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.
Aug

TRUE WEST

Both Clark and Hawkes establish solid personas in the first act: Clark’s polite, cautious and controlled screenwriter, a man who’s pulled himself up to the middle class and now treats his brother almost as a social worker might treat a volatile client, and Hawke’s lurking timebomb of an itinerant, aware of his power to instill fear and quite prepared to decimate at any time.

sweet - ...read full review

Jul

The Ruffian on the Stair

Iffy dialects aside (they are distracting enough), two of the three actors — Foyster and Campbell — seem to be operating entirely without subtext.

sour - ...read full review

Jul

Apple Season

While the production’s tech elements provide a vivid backdrop and the dialogue is sound, the play itself is a disappointment: The plot traffics in tropes and the performances also seem like a work in progress.

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Jul

Scraps

One of the play’s primary strengths is how cogently Inoa weaves themes of social oppression into her characters’ sentiments and passions (rather than beating you over the head with a message as less skilled writers do). Her story isn’t only about grief but about the way societal expectations affect people’s lives, even their most intimate bonds and friendships.

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Jul

The Producers

Directed by Michael Matthews (who also directed Cabaret and Brewster Place), it features the same technical excellence as these prior musicals and is unquestionably entertaining. But several of the lead performances are off the mark, and the result is a good production that could have been better.

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Jul

Mysterious Circumstances

What’s missing — despite the plethora of on-stage talent (including several of L.A.’s finest local actors — thank you so much, Geffen Playhouse) — is an emotional trigger to draw us in.

sweet-sour

Jun

Oracles and Miracles

his barebones Fringe production is a mixed bag: directed by Leah Patterson, it features several strong and/or capable performances, and a weaker portrayal that unfortunately undermines the show.

sour - ...read full review

Jun

Ladies

Even in the darkest, most unenlightened era, there have been women prepared, often driven, to buck the strictures placed upon their gender. Ladies, Kit Steinkellner’s illuminating world premiere play directed by Jessica Kubzansky at Boston Court Pasadena, imagines what it must be like to be this kind of person, ready to risk pariahdom for the sake of personal freedom.

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May

LADY DAY AT EMERSON’S BAR AND GRILL

Wonderfully supported by Royal and Leary (who also engage in a brilliant instrumental number on their own), Henry renders her vocals with poise and skill. The stories she spins from Holiday’s past are relayed with the intimacy and candidness you’d anticipate from a gifted talent with few illusions left.

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May

Samsara

....solid performances notwithstanding, it's hard to care about the outcome of this story — that is, whether Katie and Craig will succeed in their adoption endeavor and whether or not it will make them happy.

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May

Daniel's Husband

Much of the first half of this intermission-less work plays out like a tempest in a teapot…..Things do change, however, in ways that reflect the shortsightedness and lack of understanding that many people have of their relative good fortune, and of the ways their lack of insight can sabotage their lives.

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Apr

Revolutions/Revoluciones

All three performers — but especially the pivotal Vela with her reservoir of vocal power — display presence and skill, but they are given little opportunity to humanize their roles or redesign them as something other than vehicles for the play's larger message about the ubiquity of brutality and betrayal.

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Apr

The Niceties

The pace picks up considerably in Act 2, when the actors become other than mouthpieces for a particular perspective. ....Still, in the end you can't help feeling manipulated by dialogue that is so obviously and overtly constructed to make a point, albeit a cogent one.

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Apr

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane

The show's strength lies in the ensemble........And while the production may fall short in technical areas relative to those in the past, it still furnishes family entertainment of a superior caliber, benefitting our community.

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Mar

Black Super Hero Magic Mama

Although the narrative here doesn't quite get where it needs to go, the searing timeliness of the story and its spotlight on besieged women of color garner serious respect.

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Mar

The Mother of Henry

Although the story's pivotal moment of loss is staged too swiftly and abruptly, just about everything else in this endearing production works wonderfully, beginning with Umaña, who fills her role with warmth and elegant simplicity.

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Mar

Fifty Words

The clash between these two misfortunate individuals is one of those horrid, emotionally draining events that take place all too frequently between unhappy spouses and partners. But that authenticity doesn't make this drama any more engaging.....

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Mar

Lights Out: Nat "King" Cole

...it's unclear at what point the narrative becomes a dreamscape; more of an issue is the lack of an adequate framework for dream encounters......Otherwise, there's a lot to like.

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Mar

Hype Man

The main problems with the production are its staging and, by extension, the lead performances. For inexplicable reasons, Selenow repeatedly positions Hancock and Addison at opposite ends of the stage, where they toss dialogue at each other like so many catch balls.

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Feb

The Joy Wheel

... these strengths are undercut by a glibness in the interchange between husband and wife, played to the familiar rhythms and cutesy shadings of television comedy.

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