The Gin Game

Critics

LemonMeter

91 %

Reviews: 11

Audience

LemonMeter

Reviews: 0

Last season’s acclaimed, Ovation recommended production of The Gin Game, directed by Christian Lebano at the Sierra Madre Playhouse, will be re-staged outdoors at the beautiful Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum in Topanga, with real life husband and wife team Alan Blumenfeld and Katherine James reprising their roles. In D.L Coburn’s Pulitzer Prize-winning two-hander, a pair of elderly residents in a nursing home strike up a stormy friendship while playing gin rummy. The irascible Weller Martin struggles with “the incredible run of luck” enjoyed by self-righteous Fonsia Dorsey, who beats him consistently — even though she’s just learned the game and he’s been playing for years. As they play, they reveal secrets that get used against each other, and the game becomes a metaphor for their lives. Aug. 17 thru Sept. 29; Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum, 1419 N. Topanga Canyon Blvd., Topanga CA  90290; $15-$38; (310) 455-3723 or www.theatricum.com. Join us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/theatricum or follow us on Twitter: @theatricum

Reviews

Avatar

The grand, rustic Theatricum Botanicum is simply the wrong setting for The Gin Game, a realistic two-hander only remarkable for its intimate, narrow focus on a slow-burn relationship. During long stretches of text detailing the rules of gin, or painfully extended scene transitions, it’s easy to let your attention drift to Theatricum’s stunning natural backdrop of trees. Outdoor theatre works best with larger-than-life stories that invoke the nature that surrounds it, and at Theatricum, The Gin Game feels out of place.

sour - Taylor Kass - Stage Raw - ...read full review


Avatar

“The Gin Game” at Theatricum Botanicum’s smaller S. Mark Taper Pavilion in Topanga Canyon, and “Witch” at the Audrey Skirball Kenis black box theatre at Geffen Playhouse in Westwood, demonstrate the high quality of smaller-staged theatrical productions in L.A., brought to life by topnotch acting talent.

sweet - Sarah A. Spitz - Santa Monica Daily Press - ...read full review


Avatar

At Theatricum Botanicum, two fine actors remind us why ‘The Gin Game’ won a Pulitzer...

While Blumenfeld’s comic timing is impeccable, he also shows us how much more is at stake for Weller. Amid the joyless captivity of the nursing home, belief in his card-playing expertise is one of Weller’s few remaining pillars of self-respect, and he loses more of it with each defeat.

With equal nuance, James peels away the layers of prim-and-proper Fonsia’s scolding to reveal her terrified loneliness and the desperation behind her increasingly sharp-edged teasing. As she and Weller lash at each other’s psychic wounds, they shred the self-delusions that can no longer sustain them in the twilight of their lives.

sweet - Philip Brandes - LA Times - ...read full review


Avatar

This production is a triumph, because rarely does one have a chance to see a genuine Broadway-level masterpiece played out with such professional skill in their own hometown.

sweet - Annemarie Donkin - Messenger Mountain News - ...read full review


Avatar

Playwright Colburn cannily wrings every ounce of comedy from Martin's bad temper, creating a pair of richly memorable characters by filling in their back-story and revealing what they have in common. Along the way, he examines the plight of seniors stuck, sometimes unwillingly, in old age homes. Director Christian Lebano captures every available nuance and draws terrific performances from his actors. - RECOMMENDED

sweet - Neal Weaver - Stage Raw - ...read full review


Avatar

Wonderful production, don't miss it!

sweet - Carol Edger-Germain - Colorado Boulevard - ...read full review


Steven Stanley

Rare is the play that offers actors of Social Security check-receiving age the chance to take center stage, and equally rare are performers capable of captivating an audience for nearly two hours without a hitch. The Gin Game, starring Alan Blumenfeld and Katherine James, does both to indelible effect.

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


Leigh Kennicott

D. L. Coburn hangs his deeply affecting tale about ageism onto a marathon Gin Game in a retirement home back in the late 70s. Husband and wife team, Katherine James and Alan Blumenfeld play Fonsia Dorsey and Weller Martin, respectively. Both have wound up in the Bentley Home for the Aged, a low-income retirement facility and they soon became friends over Weller's obsession with the game of Gin Rummy. Under Christian Lebano's well paced dynamic, their relationship builds slowly until the play's explosive ending.

sweet - Leigh Kennicott - ShowMag - ...read full review


Frances Baum Nicholson

An articulate, well-known play is produced with great polish and passion. The visuals are evocative. The performers are impressive. The net result is well worth the price of admission.

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


Eric A Gordon

Weller and Fonsia are both intelligent people, but with character flaws that have turned almost every decision they ever made into a wrong move. At this stage of their lives they are desperate to hold onto some semblance of personal dignity now that they are alone, penniless, not physically well, and living in profoundly “reduced circumstances” as the Victorian novelists used to say. The card games they play recall nothing so much as the famous chess match between the medieval knight Antonius Block and Death in Ingmar Bergman's 1957 classic film The Seventh Seal, set during the black plague. The absurdist course of these innocent games will end up determining the fate of these two tragic, lonely people who seem at any moment as if they could be each other's salvation. The Gin Game is helmed by the award-winning Artistic Director of Sierra Madre Playhouse Christian Lebano, who probably didn't have to work too hard to bring out these masterful actors' perfect senses of timing and tone. There is not a false note in the show.

