Registered Critic: Ed Rampell - Hollywood Progressive

Ed Rampell is an L.A.-based film historian/reviewer and co-author of “The Hawaii Movie and Television Book”.
Mar

Canceled - BAREFOOT IN THE PARK

Barefoot's Victor Velasco is a libertine, gourmand and man of the world – although perpetually behind on his rent, occasionally necessitating his sneaking through the bedroom window of the Bratters’ fifth floor walk-up apartment to access his attic unit unnoticed by the landlord. Depicting this quirky comic cosmopolitan character with great panache and whimsy, Paul Rodriguez steals the show as the singularly costumed Velasco (gaudily garbed by Kate Bergh). Chewing the scenery with verve in every scene he treads the boards in, Rodriguez is simply a delight to behold in this romantic comedy about youthful newlyweds adjusting to married life in 1960s Manhattan. It’s Beverly Hills Chihuahua meet New York poodle, and Rodriguez is oodles of fun.

sweet - ...read full review

Mar

Postponed - SHOW ME A HERO

Freedom fighter Petros has a “mistress” he loves even more than Luisa – namely Greece. After trying to carry out, shall we say, the propaganda of the deed against the tyrannical head of the junta, Georgios Papadopoulos, and experiencing torture and solitary confinement for years, once the Greek colonels are overthrown and a measure of democracy restored to his homeland, Petros continues his crusade. Dedicated to democracy in its birthplace in the West, Petros fights to expose who was behind the 1967 coup that plunged Greece into dictatorship and confronts the powers behind the throne: The U.S. string pullers and a Greek shipping magnate (who may be Aristotle Onassis).

sweet - ...read full review

Mar

SUSPENDED - Human Interest Story

Human Interest Story goes on to weave many other strands into its handicraft concoction – a Trump-like Cain runs for political office, greed, corruption, suicide, Jewish-Black interactions and more. Above all, Human ruminates on RACISM – which, as I recall, was not a theme in the all (or mostly) white Meet John Doe. Capra rendered his story – which includes many of the same plot points (other than racism) – more convincingly and simply than this all-too-hectic Human.

sweet-sour - ...read full review

Feb

Eurydice

I’ve often groused about contemporary revivals of ancient Greek works that don’t include togas and how remakes often miss their mark. But this modern dress edition is right on target as – while it succeeds in retaining the theme and flavor of the myth that can be traced all the way back to sixth century B.C. Greece – composer Matthew Aucoin and librettist Sarah Ruhl’s work manages to re-imagine the age-old tale for 21st century audiences through the conventions of the operatic medium.

sweet - ...read full review

Feb

Frida - Stroke of Passion

Frida, Stroke of Passion plays out like a sort of fever dream as the tequila swilling, pill popping Frida Kahlo remembers her many lovers – most of them, but of course, women. Except, notably, her relations with Mexican Marxist muralist Diego Rivera. As depicted onstage, their relationship was stormy. In fact, in real life they married, divorced and then remarried. Diego and Frida had the kind of romance where the only thing more unbearable for them than being apart was being together...

sweet-sour - ...read full review

Feb

Earthquakes in London

Selling out is a recurring theme in this play and best embodied by the beautiful Anna Khaja as the biblically-named Sarah, who is a UK government minister (I believe a member of the Liberal Democrats) confronted with the option of selling out the public sector for a more lucrative job with the private sector – as well as committing infidelity with the corporate Carter (Jonathan P. Sims), who tries to make Sarah offers she can’t refuse. How Sarah resolves this spiritual conundrum is anything but humdrum and a dramatic highlight of Rogue Machine's Earthquakes in London... [Her husband] Colin (Jeff Lorch)... stirs her when he tells Sarah he preferred her when she was a radical rock thrower instead of a paper shuffler.

sweet - ...read full review

Feb

The Father

Alfred Molina renders a devastating depiction of dementia in Florian Zeller’s award winning The Father. Ably directed by Jessica Kubzansky, this one-act Alzheimer-palooza is staged in what is usually described as a “cinematic” way, with intercutting and perhaps even montage used to indicate Andre’s (Molina) increasingly fragmented, confused perception of reality.

sweet-sour - ...read full review

Feb

West Adams

In  Penelope Lowder’s West Adams the Machiavellian machinations of the intrepid interlopers sets them on a collision course with their largely Black and Hispanic neighbors. It is a conflict laden with racial and class overtones. The standout in the excellent ensemble, deftly directed by the celebrated Michael A. Shepperd of Celebration Theatre, is the slinky Jenny Soo.

sweet - ...read full review

Jan

"The Unseen Hand" and "Killer's Head"

Sam Shepard's The Unseen Hand is a wildly imaginative, hilarious send-up of various tropes, ranging from spoofing different movie genre conventions – in particular, Westerns and sci fi – and exploration of American (mis)conceptions of masculinity. To execute this intricately written 90-minute-or-so one-acter requires a finely honed cast, and fortunately director Darrell Larson has a stellar ensemble of craftsmen who do justice to Shepard’s words and actions... Carl  Weintraub humorously plays Blue as a cross between David Strathairn, Walter Brennan in countless cowboy pictures and Walter Huston’s prospector in The Treasure of Sierra Madre. Weintraub’s amusing portrayal mines comic gold.

