Stage Raw: Trauma Dolls

Stage Raw: Trauma Dolls

This week's Theater Feature on Camelot and Baal


Stage Raw: Trauma Dolls

Photo courtesy of Highways

Next Friday and Saturday, January 29 and 30, at 8:30 p.m. Highways presents (Un)Concrete Musique, a trio of of multimedia musical performance.

In "Trauma Doll," Cora Ripatti employs an original electronic music soundscape, a backdrop video by Danish filmmaker Karim Ghahwagi, live vocals and dance to grapple with the emotional tears from the death of her sister to lupus, and a shooting that left her other sister paralyzed.

Y&S present "Luz Y Sombra," an electro bilingual opera set in L.A. -- "a tragedy that can dance too."

Marlena Dali and Michael Turner's "Siren Reef" is an environmentalist, multimedia art performance and gallery installation that stresses the importance of protecting the world's various coral reefs.

Highways Performance Space is located at 1651 18th Street, in Santa Monica, CA, ½ block north of Olympic. (310) 315-1459 or here.

For COMPLETE THEATER LISTINGS, press the Read On tab directly below.


Our critics are Paul Birchall, Lovell Estell III,Martin Hernandez,

Mayank Keshaviah, Deborah Klugman, Steven Leigh Morris, Amy Nicholson,

Tom Provenzano, Bill Raden, Luis Reyes, Sandra Ross and Neal Weaver.

These listings were compiled by Derek Thomas


ACME SATURDAY NIGHT ACME's flagship sketch show, with celebrity

guest hosts each week. Acme Comedy Theatre, 135 N. La Brea Ave., L.A.;

Sat., 7 p.m.. (323) 525-0202.

ACME 2NITE New sketches and old favorites, ACME style. Acme Comedy

Theatre, 135 N. La Brea Ave., L.A.; Sat., 9 p.m.. (323) 525-0202.

BAD THING "Asher Hartman mixes elements of theater, installation,

performance and painting to explore the guilt and pleasure inherent in

American violence.", free. SEA AND SPACE

EXPLORATIONS, 4755 York Blvd., Highland Park; Fri., Jan. 22, 8 p.m.; Sat., Jan. 23, 8 p.m.. (323) 982-0854.

BOBRAUSCHENBERGAMERICA Charles L. Mee's "fantastical road trip

through the American landscape written as Robert Rauschenberg, one of

America's greatest living artists, might conceive it". [Inside] the

Ford, 2580 Cahuenga Blvd. E., L.A.; opens Jan. 23; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.;

Sun., 3 & 7 p.m.; thru Feb. 28. (323) 461-3673.


IBEX Puppetry present the story of an aging socialite and her

philandering game hunter husband. VELASLAVASAY PANORAMA, 1122 W. 24th

St., L.A.; Jan. 28-31, 8 p.m.,

(213) 746-2166.

CAROUSEL Reprise Theatre Company presents the Rodgers and

Hammerstein musical. UCLA Freud Playhouse, Macgowan Hall, Westwood;

opens Jan. 27; Tues.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2 & 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 &

7 p.m.; thru Feb. 7, (310) 825-2101.

THE CITY Clyde Fitch's 1909 play, adapted and directed by Stan

Mazin. Lonny Chapman Group Repertory Theatre, 10900 Burbank Blvd.,

North Hollywood; opens Jan. 22; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru

Feb. 28, (818) 700-4878.

DARWIN: AN ADVENTURE FOR ALL AGES Kid-friendly blend of puppetry,

technology and dance, created by Corbin Popp and Ian Carney. Kirk

Douglas Theatre, 9820 Washington Blvd., Culver City; Sat., Jan. 23, 11

a.m. & 3 p.m.; Sat., Jan. 30, 11 a.m.. (213) 628-2772.


dark parody of the "Peanuts" comic strip. Lounge Theatre, 6201 Santa

Monica Blvd., L.A.; opens Jan. 22; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., Jan. 31, 7

p.m.; thru Feb. 6, (323) 469-9988.

EXILES Carlos Lacamara's story of Cuban refugees adrift. Hayworth,

2509 Wilshire Blvd., L.A.; opens Jan. 22; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3

p.m.; thru Feb. 27. (323) 960-4442.

"FIRESIDE AT THE MILES" Reading of The Young Man From Atlanta,

by the Ruskin Group Theatre. Miles Memorial Playhouse, 1130 Lincoln

Blvd., Santa Monica; Sat., Jan. 23, 8 p.m.. (310) 458-8634.

THE GOLDEN GAYS The drag sitcom spoof continues with the girls

moving on up to a de-luxe apartment in the sky. Meta Theater, 7801

Melrose Ave., L.A.; opens Jan. 22; Fri.-Sun., 8 p.m.; thru Jan. 31,

THE GOOD SOLDIER SCHWEIK Ken Roht directs Robert Kurka's satirical

opera. Long Beach Performing Arts Center, Center Theater, 300 E. Ocean

Blvd., Long Beach; Sat., Jan. 23, 8 p.m.. (562) 432-5934.

KATAKI Shimon Wincelberg's WWII tale of an American soldier and a

Japanese soldier stranded together on a Pacific island. McCadden Place

Theatre, 1157 N. McCadden Pl., L.A.; opens Jan. 22; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.;

Sun., 2 p.m.; thru Feb. 13, (323) 856-0665.

THE KINGS OF THE KILBURN HIGH ROAD Jimmy Murphy's Irish wake at a

London pub. The Banshee, 3435 W. Magnolia Blvd., Burbank; opens Jan.

23; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru Feb. 28, (818) 846-5323.

MALINCHE The life and influence of Malintzin Tepenal, by Victor Hugo

Rascon Banda. (Alternating perfs in English and Spanish; call for

schedule.). Frida Kahlo Theater, 2332 W. Fourth St., L.A.; opens Jan.

22; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 6 p.m.; thru Feb. 28, (213) 382-8133.

THE MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR Shakespeare's comedy, set in the frontier

mining town of Windsor, Colorado. Lyric Theatre, 520 N. La Brea Ave.,

L.A.; opens Jan. 22; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru Feb. 14, (323) 939-9220.

NAKED IN THE TROPICS Odalys Nanin's story of gay sex, drugs and

rock'n'roll in a West Hollywood night club. Danny Indart, lyrics by

Odalys Nanin and Danny Indart. Macha Theatre, 1107 N. Kings Road, West

Hollywood; opens Jan. 23; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; thru Feb.

21. (323) 960-1057.

NARROW WORLD Fresh Baked Theatre Company presents Daniel Damiano's

dystopian drama., Lex Theatre, 6760

Lexington Ave., L.A.; opens Jan. 22; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.;

thru Feb. 7. (602) 689-7714.


"humorous observations on life and news in Southern California.".

Hermosa Beach Playhouse, 710 Pier Ave., Hermosa Beach; opens Jan. 22;

Tues.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., Jan. 24, 7 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; Sun., Jan. 31,

2 p.m.; thru Jan. 31, (310) 372-4477.

