By Catherine Wagley
By Channing Sargent
By L.A. Weekly critics
By Amanda Lewis
By Catherine Wagley
By Carol Cheh
By Keegan Hamilton
By Bill Raden
In the Ahmanson Theatre lobby, outside Door 7, there’s a framed poster for Fool Moon, a show produced by Center Theatre Group right after the Northridge earthquake rattled Los Angeles to its core. Clowns Bill Irwin and David Shiner performed an evening of physical shtick while dressed something like Abbott and Costello. I remember one of them prancing onto the huge, bare stage, oblivious to the fact that he was attached to an invisible, massive rubber band. We “saw” the elastic because the mime work was so well-crafted. We saw it fling the clown off the stage. He then returned and tried again, from his hands and knees — the Herculean task of crossing the stage while attached to an impediment of cosmic scale — while the audience wept with laughter. The pair unleashed through farce the random precariousness of being alive, after the walls of our city had just crumbled. It was on that night that I understood why Samuel Beckett was so infatuated with the comedy of Buster Keaton. There was nothing portentous about the event, yet it touched harrowing, absurd, religious paradoxes of our finite selves grappling with the infinite. That was lowbrow entertainment as a church service.
I’m not saying that dick jokes and beautiful women covered in bananas or flashing their tits don’t have some metaphysical components, but sometimes a banana is just a banana and not a religious icon. To conflate all escapist diversions into sacred acts, as Minsky’s does, overshoots the point of what church and theater are actually for — which is to strive for a deeper understanding of who we are, and what we’re doing here. Sometimes diverting entertainments surreptitiously hold up a mirror to ourselves, through a song or a punch line. Minsky’s, however, preaches the virtue of escapism as an art, of running from the problems of the times as an act of faith.
Meanwhile, Pippin, a kind of fairy-tale carny show playing next door at the Taper, closes with the view from 800 A.D. that helping peasants and trying to stop wars is naive, and that instead, we should all get real and withdraw to the solace of our own gardens.
As our financial crisis deepens, and we grow inexorably more dependent upon each other for support and possibly for survival, the solipsistic philosophies emerging from our theaters on the Music Center plaza are starting to appear increasingly clueless.
Presented by Center Theatre Group at the Ahmanson Theatre, 135 N. Grand Ave., dwntwn; through March 1. (213) 628-2772.