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


Avatar

It's amusing, it's witty, it's sober, and even holds just a hint of romance. Christian Lebano directs this show that is tight with emotion, and is loose with its charm and personality.

sweet - Rich Borowy - Accessibly Live Off-Line - ...read full review


Avatar

The grand, rustic Theatricum Botanicum is simply the wrong setting for The Gin Game, a realistic two-hander only remarkable for its intimate, narrow focus on a slow-burn relationship. During long stretches of text detailing the rules of gin, or painfully extended scene transitions, it’s easy to let your attention drift to Theatricum’s stunning natural backdrop of trees. Outdoor theatre works best with larger-than-life stories that invoke the nature that surrounds it, and at Theatricum, The Gin Game feels out of place.

sour - Taylor Kass - Stage Raw - ...read full review


Avatar

“The Gin Game” at Theatricum Botanicum’s smaller S. Mark Taper Pavilion in Topanga Canyon, and “Witch” at the Audrey Skirball Kenis black box theatre at Geffen Playhouse in Westwood, demonstrate the high quality of smaller-staged theatrical productions in L.A., brought to life by topnotch acting talent.

sweet - Sarah A. Spitz - Santa Monica Daily Press - ...read full review


Avatar

At Theatricum Botanicum, two fine actors remind us why ‘The Gin Game’ won a Pulitzer...

While Blumenfeld’s comic timing is impeccable, he also shows us how much more is at stake for Weller. Amid the joyless captivity of the nursing home, belief in his card-playing expertise is one of Weller’s few remaining pillars of self-respect, and he loses more of it with each defeat.

With equal nuance, James peels away the layers of prim-and-proper Fonsia’s scolding to reveal her terrified loneliness and the desperation behind her increasingly sharp-edged teasing. As she and Weller lash at each other’s psychic wounds, they shred the self-delusions that can no longer sustain them in the twilight of their lives.

sweet - Philip Brandes - LA Times - ...read full review


Avatar

This production is a triumph, because rarely does one have a chance to see a genuine Broadway-level masterpiece played out with such professional skill in their own hometown.

sweet - Annemarie Donkin - Messenger Mountain News - ...read full review


Avatar

Playwright Colburn cannily wrings every ounce of comedy from Martin's bad temper, creating a pair of richly memorable characters by filling in their back-story and revealing what they have in common. Along the way, he examines the plight of seniors stuck, sometimes unwillingly, in old age homes. Director Christian Lebano captures every available nuance and draws terrific performances from his actors. - RECOMMENDED

sweet - Neal Weaver - Stage Raw - ...read full review


Avatar

Wonderful production, don't miss it!

sweet - Carol Edger-Germain - Colorado Boulevard - ...read full review


Steven Stanley

Rare is the play that offers actors of Social Security check-receiving age the chance to take center stage, and equally rare are performers capable of captivating an audience for nearly two hours without a hitch. The Gin Game, starring Alan Blumenfeld and Katherine James, does both to indelible effect.

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


Leigh Kennicott

D. L. Coburn hangs his deeply affecting tale about ageism onto a marathon Gin Game in a retirement home back in the late 70s. Husband and wife team, Katherine James and Alan Blumenfeld play Fonsia Dorsey and Weller Martin, respectively. Both have wound up in the Bentley Home for the Aged, a low-income retirement facility and they soon became friends over Weller's obsession with the game of Gin Rummy. Under Christian Lebano's well paced dynamic, their relationship builds slowly until the play's explosive ending.

sweet - Leigh Kennicott - ShowMag - ...read full review


Frances Baum Nicholson

An articulate, well-known play is produced with great polish and passion. The visuals are evocative. The performers are impressive. The net result is well worth the price of admission.

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


Eric A Gordon

Weller and Fonsia are both intelligent people, but with character flaws that have turned almost every decision they ever made into a wrong move. At this stage of their lives they are desperate to hold onto some semblance of personal dignity now that they are alone, penniless, not physically well, and living in profoundly “reduced circumstances” as the Victorian novelists used to say. The card games they play recall nothing so much as the famous chess match between the medieval knight Antonius Block and Death in Ingmar Bergman's 1957 classic film The Seventh Seal, set during the black plague. The absurdist course of these innocent games will end up determining the fate of these two tragic, lonely people who seem at any moment as if they could be each other's salvation. The Gin Game is helmed by the award-winning Artistic Director of Sierra Madre Playhouse Christian Lebano, who probably didn't have to work too hard to bring out these masterful actors' perfect senses of timing and tone. There is not a false note in the show.

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


Avatar

It's amusing, it's witty, it's sober, and even holds just a hint of romance. Christian Lebano directs this show that is tight with emotion, and is loose with its charm and personality.

sweet - Rich Borowy - Accessibly Live Off-Line - ...read full review