hosted by slightly sardonic, but adorably funny in a sort of totally too much beer guzzling kind of way, MC, Clayton Meeks, who pulled the show together, and thankfully for that, producer Gregory Crafts, lives up to the namesake. A good time all around.
Bummer. No More Shows.
by Joel Elkins~
When co-stars, co-creators and co-directors Brian Kuwabara and Emily Windler first enter the Artworks Annex stage in slapstick make-up gesticulating spastically to bad choreography, the audience is excused for predicting another cheesy show by wannabes fashioning themselves artists exploiting the opportunity afforded by the Fringe to stage whatever amateur show they have thrown together for the occasion.
However, it quickly becomes evident that this production has been carefully crafted and adeptly engineered over time, is being admirably performed and doesn’t, well, suck. Instead, it is witty, clever and entertaining.
Windler plays the celebrated and supercilious Edgar Allan Poe opposite Kuwabara’s Cornelius Mathews, a decidedly (and by Poe’s estimation deservedly) lesser-known author, marooned together on a desert island. They simultaneously drive each other crazy and keep each other sane as they go through the five stages of strandedness, all the while concocting plans (with varying degrees of success) to escape tedium, the island and the proverbial fourth wall.
Comparisons to Laurel and Hardy are inevitable, in part because of the large pillow stuffed under Kuwabara’s shirt and in part because of Poe’s constant state of pique and Mathew’s defusing naivete and servility (a “reversal of girths” from the classic comedy team). But these characters are neither derivative nor trite, offering a solid hour of non-lagging comedy and an important lesson in not judging a book by its cover.
There are no more performances of Poe and Mathews at the Fringe.
by Tony Bartolone~
This one woman shows unapologetically shares Hope’s journey to the other side of addiction. Told through several alcoholic characters and the personification of objects and emotions, Drunk With Hope in Chicago is a naked account of a woman’s sobering struggle.
Hope takes us inside a world that is full of embarrassing moments, colorful characters and booze. Alternately funny and painful, her story is one self-loathing, self-discovery and (eventually) self-growth. Her ability to see the disease through the eyes of different people adds a dynamic that really gives the show legs. She takes inside the walls of Alcoholic Anonymous meetings and to the streets of Chicago finding humor and perspective in her painful past.
Looking outside yourself to see you have a problem is an extremely difficult thing to deal with. And the road recovery is one paved with failures and hurt. This show is a bravely personal battle fought and won. Hope is a modern day warrior. I would like to thank her for sharing.
If Water Were Present It Would Be Called Drowning at Fringe Central
by Tracey Paleo~
Living on the verge of a nervous breakdown, looking forward to an utter collapse; inviting, investigating, wishing, hoping , dreaming, begging. Oh, when will it come? Something has changed. Or is it about to?
If Water Were Present It Would Be Called Drowning is Theatre Revelations’ aptly named, stunningly brilliant and absolutely indecent, surreal projection of a woman in total lock down, just waiting, maps in hand, for her moment of escape. It is experimental theatre at its best.
Betsy Moore is a gutsy, solid, actress, intelligent, hilarious and quite frankly perfect as Lolly, the desperate housewife who is out of love, luck and opportunities and only in her thirties. She sifts, caught in a loop, through her jumbled mind of pretend soap opera sexual encounters, fantasies of killing her angry, neglectful husband, abandoning her unloving children, and circumventing the monotony with secret visits to dirty motels just to do nothing on car pool days off; all the while drowning in the sickening existence of being the outwardly perfectly bored housewife.
Seamless writing and directing by John Sinner. This performance was executed with finesse and expertise assisted by the masterful sound and lighting design of Matt Richter, video construction of both Adam Soch and Carol Gehring, tech op/stage manager, Forrest Lancaster and music, Bobby McElver, and also with co-star Paul Tucci in a rare position of strength that supported the histrionics in the simplest of ways.
Outstanding – bar none.
No More Performances.
by Marcus Kaye ~
The fairytale of Rumpelstiltskin gets a new twist in Omnipresent Puppet Theatre’s Gumshoe McMonocle And The Strange Case Of Rumpelsomething. Set as a 1940′s film noir, our puppet hero, Gumshone McMonocle (who shares a striking resemblance to George Clooney) must help Queen Anita discover the name of the man who can spin straw into gold.
The silly puppet show is classic entertainment for children, and the brooding narration from McMonocle that accompanies the fairytale adds a level of enjoyment for adults. Puppeteer Don Kruszka successfully handles a plethora of characters (and their differing voices) in his one-man puppet show.
Topical references and audience participation add to the entertainment value, but little can be done to enhance the lower than expected production value of the puppets and their stage.
Family fun on a budget, Gumshoe McMonocle And The Strange Case Of Rumpelsomething is lively and original, if not a little run down.
Gumshoe McMonocle And The Strange Case Of Rumpelsomething played June 16th, 23rd and 24th at the Theatre Asylum Lab.
by Tracey Paleo~
In the darkly comedic, Orwellian pseudo soap D is for Dog, we live in a futuristic vision of our 1950′s past, interspersed by Aunt Jemima breakfast commercials, Betty Crocker cake mixes, and Maxwell House Coffee that’s perfect every cup, every time, mechanically on schedule, on cue.
It’s hysterically funny watching post apocalyptic Stepford wife, Mrs. Rogers bounce around the kitchen creating the marvelously beautiful lives they all live – administering to her family the little clear pills that “give us the pep in our step,” giving us the first clue that things are “not exactly right.”
Life may seem perfect but Mr. Rogers has a dangerous secret. He has been dabbling with the forbidden past against the knowledge and permission of the “Corporation,” a government agency that provides everyone with everything and insidiously controls every aspect of their lives.
But nature starts to rebel from the perfection as the pills slowly stop working. Real human emotions emerge, little Jane is getting more and more uncontrollable and excited and Dick is starting to understand the truth. Mrs. Rogers is getting sick and their mini universe begins to fail as another outside reality of planet earth suddenly steps in to reveal the incongruence of their existence, through the computer generated screens of their lives.
Surprising, suspenseful, thrilling and well – “perfect”, D is for Dog is an embodiment of edgy, ensemble theatre. This production is superbly gifted by highly choreographed stage direction, excellent costumes, and peerless lighting effects, writing, delivery and puppetry.
No More Performances.