Non-Registered Critics: Evan Henerson

Mar

Hype Man

While this critic cannot speak to the content of Goodwin’s previous “breakbeat plays, ” Hype Man, in its West Coast premiere at the Fountain Theatre, is entirely hype-deserving and not simply because it knows how to crush a beat and a lyric. A seemingly straightforward tale of friendship, ambition, and racial unrest doubles back on itself several times and brings in the thorniness of class and gender. Deena Selenow’s production is by turns angry and compassionate, never short of riveting.

Chalk this up, in no small measure, to the work of Matthew Hancock as Verb.

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Feb

Two Trains Running at Matrix

As solid as the actors are, the star of Two Trains Running is the diner itself and the world outside its doors that is changing faster than most people can handle. In such a world, even Hambone can learn to recite the phrase “Black is beautiful” one word at a time.

Through August Wilson’s masterful prism and with Shay’s assistance, black is turbulent, disquieting, surprising, uncomfortable. And, yes, beautiful.

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Jan

Sisters Three

…Sisters Three is content to leave these Bells/Brontes with all of their cracks staring down oblivion with Christmas music chiming merrily in the background. Join the stare-down at your own risk.

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Nov

Señor Plummer’s Final Fiesta

Given the interactive nature of this performance, and the fact that the company is large enough (nearly 20 actors make up the ensemble) to keep several stories going simultaneously, a Final Fiesta attendee is more visitor and party-goer than passive audience member.

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Aug

SOFT POWER

This “play with a musical” directed by Leigh Silverman is a fantasia of socio-political insights packaged as a vision quest. And with its trippy cinematic homages and some kick-ass musical staging by Silverman and choreographer Sam Pinkleton Soft Power is also a real kick.

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Aug

Mutt House

The themes are clear, positive, and pushed by every character who takes the stage & four legged or otherwise. We are urged to be ourselves, fight the good fight and rescue a shelter dog thereby saving our own lives as well as someone else’s. Yes, a vehicle this benevolent is designed to wag its tail and lick its audience full in the face. Unfortunately, the triteness and simplicity of Cookson’s book puts a serious dent into any good will that director Ryan Bergmann and his mostly-hard working cast are able to muster. The six performers playing the pooches are appealing and delightfully costumed by Allison Dillard, but even they wear out their welcome. Instead of trying to preach to adults and misfit kids everywhere, the two-hour Mutt House should have shed 45 minutes and become a one-act family show with proceeds partially benefiting animal rescue.

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Aug

Coriolanus

For a tale in which fickle, ungrateful masses play as vital a role as any in the Bard’s canon, Coriolanus benefits from being able to fill a stage. Geer and Marshall have plenty of bodies. Whether they’re enacting the starving commoners that our titular anti-hero spurns, the Volscian followers of Coriolanus’s enemy Tullus Aufidius or an array of Vestal Virgins, this ensemble is bountiful and in fine mettle throughout.

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Feb

ELLIOT, A SOLDIER’S FUGUE

Soldier’s Fugue is a smaller and more contained play than Spoonfull, and Kurup and his company serve it up with grace.

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Jan

deLEARious

WICKED CLEVER… West’s material is smart, the company is winning, and it’s always a grand occasion to “brush up our Shakespeare” via verse, affectionate spoofery, or both. The more you know King Lear, the higher the fun quotient. Booze will also probably help.

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Aug

Animal Farm

The Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum’s rendition is equal parts didacticism and entertainment, a smart and uncomfortably timely vehicle to jolly up a hot summer evening under the stars in Topanga Canyon. Step aside, Shakespeare. A different kind of political beast joins the Theatricum repertory.

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May

Punk Rock

As comforting as it would be to label the British prep school in Stockport where Punk Rock is set as unrecognizable, these kids feel disturbingly real and universal.

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Mar

White Guy on the Bus

Given its subject matter and construction, Bruce Graham’s White Guy on the Bus could easily have been a polemical discussion masquerading as drama. As luck would have it, the play is also crackling good entertainment, and Stewart J. Zully’s production sparks and blisters.

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Feb

BAKERSFIELD MIST

If somebody ever has the sense to film Bakersfield Mist (most likely for TV), let’s hope they’d keep the two actors and preserve their performances. Together these two and this quite delightful play are a small work of art.

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