Loading...

Weekend Theater Reviews 

Reviews of Complexity, Zero Hour and Pyrenees

Monday, Jul 10 2006
Comments

GO COMPLEXITY Just how many lies does it take to destroy a marriage? As many as necessary if you’re Cathy (Jennifer De Castroverde), an obsessive secretary with a disturbed longing for her boss. And it sure doesn’t hurt if the spouses in question are ripe for retribution over their mutual indiscretions. Playwright John Bunzel’s clever and chilling dark comedy is a cautionary tale of the destructive powers of lies and how you just shouldn’t tell one when trying to save your sorry ass, or salve your psychic ache. Despite Cathy’s pixieish demeanor, she is a psychopath with abandonment issues whose intermittent monologues rationalizing her twisted logic are both hilarious and disturbing. She manipulates self-absorbed Manhattan investment banker Tom (director Jack Stehlin) and his alienated wife, Jill (Shannon Holt), like a puppeteer, filling each with suspicion and exploiting a tragedy that has driven both apart. While Stehlin goes overboard at times in portraying Tom’s brutish rage, his holds a firm directorial handle on Bunzel’s crisp and sardonic exchanges with Jill, her dad (Neal Vipond) and her putative and neurotic lover, David (Nicholas Read). And Cindy Mariangeli is refreshingly frank as Tom’s caustic and mercenary mistress, the only honest character in the basket. CIRCUS THEATRICALS STUDIO THEATER AT THE HAYWORTH, 2511 Wilshire Blvd., L.A.; performs in rep, call for schedule. (323) 960-1054. (Martín Hernández)

PYRENEES Perhaps the biggest relief about playwright David Grieg’s story of an amnesiac holed up in a French mountain resort is that the mysterious man turns out to be no figure of intrigue or international terrorism, but just a bloke from Scotland who took a fall in the snow. On the lam from a mediocre life and from a wife who probably cares more than she should about their hollow marriage, the middle-aged man (Tom Irwin) is interviewed by a young, epileptic member of the British consulate (Tessa Thompson). The more they talk about life and its expectations the more they click — until the wife (Frances Conroy), who has been tracking her husband all over Europe, appears on the scene. Grieg works in some points about personal responsibility and redemption (the play briefly flirts with becoming a resurrection fable), but Pyrenees is so overwritten that Grieg can’t find the turn-off switch to end it as it rolls past the two-hour mark. His inclusion of a scene-chewing proprietor/waiter (Jan Triska) only slows things down. Director Neel Keller’s production feels as cold as Grieg’s alpine setting. Irwin owns the stage with his portrayal of a man without a memory and quite happy to be that way, but Thompson, her British accent tenuous at best, barely makes her character two-dimensional. KIRK DOUGLAS THEATER, 9820 Washington Blvd., Culver City; Tues.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2 & 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 & 7 p.m.; thru July 30. (213) 628-2772. (Steven Mikulan)

GO ZERO HOUR During the 1950s, Zero Mostel became as famous for his politics as for his comic talents. Summoned before HUAC, he not only refused to name names but, unlike many witnesses, goaded his interrogators instead of quavering before them. Writer/solo performer Jim Brochu’s biographical drama is structured as a meeting with a New York Times journalist in 1962 shortly before the comedian’s death. The piece begins stridently, with Brochu portraying a blustering Mostel as arrogantly seizing control of the interview by asking his own questions while snidely taunting his unseen guest as he sketches the man’s portrait. Directed by Paul Kreppel, the narrative then travels from Mostel’s early years as the seventh child born into a large Orthodox Jewish family to his post-blacklist professional successes, achieved more than once in edgy collaborations with Jerome Robbins, whom Mostel despised for naming names. At some indecipherable point the play’s discordant tone fades, and by its end we’ve come to respect — in some ways even feel close to — this outsize personality, whose physical girth was matched by an educated wit and a sprawling humanity. West Coast Jewish Theater at the EGYPTIAN ARENA THEATER, 1625 N. Las Palmas Ave., Hlywd.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 & 7 p.m.; thru Aug. 13. (323) 595-4849. (Deborah Klugman)

Related Stories

  • Creditors

    A despondent young artist, Adolf (Burt Grinstead), laments his problematic marriage, pouring his heart out to a new acquaintance, Gustav (Jack Stehlin), at a Swedish seaside resort. But as Gustav pries secrets from the weak-willed husband, smoothly poisoning him against his divorcée wife, Tekla (Heather Anne Prete), we observe tantalizing...
  • Julius Caesar

    There were a handful of other Elizabethan dramas written about Julius Caesar, but Shakespeare's offers a more entertaining dramatization of Rome's political climate (which was as nasty and cutthroat as our own) and the aftermath of the emperor's murder. Principal among the assassins are Brutus (Jack Stehlin) and Cassius (Tom...
  • Theater to See in L.A. This Week, Including Cirque du Soleil's Totem

    Our critics enjoyed Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde at Actors Co-op, Awake and Sing at Group Repertory Theatre and Cirque du Soleil's Totem. This week's Pick of the Week goes to David Grieg's adaptation of August Strindberg's The Creditors, presented by New American Theatre and the Odyssey Theatre. See below...
  • A Parallelogram Shows Pulitzer Prize Winner Bruce Norris' Very Bleak View of Humanity

    In Bruce Norris' stark comedy A Parallelogram, 30-ish Bee (Marin Ireland) — a regional manager for Rite Aid, a job that's "very fulfilling," she quips — is in this inexorably doomed relationship with a slightly older man (Tom Irwin) whom, later in the play, the older Bee (Marylouise Burke) will...
  • As You Like It

    Director Kenn Sabberton's wonderfully warm-hearted production of Shakespeare's comedy of gender confusion may lack flashy gimmickry and provocative innovation, but it more than makes up for it with clarity, gently introspective sense of humor and a lovely outdoor setting. Beautiful Rosalind (Tessa Thompson) disguises herself as a boy and flees...

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...

Slideshows

  • 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.