Stephen Fife

Stephen Fife

Writer, Non-Registered Critics

It's happening, folks.  Whether you want it to or not - and why wouldn't you want it to? - SPRING is exploding all over Los Angeles, and not just any spring either.  The snowy plovers are back in LA (at Dockweiler Beach) for the first time in 70 years, the brodiaea filofilia is
blooming out in the desert for the first time in many years, and new plays are springing up everywhere.  Seriously, the Twisted Hipster has been haunting the aisles for longer than he cares to admit, but even he can't remember so many new theatrical voices of all sorts crying out to be heard.  Now if only the audiences out there would adjust their inner radio dials and get on that more dramatic frequency, then you would see a true celebration of the remarkable talent that this city of dreams has to offer. What follows are Hipster Tips for two shows that are in their final week and another that has a few weeks to go.

And folks - THE FRINGE IS COMING, so get ready to tighten your seat belts.  (And only a few more days to catch this lovely blue flower before it's gone, and who knows when we can see it again?)

Armond Edward Dorsey, William Salyers and Eamon Hunt


There's a sly game being played by the Lower Depth Ensemble in this deceptively nimble play by Carlyle Brown. And I'm not talking about the con game being perpetrated by Colonel Wiley Johnson and the slave Simon Cato on the greedy and proudly racist George Dewitt. What seems like a clever costume drama about racetrack shenanigans in Kentucky (where else?) in the mid-1800s reveals itself in the Second Act as a deeply subversive work about the ways in which Americans seem to learn nothing from history - instead celebrating our ignorance while trying to convince ourselves that we've made loads of progress. What a resonant message for our times, as the stupidest president in our stupidity-riddled history celebrates his ignorance in such predictably stupid ways.  And the excellent cast includes Deborah Puette! A good rule of thumb for Los Angeles theater is to go see any play that has Deborah Puette in it, as she is always so good.  Only one weekend, three performances to go! Click here for tickets.

PUNK ROCK at the Odyssey Theatre

Written three years before his celebrated adaptation of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Simon Stephens's Punk Rock is NOT about a punk rock band, is NOT about the punk rock movement in London or Liverpool or anywhere else, and is NOT even about fans of punk rock. Instead it introduces us to six fairly average-seeming teenage students at "a fee-paying school in Stockport, England." Why then is the play titled Punk Rock? According to Simon Stephens, "I only ever called my Punk Rock because Tom Stoppard called his worst-ever play Rock 'n Roll and in so doing denigrated the art form I love more than any other." But Stephens does explore the kind of destructive and rage-filled compulsions that lie at the heart of punk rock music, as when one young male asks another here: "Don't you ever feel like just destroying things?"And the other young man answers, "Oh yeah, all the time!" The cast under Lisa James's direction all bring these students to life in a way that brings to mind The Breakfast Club on the one hand and Lord of the Flies on the other. And no, try as you might, you won't be ready when the punk rock song finally comes. Also in its last weekend, last three shows.  Wow, this man can write. Click for tickets here.

Corryn Cummins and Amy Harmon            Photo Credit: Ed Krieger


Playwright Louisa Hill tries very daringly - and to a great degree, very successfully - to create a realistic mother-daughter play that also has the feel of a fable, a Grimm's fairy tale for our fractured times. Act I takes us back to the '60s - not the hip, drug-fueled '60s, but the dark ages before Roe v. Wade and the women's movement, when a young Catholic girl who got knocked up had to trust in the Church to have her best interests at heart (which it didn't), and when nice white people couldn't withstand the public shame of a teen pregnancy. In Act II we see the result of all this shame and the unwise faith in institutions: a daughter whose heart has been broken so many times and whose trust has been betrayed so often that she is unable to love, unwilling to hope - until finally, gradually, she finds her way back to her mother. While not a perfect play by any means, it is given a nearly flawless production under the supervision of director Tony Abatemarco, and you have 3 weekends left to catch it, so hurry! Click for tickets here.