Theater Reviews 

Wednesday, Jun 28 2006

PICK GO BACK OF THE THROAT  Not since a couple of dark suits named Goldberg and McCann paid an inquisitive visit to a sensitive soul named Stanley has there been a more harrowing game of cat-and-mouse played out onstage. Yussef el Guindi’s drama unfolds in the apartment of a young Arab-American some time “after the attacks.” Khaled (Ammar Mahmood) is at first gently, almost apologetically questioned by two government cops (Doug Newell and Anthony Di Novi), but the lawmen soon ratchet up their game, having been led to Khaled’s by his former girlfriend, Beth (Vonessa Martin). Director Dámaso Rodriguez keeps the show’s menace to the scale of a human nightmare, never allowing the 75-minute play to become a PowerPoint lecture about police abuse against Arabs. Furious Theater Company, Pasadena Playhouse Balcony Theater, 39 S. El Molino Ave., Pasadena; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7:30 p.m.; thru July 29. (626) 356-PLAY. See longer review in next week’s Stage feature. (Steven Mikulan)

GO FENCES August Wilson’s ability to transmute seemingly simple subject matter into dramas of epic dimensions makes itself apparent in Fences, the story of a black family beset by demons in 1950 Pittsburgh. Patriarch Troy Maxson (Charlie Robinson) was a former Negro League baseball star whose career was aborted by racism. His job as a garbage collector offers no respite from the talons of bitterness and anger that control his life; he frequently browbeats his loyal, long-suffering wife, Rose (Elayn J. Taylor), and his youngest son, Cory (Tjader France). Oddly, his only source of fellow-feeling comes from his brain-damaged brother, Gabriel (Dig Wayne). This is a house of dark secrets and passions that inexorably explode in an ugly denouement involving infidelity. Fences is unquestionably one of Wilson’s finest plays, not because of intricate plotting or complexity of narrative, but because of the vortex of emotions on display. Jeffrey Hayden’s direction is stellar, though this production soars because of the actors’ manic energy and skills. Also in the fine ensemble are William Stanford Davis, Jonathan T. Floyd and Wynter Daggs. Thomas Brown’s rustic set piece is artfully conceived. Saint/Hayden Company and the ODYSSEY THEATER ENSEMBLE, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., W.L.A.; Thurs.-Sat., 7:30 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru. Aug. 6. (310) 477-2055. (Lovell Estell III)

GO GROUNDLINGS GOOD TIME PIG FARM Despite its title, the latest Groundlings sketch-comedy offering has nothing to do with pigs or farms. The show features a mix of zany characters and often-improbable situations that are sometimes uneven, but always creative. Accompanied by a live band that plays hits of the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s during the transitions, and incorporating video as well as stuffed animals and puppets, the model for SNL-style comedy is clearly evident. (This troupe launched many of the SNL comedians.) Highlights include “Carpool,” a sketch about a teenage daughter and her inappropriately behaving mother, who is far too open about sex and bodily functions. “The Writing Is Good” lampoons Hollywood executives with gusto, and “Lifelike” features a little boy whose toys come to life — but not quite in the way he wanted. Roy Jenkins’ direction keeps the show running at a smooth clip and particular standouts include Jill Matson-Sachoff, Kent Sublette, Hugh Davidson and Steve Little. While the performance is entertaining, one gets the sense that, like its NYC television counterpart, some of the troupe’s most innovative and original material may be in the past. GROUNDLING THEATER, 7307 Melrose Ave., Hlywd.; Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 8 & 10 p.m.; thru Sept. 16. (323) 934-4747. (Mayank Keshaviah)

Related Stories

  • Henry Rollins: War, Continued 3

    This morning, I woke up in a small hotel room in Gordonsville, Tennessee. Outside my door: Taco Bell, Subway, McDonald's and Waffle House. I packed my gear and headed down to the lobby for another day of shooting 10 Things You Don't Know About. Scheduled for today was a tour...
  • Ajax in Iraq Merges Greek Mythology With Sexual Assault in the Military (GO!)

