Non-Registered Critics: Iris Mann

Feb

This Side Of Crazy

As director, Shores extracts in-depth performances from the ensemble, while keeping the action flowing at just the right pace.

The actors are uniformly splendid.

RECOMMENDED

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Jan

Nowhere On The Border

Nowhere on the Border is playwright Carlos Lacámara’s sensitive, imaginatively crafted take on the various perspectives surrounding illegal immigration — a particularly timely topic given our current political climate. Unfortunately, as directed by Stewart J. Zully, the material’s potential to move us is only occasionally realized, while the performances are of varying quality.

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Dec

THE MAN WHO CAME TO DINNER

This production of The Man Who Came to Dinner is Group Rep’s holiday gift to Los Angeles audiences, unwinding like a finely tuned instrument with cleverly coordinated moving parts. - RECOMMENDED

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Nov

Salvage

Damien D. Lewis directs with a sure hand and a certain touch, in a theatrical production grounded in an edgy reality.

The performances are uniformly splendid.

RECOMMENDED

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Nov

Fifteen Men in a Smoke-Filled Room

The play is a mildly interesting look at political machinations (made by men in smoke-filled rooms), but as drama, the production only occasionally sparkles. The script is labored, and a heaviness overhangs the action. The very able director, Jules Aaron, keeps the evening flowing, but even he can’t completely overcome the story’s limitations.

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Nov

Eight Nights

Yet, the full potential of Maisel’s masterfully crafted script, which is suffused with an element of magical realism, is only intermittently realized in this world premiere production by Antaeus Theatre Company. Director Emily Chase stages the work smoothly, but under her direction some of the actors, several of whom play multiple roles, fail to explore the depths of trauma implicit in the theme. As a result, the production falls short of eliciting the deep emotional response the subject matter warrants...

Despite this and other shortcomings in the production, the finely conceived, sensitively written story is one the public needs to hear.

RECOMMENDED

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Jul

Renovations for Six

This is a flawed effort, but the script’s limitations would be hard for any company to overcome.

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Jul

Naughty with a Band

It must be said that Shaw is a true triple threat; she moves well (although Zakk Allen’s choreography tended to be repetitive), has a strong voice and a deep well of emotions. But these talents are not displayed to her best advantage in this production.

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Jun

Anne, A New Play

The most effective performances are those of Rob Brownstein as Anne’s father, Otto Frank, and Kevin Matsumoto as Peter van Pels, the son of the family sharing the Franks’ hiding place. Brownstein is every inch the wise, benign leader of the group, and a loving father. His presence is gently authoritative, and he provides one of the few genuinely touching moments with his speech at the end in which, as the sole survivor, he relates his family’s ultimate fate.

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Jun

BE A GOOD LITTLE WIDOW

Given the play’s shallow limitations, director Brandon Baer does a credible job with the staging and the performances.

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May

A Bad Year for Tomatoes

The most successful work is achieved by Amanda Conlon and Ann Ryerson as the two “welcoming,” but intrusive neighbors who want to save the mad sister’s soul. Conlon in particular has a very funny turn as a professed teetotaler who keeps imbibing Myra’s scotch after a fight with her husband.

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Apr

Diana of Dobson's

Unfortunately, this is a jewel of a play not fully realized, largely due to misdirection. The material demands a lighthearted surface, resting on a foundation of realistic, spirited commentary about society's inequities. Yet Stangl helms the proceedings with a heavy hand, and sets an unvarying pace in which the action too often verges on hysteria.

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Apr

The Things We Do

Given the play's weaknesses, director Elina de Santos and her cast do the best work possible. De Santos has staged the action so deftly that a steady pace is maintained. It is even more praiseworthy, that, under her guidance, each of the characters comes across as an individual, totally distinct from the others.

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Feb

Miss America's Ugly Daughter: Bess Myerson & Me

The humor is strengthened by its foundation of genuine pain and angst. Grant's air of vulnerability, her sense of having been through the fire, draws the audience into her journey. Always in command, she drops comedic gems in a deadpan manner; avoiding an obvious play for laughs, she relives painful moments in a conversational style and without any self-pity — making those moments all the more potent. In addition, her exasperation at some of the after-hours phone calls from her mother is made visible by an arch delivery. - RECOMMENDED

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Feb

THE POW AND THE GIRL

But the combination of a predictable story and a lackluster production leaves our expectations unfulfilled. What should be highly impactful due to the weighty theme lacks any real punch. The spectator is neither drawn into the proceedings nor involved with the characters, and so is left emotionally unaffected. There is also an unfinished quality to the production, as though it were still in the rehearsal stage.

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Jan

Jocasta: A Motherf**king Tragedy

Conversely, Faugno, who fares the best in this production, displays palpable passion for his lover. The actor commits fully to a range of emotions and holds the audience's attention throughout the evening. As Chrys, a pedophilia victim who now swims endlessly in his late molester's pool, Dlugolecki also acquits himself admirably, while Breihan does as well as she can with an ill-conceived role. On the whole, though, this production is a misguided exercise.

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Oct

The Little Foxes

The drama is staged with a sure hand and great finesse by director Cameron Watson, who wisely allows Hellman's incisive scenario, dialogue, and fascinatingly malicious characters to confront the audience unvarnished. He choreographs the action seamlessly and elicits uniformly excellent performances from his cast. - RECOMMENDED

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Oct

Radiant Vermin

Director Tim True does an expert job of staging on a very spare set that consists of stairs and poles, symbolizing an unfinished house. He establishes just the proper pace for unfolding a procession of nefarious acts, and he elicits fascinating, focused, and fully involved performances from his cast. - RECOMMENDED

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Sep

FIRE IN A DARK HOUSE

Fire in a Dark House is a well-crafted play that could attain theatrical importance with stronger, deeper and more incisive execution.

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Sep

Infidel

Despite the flaws in his writing, however, Vened has done a very credible job as director, staging the action smoothly on a bare stage and focusing his actors adeptly. The cast performs, for the most part, with deep involvement.

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