Non-Registered Critics: Gray Palmer

Jul

A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM

David Melville plays Bottom. This actor is an Errol Flynn of idiocy, a swashbuckler of foolishness, and fans will not want to miss this latest addition to his gallery of portraits. Katie Powers-Faulk, who has contributed so much as choreographer and dancer to ISC (and does so again here) makes a smashing Hermia, whose desperate flight into the Athenian woods initiates the action. There's a lovely performance by Bukola Ogunmola as both Peaseblossom (Titania's attendant) and Flute (the mechanical who rehearses the role of Thisby). And we have the return to ISC of audience-pleaser Richard Azurdia as the shy Snout.

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May

Antigone, or We Are Rebels Asking for the Storm

Director McRaven's stage pictures are immediately stirring: the dead on a battle-field at the city's seventh gate, the king delivering policy as a state ritual, the chorus sometimes as a spin-academy trying to stay ahead of an angry public, sometimes as that public (the ensemble does the choral speaking well), the visits to Antigone's prison-cell. - RECOMMENDED

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May

Wood Boy Dog Fish

In Wood Boy Dog Fish, we have painting, poetry, and then some. Playwright/lyricist Chelsea Sutton has revisited Carlo Collodi's picaresque novel as her source — it was first a “foolish” serial publication that starts with a talking log rejected by a frightened carpenter — to fashion two solid acts from Collodi's branching chaos of episodes and adventures.... The show is a toy-box of visual wit. - RECOMMENDED

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May

NINE WINNING ONE-ACTS

The plays are staged efficiently with quick turn-overs in the simple black space (set design by Chris Winfield; lights by J. Kent Inasy; sound by Steve Shaw). The directors, of varying ability, have focused on the acting.

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Apr

All's Well That Ends Well

It's a great pleasure to see this company up close in their new intimate studio space. All the performers are fine, and the principal comic characters are especially good: the braggart Parolles (Daniel Jimenez — he's also a good guitarist), brought low by an elaborate practical joke, and in a bit of stunt casting, a cross-dressing LaVache the Clown (the remarkable Kalean Ung — every moment of her stage time is a delight). Also in the cast are Kendell Byrd and Ata Farhadi, both wonderful.

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Mar

El Nino

Tanner's touch has long been recognized by performers with comic expertise. Some members of the El Niño ensemble have worked with him for over thirty years. It shows. The direction by Lisa James is confident and bold. Recommended

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Nov

This Land

Ordaz and director Armando Molina, with a truly knock-out ensemble, make it seem easy. The action of the narrative is very clear with vivid characters and naturalistic dialogue. In addition to Spanish and English, there is a further linguistic surprise: one of the main stories is presented partly in Tongva (with super-titles), an extinct Uto-Aztecan language...The character-craft in transformation of speech and physicality is wonderful — and in some cases shocking. These performers pull off an almost mediumistic illusion and become “transparent things through which the past shines!” - RECOMMENDED

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Sep

Fixed

Fixed, as you can see, is an elaborately constructed melodrama with blocking motions to love on every side. There are many theatrical pleasures: the performance of the two principals; an initial competitive walk; the dressing-room maintenance of drag; the lyrical speech of Gigi and her workers Jenny and Carmie (Allen Lucky Weaver and Tonatiuh Elizarraraz, both splendid); the delayed, impressive entrance of Alvarez as Gigi; and in a coda, a very fine dance performance by Elizarraraz.

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Jul

Love is a Dirty Word

Writer-composer-performer Giovanni Adams sweetly emancipates dirt in a refreshing memoir, Love Is a Dirty Word, beautifully directed by Becca Wolff, now playing at VS Theatre. - Recommended

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Jun

BLOOD ALLEY 3

Blood Alley 3 with its beautiful, brave, hard working and probably bruised company of performers and crew — with the great contribution of live music by Kevin Van Cott on electric guitar and drums — gets the dreadful business done.

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May

Species Native to California

Director Eli Gonda is excellent with the actors, everyone is perfectly cast, and the ensemble is a delight. The beautifully written role of Zo is especially memorable in a great performance by Stephens.

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Apr

Rules of Seconds

Even so, Rules of Seconds isn't a straight-ahead melodramatic thriller. The genre machinery hums along, doing the expected, while we are incidentally served the real business of satire — savoring absurd situations, clever talk, and the idiocy of a social target, in this case, revenge and masculine honor.

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Feb

The Found Dog Ribbon Dance

The Found Dog Ribbon Dance, now receiving its world-premiere at Echo, proves at least three things: Finocchiario is a fine comic talent. Echo Theater continues to make great strides in production of new work. And Alana Dietz is a very good director.

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