By Catherine Wagley
By Channing Sargent
By L.A. Weekly critics
By Amanda Lewis
By Catherine Wagley
By Carol Cheh
By Keegan Hamilton
By Bill Raden
Saturday, 8 p.m.: Elephant Lab Theater, Ten Tricks. Things start to heat up onstage as the air outside cools: Writer-director Rick Pagano’s La Rondeof sketch-length liaisons between various prostitutes and clients shows glimpses of Genet-like insights into the relationships among eroticism, intimacy, power and commerce. Set in a brothel run by a woman (Wendy Phillips in a role now taken over by Susan Blakely) who’s dying, the play speculates on a faulty gambit that her mortality will infuse the sketches with a vision. Pagano has been one of the city’s foremost casting directors, and his production, with its opulent sheen, has the unmistakable feel of a showcase, featuring some excellent performances. Albie Selznick contributes impressive magic tricks, playing into both the “trick” double entendre and the sleight of hand at the core of any commercial transaction, and many interpersonal ones. But the biggest trick of all — which Pagano doesn’t pull off in his clever, sexy and entertaining etude — is making truisms look profound.
Saturday, 11 p.m.: Elephant Lab Theater, Trust Me. Everybody’s trying to kill everyone else for the money in Rick Redlin’s comedy of debauchery. Ex–porn star, current coke addict Trixie (Debra De Liso) has been left an inheritance, so she may or may not need her young jock, asshole husband (Sean Wing), whose libido was shot off during his last bank heist. Enter Trixie’s older jock, quadriplegic half-brother (Redlin), who needs Viagra to get things moving, which he does, with Trixie. The play’s mystery is trying to figure out who’s loyal to whom, and its satire resides with exactly the same question. It’s a Mamet-Pinter amalgam produced by a film company, where its greater aspirations obviously lie. And its underlying depravity is a long, long way from 42nd Street.
42nd STREET | Book by MICHAEL STEWART and MARK BRAMBLE, music by HARRY WARREN, lyrics by AL DUBIN | At the AHMANSON THEATER, 135 N. Grand Ave., downtown | Through August 31 | (213) 628-2772
OEDIPUS THE KING | By SOPHOCLES | Presented by the SONS OF BECKETT THEATER COMPANY at THEATRE/THEATER, 4525 Hollywood Blvd. | Through August 16 | (818) 785-9558
OH! WHAT A LOVELY WAR | By JOAN LITTLEWOOD and THE THEATRE WORKSHOP | Presented by KNIGHTSBRIDGE THEATER, 1944 Riverside Drive, Silver Lake | Through August 24 | (626) 440-0821
TEN TRICKS | Written and directed by RICK PAGANO | At the ELEPHANT LAB THEATER, 1708 Lillian Way, Hollywood | Through August 9 | (818) 655-6195
TRUST ME | Written and directed by RICHARD REDLIN | At the ELEPHANT LAB THEATER, 1708 Lillian Way, Hollywood | Through August 2 | (310) 952-5011