American Hero

Critics

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77 %

Reviews: 11

Audience

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Reviews: 0

IAMA Theatre Company opens its 2018-19 season with the L.A. premiere of Bess Wohl's darkly comic celebration of the power of teamwork and unity to overcome adversity. At a toasted subs franchise in the local mall, three up-and-coming “sandwich artists” — an awkward young misfit, a single mom and a downsized refugee from corporate banking — are perfecting the mustard-to-cheese ratio according to the company manual. But when their shot at the American dream is interrupted by a series of strange events, they must become unlikely allies in a post-recession world. Sept. 21 thru Oct.21: Fridays at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 8 p.m., Sundays at 7 p.m. IAMA Theatre Company in a Pasadena Playhouse guest production at the Carrie Hamilton Theatre Theatre, 39 S. El Molino Ave., Pasadena CA 91101; $30; 323-380-8843; iamatheatre.com

Reviews

Avatar

Eckhouse turns American Hero into an enjoyable 90-minute comedy with characters in whom you want to invest. But the situations in Bess Wohl's play lack urgency. The workers of the luncheonette run out of meat early in the play and, sadly, so does the play itself.

sweet-sour - Jonas Schwartz - Theater Mania - ...read full review


Avatar

Director James Eckhouse's affectionate tone, which melds whimsy with a snarky attitude towards the all too recognizable corporate culture, is executed with style and surprising urgency. The ensemble work is tight and funny. - RECOMMENDED

sweet - Paul Birchall - Stage Raw - ...read full review


Steven Stanley

An auspicious season opener for one of L.A.'s premier membership theater companies in their new home upstairs at the Pasadena Playhouse, American Hero is IAMA at its hilarious, cutting-edge best.

sweet - Steven Stanley - Stage Scene LA - ...read full review


Avatar

Eckhouse and the boundlessly funny actors find just the right tone for every scene, whether conveying the repetitious, ritualized motions of the sandwich line or Sheri's work-exhausted dream involving a human-size sandwich with a nightmarishly echoey voice and lettuce spilling out of his jacket sleeves like Liberace lace.

sweet - Daryl H. Miller - Los Angeles Times - ...read full review


Avatar

Director James Eckhouse keeps this L.A. premiere lively and watchable. His cast also serves as the stage crew, quickly handling props and furnishings during the frequent black-outs. He presents a lamentable topic in an upbeat production.

sweet - Ingrid Wilmot - Will Call - ...read full review


Gil Kaan

The L.A. premiere of Bess Wohl's AMERICAN HERO doles out a steady stream of screaming conflicts, yet leaves you hungry for more satisfactory resolutions. Rodney To totally steals the show with three of his four characters - the quick-with-the-quip, backwards-baseball-cap-wearing kid; the corporate suit who unexpectedly breaks down before the sandwich-makers' eyes; the all-knowing, charismatic, dreamed-up personification of a sandwich.

sweet-sour - Gil Kaan - BroadwayWorld.com - ...read full review


Avatar

There is superb teamwork between the actors, and when it is at its best, the play approaches Pinteresque tragicomedy... Director James Eckhouse's staging is fantastic. He utilizes every bit of space, creating stage pictures that effortlessly flow between the play's everchanging tones. Mr. Eckhouse makes room for the comedy without denying the characters their tragedies, yet the forward momentum and energy doesn't flag. Ms. Wohl is a gifted playwright with a flair for telling detail. Her sharp observational skills provide the best moments of the evening. She creates memorable characters. She loves them so much herself that we can't help but feel the same way.

sweet - Samuel Garza Bernstein - Stage and Cinema - ...read full review


Erin Conley

As the title would indicate, American Hero seems to be circling an idea about how the struggles of the employees at this franchise represent a modern, recession-era iteration of the American Dream, but this point never lands successfully. Instead, it's just a play about three people making sandwiches, and the stakes are so low it is difficult to care if they succeed.

sour - Erin Conley - On Stage and Screen - ...read full review


Frances Baum Nicholson

It is a play worth seeing, filled with images one really needs to put in the back of one's mind for the next time one walks into a fast food establishment.

sweet - Frances Baum Nicholson - Pasadena Star News - ...read full review


Eric A Gordon

Revealingly, it turns out that the MBA now down on his luck is the least resourceful in dealing with the sudden turn of events which obliges the trio of workers to self-manage in the absence of an overseer. In the end, Wohl suggests (I don't want to give away too much), the workers themselves have far greater agency with respect to what needs to be done than the impersonal, anonymous corporation that has no familiarity with the actual situation on the ground. Each of them responds heroically in their own way. Who needs the bosses anyway? The Great Recession may be over, and more Americans are working. But if you lost your union manufacturing job, you're not likely to regain another one with comparable pay and benefits. Sandwich artistry may be your future, and American Hero is a chilling microcosm of it. As Ted asks, “What kind of world is it where people just take?”

