Mark White, “The Goth Comedian”

To maximize coverage of the Hollywood Fringe, Back Stage and the L.A. Weekly have joined forces this week, with a pact to avoid both papers covering the same shows. This week, the papers have combined efforts to review 44 performances. Thanks to Back Stage Executive Editor, Dany Margolies for her efforts on behalf of our theater. For schedule information, please contact hollywoodfringe.org — SLM

For all NEW REVIEWS seen over the weekend, press the More tab directly below.

NEW THEATER REVIEWS scheduled for publication in either the L.A. Weekly or Back Stage, on June 24, 2010

GO BACK TO BABYLON In this self-crafted

solo show, Gregg Tomé starts and ends as a man who refuses to attend

his 10-year high school reunion but then spends his increasingly

inebriated evening recalling many of his friends. The framing device

might not involve us enough, nor does the actor's continual

disappearance backstage to briefly prepare each character (Tomé is

self-directed). But his characters are spectacular and inspire awe each

time a new one appears onstage. Tomé skillfully uses costuming and

physicality, but his face, particularly his remarkably malleable mouth,

memorably sells each new persona, in these cautionary but never preachy

tales. Theatre of NOTE, 1517 N. Cahuenga Blvd., Hlywd.; Wed., June 23,

8:15 p.m.; Fri., June 25, 6 p.m.; Sat., June 26, 11:45 a.m. (866)

811-4111. (Dany Margolies/courtesy of Back Stage)


BACK TO YOU, A DEAR JOHN (MAYER) LETTER Writer, director and featured

performer Brianne Hogan  takes aim at the cult of celebrity in this

callow comedy that reimagines the private life of musician and tabloid

personality John Mayer. Fed up with messing around, the fictive Mayer

(Martin Lindquist) seeks his first love, Rihanna (Hogan), hoping to

start afresh. The lady's not interested, but  two of her star-smitten

friends (Carla Lopez and Rodrigo Fernandez-Stoll) try to exploit the

connection to further their own careers. Comeuppance tales can be

satisfying and fun, but this effort needs extensive revamping:

restructuring the repetitious script, fleshing out the clichéd

characters and importing strong, outside direction to punch the

performances into shape. Comedy Sportz, 733 Seward St., Hlywd. CLOSED

(Deborah Klugman/L.A. Weekly)


dancer, Máire Clerkin is also a gifted writer-actor, whose tales

(directed by Dan O'Connor) of growing up the imperfect daughter of a

perfectionist dance teacher touch the underappreciated in all of us.

That wayward bent elbow kept young Máire from winning dance

competitions, but as she grew up she put the arm to use swilling beer

and sucking cigarettes. All's well at the show's end, as Clerkin shows

off her dance chops during her fast-forward recap of those tales,

while we realize the fleeting nature of all our pain and all our

triumph. Theatre Asylum, 6320 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood; Fri., June

25, 5:30 p.m.; Sun., June 27, 2:30 and 7 p.m. (866) 811-4111.

www.maireclerkin.com. (Dany Margolies/courtesy of Back Stage)

NEW REVIEW  BETTY  Having spent a summer in my teens touring with Betty Hutton in

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, I might be a harder critic to win over than

most, yet writer Shelby Bond's crafty concept did the trick, with

Hutton (Kellydawn Malloy) discussing her life and mercurial career with

the audience as a press corps. Equipped with subjects to broach, each

answer concluding with a song by the troubled star Bob Hope dubbed a

“vitamin pill with legs,” Malloy has perfected Hutton's signature

squinty smile, although the alternate wide-eyed look of feigned

surprise needs practice — right after she loses the cheat sheet taped

to the dressing-room tabletop — if the show continues to be explored.