PASTORAL Reading of Frank Tangredi's drama about a pastor's test of

faith. Pasadena Playhouse, 39 S. El Molino Ave., Pasadena; Jan. 26-27,

8 p.m.. (626) 356-PLAY.


finalists in the 2010 Play Contest, including three new pieces by Los

Angeles playwrights. Underground Theater, 1312 N. Wilton Pl., L.A.;

Tues., Jan. 26, 8 p.m.; Tues., Feb. 9, 8 p.m.. (323) 467-0036.

SEX, DREAMS & SELF CONTROL Kevin Thornton's coming-out memoir.,

$10. Cavern Club Theater at Casita del Campo, 1920 Hyperion Ave., L.A.;

Tues., Jan. 26, 8 p.m., (323) 969-2530.

SIX DEGREES OF FORNICATION World premiere of David Wally's sex

comedy. Whitefire Theater, 13500 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks; opens

Jan. 28; Thurs., 8 p.m.; thru March 4. (866) 811-4111.


Care Hospice Foundation presente Ms. Refeld's one-woman show., $25.

James R. Armstrong Theatre, 3330 Civic Center Dr., Torrance; Sun., Jan.

24, 7 p.m.. (310) 781-7150.

SPIKE HEELS Theresa Rebeck's contemporary comedy exploring "sexual

harassment, misplaced love, and the possibility of a four-sided love

triangle.". Actors Circle Theatre, 7313 Santa Monica Blvd., L.A.; opens

Jan. 22; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 & 7 p.m.; thru Jan. 31, (323) 965-9996.

STAGE DOOR George S. Kaufman and Edna Ferber's Depression-era

comedy. Open Fist Theatre, 6209 Santa Monica Blvd., L.A.; opens Jan.

22; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru March 13,

(323) 882-6912.

STOMP Return of the avant-garde noisemakers. Pantages Theater, 6233

Hollywood Blvd., L.A.; opens Jan. 26; Tues.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2 &

8 p.m.; Sun., 1 & 6:30 p.m.; thru Feb. 7,

(213) 365-3500.


of the rock & roll legends, written and directed by P.M. Howard.

Warner Grand Theatre, 478 W. Sixth St., San Pedro; Jan. 22-23, 8 p.m., (562) 480-7951.

WHO IS CURTIS LEE? World premiere of Ashford J. Thomas' play set in

1950s North Carolina. MET Theatre, 1089 N. Oxford Ave., L.A.; opens

Jan. 22; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., Jan. 24, 3 p.m.; thru Feb. 28. (323)




Stage Raw: Trauma Dolls

Photo by Craig Schwartz


David Lee's 8-actor version of Lerner & Loewe's musical chestnut

uses its economical imperative to strive for an ensemble concept that

makes fun of its own minimal devices. The result is somewhat tentative,

a production groping for its purpose, but it's also pleasant. Shannon

Stoke's vocally pleasing and gentle King Arthur needs the machismo of

Richard Burton, despite his pacifist politics, or the subtext of his

wife's (Shannon Warne) erotic distraction is a wee too obvious. Warne's

voice is gorgeous, as is Doug Carpenter, who conjurs memories of Robert

Goulet playing Lancelot. Pasadena Playhouse, 39 S. El Molino Ave.,

Pasadena; Tues.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 4 & 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 & 7

p.m. (no perf Jan. 19, 27 and Feb. 3; added perfs Feb. 3, 2 p.m.); thru

Feb. 7. (626) 356-7592 (Steven Leigh Morris) See Theater feature

GEORGE GERSHWIN ALONE Music and lyrics by George Gershwin and Ira

Gershwin, starring Hershey Felder. Laguna Playhouse, 606 Laguna Canyon

Road, Laguna Beach; Sun., 2 p.m.; Tues.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2 & 8

p.m.; Sun., Jan. 24, 7 p.m.; Thurs., Jan. 28, 2 p.m.; thru Feb. 21, (949) 497-2787.

JACKIE MASON: NO HOLDS BARRED The funny man's comedy tour de force.

Wadsworth Theatre, 11301 Wilshire Blvd. (on the Veterans Administration

grounds), L.A.; Through Jan. 23, 8 p.m.; Sun., Jan. 24, 3 p.m., (800) 982-2787.

GO MARY POPPINS The riveting theatricality of Bob

Crowley's production design, climaxing in chimney sweep Bert (Gavin

Lee) soft-shoeing straight up, then upside down across the proscenium

arch, and culminating in a showstopping umbrella flight over the

audience by the famous titular nanny, produces an excitement that far

outshines the limited value intrinsic in much of the musical's written

material. Likewise the sublime showmanship of choreographer Matthew

Bourne and stage director Richard Eyre hides the flaws in Julian

Fellowes' disjointed script and new music by George Stiles and Anthony

Drew. Unlike most of Disney's Broadway smashes that producer Thomas

Schumacher has magically transformed from animated film to stage, this

is a hybrid between Disney's 1964 movie masterpiece, whose fun and

fanciful score by Richard M. and Robert B. Sherman still holds up, and

the operetta gleaned from the original novel (with rights held by the

Cameron Mackintosh team). The two styles battle one another for

dominance, and neither wins. Most of the film's story lines are

banished in favor of closer adaptation of the P.L. Travers books with

the familiar songs wedged into the scenes, while the new songs more

closely fit the story, but lack spark. Nevertheless the production is

an audience pleaser, with demonstrable talent on or off the stage. (Tom

Provenzano)., $20-$92. Ahmanson Theatre, 135 N. Grand Ave., L.A.;

Tues.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2 & 8 p.m.; Sun., 1 & 6:30 p.m.; thru

Feb. 7. (213) 628-2772.

ORDINARY DAYS Though meant to be ironic because it is a story of New

York City, which, of course, is always extraordinary, the title is

actually prophetic about Adam Gwon's light, predictable pop-musical

"ode to New York," which only occasionally rises above the ordinary.

Four whimsical young characters (played by Nick Gabriel, Deborah S.

Craig, David Burnham and Nancy Anderson) try to navigate the turbulence

of Manhattan, searching for love and purpose. Unfortunately most of the

18 songs are pattery ditties that give the talented cast little to work

with. Only Burnham gets to let loose with his belting voice. At one

point, in the Metropolitan Museum, Gwon's composition actually moves

into high gear with some complicated rhythms -- beautifully handled by

musical director Dennis Castellano -- which actually sound like an

homage to Sondheim's Sunday in the Park with George. The

characters are in simple situations of youthful angst -- though a

moving tribute to 9/11 stops the show with unearned emotion. The

evening's best aspect is Fred Kinney's mechanical stage design of

Manhattan architecture, complemented by Jason H. Thompson's clever

projections. (Tom Provenzano). South Coast Repertory, 655 Town Center

Dr., Costa Mesa; Sat.-Sun., 2 & 7:45 p.m.; Tues.-Fri., 7:45 p.m.;

thru Jan. 24. (714) 708-5555.

