Antaeus Company's double-cast production of Chekhov's The Seagull scored this week's Pick of the Week.Click here for all of this week's New Theater Reviews, or after the jump.
Here is a list of all the 2012 L.A. Weekly Theater Awards nominees; ceremony on April 2 at the Avalon, hosted by Lost Moon Radio; further information on whether you are a nominee can be found here. Nominees, please RSVP at (310) 574-7208. Tickets for guests and the public can be found at laweekly.com/theaterawards.
THEATER NEW REVIEWS, scheduled for publication March 8, 2012ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA
BRANDEE BUILT ON CRAZEE In her cheerful solo show, performer Brandee Tucker, who co-wrote the script with co-directors Michael Steger and Sean Hankinson, confesses to having entered a beauty pageant at age 15. She won, if not the first prize, an award for best personality. And that, in fact, might characterize Tucker's monologue as a whole: She's a delightful performer -- energetic and affable -- and one has the sense while watching her that she'd be the perfect friend to hang out with at a party or in a club. However, the show she spins is somewhat lightweight, relying on a set of depictions of members of her family and childhood circle, with little connection to any narrative. Yes, Tucker rightly earns her laughs with her portrayal of her crusty grandmother and also with her depiction of her first boyfriend, a ghoulish young Mormon boy who dreamed of creating a gal harem with Tucker in the pole position. But the weak script makes it hard to recommend the show to anyone who doesn't already know the people she's mimicking. Stella Adler Theatre, 6773 Hollywood Blvd., Hlywd.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; thru March 24. (323) 465-4446, brownpapertickets.com/event/221442. (Paul Birchall)A FEW GOOD MEN
If one must sit in a choir, one could do far worse than be preached to by storyteller Robert Owens-Greygrass, whose greatest virtue is a stand-up comedian's sense of comic timing. Which means you don't necessarily need to be a member of his Church of the Shat-Upon Racial Minority to reap the respectable laugh quotient or digest the politically barbed sermon contained in this semi-autobiographical, one-man gallery of Native American characters. Owens-Greygrass' text is about the psychic duality experienced by anyone of mixed race growing up in America, and more specifically about the spiritual journey of sorting through his own American Indian-French-Irish, Southern Baptist heritage and claiming his Lakota cultural identity during the searing political ferment of the 1960s. The performer is at his best when his wit is edged with righteous anger at the despoiling legacy of "guilt, blame and shame" waged by the country's Judeo-Christian hegemony; less convincing is his optimistic belief in the rectifying power of human enlightenment. Wells Fargo Theater, Autry National Center, 4700 Western Heritage Way, Griffith Park; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m., thru March 17. (323) 667-2000, ext. 354, NativeVoicesattheAutry.org. (Bill Raden)
PRIVATE LIVES Viewed as risque when it premiered in 1930, Noël Coward's comedy about the marital escapades of urbane British socialites now seems passe. The plot revolves around a divorced couple, Elyot (Lenny von Dohlen) and Amanda (Stasha Surdyke), who meet while honeymooning with their new spouses. Alas, Elyot's new wife, Sybil (Annie Abrams), is an irksome blonde, while Victor (Jeff Witzke), Amanda's new husband, is a dreary gasbag. Realizing they've each made a mistake, Elyot and Amanda chuck their tedious new mates and run off together. The class- and culture-bound script is top-heavy with outdated repartee, and it takes forever for the story to move along. Still, some parts are extremely funny; Coward well understood the green-eyed monster, and both Surdyke's stylish woman of the world and Abrams' ditzy dimwit are thoroughly engaging. Von Dohlen oozes suavity, but as a man with the hots for his ex-wife, he's not quite convincing. Jules Aaron directs. GTC Burbank, George Izay Park, 1111-B W. Olive Ave., Burbank; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru March 25. (323) 960-7738, plays411.com/privatelives. (Deborah Klugman)
The crew at Zombie Joe's can almost always be counted on for a great show and a good time, but they have completely misfired with this DOA clunker by Robert Riemer. Alaura (Alexis Justman, whose performance is the only one that approaches credibility) and Bobby Venus (Henry Maixner Jr.) awake on a park bench after a night of partying, and after some small talk and a lot -- a whole lot -- of kissing, agree to return. Their spot soon is taken by George (Kelby Cross) and his nerdy brother Dick (Roger Weiss), both of whom eventually fall prey to the self-serving connivances of the astonishingly mundane Wendy (Georgan George). They are eventually pitted against each other when she's forced to choose between the two. That's about all, folks. Things wrap up much the way they started, with no raison d'etre, much like this play. Zombie Joe's Underground Theatre Group, 4850 Lankershim Blvd., N. Hlywd.; Sat., 8: 30 p.m.; thru March 31. (818) 202-4120, zombiejoes.com. (Lovell Estell III)
PICK OF THE WEEK: THE SEAGULL
The ridiculous wallowing of unfulfilled artists and unrequited lovers is the crux of the comedy in Chekhov's dialogue-heavy commentary on art in general, theater in particular and human foibles en masse. In this double-cast Antaeus Company production, shrewd director Andrew J. Traister strikes Chekhovian gold with one cast and makes less layered choices with the other.In 19th-century Russia, when Irina Arkadina (Gigi Bermingham/Laura Wernette, though Wernette played the role in both performances reviewed here), a self-congratulatory actress past her prime, visits her brother, Sorin (Gregory Itzin/Michael McShane), at their lakeside country home, she finds her son, Treplev (Joe Delafield/Antonio Jaramillo), working on a new play. The angst-ridden Treplev is toiling to find new forms in theater, but Arkadina thinks his work is symbolist trash. Treplev's ill will toward his mother is worsened by the presence of her lover, Trigorin (Bo Foxworth/Adrian LaTourelle), a famous writer who captures the heart of Nina (Abby Wilde/Jules Wilcox), Treplev's lover. Wernette firmly grasps the narcissistic nature of Arkadina, playing her as an oxygen-stealing prima donna whose prancing ludicrousness is laughable until it takes a toll on her son. Wilde plays Nina with an awkward girlishness that is more impactful than Wilcox's Nina, a somewhat self-assured beauty. And Foxworth is nothing short of revelatory as the tortured Trigorin, whose self-loathing and obsessive work habits have ruined his life. Joanna Strapp is rancor incarnate as the alcoholic, snuff-addicted Masha, whose endless brooding would be tragic were it not so hilarious. Jaramillo's blending of genuine pain and childish histrionics makes him the standout Treplev, while Delafield plays none of the role's requisite comedy. Both Itzin and McShane bring insightful shades to the unsatisfied Sorin, though each makes drastically different stylistic choices. Itzin's Sorin is introspective about his failing mind and body, while McShane's Sorin faces his laundry list of life regrets with bumbling bombast. Antaeus Company at Deaf West Theatre, 5112 Lankershim Blvd., N. Hlywd.; Tues.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru April 15. (818) 506-1983, antaeus.org. (Amy Lyons)