Non-Registered Critics: Sylvie Drake

Feb

Accidental Death Of An Anarchist

This remains by far the most effective and enjoyable production of an arresting (pun intended) and challenging comedy.

Final words, not often spoken here: do not miss it. And do not miss the lobby exhibition of Ralph Steadman’s cartoonish illustrations of characters in the play and more.

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Feb

An Inspector Calls

The actors are skilled and seasoned, even if they’re sometimes hard to hear, especially the women. … That’s important to correct, because everything in this play depends on our ability to follow the conversations.

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Jan

LINDA VISTA

I’d love to give Letts more credit, but this part-time comedy is stuffed with every dead-end conversation you’ve ever had that you wish you hadn’t, and it’s all in the service of too few funny lines and a dreary couple of buff-naked sex scenes. Fake bad sex is not a recommended spectator sport.

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Dec

Finks

Pressman’s direction is at the mercy of the overdeveloped script and therefore struggles with the built-in problems of the first act that he can’t entirely overcome. As usual, the acting at Rogue Machine is solid, and the unobtrusive but constant presence at the piano of music director Richard Levinson as The Piano Man Dickie Lewis, is a welcome thread. It relieves tensions, facilitates transitions, and keeps things relentlessly moving forward.

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Dec

COME FROM AWAY

Come From Away, an upbeat, noisy, engagingly choral musical with no “stars,” but an ensemble company of eager and talented performers giving it their all and reminding us that, while human beings can be cruel, many also can be kind, helpful and resourceful.

It almost sounds sappy, I know, but Come From Away doesn’t care. It delivers what it always intended to deliver, not less and not more, with musicians, actors and singers whose energy is almost always given at 110%. The show is a smoothly synchronized effort without much of a plot, music that is right for the subject matter, relying on that most popular equation of all: a communion of good persons dedicated to delivering good deeds.

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Nov

VALLEY OF THE HEART

To be clear, the intentions that went into this production are unquestionably honorable, but the results, which remain uneven, cannot help but prompt thoughts of what might have been.

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Nov

Cost of Living

Cost of Living is a stunning example of the kind of magic four good actors, able or disabled, can achieve when they’re handed a good director and a remarkable piece of writing.

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Oct

QUACK

Ultimately the comedy’s brilliance lies in the unsparing battle of words and character, filled with insight into the broader selfishness of the society that breeds such circumstances and such people. It’s not a pretty picture and Clark makes no attempt to soften it. And yet. There is something so bemused and forgiving in both the clarity and charity of her vision that the laughter it provokes is cleansing and oddly immunizing. We leave the theatre instructed, lighthearted and uplifted.

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Oct

DEAR EVAN HANSEN

The company at the Ahmanson is exceptional in vocally and emotionally demanding roles. …The complicated events of Steven Levenson’s book risk being drowned out by the even greater complexity of the light and sound show (lighting by Japhy Weideman, sound by Nevin Steinberg), and by the fragmentation of Peter Nigrini’s restless projections dancing all over David Korins’ movable scenic design.

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Oct

EVERYTHING THAT NEVER HAPPENED

Anything is acceptable in the theatre if it works. In this case, even as skilled a director as Jessica Kubzanzky cannot overcome the writing’s self-indulgence and the result is something of a well-intended muddle.

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Oct

Gloria

Chris Fields sobering direction and a skilled cast deliver the goods. Sturgis and Soo stand out in the most colorful and complicated roles that also undergo the greatest transformations. But the play’s the thing. Jacobs-Jenkins’ writing is not for all markets. Some may find it grating or too raw. As with Martin McDonagh’s and David Mamet’s work, it reflects the unvarnished coarsening of our world. It’s not a pretty sight, but it is breathtakingly true.

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Oct

ROSENCRANTZ AND GUILDENSTERN ARE DEAD

You had to be there. It doesn’t bear repeating. You have to listen for the absence of serious content. Go with the flow and count the ways in which the little gems that pop up, and the action itself, don’t quite mirror Shakespeare.

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Oct

OPPENHEIMER

A vibrant experience on pretty much every level. A cause for celebration. Ultimately, the production’s unimpeded flow, Brechtian overtones, smart choices and the play’s deep dive into the complicated man who said he needed physics more than he needed friends, prove irresistible. It’s a thrilling ride.

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Oct

A PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY

A Picture of Dorian Gray is also a triple manifestation of Michetti’s impressive creativity as he continues to find ways to command his audiences’ interest, curiosity and respect.

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Sep

Old Clown Wanted

Hogan is particularly arresting in a speech that can only be described as her 11 o’clock moment. The set (designer is Jeff Rack), costumes (Amanda Marin), lighting (Bosco Flanagan) and props (Josh La Cour) are all up to their appointed tasks.

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Sep

SWEAT

Despite that factor and the play’s length and slight tendency to preach, the production rarely drags. Its characters are human. Its closing moment could be stronger, but by then the tale has been told and its argument reverberates keenly in a society that has yet to come to grips with its issues, its anti-immigrant rage, opioid devastation and gun fatalities. Nottage doesn’t do the work for us, but she does give out very clear instructions on connecting the dots.

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Sep

American Saga – Gunshot Medley: Part 1

It is an intense, yet frequently playful 70-minute chamber piece, performed without intermission and intended, like the music, to be felt rather than analyzed. It yearns simply to be experienced. Its political message is unmistakable; anybody with half a brain and a full heart can know it. But above all, it is an intelligent, intriguing and beguiling poem, rooted not in the everyday, but in a realm ruled by the heart and senses.

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Aug

Three Days in the Country

The production of Three Days, beautifully directed by a seasoned newcomer to Los Angeles by the name of Andrew Paul, is fine enough to have encouraged me to do something I had not done before: see the second cast.

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Jul

Arrival & Departure

The end result leaves the essential core of Arrival & Departure emotionally vacant, reminiscent of those sumptuous cakes in bakery windows that are built over hollow cardboard shells. The outer gloss is all there, while the flavorful interior is not.

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Jul

Mexican Day

All fresh, seductive and topped by a joyous watery ending. Well directed…punctuated by gorgeous snippets of powerful singing. Healthy interjections of startling humor.

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