Non-Registered Critics: F. Kathleen Foley

Oct

Miss Lilly Gets Boned

The actors play well to their stereotypes, and Sean Cawelti’s amazing elephant puppet is a design highlight. However, director Robin Larsen cannot quite corral Brunstetter’s thematic irregularities, nor her confusing sampling of styles.

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Oct

Gem of the Ocean by August Wilson

In a staging that is alternately leisurely, suspenseful, funny and poignant, Daniel doesn’t miss a beat of the possibilities in Wilson’s text. The production is is clarifying, terrifying and cathartic.

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Oct

LAS MUJERES DEL MAR

“Las Mujeres” never holds back its passion, fire and commitment. It is a moving parable of motherly love, imperfect but enduring.

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Sep

DRIVING WILDE

It’s difficult to know the point that Wright is trying to make with her dramatic jumble, but DeLorenzo and his able cast keep our attention riveted. A wild ride, this production is more about the thrill of the journey than the final destination.

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Jul

Twelfth Night

Shipwrecked twins, gender-bending romance and a bumper crop of fools -- from the wise to the ridiculous -- guarantee a full-blown evening’s entertainment.

That is, of course, given the right take by a savvy interpreter who knows how to reinvigorate a 400-plus-year-old text for contemporary audiences.

As co-founder of Independent Shakespeare Co., David Melville has perfected that ability over the past 15 years and counting. Melville’s staging of “Night” for the Free Shakespeare Festival in Griffith Park is not so much an updating as a delightful defilement. Impudently modern, often just plain silly, the production melds vintage tunes from the Great American Songbook with contemporary language that would likely outrage many Shakespeare purists.

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Jul

Son of Semele presents MEN ON BOATS

Director Barbara Kallir deftly traverses the play’s logistical intricacies. Moreover, she creates a convincing fraternal bond among this “brotherhood” — which feels all the more wrenching when dissension splits its ranks.

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Jun

Loot

The reiterative slapstick can wear thin and certain performers seemed a bit shaky on their lines opening weekend. However, all are droll, deft and well cast, with Hormann as the standout of the show playing the father. The actor is a master of comic timing whose subtle double-takes are pure pleasure to watch.

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May

At The Table

Director Judith Moreland and her fine actors nail down the laughs and the pathos in Perlman’s meandering, passionate play, which has slice-of-life dialogue that sounds as if it were lifted from a late-night bull session.

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May

Boxing Lessons

The fine cast delves deeply into potentially surface characters, navigating Bunzel's wild plot twists like kids on a carnival ride...

Partners in mayhem, Bunzel and Stehlin have a fine sense of the ridiculous developed over their long association. They are enjoying themselves immensely — and so are we.

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May

The End of Sex

Director Maria Gobetti orchestrates a fine cast, which also includes Lianna Liew, in yet another of the Victory's impressive succession of premieres. Walch's play may have a blemish or two, but its fierce, funny feminist message is delivered in high style in this well-paced and entertaining production.

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Apr

Diana of Dobson's

Despite its rough setting, Hamilton's play is a gem — rousing entertainment with sociological heft that makes us question just what combination of circumstances or controversy has put the firebrand feminist author into undeserved eclipse for so long. We suspect we know that answer without asking.

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Apr

FRIENDS WITH GUNS

Director Randee Trabitz, a longtime collaborator of wildly offbeat solo artist John Fleck, knows how to navigate the unexpected, and Walker's script presents its fair share of surprises. Trabitz nails down every laugh early on, then sneakily builds the tension to a level that will floor you.

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Apr

Too Much Sun

Despite that, the actors are terrific, particularly Cary, whose Audrey is so narcissistic and self-involved we should detest her rather than root for her every step of the way as we do.

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Mar

Hype Man

Let's face it, most stage audiences do not appear to be of the hip-hop generation. But even those who are not fans of the genre will find “Hype Man” an overdue immersion into a cultural phenomenon.

Buoyed by superb technical elements — James Maloof's set, Chu Hsuan Chang's lighting, Malik Allen's sound, Michael Mullen's costumes and Shen Heckel's props — director Deena Selenow elicits first-rate performances from her tight-knit cast, including galvanic rap sequences buoyed by beat maker Romero Mosley. As Verb, Hancock is a suppressed ball of concentrated energy who never walks when he can bound. Even if his character frequently lapses into diatribe, Hancock makes his every utterance richly believable — no mean feat.

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Mar

The Old Man and The Old Moon

Stuart Carden, credit as co-director with the members of PigPen, briskly orchestrates the keenly marshaled mayhem. The cast, which includes Matt Nuernberger, Dan Weschler, Ben Ferguson, Curtis Gillen and Arya Shahi, doubles as musicians and singers who perform toe-tapping, Gaelic-seasoned music from the company's debut album. Their combined musicianship is a highlight, but the music is just the tip of their onstage responsibilities. All perform a dizzying array of roles: actors, puppeteers, prop masters, lighting specialists, Foley artists.

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Mar

The Judas Kiss

In a beautifully paced and sensitive staging, director Michael Michetti has assembled a mostly workmanlike cast that deftly handles the permutations of Hare's challenging text. The action unfolds in Se Hyun Oh's minimalistic scenic design, well lighted by David Hernandez, with costume designer Dianne K. Graebner cladding Nagle in epicene finery...

In a performance not to be missed, Nagle shows us the internalized anguish behind Wilde's deceptive passivity — the thwarted brilliance and loss behind his valiant savoir-faire.

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Feb

Two Trains Running at Matrix

...the heart of this production is the superb performances under the direction of Michele Shay, a veteran Wilson performer and director who was nominated for a Tony for her 1996 performance in Wilson's “Guitar Lessons.” The actors give such towering performances that to single one out for praise would be a fool's errand. They are an ensemble in the truest sense of the word — a family of equals who support one another generously and magnificently.

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Feb

The Cripple of Inishmaan

The play receives a hit-and-miss treatment from director Steven Robman, who doesn't separate the gritty from the twee in this checkered production.

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Nov

I am Sophie

...Still, Sophie's pursuit of identity is no narcissistic exercise, but a fascinating journey into what constitutes an individual, and how one is defined not only by society but in one's innermost self.

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Nov

The Woman Who Went to Space as a Man

Under Huskey's guidance and Richard An's musical direction, the entire cast functions as a seamless ensemble, from realistic emotional interchanges to precisely mechanized group choreography, sort of Grotowski movement exercises by way of the Rockettes. And although the pulp elements of the piece sometimes run away with the narrative, this nearly indescribable fusion of text, music, movement and fantasy takes us inside the mind of a fascinating woman, whose refusal to be hampered by the conventions of her times led her through uncharted territory and new frontiers.

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