Non-Registered Critics: Anthony Byrnes

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.

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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.

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Feb

Matthew Bourne’s ‘Cinderella’

The magic, for me, of this “Cinderella” is that it asks us to question this fairytale at the same time it carries us away with it.

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Jan

Hir

Is it worth seeing?

If you’re offended by the very premise? Yes.  If you’re sick of seeing the same stories over and over again? Yes, with caveats. Just know that the first steps on any new journey can be a bit bumpy.

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Jan

Jocasta: A Motherf**king Tragedy

There are moments that feel like a doorway to a powerful production – but we never really get to walk through it. If you’re a huge fan of the Greeks, there’s enough here to chew on.

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Dec

COME FROM AWAY

If you’re looking for a feel good holiday show – that’s not exactly a holiday show – “Come from Away” might be a perfect night for the family from out of town.

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Nov

KING LEAR

I’m happy that there are still tiny rooms in LA where actors can give something this ambitious a go. That said, this isn’t a production you need to run out to see.

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Nov

Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol

This is a Christmas Carol you definitely don’t want to miss. While, yes, it is a holiday show – it’s also one of the best pieces of theatre you’re likely to see this year. As to kids, it’s scary so I’d say save it for the ten and older crowd.

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Nov

QUACK

With “Quack” it’s hard to tell what Ms. Clark and Center Theatre Group were going after beyond topicality. In the end, “Quack” feels like the pop medicine its central character practices, driven by fads and the latest trend and devoid of any deeper commitment. This is one over-produced play you can catch simply by reading any week of headlines.

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Oct

DEAR EVAN HANSEN

Either way “Dear Evan Hansen” pulls at your heart and delivers on every front. It’s even the kind of show you should take your teenagers to (as long as you’re comfortable talking about suicide and anxiety and drugs – you know, modern life?). If you can get a ticket, don’t miss this one.

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Oct

EVERYTHING THAT NEVER HAPPENED

It’s hard to imagine a finer production of this play. The set is beautifully simple and flexible. The direction crisp. The acting and casting near ideal for the script. Unfortunately the script ultimately falls prey to it’s own machinery.

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Oct

All Night Long

…“All Night Long” is riotously funny in a dark, twisted way, it’s also deeply moving and profound…. The art of the production, led by director Jan Munroe and a brilliant ensemble of actors, is that they manage to keep this bizarre world profoundly grounded… While this cast fully embodies the comedy of the piece, they also manage to give it a deep soul that makes “All Night Long” heartbreaking.

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Oct

The Untranslatable Secrets of Nikki Corona

Now each one of these parts is interesting on it’s own but also deeply unsatisfying because it feels like the play keeps avoiding what the play’s trying to be about… In the end, “The untranslatable secrets of Nikki Corona” is a powerful argument for the necessity of a good dramaturg – a wise guide who can help a talented writer turn a pile of sketches into a full canvas.

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Sep

Gloria

Mr. Jacob-Jenkins is trying to make us examine something deeper than the sensational. He’s asking us, like any great playwright, to consider how we treat one another and what we value as a culture. That’s not easy. And like that intern or barista awkwardly observing in the background, “Gloria” can get a little uncomfortable but stick with it. Mr. Jacob-Jenkins is trying to tell us how to heal by showing us how deeply our disease runs.

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Sep

SWEAT

The moments and actors who really do come to embody the lived tragedy of these characters just serve to reveal the moments that aren’t full. It’s frustrating because watching “Sweat” is like catching glimmers of greatness through a locked fence – the promise is just out of reach. Maybe that’s oddly appropriate for this great play. There’s enough of the play there to recommend it …but I’m warning you now, you could walk out longing for the production and cast that reveals all it’s tragic power.

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Aug

HOLE IN THE SKY

We need plays that tell these stories – but we also need plays that don’t try and tell all these stories all at the same time. Less isn’t more when it comes to a drought but a little bit less would have gone a long way in this play.

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Aug

Cry It Out

“Cry It Out” is a play about the chasms in our culture between our expectations and our realities; between what we expect of a mother and what we allow. It’s a play that looks at how the primal realities of being a mom conflict with the economic demands of being a woman in the 21st century. Regardless of your politics or parenting philosophy – it’s heartbreaking and undeniably human. This is a production you need to see. The cast is phenomenal; the direction and design elegant and clear – it’s a beautiful 90 minutes. Just don’t blame me if you walk out a sobbing mess and it opens up deep questions about what it means to be a mom today.

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Aug

Mayakovsky and Stalin

If you’re looking for a clear, simple plot – look elsewhere.  If on the other hand you’re willing to get lost for two hours in Murray Mednick’s obsessions, his latest play “Mayakovsky and Stalin” is perfect for you… The reason to spend two hours inside Mednick’s mind is the wonderful ensemble cast that tackle his muscular language beautifully. (While you might get lost in the philosophical arguments – they never do).

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