Registered Critic: Daniel Faigin

Daniel Faigin has been regularly attending live theatre since he went with his parents to the LA Civic Light Opera production of "The Rothschilds" in 1972. Since 2004, he has been writing up every live performance that he attends -- theatre and concerts -- on his blog at http://cahighways.org/wordpress/?cat=51 . In real life, he works as a cybersecurity professional; in addition to theatre, he has a love of the California highway system.
Aug

LOOSE KNIT

Overall, we found the play to be reasonably funny and an accurate portrayal of knitting groups. The women seemed to genuinely care about each other, and the resolution at the end worked well. I think the play is well worth seeing, and it reminded us of the quality performances that come out of Group Rep (we were last at the theatre in 2016)

sweet - ...read full review

Jul

Wigfield

I found the production extremely funny and extremely well done. I originally went to see it because we knew someone in the cast from our days subscribing at REP East in Santa Clarita. I left thoroughly entertained.

sweet - ...read full review

Jul

A Time Traveler's Guide to the Present

The show, which was written, performed, produced, and composed by Doug Harvey (FB), turned out to be a bit more incomprehensible. A message is received from the future, and so someone is recruited to go forward in time to stop it. Our intrepid hero is the selectee, and what then follows is the mission, with lots of time travel back and forth, reminiscent of the end of 2001: A Space Odyssey, and about at times as incomprehensible.

On the positive side, the music was great and relaxing.

sweet-sour - ...read full review

Jul

Four Clowns Presents: Shakedown at the Dusty Spur!

I found this to be a really funny somewhat improvised show, with lots of clowning around. Depending on your love of clowning (independent of the traditional notion of clowns), YMMV.

sweet - ...read full review

Jun

Public Domain: The Musical

The songs are all cute, but at times tastelessly cute. The performances are mixed, but your mileage may vary as the show is double cast. But you will be entertained, and in and out quick.

sweet - ...read full review

Jun

Chrysalis

Overall, I found this a very moving and touching performance — and I’m sure it would have been even more meaningful were I, shall I say, in closer alignment :-). My wife found it extremely meaningful. I think we both highly recommend it.

sweet - ...read full review

Jun

Shirley Valentine

This is a wonderful story of finding yourself, deciding to live life for your self, and doing what is right for you. Although the movie might make one think this is a larger story, the original play is a one-woman show loaded with British-isms. Be forewarned, forearmed, and bring your travelogues for the fortnight. This production of Shirley Valentine was a great one-woman execution of a very funny show. We really enjoyed it.

sweet - ...read full review

Jun

Neighborhood Watch

Overall, the show is a great mix of humor and the weird. It holds your attention throughout, and is really fun to watch. Plus, they sell spices in conjunction with the show. It’s a long story. You’ll need to go to the show to see it, but I understand that the special spice is great on Chicken.

sweet - ...read full review

Jun

A Night Out by Harold Pinter

The story may be a bit incomprehensible (but, hey, this is Pinter), but the acting is top-notch and the show is worth seeing and trying to figure out. The show just needs to promote the wonderful actors better.

sweet - ...read full review

Jun

Silver Bullet

My top level assessment after seeing the show? There’s potential there, but it does need some work (which isn’t a bad thing). It didn’t have a Fringe-y feel to it: the story felt put together, and the performances were reasonably good. Yes, there were some staging and performance notes, but those are correctable. More significant was the story: there is potential there, but some more shaping is needed to bring it to that next level.

sweet - ...read full review

Jun

Town Brawl

This was interesting immersive theatre. It was good, but had a very improvy sense to it. I don’t think walking in 15 minutes late hurt things in the slightest bit.

sweet - ...read full review

Jun

Johnny '81

Johnny ’81 was 90 minutes of storyteller John Gonzales (FB) telling a series of stories about his 12 year-old self growing up in West Hollywood, and the characters that inhabited his neighborhood and whose paths intersected with his life. That’s it. No more, no less. They showed a kid who was forced to grow up sooner perhaps than he should, but one where a wide variety of people demonstrated that they cared about him. It was proof about it taking a village to raise a child, especially when one’s parents weren’t always there.

