Finks

Critics

LemonMeter

97 %

Reviews: 16

Audience

LemonMeter

Reviews: 0

A New York Times Critic's Pick, “Finks” was nominated for a Drama Desk Award and Rogue Machine's West Coast premiere production brings together writer Joe Gilford and director Michael Pressman, both children of the Blacklisted.

“French and Vanessa Claire Stewart excel in the Los Angeles premiere of Joe Gilford's absorbing look at the Hollywood blacklist” – Hollywood Reporter

On the verge of TV stardom, a comic meets an actress/activist, their romance blossoms - as does their risk of being blacklisted for their political activities. The House Un-American Activities Committee, tasked with exposing communist subversion, conducted hearings which lead to more than 300 directors, actors, radios personalities, and screenwriters to be boycotted by studios. Friends were turned against friends, and family. Most who were named never recovered their careers. Those who willingly testify—naming others to the committee—will be branded as "finks."

“What is most intriguing is not that the characters chose communism; it's that they chose to believe in an improved state. They were dreamers who became activists - they understood something was wrong. They understood they had to act or nothing would change,” says producer John Perrin Flynn.

Cast: Daniel Dorr (Victor Lynch, Stanley, Kazan), Thomas Fiscella (Phil Larson, Martin Berkeley, Lee J. Cobb, Budd Schulberg), Matt Gottlieb (Rep. Walter), Stephen Tyler Howell (Sgt. at Arms, Bartender, Announcer, Leading Man), Richard Levinson (poianist), Adam Lebowitz-Lockard (Bobby Ferard), Bruce Nozick (Fred Land), Vanessa Claire Stewart (Natalie Meltzer), and French Stewart (Mickey Dobbs).

Joe Gilford (Playwright), Michael Pressman (Director), John Perrin Flynn (Artistic Director/ Producer), Cecila Fairchild (Assistant Director), Stephanie Kerley Schwartz (Scenic Design), Matt Richter (Lighting Design), Christopher Moscatiello (Sound Design), Nick Santiago (Projection Designer), and Halei Parker (Costume Design).

Rogue Machine Theatre won the Ovation Award this year for “Best Season” and received, for the second time, the Polly Warfield Award for an Excellent Season from the LA Drama Critics Circle – 2016 and 2011. They were recently recognized with 12 Ovation Award nominations, including one for Best Season and two for Best Production. KCRW's nod to Best Theatre was a highlight of the 2016 season, as was receiving a Shubert Foundation grant awarded to select theatre organizations for their artistic achievement, administrative strength, and fiscal stability along with the company's development of new work and other significant contributions to the field of professional theatre in the United States. A recipient of the American Theatre Wing's 2014 National Theatre Company Grant, given only to 12 theatre companies in the country, Rogue Machine (BEST PRODUCTION for three yearsOvation and LADCC Awards) presents plays that are new to Los Angeles. They recently received support from the Ralph M. Parsons Foundation, and the company garnered recognition for their work in upwards of 75 awards and nominations.

FINKS is extended to run through January 6, 2019 with performances at 8pm on Friday, 3pm & 8pm on Saturday, and 3pm on Sunday. Rogue Machine is located in Electric Lodge, 1416 Electric Ave. Venice CA 90291. Tickets are $40. Reservations: 855-585-5185 or at www.roguemachinetheatre.com

Reviews

Shari Barrett

FINKS centers on Mickey Dobbs (French Stewart), Review: FINKS Centers on a Terrifying Time and No-Win Situation for Artists in Americaa comic on the verge of TV stardom who meets Natalie Meltzer (Vanessa Claire Stewart), a left-wing actress/activist who gathers friends in support of changing the way democracy was splitting America based on wealth. And if you think about it, even to this day many of their arguments for socialized medicine and equal rights still make media headlines and split public opinion. But in the 1950s, those who spoke out for such things were seen a subversive to our government and labelled communists, with Senator Joe McCarthy convinced movies were being made to promote those beliefs and needed to be halted before undermining our democracy. Intense production that teaches a lesson we all need to remember or we are doomed to repeat it.

sweet - Shari Barrett - Broadway World - ...read full review


Carol Kaufman Segal

Serious, yes, but there is much more to Finks due to a well-witten script and actors who add so much more to the play.

sweet - Carol Segal - Carol's Culture Corner - ...read full review


Avatar

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.

sweet-sour - Sylvie Drake - Cultural Weekly - ...read full review


Avatar

Finks in one of the most dauntless, ‘on point' productions of the season – acute, relevant and filled with battering heartbreak. - Very Highly Recommended

sweet - Tracey Paleo - Gia on the Move - ...read full review


Steven Stanley

The term “now more than ever” may be overused, but take a gander at any day's headlines out of D.C. and you'll see how aptly it describes Finks, just one reason the latest from Rogue Machine packs the most powerful of punches.

