Non-Registered Critics: Terry Morgan

Feb

ANNA KARENINA

There’s a lot of good work in this production, and that’s to be applauded. Regrettably, the elements that don’t quite come together keep this Anna Karenina from being completely successful.

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Feb

An Inspector Calls

RECOMMENDED – In today’s era of open corruption at the highest levels of government and business, the themes of An Inspector Calls are distressingly relevant. That’s one good reason to see the show, but the main one is that this production is a stunner on every level, and a welcome revival indeed.

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Feb

Hir

The intriguing angle of Hir is bringing a transgender point of view into this setup, but ultimately this gets obscured by the more traditional, familiar themes, which is disappointing.

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Jan

The Cripple of Inishmaan

Director Steven Robman gets some inspired performances from his cast, but the pacing lags a bit at times and the Irish accents are somewhat variable.

…The Cripple of Inishmaan is a dark little gem of a play, and if this production isn’t perfect, it’s still a nasty, mean-spirited delight.

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Jan

SMART LOVE

Director Elina de Santos gets good performances from her cast, but ultimately can’t overcome the infelicities of the script.

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Dec

It’s A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play

Watson has stripped the story down, though, from a two-hour-plus film to an eighty-minute play, and some of the material’s resonance is lost. Also, the gimmick of “radio actors” doing the show, each one with their own 1940s persona, is quickly abandoned, which makes one wonder why it was necessary in the first place.

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Dec

Sugar Plum Fairy

Loh’s fans will likely adore it, though, and newcomers will find much to enjoy. A note, however: You had better love audience participation, because there is a lot of it.

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Nov

MEASURE FOR MEASURE

Director Jack Stehlin has been well-respected for decades for his excellent acting and directing, and deservedly so — but he can’t entirely overcome the challenges of this famously problematic play. While he gets great work from most of his ensemble, several of the performances are uneven.

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Nov

The Value of Moscow

Director Carrie Keranen gets great, nuanced work from her cast, and ably manages both the quiet moments and the crazier ones… This is a terrific production of a seriously fun show, and I recommend it highly. – RECOMMENDED

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Nov

Finks

The excellent production of the show by Rogue Machine Theatre demonstrates yet again what a strong and impressive company this is. A great production of an important play.

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Nov

The Little Foxes

The current production by the Antaeus Theatre Company is superb, bringing the play to dark-humored, vitriolic life… Director Cameron Watson gets stellar performances across the board from his cast and paces the show with skill. John Iacovelli’s set is a marvel, an exquisitely detailed living room filled with what seem to be actual antiques, adding enormously to the show… For those who want to see a top-notch production of a genuine classic, The Little Foxes is a must see.

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Nov

VIETGONE

Nguyen’s writing is smart, compelling and funny. He takes pains to keep the show visually interesting and stylistically surprising, as in a sobering scene where a reunion for Tong becomes a bloody nightmare. …this play is a very impressive achievement, and the current production at East West Players does it full justice. – RECOMMENDED

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Oct

Cal in Camo

William Francis Hoffman’s Cal in Camo —a new co-production from Red Dog Squadron and VS. Theatre Company — boasts an excellent cast and some sharp dialogue, yet finally goes over the top in its attempt at a poetic catharsis it doesn’t quite attain.

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Oct

OPPENHEIMER

Recommended – a strong, compelling production. Although Rogue Machine is a small theatre company, it’s always punching above its weight class and generally achieving whatever artistic challenges it sets for itself. Oppenheimer is an impressive achievement and a promising debut for Rogue Machine’s new home in Venice.

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Sep

All Night Long

Director Jan Munroe serves this difficult piece well, switching styles and moods in a trice and guiding his game ensemble through the thematic acrobatics of the script. His bi-level set is skillfully wrought — sprinkled with surprises and creatively lit by Ellen Monocroussos. Tim Labor’s sound design is impressive, whether it’s generating background noise or ominous bass thumpings that rumble the theatre. O’Keefe’s writing is literate, funny, dark and absurdist, and I often enjoyed his intellectual playfulness. Perhaps it’s deliberate that this work has no real plot or definable meaning, and that the characters feel more like symbols than people for an audience to connect with. That’s fine. People who are more interested in wild creativity and the flow of ideas than in traditional dramatic works may well love this play. I found it somewhat frustrating, but I also appreciated it — and I think that Open Fist is to be commended for a terrific production of a tricky work. That said, the play is also probably too long, a bit self-indulgent and I imagine might be too flamboyantly odd for a general theatre audience. If it sounds like your cup of tea, however, I encourage you to check it out.

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Aug

Under Milk Wood

Director Ben Martin accomplishes admirable and creative work with his ensemble, whether he’s using them all to represent the moving waves in an oceanic storm or employing them as a series of bubbling tea kettles percolating in a row. His staging of the “chimbley-sweep” song, which sends the cast up into the audience, is lively and fun, ending with the memorable sight of one actor supposedly passed out drunk in the center aisle. – RECOMMENDED

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Aug

Under Milk Wood

Director Ben Martin accomplishes admirable and creative work with his ensemble, whether he’s using them all to represent the moving waves in an oceanic storm or employing them as a series of bubbling tea kettles percolating in a row. His staging of the “chimbley-sweep” song, which sends the cast up into the audience, is lively and fun, ending with the memorable sight of one actor supposedly passed out drunk in the center aisle. – RECOMMENDED

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Jul

Cry It Out

Caring for an infant is an important part of life, yet its difficulties are rarely depicted in the arts. While there is no lack of stories about pregnancy and birth, once the child is born, the drama seems to be considered less interesting. Playwright Molly Smith Metzler begs to differ, and her play Cry It Out ably demonstrates what a compelling and complex subject the caring of babies can be. The Echo Theater Company’s West Coast premiere of the show under Lindsay Allbaugh’s direction is an accomplished production, and the cast is superb. – RECOMMENDED

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Jun

Resa Fantastiskt Mystisk

Resa Fantastiskt Mystisk is a smart, funny delight, and definitely one of the highlights of this year’s Hollywood Fringe Festival. Don’t miss it, or you might never know what is true or deliberately misleading about this review. – RECOMMENDED

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Jun

Plunge by Tom Jacobson

Director Matthew McCray gets great work from his actors and manages to keep up with the script’s frequent shifts in time, which is no small feat. Jacobson has created an intricate puzzle of a play, a matryoshka doll where one truth lays nested within another, only to find another nested within that. The downside of this is that, while the work is clever, it’s also unnecessarily confusing.

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