sweet - ...read full review

Jan

VOLTA

Experiencing the jelly-limbed Brazilian beauty Vanessa Ferreira Calado’s sublime hair suspension alone is worth the price of admission to see Volta. She is the enchanting sorceress Circe of Cirque.

sweet-sour - ...read full review

Jan

Disposable Necessities

...The hi-tech conceit of Neil McGowan’s Brave New World (as Aldous Huxley entitled his somewhat similarly themed 1931 sci fi classic) is that 75 years from now a digitized version of the inner self of individuals can be downloaded into the bodies of recently deceased people called “modules.” So theoretically, one’s mind, spirit, etc., can be periodically transferred into younger, healthier sets of “meat and bones,” as one character says, while the older, sicker cadaver is cashiered. In this manner – similar to downloading an app for a rideshare service – eternal youth is possible for Homo sapiens.

sweet - ...read full review

Dec

Salvage

With its themes of alcoholism, broken families, lost loves, shattered friendships, the struggle to be an artist, et al, I suspect that Salvage would have been a fine drama without the music. But it’s the songs and the live playing of them that enlivens and elevates this production.

sweet - ...read full review

Nov

Circa: Humans

Because it’s so off-the-beaten-track Humans is hard to describe, but I’ll take a stab at it. 10 young male/female acrobats clad in form-fitting skimpy outfits combine tumbling with aerial derring-do, Olympic-caliber acrobatics and choreography often set to recorded music in various genres, ranging from James Brown to Global. There are lots of feats involving feet, with a performer walking across the skulls formed by a human bridge of sort by the other athletes. Or, defying gravity (and common sense!), they very powerfully lift one another or form human pyramids and the like.

sweet - ...read full review

Nov

The 7 Stages of Grieving

Exploring their dispossession, like a Down Under Anna Deavere Smith in various vignettes Ms. Deemal brings vividly alive harrowing tales of children being torn away from their parents by a paternalistic white state to be “educated” Western-style. If North America’s First Peoples can related to that harrowing history, African Americans can share outrage and solidarity with Aboriginals confronted by police brutality and the school-to-prison-pipeline. Aboriginal Lives Matter, too, and Ms. Deemal singlehandedly enacts mass demonstrations, marches and protests with some bravura thespianism.

sweet - ...read full review

Oct

Orwell's 1984

The Gang’s Orwellian dramatization will smash you in the face with the force of a hobnailed boot.

sweet - ...read full review

Oct

Mono/Poly

Monogamy is the romantic equivalent of private property under capitalism. What would love look like in a truly liberated world? Mono/Poly isn’t as outre and funny as it would like us to believe (or thinks itself to be), but it does raise some valid questions about marriage, relationships and bourgeois society’s assumptions and expectations.

sweet-sour - ...read full review

Oct

Yoga Play

Calcutta-born playwright Dipika Guha’s comedy Yoga Play is the latest installment in the tradition of works about and interactions between “mystical” Easterners encountering Westerners living in the material world who seek enlightenment. As Yoga Play drolly dramatizes, sometimes those partaking of this spiritual quest in our corporeal realm get their wires crossed. The search for inner illumination can be monetized in a society dominated not by piety but by materialism, turning serenity into obscenity and putting the nasty into “Namaste.”

sweet-sour - ...read full review

Oct

Sisters In Law

Jonathan Shapiro’s Sisters In Law (based on the cleverly titled 2015 book by Linda Hirshman) is about the U.S. Supreme Court’s first two female justices and their relationship on and off the bench. In an irony of history rightwinger Ronald Reagan appointed the first woman to sit on the high court. Stephanie Faracy portrays Sandra Day O’Connor like the screen version of Doris Day wearing robes. The Arizonan comes across as a not too bright all American gal and goody two shoes, who really doesn’t stand up for what is right.

On the other hand, Clinton Supreme Court appointee Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Tovah Feldshuh) is a feisty East Coast Jew with a lifelong devotion to equal rights for women. If O’Connor is one of those people who go along to get along (for instance, according to the play she waffled on abortion rights), Ginsburg is cut more in the crusader mold and perceived as being “pushy.” (Which, as she correctly points out, is code for an anti-Semitic trope – calling Jews “pushy” is like labeling Blacks “uppity”).

sweet - ...read full review

Oct

LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS

Mj Rodriguez [co-star of the FX series Pose] is shattering glassy gender ceilings with her portrayal of [Seymour's love interest] Audrey. This is the first time this critic has (knowingly) seen a trans thespian in a lead role on the L.A. boards. Bravo!

sweet - ...read full review

Sep

THE SURVEILLANCE TRILOGY

The world premiere of Leda Siskind’s thought-provoking, topical The Surveillance Trilogy is perfectly timed—opening the same week that Edward Snowden’s book Permanent Record has been published and the Trump administration is mired in an alleged whistleblower scandal...

sweet - ...read full review

ADS
  • La Vie En Rose with Julia Migenes
  • The Water Way - A New Musical by Brad Mendelson

Featured LemonAide