Registered Critic: Deborah Klugman

Deborah Klugman is a freelance arts journalist living in Los Angeles. She has been writing about L.A. theater since 1986.
Mar

Suspended - Rorschach Fest

Under Demson’s direction, the acting, presented on a spare set (Jan Munroe) is able but uninvolving: The piece is fragmented and the individual segments don’t begin to approach a catharsis.

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Feb

Revenge Song

....the performances, with a single exception, are all bluster, lacking that kernel of truth that even the silliest parody needs to make it spark.

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Feb

UNTIL THE FLOOD

Directed by Neel Keller, Until the Flood is a palette of grays, as well as a map that tracks the fault lines and schisms within families as well as races.....The writing itself is simple, eloquent, straight-to-the-heart storytelling, best suited to an intimate venue.

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Feb

West Adams

..And though the script could benefit from some tinkering—there are back story details that might be clarified —West Adams overall is a savvy, satisfying play, spotlighting the toxic ilk that still poisons our fractious American communities.

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Jan

THE LAST SHIP

While this production is not everything it might be, the passion and heart that’s driven its creation is evident in the music, even as the story it spins is very much worth recalling.

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Jan

WHAT THE CONSTITUTION MEANS TO ME

Schreck has filtered her personal journey of discovery into a vital work that challenges us to consider our heritage as Americans — to preserve the good and discard the bad. And she offers it up to us with an abundant supply of humor and humanity that unequivocally drives her message home.

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Dec

Safe Harbor presented by Lower Depth Theatre Ensemble

....the script is a high-end message vehicle that benefits from quality tech elements and several solid performances. But ultimately the production is constrained by the writing.........

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Dec

AUGUST WILSON'S JITNEY

....there are many more reasons to love this production than not, and they’re found in the kaleidoscopic performances of Thomas, Fielding, Smith, Coats and Blanks, as well as Jones — all seasoned actors who understand and can embody the tragicomic rhythms and truths of Wilson’s work

sweet

Nov

Key Largo

At a time when gangsterism has usurped the highest echelons in our land, viewing a Johnny Rocco as the ultimate villain is, for me, an uphill sell.

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Nov

The Thanksgiving Play

Most of the play’s scattershot riffs are neither new nor fresh, but its targets deserve lampooning and the evening might have amused had the actors stood their ground against stereotype (implicit in the writing) instead of exacerbating it with arch posturing — which struck me as a directorial call.

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Nov

The 7 Stages of Grieving

Justin Harrison’s outstanding aural design is a complex cacophony that gives macrocosmic dimension to this impressionistic portrait of a people who have endured for centuries. ...But the text itself remains something of a patchwork, less tightly woven and comprehensive than one might wish it to be

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Nov

THE DOUBLE V

Eglash-Kosoff’s well-intended but formulaic script is an educational vehicle that pits good guys with ideas about right and justice against Ku Klux Klansmen and other reactionary racists and the system they serve.

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Nov

Orwell's 1984

As O’Brien, Robbins is chilling as he smugly and heartlessly strips Winston of his last shred of dignity and hope. In this cathartic confrontation, the production finally achieves the visceral impact it strives for.

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Oct

Between Riverside and Crazy

As Walter, Russell emanates strong presence, but his rendering focuses heavily on the character’s embitterment at the expense of his kindness and vulnerability. This makes for a less shaded portrayal than one might wish for. In a drama so clearly powered by a central performance, this counts for a lot — in this case, to the show’s detriment.

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Oct

The Abuelas

The drama’s most gripping scene comes in its final moments, which spotlight Carolina Montenegro’s all too brief appearance as a ghost from the past, come to help Gabriela heal her fractured spirit. The intensity and truth in this sequence are a marked contrast to the pseudo-theatrics prior, too often underscored by designer Jeff Gardner’s sweeping sound.

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Oct

Gem of the Ocean by August Wilson

...in Gem, by contrast, Wilson makes otherworldly forces central to the narrative, furnishing a canvas for the characters’ struggle for self-realization and redemption. That makes staging it an especial challenge—one splendidly met at A Noise Within, where director Gregg T. Daniel and a sterling ensemble have forged an illuminating production.

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Oct

How the Light Gets In

Several well-known works and many lesser ones have been written about women coping with breast cancer — its mutilation of the body, its testing of the spirit. In this regard How the Lights Gets In treads no new terrain. What it does do is portray four people, in their loneliness, bereavement and/or deprivation, with a poignant dignity, one bred from the simple acts of the benevolence they provide each other.

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Oct

LAS MUJERES DEL MAR

A world premiere mounted at Playwright’s Arena, it’s skillfully directed by Diane Rodriguez, and framed by an array of technical elements that highlight a meaningful story.

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Sep

DRIVING WILDE

.......at 95 rambling minutes without intermission, the show feels overextended. Unlike Wilde’s novelette, where Dorian is pure and uncorrupted at the start, this Dorian (Michael Kodi Farrow) comes across from the beginning as sly and manipulative. His progression from innocence to corruption ......... plays as less shocking, less dramatic.......

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Sep

Deadly

Stocked with 21 songs (music by Ryan Thomas Johnson), many of which have a similar beat and cadence, the production’s most riveting feature is Keith Allan’s superlative nonmusical performance as the oily and unctuous killer, a man who delights as much in the seduction of his victims as he does in remorselessly observing the life drain from their bodies.

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