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Rafael Goldstein's 'Jangled, Dangerous Hamlet,' the Return of Frank's Wild Lunch, and All the Latest New Theater Reviews

Rafael Goldstein's 'Jangled, Dangerous Hamlet,' the Return of Frank's Wild Lunch, and All the Latest New Theater Reviews
Downtown Repertory Theater Company

Director Moze Halperin has mounted an eccentric concept production of Chekhov's play. When it begins, the principal characters are enclosed in curtained cubicles, like oversized telephone booths -- symbolizing their emotional isolation? All four acts are staged in the Prozorov dining room, which is strangely equipped with four TV sets, one continuously playing an abstract loop. The elderly male doctor Chebutykin is played by a buxom young woman (Tiffany Tejeda) wearing an absurd white handlebar mustache. She's continually addressed as a man but appears variously clad in a man's suit, a sequined cocktail dress and a pink frock with marabou trim -- and later she strips off the mustache and most of her clothes to appear in men's boxer shorts. Despite some worthy performances, Chekhov is robbed of his physical and historical context, as well as his stock in trade Ñ the playing out of desperate lives quietly, amid the detritus of everyday life. Downtown Repertory Theater Company at Pico House, 424 Main St., dwntwn.; Fri.-Sun., 7 p.m.; through July 15. downtownrep.com. (Neal Weaver)

12TH NIGHT For its summer Shakespeare Festival in La Ca–ñada Flintridge, Vanguard Rep offers a high-altitude, open-air theatrical experience in its concrete amphitheater (cushions essential). The cast races barefoot through the central sandpit set and competes with chirping crickets while the audience is dive-bombed by massive grasshoppers and inquisitive June bugs. Ingeniously, Vanguard Rep pares down the Elizabethan text to its essentials (poetry intact) to deliver an uninterrupted 80-minute show. Playing in rep with Juliet & Her Romeo is 12th Night -- another one of the Bard's rather familiar and lightweight comedy romances centering on unrequited love, mistaken identities and a lost twin. A subplot sees a trio of drunken pranksters scheming to embarrass the pompous buffoon Malvolio (Michael Faulkner). Corey Sorenson gives a flamboyant performance as Duke Orsino, while Jen Faith Brown as his initial object of desire, Countess Olivia, overdoes her giggling rapture. Original songs sung a capella by the fool character Feste (Matthew Bohrer) are delightful. La Ca–ada Flintridge Shakespeare Festival, Byrnes Amphitheater, Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy, 440 St. Katherine, La Ca–ada Flintridge; in rep with Juliet & Her Romeo: Thurs.-Sun., 8:30 p.m.; through Aug. 5. (818) 745-3327, lcfshakes.com. (Pauline Adamek)

GO VERY STILL AND HARD TO SEE Steve Yockey's new Faustian play presented by The Production Company at the Lex. See Stage feature

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