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It's All Sam's Fault, in Blame It on Beckett, Plus All the Latest New Theater Reviews

It's All Sam's Fault, in Blame It on Beckett, Plus All the Latest New Theater Reviews
Michael Lamont
Michael Lamont

There is no way John Morogiello's comedy about the internal drama at a nonprofit theater's literary office should be interesting. After his bushy-tailed new intern insists a script cut he made actually does work, burned-out dramaturge Jim (well-played by Louis Lotorto) bellows, "That is in here!" before motioning to their hole of an office. "No one in their right mind would put this onstage!" But thanks to self-deprecating winks like that, polished performances and the swift click of director Andrew Barnicle's pacing, the show is engaging and funny -- even if it does cater primarily to longtime theatergoers, who will catch the references and jokes. (One of the most touché takedowns is Jim's monologue on the mentality behind plotting regional theaters' season lineups.) Yes, initially the first act drags. But Morogiello's focus on the relationships lifts the play beyond the sort of insider-y piece theater professionals pass around among themselves. "Issues are a trap," a character says. "[Audiences] want relationships." Given the inevitability of the blow to the head Jim receives in the second act, the heart-wrenching intensity of his response is surprising -- and a reminder that Morogiello is right. There also are nice, non-showy turns by Peggy Goss as the coddled playwright and Brian Ibsen as an ambitious general manager. Colony Theatre, 555 N. Third St., Burbank; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sat., 3 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; through Sept. 2 (818) 558-7000,

colonytheatre.org

(Rebecca Haithcoat)



CONFESSIONS OF A CAT LADY (With a Side of Crazy)

It's All Sam's Fault, in Blame It on Beckett, Plus All the Latest New Theater Reviews
Courtesy Tiffany Anne Price

Tiffany Anne Price has tremendous energy and a powerful urge to perform. She has channeled both traits into an obstreperous personal narrative that covers childhood rivalries, adolescent pranks (stealing a McDonald's sign) and her passion for cats; there are also assorted "confessions" ranging from why she finds Jesus hot to a lengthy anecdote about getting to the toilet in time. Other one-person shows strive to explore or enlighten; the best often incorporate the performers' rendering of people or characters outside themselves.  Not so here. These recollections reveal no social awareness, no hidden essences, no cognizance of other people's

feelings or inner lives. The narcissism is strident and relentless. To

be fair, the show might be more palatable (though possibly still

abrasive) as a comedy club stand-up act. For now, Price would do best honing her dramatic puissance and intensity on other people's material. Theatre Asylum, 6320 Santa Monica Blvd., Hlywd.; Sat., Aug. 25, 5:30 p.m. (323) 962-1632, theatreasylum-la.com. (Deborah Klugman)

DISASTEROID! This modest little opus, written by Zachary Bernstein, with music and lyrics by The Bicycats, directed by Jim Pierce, defies the rules for creating a musical. Instead of the expected lyricism, we get determinedly matter-of-fact songs like "You Have a Nice Backyard." And the un-heroic hero, Edgley (Will McMichael), sings about his "Low Expectations." Edgley is a tax auditor and amateur astronomer who surveys the heavens on his backyard telescope. When he discovers what hethinks is an asteroid plummeting toward earth, he notifies the local observatory. But Observatory Guy (writer Bernstein), tired of being bugged by Edgley, decides to play a joke on him, pretending that the asteroid will destroy the Earth in a month. Edgley, determined to cram alifetime of living into that month, persuades wealthy philanthropist Mabel Bellcoat (Natalie Rose) to join him on a tour around the world. It's a mild but pleasant diversion. Bicucats/Hat & Suitcase at the Underground, 1314 N. Wilton Place, Hlywd.; Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 8 & 11 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m., through Aug. 19. (800) 838-3006, disasteroidthemusical.com. (Neal Weaver)

ELMINA'S KITCHEN

It's All Sam's Fault, in Blame It on Beckett, Plus All the Latest New Theater Reviews
Ed Krieger

In Kwame Kwei-Armah's drama about three generations of West Indian males,

set in a rough London neighborhood, central character Deli (Terrell

Tilford) stumbles around like the washed-up former boxer/ex-con that

he's become. Bringing a leaden world-weariness to his performance,

Tilford plays a man dogged by misfortune, beaten down at every turn. As

Deli waits for his brother to be discharged from prison, he strives to guide his cocky son away from an alluring life of crime. Eternally pessimistic, Deli is incapable of responding to sexual overtures from Anastasia (Tracey A. Leigh), a feisty woman who cruises into his cafŽe bar looking for a job, armed with schemes to revitalize his business. Meanwhile the cafŽ's only customer, local thug and "wide boy" Digger (Noel Arthur), brings trouble to his door. Kwei-Armah crams his play with colorful, sometimes amusing supporting characters, but his scattered tale lacks drive and originality, meandering along an all-too-predictable trajectory. Lower Depth Theatre Ensemble at Lost Studio, 130 S. La Brea Ave.; Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 4 p.m.; through Sept. 9. (323) 933-6944; lastagealliance.com/elminaskitchen. (Pauline Adamek)

GO RED

It's All Sam's Fault, in Blame It on Beckett, Plus All the Latest New Theater Reviews
Heidi Marie Photography

You may not need an

advanced degree in performance theory to decode playwright Samantha

Macher's raucously savage, if somewhat brittle, black comedy about power

and the coercive aspects of gender, but it couldn't hurt. Macher's play

reimagines late-1940s Merced as ground zero for the malignant heart of

darkness that spawned both the Japanese-American internment and the postwar culture of racial hatred. So Catherine (the fine Julia Sanford) is understandably horrified when her Cyclopean monster of a returning GI son (Brett Fleisher) shows up at her doorstep with the enemy -- his non-English-speaking Japanese war bride Yumi (Sachiyo K). As Catherine slowly manages to surmount her prejudices and Yumi's language barrier to uncover the appalling secret binding the girl to the sadistic son, Macher and director Nancy Dobbs Owen have a field day skewering a gamut of melodramatic tropes by slathering them with a rich sauce of Sirkian irony and J-Horror visions. Skypilot Theatre Company at T.U.Studios, 10943 Camarillo St., N. Hlywd.; Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; through Sept. 16. (800) 838-3006, skypilottheatre.com. (Bill Raden)


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