PALESTINE, NEW MEXICO When U.S. Army Captain Catherine Siler

(Kirsten Potter) stumbles into "Bumfuck" -- a New Mexico Indian

reservation -- she's already tripping, exhausted from crossing the

desert, dehydrated and addicted to her now-terminated prescription meds

for pain and stress. That's before she drinks a peyote-laced beverage

given to her by one of the natives, for dehydration. So in Richard

Montoya's mess of a new play, which contains the germ of a beautiful

idea, there are dreams, and then there are dreams. I tracked at least

four plays, each in different styles, and for a 90-minute experience

without intermission, that's the dramaturgical definition of a cake

just been put in the oven, with ingredients still bumping up against

each other. Lisa Peterson directs. (Steven Leigh Morris). Mark Taper

Forum, 135 N. Grand Ave., L.A.; Tues.-Sun..; thru Jan. 24. (213)


GO POINT BREAK LIVE! Jaime Keeling's merciless

skewering of the 1991 hyper-action flick starring Keanu Reeves and Gary

Busey is loaded with laughs, as well as surprises, like picking an

audience member to play Reeves' role of Special Agent Johnny Utah. It's

damn good fun, cleverly staged by directors Eve Hars, Thomas Blake and

George Spielvogel. (LE3). Dragonfly, 6510 Santa Monica Blvd., L.A.;

Fri., 8:30 p.m.; Sat., 8 p.m.. (866) 811-4111.

THE PEE-WEE HERMAN SHOW Paul Reubens returns as the kooky character

he debuted on the Groundling stage in 1981. Club Nokia, 800 W. Olympic

Blvd., L.A.; Tues.-Thurs., 8 p.m.; Sat., 4:30 & 8 p.m.; Sun., 4

& 7:30 p.m.; thru Feb. 7, (800) 745-3000.


7-and-under set, this good-natured interactive musical exudes appeal

beyond its demographic. Inspired by a German folktale, writers Lloyd

Schwartz and Hope Juber's adaptation features a good fairy named

Hyacinth (Mary Garripoli) as the prime mover of events. After she

welcomes the audience with a song about the importance of "doin' good,"

along comes a prince (understudy Iain Gray) who sings about "lookin'

good." His attitude so annoys Hyacinth that she turns him into a frog,

stipulating that he can only return to his natural form if kissed by a

princess. The rest of the story proceeds along more or less traditional

lines: The frog recovers the lost ball of a querulous princess (Jenn

Wiles) who is reluctant to keep her promise to kiss him until pressured

by her father, the king (Anthony Gruppuso). Much of the piece's charm

stems from the delight -- and the unintended comedic faux pas --

displayed by the youngsters called up on the stage to participate. The

non-patronizing performers seem to be enjoying themselves as well. A

song "Croak Croak, Ribbit, Ribbit" involving a couple of frog puppets

is contagiously entertaining, whatever one's age. The uncredited

costumes are fun too. Barbara Mallory Schwartz directs, with songs by

Hope Jube and musical director Laurence Juber. (Deborah Klugman).

Theatre West, 3333 Cahuenga Blvd. West, L.A.; Sat., 1 p.m.; thru Feb.

27. (323) 851-7977.

RIVERDANCE The Irish step-dancing spectacular. Pantages Theater,

6233 Hollywood Blvd., L.A.; Tues.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2 & 8 p.m.;

Sun., 1 & 6:30 p.m.; thru Jan. 24, (213)


WAITING FOR GODOT Samuel Beckett's absurdist classic. A Noise

Within, 234 S. Brand Blvd., Glendale; Fri., Jan. 22, 8 p.m.; Sat., Jan.

23, 2 & 8 p.m.; Sun., Jan. 24, 2 & 7 p.m., (818) 240-0910.



1920s Shanghai is the setting of Debbie McMahon's wonderfully

environmental tour de force of clowning, dancing and blood, which

evokes, with ferocious imagination, not just a bygone era but also the

atmosphere of the Grand Guignol. Upon arrival at the theater, we are

ushered into an ante-chamber outside the actual auditorium, which has

been set up to resemble a Shanghai bazaar. There are sallow-eyed

maidens serving tea -- and also warm absinthe, strained through sugar,

Thomas De Quincey--style. The scent of the absinthe wafts through the

entire theater, melding with dry ice and creating a mood that elegantly

mixes pleasure and decay. The play's first act, "Sing Song Girl Sings

Last Song," is a haunting ballet of despair, involving a cast that

includes jaded "Sing Song Girl" prostitute Bright Pearl (Tina Van

Berckelaer), a young virgin protégé (Amanda Street) who dreams of

becoming Top Whore, and calculating Madame Old Bustard (Dinah Steward),

who plots to sell the virgin to be raped and mutilated by a piglike

mobster (Roy Starr). Anchored by Jeanne Simpson's pleasingly

melodramatic choreography, the dance tackles a compelling story of

rage, despair and vice. Steward's charmingly sinister Old Bustard

steals every scene she's in -- but Street's scheming, loathsome virgin

is a standout as well. Act 2's vignette, Chris Bell's "The Cabinet of

Hands," is a gripping horror tale, with a sharp twist of quirky humor.

A prissy young French couple (Robin Long and Zachary Foulkes),

vacationing in Shanghai, gets more than they bargain for when they go

slumming at the opium den owned by a seemingly kind old woman (Kevin

Dulude). As the thrill-seeking Westerners get happily stoned on The

Dragon's Tail, the old woman's diabolical true nature shows through.

The final scene consists of a jaw-dropping gorefest that will have you

simultaneously howling with terror and laughter (while slipping your

hands in your pockets for safekeeping). Dulude's wicked old woman is

the perfect embodiment of mysterious evil -- and the horrific fate of

Long's ill-fated naif hilariously suggests an anti-drug teaching moment

that's very effective. (Paul Birchall). Artworks Performance Space,

6569 Santa Monica Blvd., L.A.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru Jan. 23. (800)


GO ACCOMPLICE: HOLLYWOOD Part game, part theater,

part tour: It all begins with a phone call disclosing a secret meeting

location. Aided by clues and mysterious cast members strewn throughout

various locations, such as street corners, bars, iconic landmarks and

out-of-the-way spots, the audience traverses the city streets, piecing

together clues of a meticulously crafted plot. (Steven Leigh Morris).

Hollywood Blvd., TBA, L.A.; Fri.-Sat.,

NEW REVIEW GO BAAL Peter Mellencamp's adapatation

of Bertolt Brecht's early, poetical drama is about the cruelty and

demise of a Bacchanalian poet who recognizes, curses and is cursed by

civilization's thin veneer. Ben Rock's staging is sometimes forced,

more often intense and seductive, with Gregory Sims' growling title

character bearing a physical resemblance to young Al Pacino, but with a

voice like Tom Waits. Sacred Fools Theatre Company, 660 Heliotrope Dr.,

L.A.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m. (added perf Thurs., Jan. 28, 8 p.m.); thru Feb.

