Theater Reviews

Washington City Paper

In a time when undocumented immigrants are increasingly threatened with deportation and jingoistic hate speech is on the rise, Arthur Miller’s A View From The Bridge feels less like a 1955 chestnut and more like a piece of contemporary sociopolitical commentary…

Washington City Paper

The most famous alums of The Second City, Chicago’s revered sketch troupe, are, for the most part, white. There’s John BelushiAmy PoehlerJulia Louis-Dreyfus, and Steve Carell, to name just a few. Sure, Tim Meadows graduated from The Second City to a long-running Saturday Night Live stint, killing it season after season with his wildly funny, Courvoisier-sipping Leon Phelps, aka The Ladies Man…

Washington City Paper

Joan Didion’s life was turned upside down when her husband of 40 years, John Gregory Dunne, collapsed on the living room floor…

Washington City Paper

Studio Theatre’s dedication to contemporary theater may makeHedda Gabler,Henrik Ibsen’s late 19th-century portrait of a kept woman clawing at the claustrophobic walls of a deeply unsatisfying marriage, seem an odd choice. The play surely shocked audiences in its 1891 debut, delving into the secret psychological machinations of a then-new category of dramatic character—the freedom-seeking wife who sates boredom by maliciously controlling a man’s destiny—but the premise now feels creaky against today’s backdrop of women’s empowerment and authority.

Thankfully, Mark O’Rowe’s unfussy adaptation, along with a few powerful performances, make this Hedda’s fast-moving train ride toward self-destruction the kind of spectacle from which it’s mostly impossible to look away…

Stage Raw

The fascists are coming. Wallace Shawn’s play — penned in the mid-‘90s — pits a bloodthirsty government regime against a band of subversive intellectuals and writers. The proceedings feel pertinent in the Trump era.

Theatre of NOTE’s production succeeds in the hands of three actors whose commitment to the heady text and chemistry with each other are both admirable. The pacing no doubt needs tightening, particularly because the play is full of monologues, but that’s a problem this company is capable of solving…

L.A. Weekly

Jackson Pollock’s most famous paintings have polarized critics since the artist first attacked a horizontal canvas. That polarization feeds writer-director Stephen Sachs’ new play, which uses a Pollock painting as the central symbol of class war. Mouthy Maude (Jenny O’Hara) spends her days lapping up Jack Daniels and watching police procedurals in her kitsch-filled Bakersfield trailer, until a painting she buys at a yard sale steals her focus from the idiot box. Convinced the cheap buy is a bona fide Pollock…

L.A. Weekly

Director Sean Branney grabs hold of Arthur Miller’s red-scare allegory, wringing emotionally charged, angst-ridden performances from the talented cast. Young Abigail Williams (a brilliantly conniving Sarah van der Pol) and her gaggle of naive girlfriends extricate themselves from an oceanic amount of hot water by explaining their late-night woodsy romp with Barbadian servant Tituba (Hollie Hunt) as a ritual in which Tituba conjured the devil, whom they claim walked side by side with scores of local women. A witch hunt ensues…

L.A. Weekly

Bolstered by director Jon Lawrence Rivera’s unadorned, precise vision, Act 1 of Donald Jolly’s homoerotic slave narrative set on a Virginia plantation in 1820 is a piece of earnest, thought-provoking theater. Jolly’s frank but lovely storytelling graces the genre with fresh insights about the lives of slaves, traveling beyond the dehumanizing stories of sexual abuse and unspeakable human violence penned so powerfully in the firsthand accounts of Frederick Douglass and Harriet Jacobs, taking us instead to a slightly reimagined slice of the old South, where sexual freedom becomes nearly as urgent as freedom from human ownership…

L.A. Weekly

As it’s written, evidence that nature has gone awry and foul deeds are afoot in Denmark is supplied in the crucial first moments of Hamlet, when Bernardo, Marcellus and Horatio spot the ghost of Hamlet’s father. Following this early revelation, Shakespeare immediately introduces audiences to Claudius, the “smiling villain,” whose nefarious actions have set the play’s bloody outcomes in motion. It’s disappointing then that new L.A. company Player King Productions reorders the play, putting the gravediggers on stage at the outset and cutting all the lines of Act I, scene ii prior to Hamlet’s first soliloquy. The textual tampering continues throughout, but does not add up to an entirely off-the-mark production, just one that is frustratingly puzzling at times…

Backstage

In the world of Luis Arturo Reyes’ new satire, everything seems frighteningly possible: Humans grow tails and a holograph delivers a speech for a CEO whose recent suicide drives the play’s action. But the endless possibilities presented in this futuristic world of body-altering magic, techie gadgets, and human gene tampering detract from the richness of simple living…

Backstage

Buried grief is unearthed in Theresa Rebeck’s “The Water’s Edge,” her 2001 family drama about an absentee father whose sudden appearance seems to have a glimmer of healing potential. A nuanced ensemble brings an authentic mix of light and dark to the painful proceedings of a fractured family reunion. Based on the first part of Aeschylus’ “The Oresteia”—in which Agamemnon returns home from the Trojan War to meet a bloody fate at the hands of his wife, Clytemnestra—the play never reaches the full dramatic heights of Greek tragedy, but it’s a satisfying modern-day rendering…

Backstage

The plight of two exceedingly imperfect lovers separated by death, selfish desires, and soul-searing guilt burns with dramatic intensity in B. Walker Sampson’s free adaptation of the Euripides tragedy “Alcestis.” Director Darin Dahms masterfully mines the comedy…