Non-Registered Critics: Anthony Byrnes

Aug

Andy Warhol’s Tomato

If you have even a passing familiarity with the artist, you’ll get the inside jokes: there’s the soup can, a coke bottle, 15 minutes of fame. But more than a little familiarity, like more than a little expectation will probably trip you up.

I’ll leave it to the art historians but the play’s artistic origin story for Warhol - a kind of blue collar ‘keep it simple’ ‘a tomato is beautiful because it’s a simple tomato’ message doesn’t really bear itself out in Warhol’s actual aesthetic vision. But there is something tantalizing about the origins of genius. Even though “Tomato” is a more of a sketch than a full canvas, if you can let go of expectations it’s a simple, sweet story.

sweet - ...read full review

Aug

Fefu and Her Friends

Denise Blasor masterfully directs a truly stunning cast of women who bring this world to life. They provide both the grounding that lets us hear the words and the nuance that invites us to imagine their complexity. It’s not easy but it’s thrilling.

This is a masterpiece that doesn’t get produced often or well. So don’t miss this chance to see a stellar production of a play that shows us how much more complicated female characters can be.

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Jul

Son of Semele presents MEN ON BOATS

Part of that is a directorial struggle and part of that is a challenge with structure. Son of Semele’s production never really manages to crack the play’s tone

Even with these shortcomings, “Men on Boats” is headed in the right direction but like the original expedition - it’s a bumpy ride.

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Jul

Scraps

This shift from act one to act two is jarring - as it should be. Structurally, it’s not entirely successful but emotionally it’s devastating.

What holds the play together is the remarkable ensemble of actors who go from giving subtle, nuanced performances in act one to over the top physically bold caricatures in act two. It’s like two different plays and it’s not an easy journey.

Ms. Inoa’s voice isn’t one you’ve heard in the theater before but if we’re going to make sense of racism and the violence against innocent black men - hers is an essential voice.

Don’t miss this powerful production.

sweet - ...read full review

Jul

The Caucasian Chalk Circle

Sadly, Antaeus has taken a faithful approach that seems more respectful than revolutionary and more restored than radical...

Antaeus’ saving grace is their talented actors. While this show’s ensemble as a whole feels more like a junior varsity squad for the company, the saving grace of this show is Steve Hofvendahl’s performance as the judge Azdek. Mr. Hofvendahl has an acting style that’s brutally straightforward. It’s almost midwestern in its directness. It’s as if he’ll happily suffer all this theater around him but, dammit, he’s got a story to tell so can we just dispense with all this and get to it. You buy into his performance not because it’s flashy but because it’s undeniable.

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Jul

Scraps

What holds the play together is the remarkable ensemble of actors who go from giving subtle, nuanced performances in act one to over the top physically bold caricatures in act two. It’s like two different plays and it’s not an easy journey.

Ms. Inoa’s voice isn’t one you’ve heard in the theater before but if we’re going to make sense of racism and the violence against innocent black men - hers is an essential voice.

Don’t miss this powerful production.

sweet - ...read full review

Jul

Mysterious Circumstances

The cast is wonderful and filled with LA actors. The set is something of an automated marvel, shifting locations and perspectives and just generally being impressive. And the direction is brisk and confident. We cover a lot of ground very quickly. It’s one of those plays where so much happens and there’s such a momentum driving forward that you get swept up with it...

Here’s a play that’s terribly ambitious, told by a group of artists who are really good at their craft - that in the end doesn’t pack the emotional punch or narrative satisfaction you long for.

Is it worth seeing? Absolutely.

Will it dazzle you? Maybe.

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Jul

Loot

This is some of Bart DeLorenzo’s tightest direction and the farce unfolds with the right amount of bluster and incompetence...

With a production this good - you watch to remember how art can change culture - sometimes by boldly poking it in the eye to help it see more clearly.

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Jun

Mama Metal

While there are themes you’ll recognize, I guarantee you’ve never seen them handled like this. And while the heavy metal motif feels a little gimmicky at first as the play develops it feels like a no-brainer...

Ms. Gilmer’s voice is unique and at the same time she’s breaking all the rules, she’s letting you know she knows she’s doing it and more importantly why. That’s a gift to the theatre and her audience.

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Jun

Happy Days

Somewhere in that struggle, the best productions of Beckett perform a mystical alchemy that turns that emptiness into meaning, chaos into connection.

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Jun

Invisible Tango

The show is on surer footing when it comes to card tricks rather than dramaturgical ones but there are enough ‘oh, wow’ moments on both fronts to make it a great evening.

And, if you go into this magic show primed to be both dazzled by cards and reflect on why you choose what you choose - then you’ll leave the 80 minute show with more than a fun, light evening of entertainment.

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May

Daniel's Husband

these are some of the finest actors in LA and they not only keep things together - they make it all terribly touching. And make small silent moments speak volumes. This is the kind of acting that make intimate theater special. You're not going to see a cast this good in a space this small in other cities.

So laugh with the first half, cry or cringe with the second half - but enjoy these actors.

sweet - ...read full review

May

Brain Problems

“Brain Problems” doesn't really hold together. It feels like a collection of clever ideas that don't really add up to a whole. Line by line the writing is clever and witty and the cast attacks it with gusto - but if you get too attached to the big idea, things start to get frustrating.

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Apr

The Niceties

You can feel their allegiances shift between the two parties. You can hear the muffled “harrumphs” about gender identity. You nod with the knowing laughter when allusions are made to how that 2016 election is going to turn out. You can feel an audience weighing a complicated web of issues.

…and a solid piece of theater

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Apr

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane

We also get some beautiful harmonies and even a little bit of clowning in that hobo's snarky dog.

And, yes - there is carrot cake in the lobby afterwards - but that sweetness comes after a full-balanced meal of theater for young minds. I'd say it's good for kids six and up but at the performance I saw there were some a couple years younger who managed the scary parts just fine.

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Apr

Black Super Hero Magic Mama

It feels like at just the moments the play is going to confront the horrors it shys away and returns to the personal.  Maybe in the end that's all we can do … but it feels like we're missing the real drama.

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Mar

FOR THE LOVE OF (OR, THE ROLLER DERBY PLAY)

What began as a “best of” - now feels like an obligatory round-robin of LA's small theaters. If Center Theatre Group wants to lead the way, Block Party needs to evolve.

sour - ...read full review

Mar

The Wolves

You go on a ride with these girls and through their lives you see their world - and see it shattered.  You'll laugh with them, you'll cringe with them, and ultimately you'll probably weep with them.

And if you've got a teenager in your life, this is a great excuse to take them to the theater.  You'll both laugh, you'll both feel uncomfortable - and you might gain a little window into each other.

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Mar

The Old Man and The Old Moon

If you're looking for a way to share some inventive theater with the family (or you just miss good bedtime stories) Pigpen Theatre has you covered.

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Feb

Accidental Death Of An Anarchist

As good as the Gangs' production is - it begins to lag a bit after the initial shock wears off - but stick with it.  There's a last minute reversal that makes it worth the journey and suggests there's a deep method to all this madness.

sweet - ...read full review

ADS
  • DIRTY TRICKS w/ The New Bad Boys of Magic
  • Give Up the Ghost at the First Christian Church of Whittier
  • Fefu and her Friends at the Odyssey Theatre

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