20. (310) 281-8337. (Steven Leigh Morris) See Theater feature

GO BLOOD AND THUNDER In the Ninth Ward of New

Orleans, Marcus (Keith Arthur Bolden) isn't scared of the newly arrived

hurricane, Katrina. Marcus is an expert on everything -- at least, he

watches a lot of TV -- and vows the water won't rise above 10 feet. But

Marcus' theories and conclusions have always gotten him, brother

Quentin (Tony Williams) and Marcus' girlfriend, Charlie (Candice Afia),

in over their heads with one bad hustling scheme after another. Still,

Marcus is convinced he's the brains of the group, even if he has to

badger Quentin and Charlie until they agree. When Quentin limps in,

sopping wet, still wearing his orange prison jumpsuit with a bullet

hole in his thigh, the two siblings have a violent score to settle.

Terence Anthony's taut one-act drama is effective agony. Two character

twists may not add up, but while the audience perches practically in

the living room of Jorge I. Velasquez's realistic, dingy set, with the

rain hammering down, the tension is as thick as the storm clouds we

imagine overhead. Solid performances keep the spell going, particularly

by Afia as the strong-willed girlfriend trying to break free of Marcus'

emotional abuse. Sara Wagner directs. (Amy Nicholson). Moving Arts,

1822 Hyperion Ave., L.A.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru Feb.

28. (323) 666-3259.


Baker productions in a yearlong celebration of the marionette theater's

50th anniversary. Bob Baker Marionette Theater, 1345 W. First St.,

L.A.; Tues.-Fri., 10:30 a.m.; Sat.-Sun., 2:30 p.m.; thru April 11, (213) 250-9995.

THE BOB BENDICK PODCAST . Acme Comedy Theatre, 135 N. La Brea Ave., L.A.; Mon., 5:15 p.m.. (323) 525-0202.

CONFUSIONS Quintet of interlinked plays by Alan Ayckbourn. Lost

Studio, 130 S. La Brea Ave., L.A.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 4 p.m.;

thru March 7, (323) 960-5775.

NEW REVIEW DOCTOR NOGUCHI Given director-playwright Gary

LeGault's pedigree, you would think that a camp meditation on

celebrity, based on the star-studded body count of L.A. County's

controversial, former Chief Medical Examiner, Thomas T. Noguchi (Hayden

Lee), would be a comedic slam dunk. You'd be wrong. Despite a list of

credits that includes working with the likes of Charles Ludlam and

Warhol superstars Jackie Curtis and Holly Woodlawn, LeGault's

indifferently staged, pallidly scripted evening delivers little of the

outrageous burlesque or incisive social ironies those names might

imply. Charting the publicity-seeking coroner's career between Marilyn

Monroe's (Julia Stoddard) "suicide" in 1963 and John Belushi's (Jeremy

Ebenstein) overdose in 1982, the play unwinds as a series of vignettes

in which a quizzical Noguchi ponders the paradox of his illustrious

clientele's self-destruction while at the peak of their fame, even as

he is visited by each of their resurrected spirits seeking some sort of

existential closure. But if LeGault's necrographic portraiture rarely

achieves even a Wikipedia-weight likenesses, the production is not

without its charms. These are mainly found in Lee's slyly winsome

portrayal of a flawed philosopher-poet, whose fastidious pursuit of

truth becomes corrupted by his own vanity and the corrosive effects of

fame-by-association. With decided deficits in plot and engaging

conflict to fuel that performance, however, LeGault's slender conceit

simply lacks the comic mileage to make it to the final curtain. Ruby

Theater at the Complex, 6476 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood;

Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun. 2 p.m.; thru Jan. 31. (310) 360-7064. (Bill


F*CKING MEN Joe DiPietro's observations on the sex lives of modern

urban gay America. Celebration Theatre, 7051-B Santa Monica Blvd.,

L.A.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru Feb. 14. (323) 957-1884.

GO THE GLASS MENDACITY Devotees of Tennessee

Williams will surely delight in this send-up of the playwright's

best-known dramas. Maureen Morley and Tom Willmorth have blended

characters and motifs from Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, The Glass Menagerie and A Streetcar Named Desire

into one big, irreverent stew of laughs. Gathered together at the Belle

Reeve plantation are Mitch (Ken Johnson, who doubles as a narrator),

Amanda (Stephanie Strand), Maggie (Renee Scott), Brick (a dummy named

Eliot Barrymore), Stanley (Joe Dalo) and Blanche (Catherine Cronin, who

traveled by way of a certain streetcar). The occasion is Big Daddy's (a

hilarious Quincy Miller) arrival from the hospital and a celebration of

his birthday. As in Cat, the cigar-smoking patriarch has cancer but is

told he is suffering only from a "spastic colon." And we must not

forget dear Laura Dubois (Strand), who limps and vomits her way

throughout, while fixated on her menagerie of animals made of ice

cubes. From this disparate collection of Williams' familiars, the

writers weave a quirky narrative involving lust, insanity, infidelity,

sibling rivalry, intrigue and lots of mendacity. It probably helps if

you have some knowledge of Williams' plays, (in one scene Stanley calls

out "Starland," instead of Stella). Andrew Crusse provides the solid

direction. (Lovell Estell III). Hayworth Theatre, 2511 Wilshire Blvd.,

L.A.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru Jan. 30,

(323) 969-1707.

GRAVITYWORKS L.A. premiere of creator-director-producer Russell

Boast's cabaret that's "part comedy troupe/part vaudeville act/part

kick-ass music.". Cinespace, 6356 Hollywood Blvd., Second Level, L.A.;

Thurs., 7:30 p.m.; thru Feb. 25, (800)


HAMLET The Porters of Hellsgate present Shakespeare's tragedy.

Flight Theater at The Complex, 6476 Santa Monica Blvd., L.A.;

Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru Feb. 13. (951) 262-3030.

HELLZ KITCHEN ABLAZE Tommy Carter's drama of urban malaise, police

brutality, and corruption. Elephant Space Theatre, 6322 Santa Monica

Blvd., L.A.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru Feb. 6, (323) 962-0046.

THE INTERNATIONALISTS Poor Dog Group re-creates the space race.

Lillian Theatre, 1076 Lillian Way, L.A.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru Jan.


JUST A SONG AT TWILIGHT Willard Manus' drama about growing up in a

deaf household. Write Act Theater, 6128 Yucca St., L.A.; Thurs.-Sun..;

thru Feb. 28. (323) 469-3113.

GO LIFE COULD BE A DREAM This affectionate doo-wop jukebox musical by writer-director Roger Bean (The Marvelous Wonderettes),

with clever choreography by Lee Martino, handsome set by Tom Buderwitz,

and spectacular lighting by Luke Moyer, is designed to incorporate hit

songs of the 1960s, ranging from the goofy "Sh Boom" and "Rama Lama

Ding Dong" to anthems like "Earth Angel," "Unchained Melody," "The

Great Pretender," and "The Glory of Love." In small-town Springfield,

the local radio station is sponsoring a rock-and-roll contest, and

go-getter Denny (Daniel Tatar) is convinced he can win and become a

star. He enlists his klutzy, nerdish, endearing friend Eugene (Jim

Holdridge) and church-choir singer Wally (Ryan Castellino) to join him.

