Non-Registered Critics: Imaan Jalali

Feb

The Marriage Zone

The double-cast production skillfully navigates moments of perplexity and clarity with appropriate elicitations of laughter and empathy...

In “The Marriage Zone,” the clever and astute relatability of the three couples to not just each other, but to audiences at the Santa Monica Playhouse, is a testament to Jeff Gould and a cast that has successfully realized his vision. Most productions gloss over the components that make or break relationships, but in “The Marriage Zone,” the many nuances that make up spousal satisfaction are explored through the lens of dramatic love, irony, absurdity, sheer hilarity, and can't-miss creativity.

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Nov

HANSEL AND GRETEL

Overall, with the familial warmth and love that takes precedence during the holidays, Humperdinck's “Hansel and Gretel” remains pertinent to the ebullient imagination of children and their doting parents. Doug Fitch's vision, in addition to James Conlon's conducting, has bred an amazing visual soundscape of otherworldly wonders.

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Aug

What Happened When

The performances are spectacularly tender in their own unique way, suggesting a provocative humanity that is utterly enthralling... Overall, although “What Happened When” only lasts a little more than an hour, it imparts a lasting piece of wisdom upon its audience.

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Jun

Bad Jews

Unquestionably, the high-powered and high-octane family-fireworks affair of “Bad Jews” is compelling every minute of the way, accruing momentum at a feverish pace that elicits not just laughter, but brings to light questions about religious and cultural identity in a world that is becoming more globalized. In what is a credit to Harmon, Resnick, and the cast, the characters are multilayered, in the sense that there are takeaways from each that we can both agree and disagree on. There is no saint in “Bad Jews,” and that's what makes it a rivetingly human story.

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Feb

Daddy Long Legs

Overall, “Daddy Long Legs” is a highly recommended and intimate production presented by the International City Theatre, now in its 33rd season, which reminds us that love can never be paid for or negotiated. Acts of charity occur independently of romance, and this musical, which melds Webster's historical novel with sprinkles of modern sensibilities, serves as both a reverence for the past and an eye toward a collaborative future where romance develops out of respect as opposed to duty or ulterior motives.

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Sep

Arsenic and Old Lace

“Arsenic and Old Lace” is absolutely as uproarious as ever, farcical in meaning but well-measured and executed with comic flair.

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Jul

Animal Farm

In a play such as this, proper presentation of sound and visuals — to enable the suspension of disbelief to cogitate on sociopolitical insights spoken by talking/singing animals — is a delicate task. Suffice it to say, the success of this part play, part musical is attributable to not only the musical direction of Marshall McDaniel and the various musicians – including a violinist, guitarist, and a drummer – but the realistic animal costumes and animal-like movements of the actors. More than just incorporating pig snouts and fitting the actors with prop animal heads, costumer Vicki Conrad and animal specialist Lexi Pearl have assisted in the seamless flow of the show, insofar that there is a complete investment in the narrative. Of course, no matter how talented the behind-the-scenes personnel are, the actors must do their part to deliver — and they certainly do in this production.

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Jun

Elevator

Suffice it to say, the unceasing roller coaster of sensations provided by the journey and redemptive outcome of “Elevator” make it a must-see production. Leoni has expertly tapped into and brought out the best in his cast, who relate to each other as both disparate parts and an integrated whole.

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Apr

Uncanny Valley

“Uncanny Valley” is an astounding play that compels us to ask deep questions about ourselves and where we're headed. The production is highlighted by a terrific script by Thomas Gibbons, meticulous direction by caryn desai, and powerfully comprehensive performances by Jacob Sidney and Susan Denaker.

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Feb

Forever Plaid

Together as The Plaids, the actors compellingly demonstrate their characters' stories, but they also impart something about themselves – specifically, a top-notch proficiency about singing in harmony with each other. In effect, they become the fictional group whose story they portray — to the extent that when they vocalize “Catch a Falling Star,” “Love Is a Many Splendored Thing,” and their own rendition of The Beatles' “She Loves You” (among 29 tunes in all), we wishfully wonder if these performers should legitimately take inspiration from their art and take The Plaids on the road.

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