Theater Reviews: One Fell Swoop, Eddie Kill the President, Pterodactyls 

And remembering artist and activist Joel Bloom

Monday, Jul 16 2007

PICK NEW ORIGINAL WORKS FESTIVAL 2007 Already in its fourth year, REDCAT’s New Original Works (NOW) series has become one of the city’s more eclectic and vital performance festivals, drawing a blend of international and local artists. This coming week’s bill presents hip-hopper/dancer/humorist Rodney Mason’s My Mother’s Son , in which Mason looks back at his life in South Philadelphia’s projects, his experiences in Hollywood, and his struggles with a family curse. Elke Luyten and Kira Alker, with help from artistic adviser Thomas Leabhart, put contemporary dance on a hot plate with A Little of More , which interweaves “story, hymn and the deeply embodied movement theater traditions of Étienne Decroix.” Rounding out the first bill is Lux Boreal Danza Contemporánia, known for its creative “force and determination.” The Tijuana-based troupe, led by Angel Arambula and Henry Torres, features a new project developed with composer Pedro Gabriel Beas (of Nortec Collective). The following weekend features Collage Dance Theatre and Early Morning Opera. The third (closing) week includes Hans Fjellestad, Shinichi Iova-Koga, and Kelly Marie Martin and David Jones. REDCAT, W. Second and Hope sts., dwntwn.; Thurs.-Sat., 8:30 p.m.; thru Aug. 4; $18, $14 students. (213) 237-2800 or www.redcat.org.  (Steven Leigh Morris)

ANGEL FEATHERS At the start of Greg Suddeth’s world-premiere production, the set makes you feel as if you’ve mistakenly walked into someone’s living room. After an eerie opening tableau, the scene segues into sarcastic, snippy banter between Roy Rogers (Suddeth), his “clutter bug” wife, Mona (Wendy Phillips), and their Jewish neighbor, Sara Rosten (Jane George). The topic is cancer, and we quickly learn that Mona and Sara have survived it, while Roy continues to battle with it and refuses treatment. In this household, even the dog has cancer, so Roy puts into motion a plan to kill himself and his pet because it’s “their time” and the “angels are calling.” The rest of the play revisits this scenario in different ways, using Roy’s conversations with Mona, Sara, Sara’s husband, Alvin (Barry Livingston), and their daughter, Mishy (Jenny Dare Paulin), to try to convince Roy that his life is worth something. The emotional territory explored is interesting, but the dramatic fireworks come early, so most of the play gets smothered in the after-smoke. Cinda Jackson and Mark Adair-Rios direct. Ventoux Productions at THE LOST STUDIO, 130 S. La Brea Ave., L.A.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; thru Aug. 5. (323) 651-5632. (Mayank Keshaviah)

GO EDDIE, KILL THE PRESIDENT There’s no crime in a new play being derivative; still, the resemblance in tone and amoral wit of Alan Watt’s comitragedy (his first play) to that of Neil LaBute brings it down a notch, if only because of the current saturation level of LaBute’s work. Stephanie Feury directs an excellent ensemble in such a cinematic, realistic style, she and they look like they’d rather be doing the movie. Yet the work is a solid, well-crafted etude on various agonies of life and loneliness. Artist Eddie (the hangdog Jonathon Quint), recovering from sundry addictions, suffers from a tattered relationship with Esther (Pamela Garcia Rooney, pretty, sweet and smart). She’s pregnant, probably by Eddie; the father’s identity is not entirely certain. And since she caught Eddie in the middle of phone sex, she refuses to have conjugal relations with him, but insists that he marry her. While alone in his hovel, sometimes aiming a gun at his head for lack of anything better to do, Eddie’s visited by his drug-dealing, confidence-killing pal in a suit, Conrad (Robert Reinis, like a cross between used-car salesman and a rottweiler), who’s on the fritz with Esther’s friend, Charlotte (Courtney Rackley). A comedy of gender chasms and infidelity, the play flips back and forth from scenes between the men to scenes between the women, until the arrival of an effeminate 40-year-old pizza delivery “boy” (Paul Tigue, in a performance horrifying well observed), who’s addicted to some self-empowerment gospel. He makes you wish that gun would go off, and it does. Watts’ gifts of structure, economy, characterization and humor are beyond reproach, and Feury directs a snappy production that sustains rapt attention. Crackart Productions and STEPHANIE FEURY STUDIO THEATRE, 5636 Melrose Ave., L.A.; Wed. & Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru Aug. 18. (310) 358-9901. (Steven Leigh Morris)

click to flip through (3) (Photo by Mark Adair-Rios)
  • (Photo by Mark Adair-Rios)

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L.A. WOMEN Before entering the theater, audience members are invited to sit in a cool, calm lobby, lined with dark red walls — giving the feeling of being in a womb — apt for writer-performers Sabrina Hill and Jessica Tracy’s femme-themed show that is not particularly original but cashes in on its good cheer. The multimedia, two-woman comedy begins with a flat-footed short film of women discussing their roles in L.A. Finally comes the live action, Hill and Tracy on stage dancing, dancing, dancing. And dancing some more. Although the robot and Broadway moves are giggle-worthy, the sequence goes on too long. It’s like trying to start a cold engine — eventually it turns over and warms the crowd. Hill and Tracy delve into nine different characters: from existential-minded strippers to competing aerobic students to a mom trying to cut down on Zoloft, and her happy-go-lucky cleaning lady. Director Ezra Weisz, a master of improv, fine-tunes the actors’ smart comedic and hilarious movement, and though the play is womancentric, the men in the audience appeared to be having a good time as well. BANG COMEDY THEATER, 457 N. Fairfax Ave., W. Hlywd.; Sat., 8 p.m.; thru July 21. (323) 653-6886. (Sophia Kercher)

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