Needing a sponsor to provide the $50 entrance fee for the contest, they

apply to the proprietor of the local auto chain. He sends his top

mechanic, handsome, hunky Skip (Doug Carpenter), and his pretty

daughter Lois (Jessica Keenan Wynn), to audition the guys, and by the

end they're incorporated in the new group, Denny and the Dreamers. This

is pure fluff, and the terrific ensemble makes every note count in this

rousing good-time musical. (Neal Weaver). Hudson Mainstage Theatre,

6539 Santa Monica Blvd., L.A.; Thurs.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 3 & 8

p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru Feb. 28. (323) 960-4412.

MOIST! Mariann Aalda and Iona Morris are MILF-y inspirational

sexperts, heading (so to speak) the Multiple Orgasm Initiative for

Sexual Transformation. Hayworth, 2509 Wilshire Blvd., L.A.; Sun., 7

p.m.; thru Feb. 28, (323) 960-4442.

ORPHEUS DESCENDING Gale Harold, Denise Crosby and Claudia Mason star

in Tennessee Williams' modern retelling of the ancient Greek legend.

Theatre/Theater, 5041 Pico Blvd., L.A.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2

p.m.; thru Feb. 21, (800)


PICASSO AT THE LAPIN AGILE Steve Martin's 1993 comedy. East Theatre

at the Complex, 6468 Santa Monica Blvd., L.A.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.;

Sun., 2 p.m.; thru Feb. 13. (323) 960-7714.


Dodgson, aka Lewis Carroll, opens Robert Prior's play by defending his

friendship with 11-year-old Alice Liddell before taking major hits off

a hookah. (A professor, Michael Bonnabel, scribbling the mathematical

formula for Wonderland, leaves that substance out his equation.) Thus,

um, inspired, Carroll (Lon Haber) dons a blonde wig and reveals himself

as Alice before plunging down the rabbit hole. Apart from the entrance

of five other Alices chanting Carroll's lines like a Greek chorus,

Prior's Wonderland is familiar turf -- a trip though our

childhood memories of the text and the Disney cult cartoon laced with

Jefferson Airplane and melodramatic music, but otherwise played

straight. The stars here are Teresa Shea's costumes and sets and Lynn

Jeffries' puppets, a whirlwind of giant lobster claws and waves of

parachute silk and 15-foot flower hats and packs of angry cards buzzing

about the stage. Amidst the chaos, standouts include Bonnabel's

Caterpillar, Jabez Zuniga's Queen of Hearts, Matthew Patrick Davis's

Mad Hatter, Lori Scarlett's Mock Turtle -- hell, pretty much everyone

navigating this manic, uncertain, but enthusiastic staging. Bootleg

Theater, 2220 Beverly Blvd., L.A.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.;

thru Jan. 31. (213 389-3856. (Amy Nicholson)

SUNDAY OF THE DEAD All-new sketch and improv by the Sunday Company.

Groundling Theater, 7307 Melrose Ave., L.A.; Sun., 7:30 p.m.. (323)



specializes in improvising full-length plays in the literary style of

prominent writers, including Jane Austen, Tennessee Williams and

Stephen Sondheim. Here, under the direction of artistic directors Brian

Lohman and Dan O'Connor, they're tackling the Bard, taking the most

minimal suggestions from the audience and spinning them into dizzily

amusing mock-Shakespearean epics. At the performance I attended, they

created a comedy that might be called Much Ado About Bluebirds.

Miranda (Lisa Frederickson) is the slightly deaf daughter (she seems to

hear clearly only the songs of bluebirds) of the Duke of Kent (Lohman).

Kent has decided to marry her off to the elderly Duke of York (Floyd

Van Buskirk), but she has already developed a fancy for Price

(O'Connor), a young man from the village, who loves her, and has

learned to tweet like a bluebird to woo her. The course of true love is

threatened by a couple of mischievous fairies (Brian Jones and Edi

Patterson) and a man-eating bear, until the blissful final scene, which

is as sententious as any old Will created. The company (including

Michele Spears and Stephen Kearin) is clever, nimble and quick on its

feet, and the result is an amiable, crowd-pleasing divertissement.

(Neal Weaver). Theatre Asylum, 6320 Santa Monica Blvd., L.A.; Sun., 8

p.m.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru Feb. 14, (323) 401-9793.

SIT 'N' SPIN Storytelling by Jill Soloway, Maggie Rowe, Jaclyn Lafer

and assorted guests of varying hilarity., free. COMEDY CENTRAL STAGE,

6539 Santa Monica Blvd., L.A.; Every other Thursday, 8 p.m., (323) 960-5519.


Stage Raw: Trauma Dolls

Photo by Jordan Photography

Tilted Frame Network

is the creation of Combined Artform, a San Francisco based theatrical

production company headed by artistic director Matthew Quinn. This

multi-media, improv comedy show has audiences and actors in Los Angeles

and San Francisco interact with each other via internet and television.

It's an intriguing idea with loads of potential but one in need of much

fine tuning. The performance I attended started out with the customary

routine involving audience suggestions, but quickly morphed into an

awkward free for-all, with so-so performances by cast members in both

cities. The material, for the most part, was quirky and capable of

tickling some funny bones, but little that was breath-taking. One

really funny skit was a take on The Dating Game, with Misa Doi,

LaKendra Tookes and Natalie Chediak as three eligible bachelorettes.

Daniel Sullivan was in the hot seat up in San Francisco asking the

questions. Ditto for Paul Baumgaertner as a friendly cable-car pot

dealer. A bigger problem besides the hot and cold material was the many

technical gaffes that occurred throughout. Blank screens, sound

implosions, and malfunctioning monitors kill the spontaneity that is

the heart of improv comedy. This show has "test product" written all

over it, but there are sparks of  brilliance here that provide hope for

future outings. Theatre Asylum, 6320 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood;

Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m., thru Jan. 29. an Artform production. (Lovell Estell III)

THEATRE'S CLASSIC HITS A sampling of theater history, from

Shakespeare to Chekhov to Oscar Wilde. Knightsbridge Theater, 1944

Riverside Dr., L.A.; Sat.-Sun., 5 p.m.; thru Jan. 31. (323) 667-0955.

