By Catherine Wagley
By Catherine Wagley
By Wendy Gilmartin
By Jennifer Swann
By Claire de Dobay Rifelj
By L.A. Weekly critics
By Catherine Wagley
By Zachary Pincus-Roth
Dodd's fidgety, neurotic Elektra pales beside the epic sweep of Griffin's Clytemnestra or the intensity of White's Chrysothemis -- a discrepancy of style and power that would work against Margraff's play were it about traditional storytelling and psychology. But it's not. And it doesn't.
IF ELEKTRA AND HER SIBLINGS FEEL OUT OF SORTS with the world, so do the New Bozena -- a trio of young clowns (David Costabile, Michael Dahlen and Kevin Isola) in the Mump and Smoot tradition, sleekly directed by Rainn Wilson. But instead of killing their mum, these guys vent their angst by signing up with the Hidden Valley Community Theater for a Slavic-gibberish performance of the "Estonian classic" Winter Is the Coldest Season -- a parody of theatrical artifice along the lines of the mechanicals' unwitting lampoon in A Midsummer Night's Dream. The cruelty of Winter's director (Wilson's voice) -- a master of the "You Have No Reason To Live, Let Alone Work" school of encouragement -- toward the inept magician Ramon (Costabile) during his audition is at least as scathing as that of Clytemnestra toward her daughter. But where the Atreus clan understand almost everything -- except, perhaps, the workings of destiny -- the wigged and bubble-nosed Bozena are a species of idiot. As they enter and re-enter their communal abode (a lurid green cell decorated with a series of identical framed fish), stumbling upon an unfamiliar object -- a clock radio, for instance, or a guitar -- they recoil in terror. An entire farce unfolds through their tentative process of coming to grips with the foreign props. The world comes to us through these Bozenoids as through the antics and innocence of puppy dogs, inviting affection and laughter, versus, say, fear and trembling (unless you happen to be 3 years old, as was one patron on the night I attended; when the troupe gallivanted into the crowd, the child blanched in fright).
The New Bozena (the name of the show and the ensemble are the same) is a low-rent version of Bill Irwin and David Shiner's Fool Moon, in which the characters battle the caprices of a belligerent physical world: An accountant finds his pockets inexplicably stuffed with pencils, which, by skit's end, are raining down from the sky. A waiter trying to arrange a place setting does battle with a temperamental tablecloth. However, though hysterical in bursts, the Bozena are neither as polished nor as philosophically astute as Irwin and Shiner. Fool Moon featured a parody of a latecomer scrambling over the audience, grabbing faces and clutching arms, in order to find his seat, whereas the Bozena similarly claw their way over viewers, but apparently just for kicks, without a satirical point in mind.
A fair amount of hyperbole accompanies the troupe's arrival here. Press clippings from the Bozena's acclaimed New York debut coin the phrase "slacker vaudeville" -- as though they represent some new approach to clowning. Nonsense. Theirs are the oldest tricks in the world.
The New Bozena
The 20th annual L.A. WeeklyTheater Awards, with Circle X Theater Company, the cast of Naked Boys Singing!, Chris Wells, Karen Finley, Pasadena Shakespeare Company and others, will be held at the Los Angeles Theater Center, 514 S. Spring St., downtown, on Monday, April 19, beginning at 7:30 p.m. (doors open at 7 p.m.); reception to follow. The posting of nominees can be found online at www.laweekly.com. Admission for all nominees plus one guest is free; for all others, $12. All queries and RSVPs can be made on the Awards hot line: (323) 993-3693. Please make checks payable to L.A. Weekly c/o Lisa Yu, 6715 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90028. Checks must be received by April 4.
THE ELEKTRA FUGUES | By RUTH MARGRAFF | Presented
by BOTTOM'S DREAM | At the IVY SUBSTATION | 9070
Venice Blvd., Culver City | Through March 13
THE NEW BOZENA | At the HUDSON
MAIN STAGE | 6537 Santa Monica Blvd.,
Hollywood | Through March 14
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