Theater Reviews: Bach at Leipzig, Bingo With the Indians, La Didone 

Also, Notes From Underground, Dame Edna: My First Last Tour and more

Tuesday, Jun 16 2009

APARTMENT 6 & 9 These two one-acts, written and directed by Matt Morillo, deal with contemporary romantic/sexual conflicts and collisions. In “All Aboard the Marriage Hearse," Amy (Jessica Moreno) and Sean (Keenan Henson) have lived together happily for three years, till she decides they’re going to get married, whether he likes it or not. He doesn’t, and the resulting battle, verbal and physical, radically changes their lives while maintaining the status quo. Some of the marriage debate seems overly familiar, but the piece is clever, nicely directed, and beautifully played. In “Stay Over,” adapted from a play by Maria Micheles, Michelle (Moreno) gives her lover Mark (Tom Pilutik) permission, for reasons that are never made clear, to have an affair with someone else. She hits the ceiling, however, when she discovers he’s bedded her kittenish dancer friend Lily (JessAnn Smith). Michelle is a bullying shrew, Mark is a manipulative two-timer, and Lily is a determined baby vamp, willing to go to any lengths — including performing a very naked modern dance number — to win Mark for herself. The result is an evening of over-the-top bickering that soon becomes tiresome. The Lounge Theatre, 6021 Santa Monica Boulevard, Hollywood; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m., Sun., 7 p.m., through July 5. (No perf. July 4.) (323) 960-5521 (Neal Weaver)

BACH AT LEIPZIG With a few notes of sardonic humor, Itamar Moses’ sketch about would-be musical stars of the 18th century, who ultimately fade into the shadows of Johann Sebastian Bach, aims for for erudition but too often lands in tediousness. Four composers named Georg and three Johanns vie for the post as Leipzig’s organ master, a position that would guarantee the winner the power to shape the musical, cultural (and, it seems political) fortunes of the Holy Roman Empire — at least the valuable German parts. Intrigues, reality show–style alliances and betrayals abound as the composers plot and prepare for an all-important audition. Between connivances they spout literate, self-conscious oratory covering the artistic soul in and out of relation to the growing feud between Lutheranism and Calvinism. An interesting descent into farce is undercut by the author’s too-precious self-comparison to Molière. Director Darin Anthony serves up almost balletic choreography, with some success. The best moments, though, come from Ron Nagle’s powerhouse performance as the only thoughtful character, and from Henry Clarke, who perfectly balances swagger and foppishness as a womanizing nobleman. The production is visually stunning, through an array of exquisite period costumes and wigs designed by A. Jeffrey Schoenberg. Odyssey Theatre, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., Wed.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; through Aug. 9. (310) 477-2055. (Tom Provenzano)

BINGO WITH THE INDIANS This West Coast premiere of Adam Rapp’s comedy-drama features the powerful up-close ambiance of a grimy New Hampshire motel (no set designer credited but the lighting design is by Michael Redfield), and suffocatingly good performances by the ensemble. A renegade troupe of thespian-criminals, up from New York, seeks to raid a local bingo hall for petty cash. The comedy of the opening scene is something like an American cross between Pinter’s The Dumb Waiter and Pulp Fiction. The motel is run by a simple-minded woman, Mrs. Wood (Ann Bronston), and her teenage son, Steve (a partcularly sensitive and nuanced performance by Brian Norris, who bears a striking resemblance to the young Ron Howard). Most of the drama is about the manner in which the visiting trio — two gays and a lesbian (Patrick Flanagan, West Liang and Melissa Paladino) — toy with Steve, who’s clearly aching to follow them back to New York. The heart of the matter is Wilson (Liang) seducing and then sodomizing Steve, capitalizing on his upset that his “girlfriend” (Carryn Cummins) has left him for another woman. (Other than Mrs. Wood, in this play you can’t find a heterosexual with a Geiger counter.) Wilson and his comrade, Dee (Paladino) treat eager-to-please Steve with gratuitous and almost inexplicable cruelty over the young man's reluctance to engage in a sadistic hazing rite in order to join their theater troupe. Steve’s just not man enough for them. Under Andrew Block’s direction, the actors filled their roles with startling truthfulness, but I couldn’t buy that a theater company would behave with the violence of a Mafia clan, or why they would need to treat gentle Steve with such derision. To reject an actor, “Thank you, next” usually does the job. Spitting on him and wielding pistols seems excessive. Perhaps it was simply a brand of humor that, for reasons in the staging or my own sensibilities, crept right by me. Rogue Machine at Theatre/Theater. Closed. (Steven Leigh Morris)

click to flip through (4) COURTESY THEATREPLANNER - Apartment 6 & 9
  • Courtesy Theatreplanner
  • Apartment 6 & 9

Related Stories

  • L.A.'s One-Off Theater Scene

    It's a bitter, chilly December evening in Koreatown, one on which casual passers-by might easily mistake the handful of furtive smokers loitering outside the Eighth Street First Unitarian Church for new recruits to some sort of 12-step meeting. They wouldn't be far off. But the irresistible compulsion that brings this...
  • Defending L.A. Theater and a Troubled Mom: Readers Write