sweet - ...read full review

Jun

Gunfight at the Not-So-OK Saloon

It was a great Fringe show, and would have been a perfect headliner at the Tumbleweed Festival, a “wild-west” equivalent of the Renaissance Faire. However, the show was not ready for prime time — “prime time” being the traditional Opera or Operetta stage. For that, it needs some work and to decide what it wants to be when it grows up. But as a Fringe show, it was strong. this is Fringe. It is rare that a show is fully realized at Fring — especially a new show, as opposed to a Fringe presentation of an established play or musical. When looking at this as a Fringe show: it is executed well, has fun songs, loads of humor, and quite fun to watch. There’s lots of laughter. That’s really all you can ask for in a Fringe show: a safe and fun ride without a train wreck. This clearly meets that goal, which explains the sold-out run.

sweet - ...read full review

Jun

Moral Fixation (or Boys Will Be Boys)

Good dramas leave an audience with questions to discuss on the car ride home. This play did that. The performances — under the direction of John Coppola (FB) — came across as realistic, and the leads had a chemistry that made you believe in the relationship.

sweet - ...read full review

Jun

Supportive White Parents

The show is extremely funny, with entertaining music and great performances. Perhaps it leaned into the stereotypes a bit, but comedy has the ability to do that and get away with it. It was one of our favorite shows of the night.

sweet - ...read full review

Jun

The 2nd Annual Trump Family Special

Over the years at Fringe, I’ve seen numerous shows dealing with Trump. These have ranged from the totally warped Zombie Clown Trump, the Star-Trek mashup Trump in Space, and the quite good The Dangerous Cures of Dr. B, which uses the demagogue John Brinkley as an analogue for the pedagogy of Donald Trump. The 2nd Annual Trump Family Special does a great job of skewering the first family, their foibles and personalities, and how Trump relates to them. But does it make a strong cases or have a deeper meaning? Does it provide a particular insight into Donald Trump, his machinations, or the motivation behind his forms of evil. No. You get more of that from Planet Money. The 2nd Annual Trump Family Special is entertaining, but ultimately light on substance — reflecting perfectly the first family and the absence of substance and depth therein.

sweet - ...read full review

Jun

She Kills Monsters

We just loved the story of She Kills Monsters, and the message it sends on female empowerment and the positive aspects of role playing games. I never got into RPGs for the same reason that I’m a professional audience, and not either on stage or writing the stories: I can’t inhabit characters, or imagine their stories. But I know D&D players well; I knew folks who were deep in that community when I was in the UCLA Computer Club in the late 1970s. This captured that community, and the freedom that RPGs bring to their players.

The execution of She Kills Monsters was more fringy: minimal sets and costumes, as befits a kickstarted fringe show. Performances were generally strong, but at our preview performance there were a few line mishaps, and the cast was a bit less polished than might be seen in an established company’s fully realized production. That doesn’t make one difference at all to me; this is Fringe, after all. But the Fringe environment forces creativity on a low budget, and this show definitely had both.

sweet - ...read full review

May

Bronco Billy - The Musical

I found the music and lyrics to be strong. There were a lot of great upbeat numbers that made me long for a cast album. The opening number “Ride With Us” really sets the tone, as do numbers like “Our Time Is Now”, or “It’s Gonna Be Great”, or “Whopper of a Song”. But the ballads are very nice as well. But I just know what I like to listen to; I can’t judge whether those who obsess about rhyme or composition would be happy. I just enjoyed it and found myself humming the tunes as I left (which is rare). A testament to this show, and how much I liked the music, was that I just went and bought tickets to see it again. Directly from the theatre (albeit with a discount code). I’m squeezing it in during the Fringe Festival. That’s how much I enjoyed the book and the music of this show.

sweet - ...read full review

May

THE CHRISTIANS

In the end, we left the show — and the talkback afterwards — quite pleased. Theatre did what theatre is supposed to do: raise questions. This company did what its mission is: “pursuing the highest standards of theatrical excellence”. It made the audience think and question their beliefs; it provided understanding without preaching. I’m very glad that we saw the show.

sweet - ...read full review

Apr

CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY

Through a combination of projection effects, puppetry, and performance, this production creates a new level of stage imagination. It is different than the movie, and to compare the two is to invite disappointment. They are different, and must be judged separately. The stage Wonka provides a different type of lunacy than Wilder brought to the role, although there is a modium of the deadpan WIlder aspects that cannot stop the children from their natures.

So, yes, I enjoyed it.

sweet - ...read full review

ADS
  • Fefu and her Friends at the Odyssey Theatre
  • DIRTY TRICKS w/ The New Bad Boys of Magic