Non-Registered Critics: Terry Morgan

Sep

Witch

Marti Lyons' direction is focused and energetic, and she gets superb work from her cast, especially Von Vogt and Jonigkeit. However, an interpretive dance sequence toward the end of the play intended to change up the production's style, tries too hard and unfortunately doesn't work. Silverman's writing is some of the funniest I've experienced in years; it's sharp, the pace is propulsive, and the character work is deft. However, the two parallel storylines never quite sync up to anything bigger, and the comedic material is more successful than the dramatic moments.

That being said, Witch is a very entertaining, wickedly funny play, the kind of thing playwrights might have sold their soul to have written.

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Sep

Handjob

Patterson’s play is smart and very funny, and if its reach slightly exceeds its grasp, it’s no matter. The world premiere production by the Echo Theater Company is expertly acted and directed and genuinely thought-provoking in the best way. - RECOMMENDED

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Aug

Andy Warhol’s Tomato

...Andy Warhol’s Tomato is a strong and entertaining production about a unique artist. As Bones says in the play, “There is beauty in the mundane.” This show has found it. - RECOMMENDED

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Aug

Bad Hamlet

Director Rob Adler has no lack of creative ideas, but they vary wildly in quality and execution...

As a company Coin & Ghost clearly has talent and ambition, but in this production, it’s unclear what the group is trying to say.

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Jul

The Caucasian Chalk Circle

This current production, adeptly directed by Stephanie Shroyer, brings Brecht’s message of social justice to life in impressive, entertaining fashion. - RECOMMENDED

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Jul

The Caucasian Chalk Circle

This current production, adeptly directed by Stephanie Shroyer, brings Brecht’s message of social justice to life in impressive, entertaining fashion...

Director Shroyer uses the 16-person ensemble well and stages Brecht’s chaos with stylish intelligence...

For a seventy-plus-year-old play, Chalk Circle retains a remarkable amount of critical edge, and this current production does Brecht justice. - RECOMMENDED

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Jul

Mysterious Circumstances

Michael Mitnick's play about this story, Mysterious Circumstances, is intriguing and witty, although it falters somewhat toward its conclusion, where the truth overrides the more satisfying fictions. It is receiving an outstanding world premiere production at the Geffen Playhouse, especially benefiting from Alan Tudyk's excellent lead performance and Matt Shakman's sharp and creative direction.

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Jul

Good Boys

Carolyn Cantor’s direction is professional if not especially distinctive, but Dane Laffrey’s set creates an appropriately tony and austere ambience. The writing is the main problem with this show.

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Jun

Lear/Loman

Russom is very much in command of and at ease with the character, and his frequent transitions from imperious anger to meek kindness are quite effective. Oliver is in good form as the blustery, deluded Loman, and the two actors bring considerable skill to bear upon the material. The enjoyment of this show derives mainly from watching these two performers interact.

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Jun

The Book of Briarshire

Moore’s writing is consistently funny, and the ensemble is talented and clearly having a good time. Colleen Doyle’s direction skillfully amplifies the silliness of the show, especially in an energetic fight/chase toward the end. The only problem with The Book of Briarshire is its structure – it was originally done as a series of shorter pieces as part of Sacred Fools’ Serial Killers show and this production simply puts those pieces together. In its current form, the story feels compressed in a confusing way, and would benefit from expanding out the story and spending more time with the characters.

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May

Daniel's Husband

The dramatic scenes are the most memorable, however, and McKeever successfully creates strong emotional moments while creating an intriguing discussion about gay marriage and legal issues.

The Fountain Theatre has created a very fine production of Daniel's Husband, a lovely surprise that local theater-lovers should seek out.

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May

The End of Sex

Director Maria Gobetti gets strong work from her ensemble but can’t quite get past an imbalanced script. For a play of ideas, the writing doesn’t disappoint; the topics Walch brings up are provocative and interesting and easy to relate to.

...overall The End of Sex is funny, well-acted and thought-provoking.

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May

JULIUS WEEZER

Featuring a terrific cast, the Troubies' latest show, a meld of Julius Caesar and the music of Weezer, is — beneath all the jokes — a surprisingly faithful version of the classic drama. - RECOMMENDED

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Mar

STEEL MAGNOLIAS

Watching this excellent current revival of Robert Harling's Steel Magnolias at Actors Co-op, I was reminded yet again of the power of a strong ensemble. Solo shows and two-handers certainly have their place, but there is something about the interaction among a group of talented actors, where many things combine to become one greater thing, that seems to me to be the very heart of whatever magic theater creates. That magic is on full display in this new production of Magnolias, which is undeniably enjoyable and sure to be a crowd-pleaser...

Director Cameron Watson stages the show with such talent that it seems seamless and effortless. Stephen Gifford's bi-level salon set is so realistic one feels one could just sit down in one of the chairs and gets one's hair done. Terri A. Lewis's costumes are both flamboyant and appropriate. I already knew Harling's play was entertaining and moving, but I'd forgotten just how clever a lot of the dialogue is; any play that can drop in “Empty is the head that wears the crown” to describe a pageant winner is working with an excess of riches.

So I'd recommend this superb revival of Steel Magnolias, and I'd advise buying tickets soon, because if I'm any judge, this production will sell out. - RECOMMENDED

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Mar

Native Voices at the Autry Presents Pure Native

Theatrically, Los Angeles is blessed in many ways, and one of them is the presence of Native Voices at the Autry, the only Equity theatre company devoted exclusively to developing and producing new works from Native American, Alaska Native and First Nations playwrights. Their shows are often specific and insightful in a way no other theatre company can be — yet at the same time the themes in their work have a universal resonance. Such is the case with Pure Native, which is both an entertaining comedy/drama and a nuanced look at the debate between corporate America and traditional values.

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Mar

The Judas Kiss

Director Michael Michetti gets great work from his ensemble, and his direction serves the play well, although visually things are a bit spare...

My one cavil is that the play itself is sometimes talky and repetitive and might work better with some pruning. But overall this is a smart, moving production which gives the complexities of this historical tragedy their due. If this story intrigues you, I'd encourage you to check it out. - RECOMMENDED

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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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