THE TOMORROW SHOW Late-night variety show created by Craig Anton,

Ron Lynch and Brendon Small. Steve Allen Theater, at the Center for

Inquiry-West, 4773 Hollywood Blvd., L.A.; Sat., midnight. (323)


TWENTY-TWO A friend once explained his decision to quit cocaine as

his weariness of the disreputable types with whom he was forced to deal

and of the even scarier places where they invariably dealt. So it is in

actor-playwright Julia Morizawa's hyperkinetic, autobiographical

addiction nightmare. For Leila (Morizawa), the story's 22-year-old

heroine, however, no amount of unsavory associations can deter her from

her unapologetic, single-minded snorting of coke with the fierce

efficiency of a Shop-Vac. Her unbridled enthusiasm for the powder soon

ensnares her two best friends, Zoe (Shaina Vorspan) and the musician,

Danny (Matthew Black), whose cluttered apartment becomes Leila's de

facto drug den. With her boyfriend/dealer, Eric (Raymond Donahey), as

their enabler/supplier, the friends' walk on the sordid side quickly

careens into a coked-up version of Mr. Toad's Wild Ride. Director

Donahey intensifies the luridness of the proceedings by seating the

audience on the set like so many uninvited guests. But Morizawa's

restricting focus on the outward spectacle of her characters' free fall

rarely musters pathos for their plunge. While the play hints at deeper

demons whetting Leila's manic appetite (i.e., fear and self-loathing),

the evening's most poignant and revealing moment belongs not to its

protagonist but to its bogeyman, Sol (the fine James Adam Patterson),

when the unscrupulous street dealer speaks with pride over a daughter's

scholastic achievements. Had Morizawa been as generous with her other

characters, she might have delivered something more engaging than

sideshow debasement and morbid, voyeuristic thrills. (Bill Raden).

Knightsbridge Theater, 1944 Riverside Dr., L.A.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.;

thru Jan. 30. (323) 667-0955.

THE WINDUP PUPPET SHOW Windup puppets come to life to the music of

Manheim Steamroller. Created by Chris Berube, directed and co-written

by Wendy Carter. Next Stage Theater, 1523 N. La Brea Ave., Second

Floor, L.A.; Thurs., 8 p.m.; thru Jan. 28, (323)



AFTER HOURS SHOW Presented by Neo Acro Theatre Company. Avery

Schreiber Theater, 11050 Magnolia Blvd., North Hollywood; Sat., 11

p.m.; thru Jan. 30...

ALMOST, MAINE Love is very much in the air in the idyllic community

of Almost, Maine, the setting for John Cariani's homage to Cupid's

often strange, unpredictable machinations. The play is formatted as a

series of star-filled, romantic encounters that are mostly sugary

sweet, with a sprinkling of salt for good measure. Director Ashley

Archambeau does a fine job marshaling the cast of 18, all of whom turn

in good performances. This more than makes up for the sillier, vacuous

moments that spring up during some of these vignettes. A good example:

"They Fell," with Erol Dolen and Adam Sandroni as two pals whose

underlying sexual attraction for each other causes them to fall on the

floor. It's funny for all of 10 seconds, but the skit lasts far longer.

Ditto for "This Hurts," where a bout of head bashing with ironing

boards turns gratingly sentimental and silly. "Where it Went" is a

heart-wrenching meditation on love lost with Luke Wright and Arianna

Arias as a couple whose once magical attraction has evaporated. "Sad

and Glad" tosses in a bit of the mysterious with Greyson Lewis and

Lauren Andrea as strangers brought together by a misspelled tattoo.

(Lovell Estell III). Avery Schreiber Theater, 11050 Magnolia Blvd.,

North Hollywood; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru Jan. 30,


ARTS IN THE ONE WORLD Only at Calarts: "Presentations, performances

and workshops that demonstrate how survivors, artists and scholars give

testimony and bear witness to circumstances of conflict and social

injustice, opening imaginative space for participation in the recovery

of historical memory and social renewal.". California Institute of the

Arts, 24700 McBean Pkwy., Valencia; Through Jan. 24, (661) 253-7800.

A BIG GAY NORTH HOLLYWOOD WEDDING Interactive homo-nuptials by

William A. Reilly and Ben Rovner. Crown City Theatre, 11031 Camarillo

St., North Hollywood; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru Jan. 23. (818) 605-5685.


Stage Raw: Trauma Dolls

Photo by Daniel Cerny


of Kander and Ebb's Cabaret (though sans music), this adaptation by

director and producer Pavel Cerny of Leonid Andreyev 1914 Russian play,

He Who Gets Slapped,   shifts the setting to Weimar Germany circa 1933.

A small traveling circus run by Ludwig Bricke (John Moskal) and his

common-law wife/lion-tamer Maria (Stephanie T. Keefer) serves as a

haven for those at the margins of society: Jackson (Jeff Williams), a

black American clown in whiteface; Tilly and Polly (Justin Hertner and

Lee Biolos), a longstanding gay couple; Bezano (Patrick Koffel), the

Communist horse trainer; and the newly-arrived mysterious clown named

"He" (an impressively nuanced Joshua Grenrock).  As the story, which

takes place entirely in the circus dressing room, unfolds, multiple

love triangles emerge, though the one of greatest consequence is that

between Bezano, Maria, and the bare back rider Consuelo (Tanya Goott),

who is engaged by her father Count Mancini (Kurt Hargan) to the wealthy

Baron Von Reinhardt (Ed Brigadier), the head of the local SA

stormtroopers.  While the remaining vestiges of the original melodrama

detract from what could be an extremely compelling piece of theatre,

Cerny has done his best to minimize them, and his Brechtian-style

entr'acte additions, such as the "news clowns," provide girding for the

menacing backdrop of Nazi Germany on the rise. Whitefire Theatre, 13500

Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks; Sun., 2:30 & 7:30 p.m.; thru February

14. (866) 811-4111.  An Orpheum Theater Corporation Production. 

(Mayank Keshaviah)

FRIENDS LIKE THESE Gregory Crafts' teen violence drama. Sherry

Theatre, 11052 Magnolia Blvd., North Hollywood; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru

Jan. 30, (818) 849-4039.

GBLT: GAYS, BACON, LETTUCE AND TOMATO Tasty treats from Theatre

Unleashed's sketch comedy troupe Die Gruppe. Sherry Theatre, 11052

Magnolia Blvd., North Hollywood; Wed., Jan. 27, 9 p.m.; Sat., Jan. 30,

10:30 p.m., (818) 849-4039.

HOW I LEARNED TO DRIVE Paula Vogel's story of survival behind the

wheel. Chandler Studio, 12443 Chandler Blvd., Valley Village;

Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru Feb. 20, (800)



Stage Raw: Trauma Dolls

Photo courtesy of Parson's Nose


Davis' abridged 75 minute adaptation  of Moliere's classic eschews all

subtlety in an amusing, accessible romp with plenty of flair and humor.

Davis plays Argon, a mousey, myopic hypochondriac in a tizzy over his

mounting medical bills.  His solution: to marry off his unfortunate

daughter  Angelique (Amanda Pajer) to the loutish son of a quack

doctor,  in order to secure his in-law's services for free. Possessed

of a gargantuan ego, the self-preoccupied ninny Argon swallows whole

the extravagant protestations of love by his beautiful but conniving

second wife (Marisa Chandler)  -- even as she plots with her lover 

(Mark McCracken), behind Argon's back -- to secure all his wealth.