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


Avatar

Michael Pressman, whose father David was also blacklisted, adeptly directs his ensemble in eliciting laughs and gripping, tense performances. Richard Levinson's tickling of the ivories also enhances a wonderful night at the theatre for the Left Coast premiere of a play which was nommed for a NY Drama Desk award and deserves to nab numerous Ovations.

sweet - Ed Rampell - Free Press - ...read full review


Avatar

Michael Pressman, the son of black-listed parents, directs with a firm and knowledgeable hand and moves the play seamlessly through various locations, utilizing every nook and cranny of the stage. Throughout, Richard Levinson, a successful composer in his own right, is at the keyboard and entertains with appropriate music.

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


Avatar

Both the playwright and director of Finks are the children of blacklisted parents. They have done their forebears proud by mounting a vibrant production of the play, one that brings the contentious fifties to life in a hard-driving, impressionistic way... Finks may be a historical play but the history it deals with has come full circle on us. We are living in a similarly highly-charged political environment, one in which right-wing powers have mounted an attack on democratic values and beliefs. That makes the piece even more relevant than when it was first produced back East in 2008.

sweet - Willard Manus - Total Theater - ...read full review


Avatar

Plays like Finks demonstrate the power of theatre to remind us of what is important. They show us that the best way to fight back against a government that has taken a wrong turn — in either direction — is to become that activist. They show us the power of standing up for what is right, even at a great personal costs. That's true for the actors of the Hollywood Blacklist, most of whom were not Communists in the Russian sense, but working for peace and better conditions for workers in all industries. That's equally true for the Democrats of today, who are working to make the country better for all. This play sends the message of the importance of standing up (or of kneeling, when appropriate) to authority that isn't upholding the values of America.

sweet - Daniel Faigin - CA Highways - ...read full review


Deborah Klugman

Leavened with humor, with a strong intuitive performer in the pivotal role, it's a harsh reminder of what can happen when unscrupulous people acquire control of the workings of government and words become instrumental in destroying innocent lives.

sweet - Deborah Klugman - StageRaw - ...read full review


Eric A Gordon

Gilford has captured the language of the period so well—the corny jokes with a political edge, the earnest urgings to get involved and take a stand, the folk music of the time (“Which Side Are You On?”), the radio commercials, the Abbott and Costello routines, the soap operas, the Yiddish words flung about in this largely Jewish community. One can hardly ignore the transparent anti-Semitism, or anti-“cosmopolitanism” to use a contemporary term, in the persecution of political heretics.

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


Avatar

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.

sweet - Terry Morgan - Talkin Broadway - ...read full review


Rob Stevens

Gilford, along with director Michael Pressman, are both children of blacklisted parents so the material has a deeper resonance for them and it shows both in the clever and detailed writing and in the polished direction of the show.

sweet - Rob Stevens - Haines His Way - ...read full review


Avatar

French Stewart is fantastic, he wears hangdog panic like a bespoke suit, and he is quite believable as a comic of the era on the brink of mainstream stardom. It takes us inside what it feels like as each person tries to decide what to do. Finks and Oppenheimer do complement one another.

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


Avatar

Gripping. FINKS fits powerfully with its partnered Rogue Machine presentation, OPPENHEIMER. Together they form the picture of an era which should never be forgotten, an era with lessons as relevant today as they were more than 50 years ago. A Splash Selection.

sweet - Elaine Mura - LA Splash - ...read full review


Avatar

French and Vanessa Claire Stewart excel in the Los Angeles premiere of Joe Gilford's absorbing look at the Hollywood blacklist. When playwright Joe Gilford sat down to write Finks, he needed look no further than his own family for inspiration. His father and mother, Jack and Madeline Lee Gilford, were persecuted in the early 1950s, subpoenaed to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee. The episode derailed their acting careers. Their story...is at the heart of Joe's witty, warm and dramatic paean to his parents.

sweet - Jordan Riefe - Hollywood Reporter - ...read full review


Shari Barrett

FINKS centers on Mickey Dobbs (French Stewart), Review: FINKS Centers on a Terrifying Time and No-Win Situation for Artists in Americaa comic on the verge of TV stardom who meets Natalie Meltzer (Vanessa Claire Stewart), a left-wing actress/activist who gathers friends in support of changing the way democracy was splitting America based on wealth. And if you think about it, even to this day many of their arguments for socialized medicine and equal rights still make media headlines and split public opinion. But in the 1950s, those who spoke out for such things were seen a subversive to our government and labelled communists, with Senator Joe McCarthy convinced movies were being made to promote those beliefs and needed to be halted before undermining our democracy. Intense production that teaches a lesson we all need to remember or we are doomed to repeat it.

