Non-Registered Critics: Christine Deitner

Dec

Bad Habits

If you aren’t of the Catholic faith (or of any faith at all) there are definitely going to be some ideas in the script that will leave you wondering where it tries to leave us but if you are looking for something that will make you think about Christmas in a new light, that also takes you out of the Nutcracker/A Christmas Carol routine, this is a good one to consider.

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Dec

Key Largo

Andy Garcia deserves the same sense of palpable threat that Robinson earned in the Huston film and with a stage this large, with that much of a set, it is startling to note that no effort was made to carve out those small, intimate spaces that could have made this production shine. The cast is strong, yet something is amiss.

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Dec

The Great Leap

Pasadena Playhouse collaborates with East West Players to deliver a visual feast with some deeply emotional surprises in The Great Leap, written by Lauren Yee and directed by BD Wong.

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Nov

Eight Nights

Overall, this is a well-written play that avoids easy answers, assumes we are able to keep up, and presents us with questions, which is ultimately ideal.

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Nov

The Thanksgiving Play

The actors are committed to everything one thousand percent and that’s wonderful to watch but something holds us back from fully embracing every comic beat, and there are a lot of them.

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Oct

Orwell's 1984

Throughout the physical work in the show is intricate, specific and strong and it was an honor to be able to sit with this company and watch them ride this emotional roller coaster that makes love actually seem as dangerous as Big Brother thinks it is. This is strong work that gives us a lot to think about, and more than a few things to be fearful of.

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Oct

ON BECKETT

For ninety minutes, we get to sit with a master craftsman and hear how he has worked with another master craftsman. If that isn’t beautiful, nothing is.

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Oct

A PLAY IS A POEM

The Center Theatre Group presents a particularly cinematic treat with the World premiere of Ethan Coen’s A Play Is a Poem at Mark Taper Forum. Directed by Neil Pepe and presented in association with Atlantic Theater Company, the piece is a collection of five one-acts set in five very different locations featuring characters some audience members might find familiar if they are a fan of Coen brothers films. Scenic design by Riccardo Hernández features a large brick wall that can be transformed via doors, windows and via a bit of scenic magic into different locales and a lovely wood floor that feels overtly theatrical as if we were watching this play in an old Broadway house with its exposed back wall and little else to shape it. It is a raw space that lends itself easily to the sudden shifts of mood each section, or ‘Act’ as musical performer Nellie McKay calls them while maintaining a visual thread that holds it all together.

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Sep

Skintight

Overall, it’s a bit of a challenge to fully love anyone in this play but it is incredibly easy to laugh along with them and that laughter eventually helps the character work their way under your skin, leaving you with a lot to think about.  In the end, that’s exactly what we hope for when we go to the theatre and the cast should be commended for that beautiful accomplishment.

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Sep

Pericles

Incest, attempted murder, attempted rape, and a family desperately seeking out a better life only to be torn apart during a storm at sea that leads to a decade-plus-long separation. It sounds like a summary of some Facebook news feeds but no, this is William Shakespeare and George Wilkins’ Pericles… and in the capable hands of Independent Shakespeare Co.’s co-founder and Artistic Director Melissa Chalsma, it is a solidly funny good time.

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Aug

An Enemy of the People

This is not a production that chooses to tiptoe around anything. This is a show that frames an important conversation we as a nation seem incapable of having around a secondary moral concern and it makes it work.

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Aug

Son of Semele presents MEN ON BOATS

Son of Semele Ensemble brings Jaclyn Backhaus’ Men on Boats to Los Angeles audiences with a highly physical production that elicits the terrors and dangers of exploration in a uniquely simple way...

The character work is specific across the board and it isn’t hard to align yourself with one or several of these historical figures.

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Jul

Death of a Salesman

The Ruskin Theatre Group’s production of Death of a Salesman in Santa Monica, CA confronts us with uncomfortable truths and questions about the American Dream that makes this 70-year-old play feel as challenging and immediate as if Arthur Miller wrote it for us yesterday. Mike Reilly directs a superb cast in the theatre’s delightfully intimate space situated across from the Santa Monica Airport. He and his design team do a fantastic job of using the space to bring the claustrophobic elements of the Loman’s living situation into the audience’s experience.

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Jul

American Saga - Gunshot Medley: Part 1

The overall effect is that we are walking into a different world in a different time and it is so successful, you start to relax into it – that is if you are open to it, and friends, if there was ever a play that demanded we be open and actively listening, this is the one. If you aren’t and you don’t, you are going to miss something sorrowful and true...

With work like this out there available for audiences to see, there is no excuse not to.

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Jul

THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG

The Play That Goes Wrong takes no prisoners and never apologizes for being as outlandish and over the top as ‘play’ can get. We ought to thank them for giving us a good laugh, especially at ourselves.

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Jul

The Caucasian Chalk Circle

Director Stephanie Shroyer has taken masterful hold of Alistair Beaton’s translation of the play with a diverse Ensemble that feel quite comfortable in their many changing roles while never letting us escape the emotional experience nor forget what is at stake.

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Jul

Nancy F***ing Reagan

The subject of the play is something we need to witness, understand and discuss. The execution of it lacks the clarity that ultimately diffuses any power it might have.

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Jul

Twelfth Night

All told, no one here is doing this kind of work with the focus on diversity and community involvement that this company has had since its inception. We are lucky to have them.

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Jul

Anna St. Hesia Dreams

It turned out to be the perfect show – not only to end the day but in many dreamlike, horrifying, visceral ways...

With one actress, a couple of painted black boxes, a hospital bed, a chair, a tangled web of what looked like cords from discarded Apple products serving as the mare shell necklace and strong physical and verbal choices, Rinny and Petriello crafted a world that could make any filmmaker with a multi-million dollar budget green with envy...

This is a complex dream story about fear and sacrifice and yet it is presented with such clarity and a sense of purpose, it is easy to slip into it like a warm bath and not want it to end. It’s what theatre is about.

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Jul

Crabbe and Goyle are Dead

Director Andy Justus keeps things moving at a lightning pace while letting his two main actors express themselves at a near-continuous-shout for a period of time and both extremes make one wish we could dial them back a bit. One of the most successful aspects of the Stoppard play are the moments when the characters are suspended in doubt, uncertain which way to move next.

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