By Catherine Wagley
By Catherine Wagley
By Wendy Gilmartin
By Jennifer Swann
By Claire de Dobay Rifelj
By L.A. Weekly critics
By Catherine Wagley
By Zachary Pincus-Roth
THE PIANO LESSON August Wilson’s familial battle over an upright piano. THE HAYWORTH, 2509 Wilshire Blvd., L.A.; Thurs.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 3 & 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru Dec. 9 (no perfs Nov. 22-23). (213) 389-9860.
GO POINT BREAK LIVE! Jaime Keeling’s merciless skewering of the 1991 hyper-action flick starring Keanu Reeves and Gary Busey is loaded with laughs as well as surprises, like picking an audience member to play Reeve’s role of Special Agent Johnny Utah. The city’s banks are being hit by a gang of robbers known as the Ex Presidents, surfers who always wear the masks of former chief executives while making their withdrawals (in this version Ms. Condi Rice makes an appearance). Utah gets his man, but not before a Grand Guignol scene of blood and guts that’s so hideously over the top you can’t stop laughing. Charlie O’s in the ALEXANDRIA HOTEL, 501 S. Spring St., dwntwn.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; indef. (866) 811-4111. (LE3)
ROMEO AND JULIUS See New Reviews.
THE ROOM Tycoon Vincent Astor (Shawn MacAulay) establishes a salon for New York’s best and brightest — and the richest — to discuss the Great Issues that are leading up to WWII. This is the sort of drama in which characters sit around holding whiskey glasses, saying, “Ah, that Hitler fellow will never come to power!” Writer-director Michael Franco’s staging is both atmospheric and intimate, yet the pacing flags appallingly midway through and, with the lack of dramatic conflict and suspense, ultimately proves fatal. Open Fist Theatre, 6209 Santa Monica Blvd., Hlywd.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; thru Nov 18. (323) 882-6912. (PB)
SERGEANT SIFFOLIS David Newham’s Australian dramedy. HUDSON GUILD THEATER, 6539 Santa Monica Blvd., Hlywd.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru Dec. 1. (323) 960-7863 or www.plays411.com/sergeant.
SHUT UP AND EAT YOUR GROUNDLINGS Sketch and improv, directed by Karen Maruyama. GROUNDLING THEATER, 7307 Melrose Ave., Hlywd.; Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2 & 8 p.m.; thru Jan. 26. (323) 934-9700.
SPLIT SECOND Dennis McIntyre’s encounter between a car thief and a policeman. THE NEXT STAGE, 1523 N. La Brea Ave., Second Floor, Hlywd.; Thurs., 8 p.m.; thru Dec. 13. (323) 850-7827.
STRIP Writer George Damian’s script doesn’t uncover anything — except, perhaps, some female performers’ bodies. It’s driven by a hackneyed plot about a wide-eyed gal from Missouri (Erika Hardy) who auditions for a Hollywood strip club and is promptly hired under the stage name “America.” It turns out she’s an aspiring singer — did I mention she auditioned for the strip gig with a tap dance? — and the story’s central thread winds toward her dream’s fulfillment. The piece’s minimal credibility comes from the background players: Ronald Quigley as the world-weary club manager, Tiffiny Alden as the sociable bartender and Kitty Stevens as an over-the-hill druggie. Keith Kraft also lends reality to his distressed and disenchanted lover. ACTOR’S PLAYPEN, 1514 N. Gardner St., Hlywd.; Fri.-Sun., 8 p.m.; thru Nov. 18. (323) 960-4429. (DK)
SUCCESS Norman Beim’s play about aspiring thespians. STELLA ADLER THEATRE, 6773 Hollywood Blvd., Hlywd.; Mon-Wed., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2:30 p.m.; thru Nov. 18. (323) 465-4446.
SUCKER-PUNCH HUG-A-LUG Sketch comedy by Gas Money. THEATRE ASYLUM, 6322 Santa Monica Blvd., Hlywd.; Tues., 8 p.m.; thru Nov. 20. (323) 962-0046.
THE TOMORROW SHOW Late-night variety show created by Craig Anton, Ron Lynch and Brendon Small. STEVE ALLEN THEATER at the Center for Inquiry–West, 4773 Hollywood Blvd., Hlywd.; Sat., mid.; indef. (323) 960-7785.
VALET Bradon Breault and Matthew Morgan’s comedy about parking cars. FLIGHT THEATER AT THE COMPLEX, 6472 Santa Monica Blvd., Hlywd.; Sun., 7:30 p.m.; thru Dec. 9. (323) 251-6930.
WILDBOY ’74 There’s evident commitment — love, even — invested in Adrian A. Cruz’s sharp staging of Eva Anderson’s apocalyptic comedy. Ben Messmer plays man-child Ethan Strong, who’s carving a career as a self-help guru — having himself recovered from years of confinement chained in a cellar. This doesn’t sound funny on the face of it, but Strong’s mountain of woes, and his insistence on weaving them into his sermons, strikes the same absurdist chord as Messmer’s blend of the heroic with the pathetic. The play is a study of broken souls wandering across a broken world. For all its charms, however, the play is a mystery dramatically hinged more securely to revelations than to actions. Calamity Theatre at BOOTLEG, 2220 Beverly Blvd., L.A.; Mon.-Wed., 8:30 p.m.; thru Nov. 14. (213) 389-3856. (SLM)
GO WRECK OF THE UNFATHOMABLE On a bare stage, playwright/director Christopher Kelley tosses The Tempest into the air like a salad, and when it lands on the stage, Shakespeare’s fantasia of political rivalries, of mystical powers being surrendered, of castaways being set free into a wide-open and presumably new world have all been rearranged with 21st century resonances. Not that this has anything to do with modern dress or the war in Iraq. Some greedy moron set the shipwreck afire, now these people must now live with each other. Kelley’s sumptuously written play-closing chorale is a desperate prayer for a new world that floats, like a gull, mere inches above an ocean of despair. THEATRE OF NOTE, 1517 N. Cahuenga Blvd., Hlwyd.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru Nov. 17. (323) 856-8611. (SLM)
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