Lone Star Laurels at Theatre Asylum, 6320 Santa Monica Blvd., Hlywd.;

Sat., June 19, 1 p.m.; Sun., June 20, 5:30 p.m.; Mon.-Tue., June 21-22,

7 p.m.; Sun., June 27, 4 p.m. (866) 811-4111. (Travis Michael

Holder/courtesy of Back Stage)


BONNIE IN BRIGHTON There isn't a program to explain if the series of

parental-nightmare escapades experienced by a recent college graduate

from Texas, hiding behind her alter ego “Bonnie” while living a crazed

year's existence on the British seaside, are based on Erin Parks'

real-life adventures–and the script credited to Guy Picot helps keep

the authenticity of the piece a mystery. Either way, the staging here

is continuously clever, and Parks is an infectious performer who

successfully drags us along into her adopted world of drug-smuggling

and fleeting romances, making us lose our inhibitions and innocence

right along with her. Wasif Productions at Theatre Asylum, 6320 Santa

Monica Blvd., Hollywood; Mon., June 21, 8:30 p.m. (866) 811-4111.

(Travis Michael Holder/courtesy of Back Stage)

NEW REVIEW  GO THE BRITISH INVASION features a series of stand-up comedians from

Britain at IDA on Hollywood Boulevard. I caught the duo of Simon

Feilder and Sy Thomas in their act, Life of Si, like a British

reincarnation of the Smothers Brothers — amiable, eccentric,

self-deprecating and squabbling like children over issues of profound

import, such as what lines were actually said in James Bond flicks, and

whether there's time to get the entire audience a cup of tea. It's an

act of delightfully nutty repartee, and is gently mocking of stand-up

comedy conventions. One plays a heckler with strategically witless

insults. I particularly liked an opening video sequence in which the

duo tried to pass off what was obviously London for L.A. — “city of

angles.” Standing in front of the Houses of Parliament, they thrilled

at finally being at L.A.'s “city hall,” and showing a McDonald's logo

upside down, they veritably gloated at relaxing at the “W” hotel, “here

on Hollywood Boulevard!” IDA Hollywood, 6755 Hollywood Blvd.; thru June 27. hollywoodfringe.org/project/view/200. (Steven Leigh

Morris/L.A. Weekly

NEW REVIEW  GO BROWNSVILLE BRED “Written, performed and lived” by Elaine Del Valle.

With fashion-model beauty and a smile that can melt iron, Puerto Rican

Del Valle tells a mostly affectionate tale of living in and breaking

out of the Brooklyn housing projects where she grew up. She mocks her

own smile when, in trouble, she grins maniacally. She tells a generic

saga of triumph over  impediments of family trauma, drug addition,

illness and would-be rapists, with her infectious charm that washes

away the shortcomings of the script. She has a squeaky voice that can

also become tinged with a growl, hinting at the ferocity mingled with

the sweetness of her portrayal.  We're made up of mostly water, she

says, and the liquid looks so clean. Like us, however, it's not

necessarily as it appears.

Theatre of NOTE, 1517 N. Cahuenga Blvd., Hollywood; June 23, 6 p.m.;

June 26 2:15p.m.; June 27, noon. (323) 856-8611 (Steven Leigh

Morris/L.A. Weekly)


In his 75-minute solo drama, Welsh actor Rhodri Miles

delivers a brilliant and gripping full-length portrait of fellow

Welshman, actor and movie star Richard Burton. Script-writer Gwynne

Edwards, director Hugh Thomas and Miles meld their talents in a bitter

and funny warts-and-all biography that traces Burton's life from cradle

almost to grave, with pithy accounts of his love affairs with Claire

Bloom and Susan Strasberg, his tempestuous marriages to Elizabeth

Taylor, and his love-hate relationship with acting (he preferred

playing rugby). Miles meticulously captures Burton's savage wit, his

love of language, and his guilt-ridden, self-destructive alcoholism.

Various venues.  hollywoodfringe.com/project/view/26  (Neal Weaver/L.A.


