Non-Registered Critics: Bill Raden

Aug

I GO SOMEWHERE ELSE

...this is a deeply personal show with a big heart, and a superb ensemble under the sensitive direction of Jon Lawrence Rivera discovers all of its winsome charm and winning theatricality. - RECOMMENDED

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Jun

When Skies Are Gray

If it's not an easy performance to witness, neither is it frivolous. There's an astonishing if understandable degree of anger in so realistically and painstakingly portraying the manifold indignities of dying an agonizing death in America's medical-industrial complex. And though Steed tempers it with the deeply personal lyricism of a silent dance-movement duet postscript that recapitulates the fraught nature of all mother-daughter relationships, it is the righteous outrage of When Skies Are Graythat ultimately speaks the most eloquently to Steed's loss. RECOMMENDED

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Jun

Snow Fridge

What ensues is not for the passive of heart; it demands some verbal and physical adlibbing, as well as intimate, nonsexual touching/getting touched on the part of the audience member. And though each experience will widely vary depending on the answers provided, expect a fancifully philosophic, musical encounter in which much of the surprise comes from the invention with which the company weaves the answers to the questionnaire into a hilarious, personally tailored dream narrative. RECOMMENDED

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Jun

Ripe Frenzy

This theatrically deliberate and razor-edged Greenway Arts Alliance production (part of a three-theater National New Play Network Rolling World Premiere) builds its momentum slowly but when its climax finally comes, it packs a wallop that hits like an expertly aimed kick to the emotional solar plexus.

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Mar

An Undivided Heart

As in any good mystery, Toropov torques his plot with just enough well-paced clues to keep the audience pleasantly off-balance while preserving the story's capacity to surprise in spite of the obvious inevitability of Mike's eventual decision. Much of the credit goes to director Chris Fields, whose fluidly cinematic production nimbly counters the material's melodramatic tug with subtle visual humor and witty performances to leaven Toropov's often heady plunge into New Age-y Zen philosophy.

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Feb

El Nino

Impossible to deny the comic genius of Justin Tanner. The hilarious, familiarity-bred venom that the veteran Los Angeles playwright's bickering but ultimately big-hearted suburban California misfits reflexively spew at one another has proved to be the stage's most prodigious laugh generator since Neil Simon.

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Nov

WAKE

Although the ensemble is clearly still fine-tuning its timing, and Wake is consequently guilty of what sometimes feel like overly austere intellectual stretches, the evening's momentum rarely flags. More importantly, at a moment when headlines seem to trumpet the potential calamities of debasing public policy with alternative facts, the play comes as a timely reminder that the confrontation with the other is ultimately always a confrontation with the self.

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Jul

The Cake

Director Jennifer Chambers's efficient staging (on designer Pete Hickock's photorealist storefront set) makes the most of the script's situational comedy, connecting Brunstetter's satiric jabs at both Macy's puritanical self-righteousness and Della's unexamined hypocrisy. But it is finally Rupp's endearing and deeply felt portrayal of a woman groping beyond the parochialism of received beliefs that elevates The Cake from mere sententiousness into something far more hopeful and moving.

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May

The Sweetheart Deal

Despite the considerable polish of the production and the fine precision of its ensemble, The Sweetheart Deal ultimately proves a pallid and overly sanitized accounting that offers few genuine insights or compelling surprises.

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May

Lord of the Underworld's Home for Unwed Mothers

“Winning performances from all the actors. Affecting story...disarmingly sweet”

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Mar

Rules of Seconds

Though director Jo Bonney coaxes memorable individual performances from an ensemble of outstanding character actors (nicely supported by Stephanie Kerley Schwartz's convincing period costumes, Neil Peter Jampolis' sculpted lighting and Cricket S. Myers' crack sound), too much of the play's rigorous historical research feels distractingly unrooted while too many of its latent laughs fail to ignite.

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Mar

Collective Rage: A Play in 5 Boops

Despite lovely performances, particularly by the marvelous Leigh and Anzoategui, and a fluid staging by Lindsay Allbaugh, Silverman's mix of rather hoary cultural clichés and low comedy stalls just at the moment it should be catching fire.

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Mar

FUN HOME

Fun Home, a Hauntingly Moving Musical About Sexual Identity and Family, Comes to L.A.

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Feb

Plasticity

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Nov

THE BEAUTY QUEEN OF LEENANE

If the exquisite new international touring production of The Beauty Queen of Leenane currently at the Mark Taper Forum is any indication, Martin McDonagh's blackly comedic blowtorch of an Irish melodrama promises to be around for as long as there are controlling mothers and emotionally crippled daughters locked in a toxic embrace of blame, shame and mutually manipulative torment.

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