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Weekend Theater Reviews 

Including this week's pick, As You Like It

Monday, Jul 3 2006
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PICK GO AS YOU LIKE IT  The Independent Shakespeare Company proves it can muster the wit, verve, lightness of touch and cheeky irreverence to make Shakespeare’s comedy genuinely funny. Two performances define and dominate it: Melissa Chalsma’s Rosalind is beautiful, sweet, clever and sometimes zany, finding comedy in unexpected places. In her scenes with her handsome, hunky Orlando (Sean Pritchett) the chemicals sizzle and charm. David Melville transforms the clown Touchstone into a deadpan star turn. He’s already shown us an antic Hamlet, but here he’s anarchic, wielding his jester’s cap and bells in ways that verge on pornographic. Directors Sanford Robbins and Chalsma provide the fast-paced staging, and the large cast lends admirable support. Andrea Gwynnel Morgan’s Celia is a fine foil for Rosalind, Hayden Adams is appropriately sinister as evil Oliver, and Freddy Douglas is unexpectedly elegant as melancholy Jacques, while Jennifer Melford and Aisha Kabia score as sluttish Audrey and love-lorn Phebe, respectively. Rachel Ford Pritchett’s excellent no-period costumes add exotic touches as needed. Best of all, the show is free — but make reservations. And bring a blanket. Independent Shakespeare Company, The Great Lawn of Barnsdall Art Park, 4800 Hollywood Blvd., Hlywd.; in rep; call for schedule. (818) 710-6306. (Neal Weaver)


NOCTURNE “Fifteen years ago I killed my sister” is the provocative confession that begins playwright Adam Rapp’s tale of loss and semiredemption. (This is a solo performance adapted from Rapp’s multicharacter play.) At 17, an unnamed piano prodigy (Michael Cormier) accidentally ran over his 9-year-old sister in front of their home in suburban Joliet, Illinois. His mom went mad, his dad almost killed him and the son went to New York to escape them and his devastating act. Finding work in a used bookstore, he uses old books as furniture, symbolizing the restructuring of his life through fantasy and his inability to connect with other human beings. Over the years he writes a novel based on the accident, conducts a doomed love affair and is summoned home to his father’s deathbed. Under Rob DeRosa’s direction, Cormier rushes through the prosaic script with hardly a pause for breath, resulting in numerous flubbed lines. Also blunting the piece’s dramatic effect is DeRosa’s decision to split Rapp’s one-act into two, disrupting the story’s arc and the play’s structure. Cormier acquits himself better in the final sequence when he portrays the dying father, a bittersweet moment depicting one man’s lonely struggle with mortality. Elephant Performance Lab, 1078 Lillian Way, Hlywd.: Thurs.-Fri., 8 p.m.; thru July 15. (323) 960-7753. (Martín Hernández)


GO RECENT TRAGIC EVENTS Minnesota playwright Craig Wright, whose autopsy of suburban marriage, Orange Flower Water, was a recent hit at the Victory Theater, presents a gruesome comedy that is by turns angry, absurdist and just plain fun. A blind date arranged for the day after 9/11, a twin sister who’s missing in New York and one character’s improbable relationship with Joyce Carol Oates are some of the ingredients that make this a wickedly droll evening. THEATER TRIBE, 5267 Lankershim Blvd., N. Hlywd.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru July 22. (866) 811-4111. See next week’s Stage feature for a longer review. (Steven Mikulan)

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