NEW REVIEW  GO BYE-BYE, BOMBAY The allegory of a raindrop seeking a puddle to land

in anchors what starts as a marionette show in Bye-Bye, Bombay, Cara

Yeates' solo show about defying her Indo-Canadian mother by visiting,

and reliving, her mom's Bollywood experiences in Bombay. Ably supported

by Cameron Avery's video design and Sylvan Sailly's animation, the saga

tells of a surreal descent into a world of incomprehensible poverty,

cruelty and transcendent mysticism. A capable performance about forging

an identity. Theatre Asylum, 6320 Santa Monica Blvd., Hlywd.; thru June

26. hollywoodfringe.org/project/view/191 (Steven Leigh Morris/L.A.



CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?  The DMV waiting room provides the comic fodder

for playwright Phoebe Neidhardt's workmanlike series of character

portraits of the denizens and customers at the government office where

the author has gone to get a new license photo.  The problem is that

the real wackos waiting in line at the DMV are inevitably more

interesting and engaging than these generic denizens of the government

office.  Neidhardt depicts the prissy gay DMV license photographer, a

hard boiled female casting agent (with a yeast infection), a child's

nanny (who inexplicably talks like Holly Hunter), and a cheerful Latino

desk clerk.   While the actress is commendably versatile, the

characterizations lack the context and dramatic heft to emerge as

anything more than the briefest of routine snapshots.  Hudson Guild

Theatre, 6539 Santa Monica Blvd, Hollywood; June 26, 8 p.m.

hollywoodfringe.org/project/view/161.  (Paul Birchall/L.A. Weekly)


CHRISTMAS IN BAKERSFIELD Les Kurkendaal's solo performance tells of his

visit to his boyfriend's family in “California's armpit,” at their

Bakersfield manse. They knew their son was gay, but he'd neglected to

tell them that his lover was black. In a slightly mannered style that

stresses clarity over mystery, Kurkendaal proffers a compendium of

bigotry and homophobia, through which Kurkendaal is still able to win

them over — even terrifying “Grandma,” whose very name sparks alarming

noises over the sound system. It's a sweet tale that aims to cut to the

humanity of bigots and homophobes. Forgive them, Lord. They know not

what they do. L.A. ComedySportz Studio Theater, 733 Seward Ave.,

Hlywd.; hollywoodfringe.org/project/view/57 (Steven Leigh Morris/L.A.


NEW REVIEW  THE DEADLY SIN BINGO SHOW Performing a show dependent on audience

participation for an audience of fewer than 10 can be disheartening.

But that's nothing compared to performing that show on the night of the

Lakers' NBA Finals Championship win while L.A. morphs into a rowdy

block party. To its credit, the cast — the holy trinity of Catholic

humor — a priest and two nuns (Jon Marco, Jenni Lamb and Lisa Merkin)

keep a snappy pace despite the honking horns and rebel yells rising

from Hollywood Boulevard. Even with Marco's funny riffs on calling

letters — “B” becomes “bordello,” “O” becomes “overeat” — this is still

just a bingo game, and without a few drinks and your most fun friends,

it feels like a promised date with your grandmother. Various locations;

visit hollywoodfringe.org/project/view/18, (312) 420-1352. (Rebecca

Haithcoat/L.A. Weekly)


DEICIDE: A SORTA MUSICAL If you've ever yearned for a feel-good musical

about Holy Wars and the end of civilization, this is it. Sorta. Writers

Michael Ciriaco (book) and Brandon Baruch (book, music and lyrics) have

a shamelessly good time bashing the big business of God and humanity's

desperate need for deities, in whatever shape or form, as does the

appealing cast of their goofball, scrappily ambitious — albeit overlong

— musical romp. Like any good religious tale, it's filled with sex,

violence and cool costumes (Laura Wong). Baruch directs with attention

to cardboard-cutout detail (Gabriel Flores' design), and standout

performances keep us laughing, even as the premise is stretched thinner

and sillier. Murky Productions at the Paul G. Gleason Theatre, 6520

Hollywood Blvd., L.A. Tues.-Wed., June 22-23, 9 p.m.; Fri., June 25,

8:30 p.m.; Sat., June 26, 5 p.m. (866) 811-4111. (Jennie Webb/courtesy

of Back Stage)

