Non-Registered Critics: Evan Henerson

Oct

ON BECKETT

Enamored though he clearly is with his material, Irwin also knows Beckett is knotty, and he's doing his utmost to deliver it in manageable servings. When we get to Godot, the ground feels especially safe and, in this instance, silent...

Irwin is a Broadway veteran, but he was born in Santa Monica, less than 20 miles from the Kirk Douglas Theatre. And with his clowning regalia in fine form and the words of a revered playwright at his disposal, Bill Irwin is every bit at home.

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Aug

Moby Dick - Rehearsed

Even with the Theatricum's considerable playmaking resources and expertise, it's an underwhelming end to an epic tale. Kudos certainly to the Theatricum for taking us out to sea. Would that the waters were smoother.

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Jul

Ready Steady Yeti Go

These "kids" are a heckuva lot better than all right. They are terrific, in David Jacobi's equally terrific play. Sporting a delightfully quirky title, Ready Steady Yeti Go is a marvelous bit of craftsmanship. It's a look at the perils of childhood, the pitfalls of adulthood, and how ill-equipped we all seem to be at just getting along.

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Jul

Mysterious Circumstances

With its interest in character, Mysterious Circumstance is clearly looking to stake out territory deeper than a throwaway on-stage whodunit. At this it largely succeeds. 'I know you enjoy the stories of Sherlock Homes, but you're not inside of one,' Gibner informs a panicked Green. "It's time to accept reality.' Except he is, and it isn't. And besides, what fun would that be? We do love a mystery, but how welcome a solution would also have been.

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Jun

Daniel's Husband

A debate over the efficacy of gay marriage (especially one between two homosexual characters) can be the foundation of an interesting drama. But you can credit McKeever for having written a play that is as much about people as it is about ideas...

At its heart this is a love story, and as we witness both the warmth, eroticism, and hopefulness of Daniel and Mitchell’s first date, we get a compelling argument for togetherness in whatever form it takes. You may find yourself choking up at the end of Daniel’s Husband. That emotion is entirely earned.

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Apr

The Glass Menagerie

Tennessee Williams' bitter yet shimmering memory play The Glass Menagerie is so very fragile, so dangerously close to self-indulgence and parody. An overindulgent turn by the actor playing delusional matriarch Amanda or Tom, and the playwright's examination of artistry and family turns mawkish and unintentionally comic.

No such fate awaits the Menagerie at A Noise Within where Geoff Elliott, the director and frequent ANW player sets a firm course for this journey with four performers guiding the ship with equal finesse. During the company's 1997-98 season, Elliott himself played Tom Wingfield to the Amanda of longtime company member and resident artist Deborah Strang. To the great good fortune of her fans and anybody who missed that production, the actress is back as Amanda,...

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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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