sweet - Eric A Gordon - People's World - ...read full review


Avatar

Unfortunately, narrative improbabilities are a lot more obvious in "American Hero" than they are in "Native Gardens.

sweet-sour - Don Shirley - LA Observed - ...read full review


Avatar

Eckhouse turns American Hero into an enjoyable 90-minute comedy with characters in whom you want to invest. But the situations in Bess Wohl's play lack urgency. The workers of the luncheonette run out of meat early in the play and, sadly, so does the play itself.

sweet-sour - Jonas Schwartz - Theater Mania - ...read full review


Avatar

Director James Eckhouse's affectionate tone, which melds whimsy with a snarky attitude towards the all too recognizable corporate culture, is executed with style and surprising urgency. The ensemble work is tight and funny. - RECOMMENDED

sweet - Paul Birchall - Stage Raw - ...read full review


Steven Stanley

An auspicious season opener for one of L.A.'s premier membership theater companies in their new home upstairs at the Pasadena Playhouse, American Hero is IAMA at its hilarious, cutting-edge best.

sweet - Steven Stanley - Stage Scene LA - ...read full review


Avatar

Eckhouse and the boundlessly funny actors find just the right tone for every scene, whether conveying the repetitious, ritualized motions of the sandwich line or Sheri's work-exhausted dream involving a human-size sandwich with a nightmarishly echoey voice and lettuce spilling out of his jacket sleeves like Liberace lace.

sweet - Daryl H. Miller - Los Angeles Times - ...read full review


Avatar

Director James Eckhouse keeps this L.A. premiere lively and watchable. His cast also serves as the stage crew, quickly handling props and furnishings during the frequent black-outs. He presents a lamentable topic in an upbeat production.

sweet - Ingrid Wilmot - Will Call - ...read full review


Gil Kaan

The L.A. premiere of Bess Wohl's AMERICAN HERO doles out a steady stream of screaming conflicts, yet leaves you hungry for more satisfactory resolutions. Rodney To totally steals the show with three of his four characters - the quick-with-the-quip, backwards-baseball-cap-wearing kid; the corporate suit who unexpectedly breaks down before the sandwich-makers' eyes; the all-knowing, charismatic, dreamed-up personification of a sandwich.

sweet-sour - Gil Kaan - BroadwayWorld.com - ...read full review


Avatar

There is superb teamwork between the actors, and when it is at its best, the play approaches Pinteresque tragicomedy... Director James Eckhouse's staging is fantastic. He utilizes every bit of space, creating stage pictures that effortlessly flow between the play's everchanging tones. Mr. Eckhouse makes room for the comedy without denying the characters their tragedies, yet the forward momentum and energy doesn't flag. Ms. Wohl is a gifted playwright with a flair for telling detail. Her sharp observational skills provide the best moments of the evening. She creates memorable characters. She loves them so much herself that we can't help but feel the same way.

sweet - Samuel Garza Bernstein - Stage and Cinema - ...read full review


Erin Conley

As the title would indicate, American Hero seems to be circling an idea about how the struggles of the employees at this franchise represent a modern, recession-era iteration of the American Dream, but this point never lands successfully. Instead, it's just a play about three people making sandwiches, and the stakes are so low it is difficult to care if they succeed.

sour - Erin Conley - On Stage and Screen - ...read full review


Frances Baum Nicholson

It is a play worth seeing, filled with images one really needs to put in the back of one's mind for the next time one walks into a fast food establishment.

sweet - Frances Baum Nicholson - Pasadena Star News - ...read full review


Eric A Gordon

Revealingly, it turns out that the MBA now down on his luck is the least resourceful in dealing with the sudden turn of events which obliges the trio of workers to self-manage in the absence of an overseer. In the end, Wohl suggests (I don't want to give away too much), the workers themselves have far greater agency with respect to what needs to be done than the impersonal, anonymous corporation that has no familiarity with the actual situation on the ground. Each of them responds heroically in their own way. Who needs the bosses anyway? The Great Recession may be over, and more Americans are working. But if you lost your union manufacturing job, you're not likely to regain another one with comparable pay and benefits. Sandwich artistry may be your future, and American Hero is a chilling microcosm of it. As Ted asks, “What kind of world is it where people just take?”

sweet - Eric A Gordon - People's World - ...read full review


Avatar

Unfortunately, narrative improbabilities are a lot more obvious in "American Hero" than they are in "Native Gardens.

sweet-sour - Don Shirley - LA Observed - ...read full review