Michael Van Duzer is an award-winning playwright and director. He has reviewed opera productions for a variety of print and online media since the mid-1980's. In the past few years, he has added theatre reviews to his resume. He writes features and interviews for LA Stage Alliance's online magazine @This Stage.

DELEARIOUS review

A focus on one or two of the stories might have upped the ante on the show’s humor quotient, but, as it is, deLEARious buckles under the weight of its complications and its two hour-plus running time.

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KAIDAN review

Traversing the corridors of Kaidan Project: Walls Grow Thin is a singular theatrical experience. It is one that is decidedly more atmospheric than aggressively gruesome. Unlike some immersive experiences which compel their audience, the feeling in this production is always one of invitation. I suggest you accept.

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TROUBLE IN MIND review

Ellen Geer has assembled a gifted cast, and her direction allows us to savor its unique personalities, particularly in the early, more blatantly, comic scenes. Geer obviously understands and respects Childress’ language, guiding the performances with an unhurried grace.

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AS YOU LIKE IT review

Director Rob Clare is a renowned Shakespeare specialist who has worked internationally as a director, a teacher, and a coach. His production is clean and coherent with the text, aside from a few opening night bobbles, spoken with admirable clarity.

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THE DEVIL'S WIFE review

Jacobson has convincingly crafted a newly-minted folk tale that feels utterly familiar. Few writers would dare to throw in a Miltonian debate on God’s responsibilities during a physical showdown. Director Eric Hoff makes sure that the action never lags during the play’s 80-minute running time. He also mines every laugh, but, perhaps, at the expense of the story’s creepier moments. I think that, like a good Hammer film, the humor could enhance the horror rather than overwhelming it. Cudos to Fight Choreographer Mike Mahaffey for a brilliantly wince-inducing battle between Mastema and Sofia.

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THE CAKE review

During the course of Brunstetter’s skillfully constructed 90-minute play, each couple will be forced to examine their respective relationships and find fixes for the cracks Jen’s visit home has exposed. If this sounds overly serious, Brunstetter’s sprightly dialog and Della’s fantasy life as a contestant on a television baking show offer plenty of laughs.

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IN THE VALLEY OF THE SHADOW review

In commemoration of the one-year anniversary of the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando, Rogue Machine Theatre is presenting the world premiere of Katherine Cortez’s In the Valley of the Shadow. This taut, gripping, and intensely moving new play is a powerful tribute to the lives lost that terrible night.

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NORMAL review

Mancini skillfully guides the trio through a visceral and highly theatrical staging of the play. He makes effective use of the entire stage, and skillfully capitalizes on the eerily looming shadows cast when backlighting actors behind the scrim. But perhaps the most indelible visual is watching normal objects like a hammer and a pair of scissors become instruments of pain and death.

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DOGFIGHT review

Peter Duchan’s book gracefully translates the qualities of the film to the stage. Pasek and Paul (they both share credit for music and lyrics) have crafted an emotionally resonant score that enhances the quick-paced story. Their lyrics are filled with character and dramatically apt. As young composers still finding their voices, the score offers telling clues to their musical influences. Sharp-eared audience members will find echoes of Stephen Sondheim and, especially, Adam Guettel.

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PLEDGE review

Playwright Paul Shoulberg has something very different in mind. His witty and incisively written play is a satiric look at the heart of white male privilege. Recognizing that a fraternity is the perfect incubator for the slickly amoral businessmen and lawyers who populate the upper class in America, he focuses on the next generation as they flex their muscles and learn how to access their power.

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