Theater Reviews: The Glass Menagerie, The Good Boy, Stepping on a Few Toes | Theater | Los Angeles | Los Angeles News and Events | LA Weekly
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Theater Reviews: The Glass Menagerie, The Good Boy, Stepping on a Few Toes 

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Thursday, Sep 16 2010
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ANAÏS: AN EROTIC EVENING WITH ANAÏS NIN The famously candid diaries of Anaïs Nin avoid one weekend in the '50s, when she left L.A. for a weekend in Arizona, purpose unknown. Sonia Maslovskaya's one-woman show — written and directed by Michael Phillips — imagines that Nin secretly visited a sanitarium housing June Miller, the calculating beauty who anchored one end of Nin's love triangle with author Henry Miller. (Nin's own cuckolded husband, Hugo, was a bystander.) The lithe Maslovskaya vamps in vintage dress as she accounts Nin's sexual awakening — and humbling — in 1930s Paris at the hands of the two Millers in imagined conversations with June's therapist, Henry and, later, June herself. Anaïs is a tale of love dangled just out of reach and a florid, earnest feat of memorization by Maslovskaya, but it's a little too self-conscious to seduce the audience. The one-sided dialogue cripples the play as performed alone: Nin seems less like a besotted, swayed suitor and more like a narcissistic chatterbox. Tellingly, this unflappable eroticist is most taken aback when the therapist says he's never heard of her. Sherry Theatre, 11052 Magnolia Blvd., N.Hlywd.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru Oct. 15. (818) 506-9863. (Amy Nicholson)

GO  BEAST ON THE MOON Richard Kalinoski's tender play centers on two survivors of the Armenian genocide. Aram Tomasian (Zadran Walli) witnessed the beheading of his entire family. Now he's escaped from Turkey to Milwaukee and set himself up as a photographer. He's obsessed with producing a family to replace the one he lost, and has ordered a 15-year-old picture bride, Seta (Olga Konstantulakis), from an Armenian orphanage. She's profoundly grateful to him for rescuing her via a proxy marriage, but she too is traumatized. She saw her mother crucified, and her sister raped by a Turkish soldier, so she's terrified of sex. And Aram is fanatically determined to duplicate the rigid authoritarianism of his dead father. Kalinoski sensitively calibrates the stages by which a difficult alliance between two oddly matched people becomes a real marriage. Walli brings to his role a boyish charm, which tempers his arrogant rigidity, while Konstantulakis skillfully traces the arc from terrified teenager to strong, resilient woman. John Cirigliano is engaging as both an older gentleman who tells their story and his younger self — an orphan boy befriended by Seta. Sarah Register provides the authentic-seeming period clothes. The Marilyn Monroe Theatre at the Lee Strasberg Creative Center, 7936 Santa Monica Blvd., W.Hlywd.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m., Sun., 2 p.m., thru Oct. 17. Produced by Malabar Hill Films. (323) 960-7784; plays411.com/beast. (Neal Weaver)

DAVID: THE MUSICAL When reviewing the premiere of a new musical, one must be ever cognizant of the amount of work that has gone into its creation. Fully scored, booked and staged musicals take an almost astonishing amount of effort and audacity to execute — and this can be all the more upsetting when the outcome is as misbegotten as is this near-incoherent adaptation of the story of the Old Testament's King David, his seduction of the beautiful Bathsheba, and his despair over his wayward sons Absalom and Amnon. Or, at least, that appears to be what the musical is about: Director Adam T. Rosencrance's production is in modern dress, which is not necessarily an unimaginative idea, but the presentation of the story is utterly without context — the biblical incidents are merely strung together with little dramatic development, psychological subtext or convincing emotion. One moment, Dane Bowman's oddly wooden David is crowned king, the next he's seducing Sara Collins' almost comically Valley girl–like Bathsheba. Other performers take on multiple roles, but the character changes are disjointed and without explanation, often accomplished merely by an actor donning a new jacket or shirt but not changing his actual personality. Thus, we start to wonder why David's servant Caleb (Austin Grehan) is suddenly one of the assassins plotting his demise, or why David's son Amnon (J.D. Driskill) shows up as a spear-carrying soldier in the Hittite army. The score, credited to Costanza, Tim Murner, Rich Lyle and Michelle Holmes, is a workmanlike mix of heavy-metal rock anthems and hard country ballads ably rendered by the rock band Pullman Standard, but the numbers are all lyric-driven, and the singing is miserably drowned out by the hyperamplified sound system. More dismaying than the lack of coherence, though, is the lack of Goliath, who is barely mentioned in the play and whose absence seems like a painfully missed dramatic opportunity — like trying to tell the story of World War II without a Nazi. Some of the show's early production flaws may iron themselves out over the course of the run; one of the main actors was still lugging his script about like a Torah throughout the entire performance, for example. Hayworth Theatre, 2511 Wilshire Blvd., L.A.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; thru Oct. 17. brownpapertickets.com. (Paul Birchall)

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