    The Los Angeles premiere of Not Man Apart Physical Theatre Ensemble's Ajax in Iraq, directed and choreographed by John Farmanesh-Bocca, relies on an unusual conceit. Its framework is the classical tale of Ajax, the ancient Greek warrior overlooked by his commander who slaughtered a field of cattle and then turned...
  • Today's Monuments Men Are on the Internet

    That "greatest art heist in history" tagline on posters and in trailers for The Monuments Men, George Clooney's new war movie, makes World War II sound like a caper. It also frames wartime art conservation efforts, often a bureaucratic mess of miscommunications, as a story in which clear-cut good guys triumph. ...
  • Violence in Westwood 4

    A car-to-car beef preceded an officer-involved shooting today at a Westwood pro-Israel rally attended by Palestine sympathizers, authorities said. A "verbal and physical altercation" took place between the occupants of two vehicles at the end of the protest outside the Westwood Federal Building, an L.A. County Sheriff's Department official told...
  • Picnic Shopping

    The word "picnic," fittingly derived from the French, evokes summer and leisure - and, most crucially, food. A beach picnic may just be the best kind of picnic, especially in L.A., where the options are plentiful. A picnic brings a level of festivity that is difficult to resist, whether on...

HAPPY DAYS: A Family Musical! Garry Marshall jumps the shark — again — in this unfortunate musical rehash of his ’70s TV series. The cast is fine under Marshall’s direction, and Randy Skinner’s energetic choreography is well-suited to Paul Williams’ catchy music and lyrics. The problem is Marshall’s book, which borders on insipid. Instead of the enigmatic hood of the series’ debut season, the defanged Fonzie (Joey McIntyre) is a cuddly hero, a point endlessly reiterated by the characters. When the Fonz tells the kids to go to the library on Friday night, off they go to study. (He even accompanies them to the College Boards to offer encouragement.) A potentially interesting plot thread about Fonzie becoming obsolete is quickly dropped, and the play refocuses on a romantic scenario involving Fonzie’s love interest, Pinky Tuscadero (Jackie Seiden). Instead of a shark, the play has a wrestling match which pits Fonzie and Pinky against the bad-to-the-bone Malachi Brothers (Matt Merchant and Matt Walker in an amusing bit). Ryan Matthew hits the musical’s comic high notes as Ralph Malph, one of Richie Cunningham’s (Rory O’Malley) pals. The piece achieves some droll moments with self-referential jokes about Laverne and Shirley, Charles in Charge and the infamous shark, but they’re few and far between. FALCON THEATER, 4252 Riverside Dr., Burbank; Fri.-Sat., 7 p.m.; Sun., 3 & 7 p.m.; Wed.-Thurs., 8 p.m.; thru Aug. 13. (818) 955-8101. (Sandra Ross)

Related Content

Now Trending

  • A Sex Play That's Not Really About Sex

    Oh, sex: Can we ever get over it? And if we do, what will there be to write about? What would the state of the world be if it weren't largely defined by overt and subliminal sexual impulses? Ian MacAllister-McDonald's new play, The Sexual Lives of Savages, presented by Skylight...


  • A Day in Griffith Park
    Pack a picnic basket and escape the hustle and bustle of L.A. by spending the day in beautiful Griffith Park.Stop and grab a cold drink at Trails, then go hike. Stroll around the Observatory. Cruise past The Greek Theater to the Bird Sanctuary, or practice golf and grab a snack at the Roosevelt Cafe. Just remember, you don't need to be a tourist to enjoy what Griffith Park has to offer. All photos by Michele McManmon.
  • FANFARE-LA: Fine Art Nude, Fetish, and Risque Exhibition (NSFW)
    FANFARE-LA, the Fine Art Nude, Fetish, and Risque Exhibition was held Jan. 31st to Feb. 2nd at the Hamilton Galleries in Santa Monica. Here is a peek of the sexually-charged, fetish-fine art that is featured in the show. More info at fanfare-la.com.
  • Gloryhole 2013 @ The Pleasure Chest
    The Pleasure Chest's annual anniversary party, Gloryhole, took place Thursday night, transforming the popular West Hollywood sex shop into a pleasure den filled opportunities to get spanked, tied up and dominated. For those of a more voyeuristic nature, the live XXX Gloryhole installation offered a glimpse of erotic play and sexuality. All photos by Nanette Gonzales.