    Fighting for Her Family Gene Maddaus' cover story about a young woman fighting one of L.A.'s richest families for the right to see her daughter filled our mailbag this week ("Gone Baby Gone," April 11). Some wrote in to support Crystabel Funes; others questioned the actions of her late boyfriend's...
  • Rodrigo y Gabriela

    @ The Orpheum Theatre
  • 5th L.A. Vegan Beer Fest Delivered Animal-Free Beer and Food

    Saturday, May 17, was the perfect day for a cold beer. The 5th Los Angeles Vegan Beer Festival saw the close of American Craft Beer Week and a scorching heat wave, with crisp, low-alcohol beers that were more popular than ever. Lagers and fruity beers were highly appreciated, but it was a salty gose...
  • Dostoevsky's Notes From the Underground

    Even transposed from 19th-century St. Petersburg to the urban wilderness of modern-day Los Angeles, Dostoevsky's hilariously unforgiving novella about the extremes of self-consciousness proves an excruciating roller-coaster plunge into hairpin-turned self-abasement. In this Zombie Joe–adapted musical abbreviation (adroitly directed by Josh T. Ryan), Michael Blomgren vividly brings Dostoevsky's self-lacerating antihero...

GO  DAME EDNA: MY FIRST LAST TOUR Dr. Barry Humpries AO. C.B.E has for years been terrorizing audience members near the front of the stage, in the guise of the irrepressible Australian diva, Dame Edna. She sports a mauve do, more glittering baubles than a Vegas show queen, and gleeful imperiousness (“You adore me because I adore myself, and it’s contagious”), as she slices through the dignity of anyone she encounters with the tenderness of a lawnmower. (“What a lovely color you’ve got on. I’m sure that very soon it’ll be back.”) She reflects on her late husband, Norm, who suffered from a “prostate murmur” that got ever louder until the neighbors were complaining. “Oh, the years I spent with that man’s prostate hanging over my head.” She delivers her standup act, dragging audience members onto the stage to participate, and even her “daughter” (Erin-Kate Whitcomb), on furlough from the correctional facility, who croons one song. This is humor with mocking kindness and concern, a kind of genteel sassiness, with barbs on aging, appearance and fashion delivered in silky tones, along with the gladioli stems that she hurls into the crowd. Center Theatre Group at the Ahmanson Theater, 135 N. Grand Ave., downtown; Tues.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; through June 21. (213) 628-2772. (Steven Leigh Morris)

Related Content

Now Trending

  • Mash-Ups of Classic Plays (Featuring Abba!)

    There are no sly topical winks in Kenneth Cavander's problematic adaptation of the Oedipus trilogy. Cavander's new play, The Curse of Oedipus, which just opened at Antaeus Company, is pure classical gas. Nor are there any modern-day army fatigues or national insignias worn on shoulders in Casey Stangl's beautiful, skillful...
  • Stupid Fucking Bird Is the Best Chekhov Adaptation in Two Decades

    In Anton Chekhov's play The Seagull, about the theater and its ambiguous relationship to life, neurotic young playwright Konstantin Treplev speaks about the calcification of theater and of the necessity to create "new forms." As Treplev ages, he evolves and devolves into a long-suffering, modestly successful author of quasi-inventive plays...


  • Ringo Starr's #PeaceRocks Birthday Party
    Ringo Starr's 74th Birthday celebration was held at Capitol Records Monday. The birthday boy, along with fashion designer John Varvatos, launched the #peacerocks campaign to raise funds for Starr's Peace & Love fund, which is a part of David Lynch's non-profit organization. Starr's wife Barbara, and countless musician friends, showed up to support Starr and his fundraiser by posting selfies galore on social media with #peacerocks hashtags, raising $1 per hit. After blowing out candles and greeting fans, Starr handed out bracelets and cupcakes for all to join his celebration. All photos by Michele McManmon.
  • Moon Crisis: A Sailor Moon Tribute Art Show
    Rothick Art Haus opened the Moon Crisis Art Show, curated by Katie McAtee, Stephanie Ignacio Han and Jane Kim Estantino, on Saturday night, and the superfans lined up to celebrate all things Sailor Moon. The event featured artwork by Miss Kika, Greg DeStefano, Jamie Meckel Tablason, Creature of Habit, Carlton, Elizabeth Beals, Aimee Steinberger, The Quarter House and more. All photos by Shannon Cottrell.
  • TwentyWonder @ The Doll Factory
    TwentyWonder celebrated its fifth year of wonderment by taking over the L.A. Derby Dolls' home at the Doll Factory on July 13th. TwentyWonder, run by Jim Hodgson (brother of MST3K's Joel Hodgson), is a one-of-a-kind, one-night only event featuring Roller Derby, Cirque Berzerk, H.R. Pufnstuf "Mayor of Living Island," Dengue Fever, The Lampshades and more. All proceeds benefit DSALA's efforts to support those born with Down syndrome in the greater Los Angeles area. All photos by Star Foreman.