Non-Registered Critics: Lara J. Altunian

Mar

The Old Man and The Old Moon

Overall, the experience is one-of-a-kind and can be enjoyed by people of all ages, especially fans of retro theater. Their artistic portrayal elevates the clever and touching conclusion beyond the sum of the story’s parts, altogether creating a memorable new folktale not soon to be forgotten. – RECOMMENDED

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Feb

Othello

A Noise Within’s production of Othello takes full advantage of these more universal and contemporary qualities and gives the plot a present-day setting that sometimes works, and at other times drags the play down. However, strong performances and direction make this undoubtedly one of the better Shakespeare adaptations I have seen.

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Feb

Love is Another Country

Rollins pulls no punches with her dialogue; Marshall consistently fires away strong and tightly-phrased pockets of punchy speech, and Stephens delivers an especially emphatic and poignant monologue as Gonee in the play’s crux.

Artistic transitions full of brief dances are brought to life under Kendall Johnson’s direction.

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Feb

12 Angry Jurors

RECOMMENDED – For those who have seen Lumet’s version, this play is an excellent, well-performed live-theater adaptation of the same stellar story. For those who haven’t yet seen the black-and-white classic, you’re in for a good surprise.

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Dec

A CAROL CHRISTMAS

The performers are all undeniably good singers. Kimmel’s direction helped balance some of the productions’ blandness with well-executed routines that do not overwhelm the narrative.

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Dec

Remembering Boyle Heights

In addition to sharp writing, Dominguez’s direction transports audience members back in time. César Retana-Holguín’s simple set, complete with a few purposely askew pieces of art reflecting historical buildings, along with Masha Tatarinsteva’s projection design was enough to paint a portrait of a town one may find themselves wishing to have grown up in by the end of the evening.

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Dec

Blue Surge

A lot of Blue Surge’s plot points are unfortunately predictable. However, the acting and back-and-forth quips between the characters help create the very human connection the show strives to achieve, presenting a familiar story from a different, often less-visited angle that will leave viewers rooting for the main characters no matter what.

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Nov

My Date With Death – A Musical Romance

MY DATE WITH DEATH’s saving grace is undoubtedly its message to value all life no matter what. However predictable the ending, it’s a sweet stab at analyzing the reasons why people become depressed, what’s worth fighting for, and how to find the balance in all of life’s ups and downs. A cleaner approach to the already complex topics may have resulted in a more coherent production.

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Oct

THE BEAUTY QUEEN OF LEENANE

A stellar cast expertly navigates through each acidic scene, every exchange painting a realistic picture of resentment at its very worst. – RECOMMENDED

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Oct

WICKED LIT: THE CHIMES & THE CORPSE

Wicked Lit does a good job of reviving two semi-forgotten, classic pieces of literature by adding an interactive, modern twist to their production. Though the themes are romantically sad at times, each play contains light elements of humor that add a playful tone to the shows. The evening is more fun than scary, and Unbound Productions’ use of the space within Mountain View allows audiences to enjoy and discover the hidden LA architectural gem, which may be worth going for alone. – RECOMMENDED

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Oct

WOLF CUB

Overall, Wolf Cub is unable to reconcile America’s story with Maxine’s in a fluid way, providing a disservice in the telling of the underserved within the country’s history.

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Oct

LOST IN TIME

Lost in Time puts a wonderful twist on a classic trope. This thought-provoking text is beautifully staged by director Szarabajka and enacted by an incredibly talented ensemble. Cornelisse and Shephard are both electrifying to watch. The former dares and entices with her brassy attitude and bold swagger, yet she’s utterly heartbreaking when she lets her guard down. Shephard’s versatility is what makes his character come alive. He switches from stoner to scholar, bawdy to bashful, and infuses it all with sincerity. Comartin and Pollock both bring a truthful clarity to their roles; theirs is a story of love, plain and simple — it doesn’t need all the dramatics. – RECOMMENDED

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Sep

LIZZIE

LIZZIE is a wild ride full of feminist value and elaborate fanfare, entertaining and enjoyable for anyone with a taste for loud music and gory murder. Thematically rich with actual and assumed details from the mysterious 19th century case, Color & Light Theatre Ensemble is able to take a familiar drama and, by combining it with modern motifs, create a substantial story that seems entirely new.

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Sep

American Saga – Gunshot Medley: Part 1

Stubblefield’s singing is smooth, gorgeous and melodic, lulling the listeners, both onstage and beyond the fourth wall, into realms of serenity, emphasizing deep heartbreak and incomparable joy. Similarly talented is Jackson, as the complicated goofball who dances, sings and shakes Betty out of her somber moods long enough to help her remember the pleasant side of life. Walters is powerful as the strict and serious spirit whose restlessness floats between anger and dreamy desires to coax and inspire those around him. Langford’s maternal Betty is warm and tragic. As the de facto main character, viewers spend the most time getting to know her background and understanding her attitude. – RECOMMENDED

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Aug

The Man Who Saved Everything

Benjamin Scuglia’s latest drama The Man Who Saved Everything does an excellent job of discussing the many nuances of the disorder but falls short as a production due to its confusing and often distracting stage direction… Scuglia’s play gives hoarding the attention it deserves — both as a stand-alone disorder and as a byproduct of depression and other mental diseases. Barry’s struggle, even in the face of extinction, is understandable and inspires empathy and curiosity; he’s never presented as a freak in a carnival side show. However, the production’s poor staging and unnecessary back-and-forth progression keeps it from reaching its full potential.

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Aug

Outlaw

Christie’s charm is undeniable. He’s well-spoken and descriptive. The few props he uses enhance his performance.

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Aug

Extremities

Extremities is a necessary analysis of the full range of human reactions surrounding trauma and rape culture. Honest communication about how little we’ve moved forward in the past four decades keeps the material fresh and valuable. Its approach validates survivors dealing with doubt and shame by putting the audience in the witness stand as silent onlookers forced to watch the madness unfold. – RECOMMENDED

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Aug

What Happened When

What Happened When is a different tale of demons and spirits. The use of supernatural components creates a sense of magic realism that boosts the terror of the siblings’ problems, while its strong emotional pull ensures that the ghost of this play will stay with the audience for a long while after their summer cast’s final bow. – RECOMMENDED

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Jul

THEIR FINEST HOUR: CHURCHILL AND MURROW

Anyone obsessed with history and Churchill himself may appreciate the facts about the war, Karm’s representation and Anne Mesa’s authentic-looking design of the 1940s set. Additionally, Mark Baker’s lighting design, which intermittently illuminates the three sections of the stage between which the story drifts, creatively makes the most of a small space. However, the story’s inability to evolve past the stages of a glorified fling makes the play far from a necessary analysis of their finest hour.

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Jul

Our Very Own Carlin McCullough

Peet’s writing blends family drama with comedic moments that humanize and add dimension to the characters. …Overall, the plot’s steady pace, its build-up to the unexpected changes in the second half and its final denouement make Our Very Own Carlin McCullough a compelling story even non-tennis fans can appreciate and enjoy. – RECOMMENDED

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