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 some ways Olya Petrakova's staging is a clown show answer to Clancy's comparatively singular ruminations on our theater.
Much of it is just gorgeous: a 17-person ensemble crooning chorales of traditional Russian folk songs that send the roller-coaster wagon from a muddy pit of slapstick into ethereal heights.
If it made logical sense, it would betray its purpose, and that of its author. It does, however, flounder at 105 minutes sans intermission — not from any lack of craft or vigor, but from a lack of shape. This is simply an issue of editing and sculpting, and it can't be removed from the context of what this city is capable of incubating.
The kind of work ARTEL (American Russian Theatre Ensemble Laboratory) is developing takes time and research. It doesn't come from the pen of one author but from the collective energy and impulses of an ensemble, until one leader straightens it all out. We have a few companies dedicated to this brittle process, including Ghost Road Theatre Company and Theatre Movement Bazaar. Not unlike the work developed by The Wooster Group in New York, it stems from a European model in which a work is developed over months, and then entered into a repertory that can play for a decade, often on tour.
Because of the economics here, L.A. is the perfect city to house such companies. But we all have to understand that to reach a standard of excellence on these terms takes years.
When I saw the Japanese director Tadashi Suzuki's Elektra at a Polish theater festival last year, each gesture and transition couldn't have been so breathlessly choreographed had the troupe not been performing this work for more than a decade, which they had.
Perhaps the most foreign notions in our trendy city of short attention spans are tenacity and patience. Here's a troupe that has the former, and deserves the latter, from the sheer combined forces of its talent and passion. ARTEL is making a slow, steady artistic ascent. With the proper investment and discipline, this is one company, and a performance, that could rise to breathtaking heights.
THE EVENT/THE INTERVIEW | by JOHN CLANCY and LAWRENCE BRIDGES | Presented by NEEDTHEATER at SON OF SEMELE THEATRE, 3301 Beverly Blvd., L.A. | Through March 25, needtheater.org.
KHARMFUL CHARMS OF DANIIL KHARMS | Created by ARTEL | ART/WORKS PERFORMANCE SPACE, 6569 Santa Monica Blvd., Hlywd. | Through March 20.1 (800) 838-3006.