Under Mary Chalon's direction, the production evolves with outsized

brio --  a stylistic  approach that succeeds  by virtue of  Davis'

considerable  acting skill, in tandem with the talents of Pajer and

Chandler, both of whom render their shtick with calibrated craft. Some

of the other characters come across as less crisply but are still good

enough to keep the farce crackling. Designer Holly Victoria's lovely

period costumes add professional polish. Pacific Asia Museum, 46 N. Los

Robles Ave., Pasadena;  Fri.-Sun., 7 p.m.; thru Feb. 5, (626)

403-7667. A Parson's Nose Theater Company production (Deborah Klugman)

THE JAMB World premiere of J. Stephen Brantley's comedy. Eclectic

Company Theatre, 5312 Laurel Canyon Blvd., Valley Village; Fri.-Sat., 8

p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; thru Feb. 21. (818) 508-3003.

GO JUST IMAGINE The fun of seeing and hearing Tim

Piper's great John Lennon impersonation in an intimate setting with an

outstanding band, under Greg Piper musical direction, is just

undeniable. The evening, which includes a large portion of the Beatles

catalogue followed by Lennon's solo work, never misses a beat or lick

with Piper's perfectly pitched and accented voice and expert

instrumentation: Don Butler's hot guitar, Morley Bartnoff's keyboard

and Don Poncher's drums. The guys scruffily kowtow to Lennon's lead,

creating the perfect illusion of superstar power. Jonathan Zenz's sound

design achieves a powerful volume without killing our ears in the small

Noho Arts Center space. Lighting by Luke Moyer along with Tim Piper's

video images complete the double fantasy of Lennon before and after

Yoko. The musical portion is so enjoyable, under the overall eye of

director Steve Altman, that we hopefully forget the lame one-man play

that slips between the songs. Perhaps the plan is to pull Lennon off

his lofty saint-like perch, but the result of a plodding timeline

narrative bio leaves Lennon sounding dull and whiney, until the music

returns him to his proper place. (Tom Provenzano). Platinum Live, 11345

Ventura Blvd., Studio City; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.. (866)


MIXED BLESSINGS World premiere of Jeff Bernhardt's drama about a gay

German college student and his straight Jewish roommate. NoHo Actors

Studios, 5215 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.;

Sun., 2 p.m.; thru Jan. 31,

(800) 838-3006.

NEW BEGINNINGS Neo Acro Theatre Company presents six original short

plays by local writers. Avery Schreiber Theater, 11050 Magnolia Blvd.,

North Hollywood; Sun..; thru Jan. 31...

ON THE AIR Golden Age of Radio murder-mystery musical comedy.

Whitefire Theater, 13500 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks; Sat., 8 p.m.;

thru March 6, (323) 960-4420.

ONE MAN, TWO PLAYS Dan Hildebrand in The Nonsense by Kevin Cotter and Whatever Gets You Through the Night by Andrew Kazamia. Sidewalk Studio Theatre, 4150 Riverside Dr., Burbank; Thurs., 8 p.m.; thru Feb. 25. (323) 960-5650.

PROOF David Auburn's Pulitzer Prize winner, starring disabled

actress Teal Sherer. NoHo Arts Center, 11136 Magnolia Blvd., North

Hollywood; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru Feb. 21. (323)


RAY BRADBURY'S WISDOM 2116 Two by science-fiction author Ray Bradbury: Wisdom (1916), a new play, and 2116,

a new musical, book and lyrics by Bradbury, music by John Hoke,

developed, directed and choreographed by Steve Josephson. Fremont

Centre Theatre, 1000 Fremont Ave., South Pasadena; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.;

Sun., 3 p.m.; thru Feb. 27, (323)



GO THE BROWNING VERSION Though not as widely known

or acclaimed as his contemporary British playwrights, Terence Rattigan

was a superb dramatist and chronicler of human emotions. Here,

Rattigan's The Browning Version, the gloomy story of an aging

schoolteacher crushed by failure and disappointment, receives a stellar

mounting by director Marilyn Fox. A well-regarded scholar of the

classics, Andrew Crocker-Harris (the superb Bruce French) has spent the

last 18 years as an instructor at a public school in England but must

leave the position because of failing health to take a less-stressful

job elsewhere. Now the object of jokes and ridicule by his students,

and denied a pension by the school, he has a bearing that is subdued by

sadness, yearning and a palpable "gallows" surrender to circumstance.

His wife, Millie (Sally Smythe), has given up on being happy with him

and has contented herself with numerous dalliances with his colleagues

(which she delights in reminding him of), and cruelly undermining what

remains of his sense of manhood. Her current lover, Frank (understudy

David Rogge), is torn between a sense of guilt, his admiration for

Andrew, and the dying embers of lust for Millie. It is only when the

professor is presented with a rare translation of Agamemnon

from a student (Justin Preston) that his mask of stoic restraint melts

to reveal a desperately fragile inner life. From this sedate tapestry

of characters, Rattigan artfully probes marriage, relationship and our

perverse capacity to embrace lacerating emotional pain and self-deceit,

which all unfolds beautifully on Norman Scott's cleverly designed

sitting-room mock-up. Fox directs this piece with masterful subtlety

and draws devastatingly convincing performances from her actors.(Lovell

Estell III). Pacific Resident Theatre, 703 Venice Blvd., Venice;

Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m.; thru Feb. 14. (310) 822-8392.

CHAPTER TWO Neil Simon's 1977 comedy about a widowed writer. Theater

Palisades' Pierson Playhouse, 941 Temescal Canyon Road, Pacific

Palisades; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru Feb. 14. (310)


11, SEPTEMBER Playwright-performer Paul Kampf may have come up with

the perfect rationalization for writing what would seem, at face value,

the most implausible plot twists for his psychological thriller. It

concerns an affair between a mathematician, Martin Healy (Kampf),

visiting New York from his London home to attend a conference, and a

waitress, Angela Madison (Liz Rebert), with whom he becomes smitten.

Under Gita Donovan's direction, the actors' waves of attraction and

repulsion (from mutual distrust that slowly and hauntingly seeps out)

have a truthfulness that matches the authenticity of the uncredited

studio apartment, where the entire saga plays out. A rising tension

from the violence in the air and some very intriguing interconnections

add to play's capacity to entrance, and Chris Cash's musical

compositions help segue the many scenes with a delicate solemnity,

giving the event a cinematic feel. References to chaos and conspiracy

theories become the philosophical frame for plot developments that

might otherwise raise eyebrows in skepticism. The play rides the line

between exploring and exploiting coincidences, yet it gets bogged down

in its own psychological realism. This raises questions that can't be

answered by chaos theory, or any other -- such as why the characters

sometimes blurt out incendiary details of their past, given how neither

is particularly trustworthy, or why Martin would drop by uninvited and

wind up reading Angela's diary, conveniently left in her bed. (Steven

Leigh Morris). Odyssey Theatre, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., L.A.;

Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; thru Feb. 7, (310) 477-2055.