sweet - Shari Barrett - Broadway World - ...read full review


Carol Kaufman Segal

Serious, yes, but there is much more to Finks due to a well-witten script and actors who add so much more to the play.

sweet - Carol Segal - Carol's Culture Corner - ...read full review


Avatar

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.

sweet-sour - Sylvie Drake - Cultural Weekly - ...read full review


Avatar

Finks in one of the most dauntless, ‘on point' productions of the season – acute, relevant and filled with battering heartbreak. - Very Highly Recommended

sweet - Tracey Paleo - Gia on the Move - ...read full review


Steven Stanley

The term “now more than ever” may be overused, but take a gander at any day's headlines out of D.C. and you'll see how aptly it describes Finks, just one reason the latest from Rogue Machine packs the most powerful of punches.

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


Avatar

Michael Pressman, whose father David was also blacklisted, adeptly directs his ensemble in eliciting laughs and gripping, tense performances. Richard Levinson's tickling of the ivories also enhances a wonderful night at the theatre for the Left Coast premiere of a play which was nommed for a NY Drama Desk award and deserves to nab numerous Ovations.

sweet - Ed Rampell - Free Press - ...read full review


Avatar

Michael Pressman, the son of black-listed parents, directs with a firm and knowledgeable hand and moves the play seamlessly through various locations, utilizing every nook and cranny of the stage. Throughout, Richard Levinson, a successful composer in his own right, is at the keyboard and entertains with appropriate music.

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


Avatar

Both the playwright and director of Finks are the children of blacklisted parents. They have done their forebears proud by mounting a vibrant production of the play, one that brings the contentious fifties to life in a hard-driving, impressionistic way... Finks may be a historical play but the history it deals with has come full circle on us. We are living in a similarly highly-charged political environment, one in which right-wing powers have mounted an attack on democratic values and beliefs. That makes the piece even more relevant than when it was first produced back East in 2008.

sweet - Willard Manus - Total Theater - ...read full review


Avatar

Plays like Finks demonstrate the power of theatre to remind us of what is important. They show us that the best way to fight back against a government that has taken a wrong turn — in either direction — is to become that activist. They show us the power of standing up for what is right, even at a great personal costs. That's true for the actors of the Hollywood Blacklist, most of whom were not Communists in the Russian sense, but working for peace and better conditions for workers in all industries. That's equally true for the Democrats of today, who are working to make the country better for all. This play sends the message of the importance of standing up (or of kneeling, when appropriate) to authority that isn't upholding the values of America.

sweet - Daniel Faigin - CA Highways - ...read full review


Deborah Klugman

Leavened with humor, with a strong intuitive performer in the pivotal role, it's a harsh reminder of what can happen when unscrupulous people acquire control of the workings of government and words become instrumental in destroying innocent lives.

sweet - Deborah Klugman - StageRaw - ...read full review


Eric A Gordon

Gilford has captured the language of the period so well—the corny jokes with a political edge, the earnest urgings to get involved and take a stand, the folk music of the time (“Which Side Are You On?”), the radio commercials, the Abbott and Costello routines, the soap operas, the Yiddish words flung about in this largely Jewish community. One can hardly ignore the transparent anti-Semitism, or anti-“cosmopolitanism” to use a contemporary term, in the persecution of political heretics.

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


Avatar

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.

sweet - Terry Morgan - Talkin Broadway - ...read full review


Rob Stevens

Gilford, along with director Michael Pressman, are both children of blacklisted parents so the material has a deeper resonance for them and it shows both in the clever and detailed writing and in the polished direction of the show.

sweet - Rob Stevens - Haines His Way - ...read full review


Avatar

French Stewart is fantastic, he wears hangdog panic like a bespoke suit, and he is quite believable as a comic of the era on the brink of mainstream stardom. It takes us inside what it feels like as each person tries to decide what to do. Finks and Oppenheimer do complement one another.

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


Avatar

Gripping. FINKS fits powerfully with its partnered Rogue Machine presentation, OPPENHEIMER. Together they form the picture of an era which should never be forgotten, an era with lessons as relevant today as they were more than 50 years ago. A Splash Selection.

sweet - Elaine Mura - LA Splash - ...read full review


Avatar

French and Vanessa Claire Stewart excel in the Los Angeles premiere of Joe Gilford's absorbing look at the Hollywood blacklist. When playwright Joe Gilford sat down to write Finks, he needed look no further than his own family for inspiration. His father and mother, Jack and Madeline Lee Gilford, were persecuted in the early 1950s, subpoenaed to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee. The episode derailed their acting careers. Their story...is at the heart of Joe's witty, warm and dramatic paean to his parents.

sweet - Jordan Riefe - Hollywood Reporter - ...read full review