Theater Reviews: Hollywood Fringe Festival | Theater | Los Angeles | Los Angeles News and Events | LA Weekly

Theater Reviews: Hollywood Fringe Festival 

Thursday, Jun 24 2010

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GO  EURIPIDES' MEDEA Coups de théâtre abound in this haunting adaptation from wunderkind director Michael Burke and his Indianapolis-based paperStrangers Performance Group. Burke, who also choreographs and designs the show's brilliantly inventive feathered costumes, set pieces, video projections and lighting, pares Euripides' text to its brutal, psychic core. Melissa Fenton's sympathetic Medea is a tour de force of blistering anguish and unbridled rage spilling into infanticidal madness. Kellen York's aloof Jason is the emotionally detached bastard who done her wrong. An eerie, wraithlike chorus externalizes inner demons in ritualistic dance. And Burke's breathtakingly theatrical denouement is not to be missed. Dorie Theater at the Complex, 6476 Santa Monica Blvd., L.A.; Thurs.-Sun., 7 p.m.; through June 27. (866) 811-4111. (Bill Raden/L.A. Weekly)

GO  THE EVENT Starting as an objective narration of the relationship between the actor and the audience, this solo show slips quietly from theater and the specific to life and the universal, doing so with dignity but without pretension. Written by John Clancy, directed by Ian Forester and starring the mesmerizing Paul Dillon, this production is destined for the status of a classic — if you tolerate Beckett and the like. Though the character refers to himself as The Man and the audience as The Strangers, he binds us to him as we reverently watch without breathing, fascinated and ultimately awash in emotion. Needtheater at the Paul G. Gleason Theatre, 6520 Hollywood Blvd., L.A.; Thurs.-Sun., June 24-27, 7:30 p.m. (323) 795-2215). (Dany Margolies/courtesy of Back Stage)

FEELING SORRY FOR ROMAN POLANSKI Chicago import Sideway Theater and Taco Dog Productions' production of Sue Cargill's amusing comedy about victims and the people who love them. Amid kitchen banter between a gossipy wife, Myrna (Danielle Finnk), and her forlorn husband, Bink (Michael Whitney), Bink reveals how his energetic performance of singing a telegram in a gorilla suit induced a fatal seizure in the almost-90-year-old recipient of his entertainment. As Bink faces the loss of his job and some guilt, even his own wife starts to subtly blame him. She's incapable of not siding with victims; this includes an impassioned and slightly goofy defense of her favorite director, Roman Polanski, attributing his alleged molestation of a 13-year-old girl to his harrowing upbringing during the Holocaust, and the trauma of the Sharon Tate murders. The droll humor spins in circles for a bit too long under Michael A. Stock's direction, until Bink chooses to visit the deceased woman's nephew (Joel Grady), her only living relative, at her funeral. "I've decided not to sue you or your company," is supposed to be good news from the nephew, leading instead to Bink's questioning the nephew as to why, exactly, he chose to hire a guy in a gorilla suit to deliver a greeting to a woman so obviously frail — a totally reasonable question that shifts responsibility back to where it would belong in a rational world. But Cargill's world, in her intriguing play with competent performances, is far from rational. Theatre Asylum, 6320 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood; through June 27. (Steven Leigh Morris/L.A. Weekly)

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GO  55 MINUTES OF SEX, DRUGS, AND AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION  Howard Lieberman and Loren Niemi’s storytelling tour de force plants its tent pole deep in the territory of 1970s mythos, with the two men improvising earthy tales that are hilarious yet strangely melancholy. Some of the anecdotes undeniably hint at a nostalgia for a freer, hippie past — of the four stories the two men unspooled, three described incidents involving sex-and-LSD drenched communes. Of the pair, Niemi, a craggy-faced, ponytail caparisoned character actor, tells more deeply introspective stories about drug use and an innocent romance, while Lieberman assays the persona of a neurotic Jewish intellectual as he describes his first (near) homosexual experience and his loss of virginity to a beautiful she-hippie. These two are fascinating performers who manage to whip up a theatrical experience from little more than their mouths and imaginations.  ComedySportzLA, Ballroom Studio Theatre, 733 Seward St., Hlywd.; June 22-27, (Paul Birchall/L.A. Weekly)

GO  4 CLOWNS Here be four clowns — Sad Clown (Alexis Jones), Angry Clown (Kevin Klein), Nervous Clown (Amir Levi) and Mischievous Clown (Quincy Newton) — and as an announcer intones, they've lived, died and resurrected, never changing, since "Before the earth trespassed across the sky." Odd, then, that creator Jeremy Aluma shows us the terrestrial agonies that shaped them: bad moms, torturing older brothers, horny school teachers. It's clown catharsis as each directs the rest to reenact their childhood, adolescence, adulthood and death in scenes that are skilled and true. Aluma may be saying that human pain is at once particular and universal; what's certain is his cast is gifted, including musical director Ellen Warkentine as the one-woman orchestra in the wings. Art/Works Theatre, 6569 Santa Monica Blvd. An Alive Theatre production. (Amy Nicholson/L.A. Weekly)

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