Stage Raw: Trauma Dolls

Photo by Jeremy Rousch of Vibble


Tiffany Antone's choppy farce, the sensibility of a Saturday morning

cartoon collides with a potentially fecund philosophical debate on the

ego's relationship with the id. Yet, the results are strangely

disjointed and unsatisfying. Jane Doe (Jessica Runck) is desperate to

scale the career ladder at her marketing job, but her many hours of

overwork are being undercut by bizarre nightmares and odd signals from

her subconscious - she dreamily fills her briefcase with ice and snow

shoes instead of the important files she needs, for instance, while

travel brochures for trips to the North Pole mysteriously appear on her

desk.   Her well meaning shrink, Dr. Annabelle (Coco Kleppinger), is

sympathetic - but Dr. Annabelle's partner, bug-eyed, twitching, and

stammering Dr. Snafu (Isaac Wade, annoyingly channeling the mad

scientist from the Back to the Future movies) has a more intriguing

suggestion.  He offers to clone Jane, so that she will be able to get

more done.  It's an idea that you and I both know will clearly end in

tears - and, sure enough, Jane's clone (a sweetly gamine Sara Kaye)

turns out to be nothing like her original, and winds up eclipsing

Jane's life.  With a frenetic staging that makes an imaginative if

assaultive impression, director Mary Jo DuPrey's production boasts some

tight choreography, strong comic timing and gleeful mugging.  Runck's

priggishly brittle Jane is nicely contrasted against Kaye's sweet,

earth-mother  clone.  Marika Stephens's calculatedly surreal set - all

sloping, angular furniture that puts one in mind of the villain's lair

in an old Batman episode - abets the cartoon mood.  However, all the

craftsmanship is ultimately in the service of a half baked play, whose

uneven tone, glib dialogue and messy plotting get stranded somewhere

between a theological argument and a screenplay wannabee about a wacky

office. Powerhouse Theater, 3116  Second Street, Santa Monica. 

Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru Feb. 6. (310) 396-3680.  Los Angeles Theater

Ensemble. (Paul Birchall) 

ITALIAN AMERICAN RECONCILIATION John Patrick Shanley's comedy about

two lifelong friends. Ruskin Group Theater, 3000 Airport Dr., Santa

Monica; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru Jan. 23. (310) 397-3244.

IT'S CRIMINAL! THE COMEDY! Courtroom adventures with criminal

defense attorney Murray Meyer. Santa Monica Playhouse, 1211 Fourth St.,

Santa Monica; Sat., 8 p.m.; thru Feb. 13. (323) 960-7780.

LOVE IN BLOOM By Chris DeCarlo and Evelyn Rudie. Santa Monica

Playhouse, 1211 Fourth St., Santa Monica; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 6

p.m.; thru Feb. 26. (310) 394-9779.


Stage Raw: Trauma Dolls

Photo by Vitor Martins


Tony Pasqualini's drama, Frank (Michael Rothhaar) and Joy (Robin

Becker) have lost a son, Andy, to the war in Iraq. Now they have become

fanatical super patriots, eager to condemn anyone who questions the

war. Their best friends, Mel (Sarah Brooke) and Andrew (writer

Pasqualini) also have a son, Michael (Albert Meijer), an émigré from a

Muslim country, whom they have adopted. Andy and Michael were

inseparable friends throughout their childhood, but their courses have

diverged. While Andy enlisted and went to his death in battle, Michael

also enlisted, but decided it was a mistake, and deserted his post.

Though Mel and Andrew are sympathetic to their son, Frank and Joy are

determined to force the boy to face his fears and accept his duty, even

by reporting his whereabouts to the authorities. This issue becomes a

catalyst, leading to disaster for both families. Pasqualini's play is

not really a thesis drama, but it often sounds like one, treating its

characters as mouth-pieces. There are, however some potent scenes.

Though we're clearly intended to sympathize with Michael, he's too

whiny and self-centered to take seriously. Director David Gautreaux has

able actors but sometimes allows them to succumb to wearisome hysteria

and shouting. Pacific Resident Theatre, 705 ½ Venice Boulevard, Venice;

Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m., Sun., 3 p.m., thru March 28. (310) 822-8392 or (Neal Weaver)

GO AN OAK TREE On the simplest storytelling level,

actor-performer Tim Crouch's play is the tale of a hypnotist falling

apart at the seams, who after accidentally striking and killing a young

girl with his car, one day finds the victim's father on his stage.

Wrenching stuff. But on a conceptual level, the event takes this very

emotional saga and uses it as a kind of Ping-Pong ball to bat around

the idea of suspension of disbelief -- realities that we create through

suggestion. In order to accomplish this, for each performance he

employs a different actor, whom he meets less than one hour before the

performance, and who reads the role of the father from a script. And

so, through a frame of hypnotism that's just one of the play's many

artifices, begins a breathtaking examination of the blurred line

between what is real and what is suggested, of how we live in dream

worlds in order to get by, and how theater itself is a kind of hypnosis

that serves this very same purpose. Its brilliance is unfettered, and

inexplicably moving, for being such a head trip. (Steven Leigh Morris).

Odyssey Theatre, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., L.A.; Wed.-Sat., 8 p.m.;

Sun., 2 p.m.; thru Feb. 14. (310) 477-2055.


raves. Garage Theatre, 251 E. Seventh St., Long Beach; Fri., 8 p.m.;

Sat., 8 & 10 p.m.; thru Jan. 30. (866) 811-4111.

PICK OF THE VINE Nine original short plays selected from submissions

by playwrights from around the world. Little Fish Theatre, 777 Centre

St., San Pedro; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., Jan. 31, 7 p.m.; Thurs., Feb.

11, 8 p.m.; thru Feb. 13. (310) 512-6030.

PRINCESS BEAN'S MESSY WORLD Rock & roll kids musical about a petite

punk princess. Electric Lodge, 1416 Electric Ave., Venice; Sat., 12:30

p.m.; thru Feb. 6, (310) 490-2383.

RUN FOR YOUR WIFE Ray Cooney's marriage farce. Morgan-Wixson

Theatre, 2627 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2

p.m.; thru Feb. 13, (310) 828-7519.

THE SENSUOUS SENATOR Michael Parker's 1988 bedroom farce. Sierra

Madre Playhouse, 87 W. Sierra Madre Blvd., Sierra Madre; Fri.-Sat., 8

p.m.; Sun., 2:30 p.m.; thru Feb. 27,

(626) 256-3809.

3RD STREET COMEDY . Promenade Playhouse, 1404 Third Street Promenade, Santa Monica; Sat., 9 p.m.; thru Jan. 30. (310) 656-8070.

SIX DEGREES OF SEPARATION The Kentwood Players present John Guare's

drama. Westchester Playhouse, 8301 Hindry Ave., L.A.; Fri.-Sat., 8

p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru Feb. 13, (310)


A SONG AT TWILIGHT Orson Bean, Alley Mills and Laurie O'Brien star

in Noel Coward's last play. Odyssey Theatre, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd.,

L.A.; Wed.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru March 7, (310) 477-2055.

UNDERNEATH THE LINTEL Glen Berger's tale of a library book returned

133 years overdue. Little Fish Theatre, 777 Centre St., San Pedro;

Wed.-Thurs., 8 p.m.; thru Jan. 28. (310) 512-6030.

WEST Steven Berkoff's 1983 working-class London play. Electric

Lodge, 1416 Electric Ave., Venice; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru Feb. 6, (310) 823-0710.


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