An Astral Dick, Some Hair and a Compleat Female Stage Beauty in This Week's New Theater Reviews.
NEW THEATER REVIEWS, scheduled for publication June 7, 2012:
ASTRAL DICK No need to read Kierkegaard or Camus -- playwright James Mathers neatly breaks down the trio of resolutions at which the absurdist philosophers believed humans arrive during their search for meaning in the world. In some distant future, two detectives investigate a death they believe is tied to a cult-like religious sect worshipping the "AnarChrist." It's a by-the-book interpretation of absurdism: subtitling his world premiere "a play in three acts," Mathers clicks off suicide, religion and, finally, acceptance that life is meaningless. Kaytlin Borgen's luminous, wild-eyed performance is exhilarating, providing the thrill that motivates most of us to press on (or check out) despite the general monotony of life. Mathers' strict adherence to form is -- like life -- often tedious, though that's probably the point. Directed by Hanna Hall. Carbon Copy Productions at Electric Lodge, 1416 Electric Lodge, Venice; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; through June 10. electriclodge.org. (Rebecca Haithcoat)
GO COMPLEAT FEMALE STAGE BEAUTY
An avowed master of facile comedies of English middle-class manners by the mid-'80s, Alan Ayckbourn decided it was time to get serious -- a risky business for any comic playwright. One result was this archly whimsical, 1985 treatment of a South London housewife's descent into madness. Following a banal gardening accident, a concussed Susan (a powerfully poignant Sharon Sharth) discovers her emotionally arid and purgatorial existence married to a priggish vicar (the fine David Hadinger) increasingly invaded by the idealized and romantic creations of her elaborately constructed fantasies. In the hands of Pinter, such a premise would have led to the saturnine depths of the comic grotesque. Since this is Ayckbourn, however, what we get is a kind of time-expanded pratfall that packs all the profundity of a funhouse hall of mirrors. Director Christian Lebano and a flawless ensemble mount a ravishing revival (on Matthew G. Hill's clever garden set), but Ayckbourn's sporadic cleverness lapses into predictability long before intermission. Sierra Madre Playhouse, 87 W. Sierra Madre Blvd., Sierra Madre; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2:30 p.m.; through July 7. (626) 355-4318, sierramadreplayhouse.org. (Bill Raden)
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