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Weekend Theater Reviews 

Reviews of Bukowsical, Loose and Ubu Roi

Monday, Mar 20 2006
{mosimage} GO BUKOWSICAL Spencer Green and Gary Stockdale’s musical is a comedic exploration into the life of the late poet, short-story writer and cultural gadfly Charles Bukowski. In this play within a play, the audience receives a behind-the-scenes look as an “idealistic theater company mounts a backers’ audition for an improbable show.” Steven Memel hosts as we follow Bukowski (the bald-pated, corpulent David Lawrence) from his boyhood in Andernach, Germany, along his rise to literary prominence in America by way of 10 musical numbers. Not surprisingly, Green and Stockdale’s lyrics are saturated with bawdy sexuality, disgusting imagery and gutter language, all the things that Chuck was admired for. Some of it is riotously funny, such as “School Song,” where we learn of Bukowski’s tormented childhood and his abuse at the hands of his schoolmates, teacher and father, and “Take Me,” where sweet lady booze (Chrissie Byron) steps in and seduces him. Dean Cameron capably directs a spirited cast of seven, although at times the show is clearly straining for laughs. Sacred Fools Theater, 660 N. Heliotrope Dr., Hlywd; Fri., 11 p.m.; thru May 26 (no perfs April 7 & May 5). (310) 281-8337 (Lovell Estell III)

GO LOOSE Tommy Tiernan is a scruffy imp of a man, spewing his filthy comedy (which is a compliment, really) at a high pitch and fast pace while grinning frequently with an expression that borders on idiocy through barrages of curses and stories that crap all over revered symbols — priests, Catholicism, the dignity of women, the dignity of men, of Africans, of Prince Charles, and just about everyone in between. He’s really a Celtic Lenny Bruce, which is no easy task, but it would probably be more striking had we not already had Lenny Bruce. Tiernan’s act falls somewhere between a reprise of Bruce’s strategic offensiveness — that features obsessions with life’s absurdity in general, and anal sex in particular — and Tiernan’s quite remarkable gifts as a dissident storyteller, which makes his act worth the trek to Westwood. Some people walked out, but I had no desire to join them. Nor, however, would I want to join Tiernan for a drink after the show, even though I’d probably watch it again were I in the neighborhood. UCLA Live! and WestBeth Entertainment at UCLA, Macgowan Little Theater, Wstwd.; Wed.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; thru April 2. (310) 825-2101. (Steven Leigh Morris)

GO UBU ROI gorges and farts his way through insurrection and revolution, but he’s no less disgusting than the world. Alfred Jarry’s vaudeville, set in some mythic Poland, is about revolution, gluttony and greed. This is among the most spirited, manic productions I’ve seen by this normally staid company — finely crafted by director Julia Rodriguez-Elliott and supplemented by composer/musical director David O’s beautifully slovenly accompaniment on a rinky-dink spinet, all manner of percussion and an ensemble chorus on kazoos. Leon Wiebers' costumes feature a Polish army looking like little Uma Thurmans, sporting air filter collars. Some musical theater parodies start to wear as thin as some of the voices, and the Brit translation (Cyril Connolly and Simon Watson Taylor) creates a small, unnecessary barrier, but who cares. The evening is more than redeemed by Alan Blumenfeld and Deborah Strang’s bloated Pa and Ma Ubu, as well as this production’s lucid vision of a world, like a boulder, careening towards a cliff’s edge. See Stage feature next week. A Noise Within, 234 Brand Blvd., Glendale; call for schedule; thru May 7. (818) 240-0910, Ext. 1. (Steven Leigh Morris)

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