David MacDowell Blue has been reviewing Los Angeles theatre via his blog "Night Tinted Glasses" since 2012. He has a degree in Theatre Arts and graduated from New York's National Shakespeare Conservatory. At different times, he has acted, directed, written plays and designed things from sets to lights to costumes. Born in San Francisco, he ended up raised in Florida (where he lived through twelve--yes TWELVE--hurricanes) then eventually landed in Los Angeles.

Brave the Dark

One enters, eyes closed, hands on the shoulder of the person before you. At a certain point, we are told to count backwards from ten then open our eyes. Then...follow the light. Not too hard to figure out that what we experience this year relies even more on shadows, on things heard yet barely seen. Muffled screams. Gasps. Whispers. What look like faces and bodies writhing or maybe dancing or just maybe doing both

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The Devil's Wife

What struck me next was a sense of style--a very specific kind of comedy, based on broad strokes that yet contain complexity and (as we learn eventually) some real depth.

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BITCH BROW

A delicious brew of humanity—humor, surprise, tragedy, love and hate, foolishness and wisdom, insight and some madness. All performed with vast skill by the cast.

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NORMAL

Emerging from the Underworld, we are shaken but more wise, tested and hopefully improved. Not a pretty thing. But “beautiful” is more important than “pretty” and “beautiful” can also be “ugly” at the exact same time.

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MY JANIS

A startling, beautiful and powerful moment in the life of a great artist. Usually one-person shows try and tell a subject’s biography. This took a different turn, which startled then entranced.

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Lord of the Underworld's Home for Unwed Mothers

What follows, though, proves the very embodiment of the myth from which the story derives. Because like Earth and Fire, Life and Death prove but two polarities which naturally coexist. So Persephone/Corie and Demeter/Dee do in fact find a way to be part of each others' lives--almost against their will. Because fundamentally they are two women against the rest of the world--embodies in the Chorus (Andrian Gonzalez and Amy Harmon) who between them bring the rest of this world to the stage. Parents. Lovers. Teachers. Homeless. Crime victims. The lot. Honestly theirs are secondary, sometimes tertiary characters, so they remain almost cyphers on the page. It is the cast and director who make most the most of most of them. But what we see on stage does become a re-enactment of myth. Which makes it a ritual, which in turn theatre has always been.

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Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

Of course, her larger than life father-in-law Big Daddy (Mike McShane) points out both Maggie and his other daughter-in-law the eternally fecund Mae (Tamara Krinsky) seem like “cats on a hot tin roof.” Maggie’s husband Brick (Daniel Bess) agrees. What both perhaps miss is that every single one of this family has earned that title, one way or another.

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MARTHA

Not linear. Not organized. Not straightforward or full of justifications. And never, ever, not once boring. Rather we feel as if a fascinating woman walked into our lives and shared some searingly honest moments and memories.

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The Cruise

Under Heath Cullens’ direction, in fact, the whole ensemble does a fantastic job of keeping a lot of emotional, dramatic and comic balls in the air simultaneously. Perhaps what impresses most is how those balls have not at all come to rest as the play ends. They remain in the air, although moving on to a different pattern—one we can only guess at.

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Rules of Seconds

But instead, we get a pretty explicit exploration of what our age would call \"toxic masculinity.\" Expectation breeds acceptance of the worst, most infantile and destructive of traits. Acceptance becomes reverence. Reverence becomes a cycle of revenge and blood and death. Yet to be fair, it isn\'t as if masculinity is the horror\'s only source. Women too--as this play reveals--have the same impulses, sometimes as dark as can be and for as human reasons as men.

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Paradise Lost: Reclaiming Destiny

But what really impressed me most how much of the story\'s symbols and unique features emerged crystal clear in performance. Of course as Satan rebelled a female figure seemingly appeared on his back, raven haired and sheathed in red. Who could this be but Sin (Laura Covelli) herself. Once they coupled a darkness appeared from them, at first amorphous yet even before he took human form I realized this must be Death (James Bane). Must be!

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