NEW REVIEW  GO  DELILAH DIX AND HER BAG OF TRICKS Part stand-up and part cabaret,

this character-driven hour of outrageously maniacal chaos is the

brainchild of performer Amy Albert. Delilah, supposedly the elder

sister of the Olsen twins, is a foulmouthed, washed-up, celebrity

name-dropping, D-level Hollywood wannabe for whom nothing is

inappropriate. As her alter ego swigs Scope and rubbing alcohol, Albert

demonstrates spot-on comic timing, an obviously well-trained singing

instrument, and the ability to roll with whatever happens. Given the

wasteland of TV-sketch comedy, here's hoping her talents are discovered

by someone soon. ETC Productions LLC at the Second City Studio Theatre,

6560 Hollywood Blvd., L.A.; Mon., June 21, 7 p.m. (866) 811-4111. (Dink

O'Neal/courtesy of Back Stage)

NEW REVIEW  GO ECDYSIS, A DANCE PERFORMANCE Ecdysis means to molt, or shed one's

skin.  Written by Homa Dashtaki and set to music by composer and

musician Solitari, this beguiling dance piece celebrates womanhood as

it relays one individual's transition from jejune youth to weathered

maturity.   The collaborative  program consists of seven solo segments,

executed  by seven dancers, that shift in mood and intensity, from

Aling Zhang's blithe opening to Tanya Beatty's final forceful

denouement, which embraces everything that's gone before.  Dancer

Lennon Hobson's  movement speaks to aspiration and Kami Rockett's  to

defiant self-assertion.  Most memorable is Dale Shieh, in a vivid

portrayal of erotic yearning and meteoric passion. IDA Hollywood,  6755

Hollywood Blvd. 2nd Floor, Fri., 9:30 p.m.;  Sat., 8:30 p.m. 

hollywoodfringe.org/project/view/222 (Deborah Klugman/L.A. Weekly)

NEW REVIEW   GO  ECO-FRIENDLY JIHAD Irish comedian/social satirist Abie Philbin

Bowman is supercasual, but his jokes come thick and fast. With his

rapid-fire delivery, wit and taste for paradox, he calls to mind both

Swift's Modest Proposal and Robin Williams' riffing genie in Aladdin.

He observes that while the U.S. delivers its lethal power via huge,

expensive transport planes, al-Qaeda operatives carry theirs on foot,

so obviously the jihadists create a smaller carbon footprint. Bowman's

material is so rich that occasionally one suffers psychic overload: I

sometimes missed joke no. 4 because I was still pondering nos. 1, 2 and

3. Various venues, hollywoodfringe.org/learn/content/247. (Neal

Weaver/L.A. Weekly)


ELEVATOR One might expect seven strangers trapped in an elevator for

nine hours to begin their ordeal with an attempt at reserved civility

and end it tearing out each other's throats. Not playwright-director

Michael Leoni. In the muddled logic of his implausible claustrophobia

comedy, the close confines become a de facto confessional, as his

initially icy, urban archetypes quickly melt and begin spouting deeply

personal truths that would take the average neurotic years to work up

to in psychotherapy. Pedestrian dialogue, non sequitur psychology and a

slack staging defeat a valiant ensemble in an interminable 90 minutes;

the Marx Brothers did it much funnier in less than three. Hudson Guild,

6539 Santa Monica Blvd., Hlywd.; Fri., 10:30 p.m.; Sat.-Sun., 3 p.m.;

thru June 27. (866) 811-4111. (Bill Raden/L.A. Weekly)

NEW REVIEW  ESCALATOR HILL Though they're from Echo Park, this five-piece outfit

sounds like the band with a standing Thursday-night summertime gig on

the back porch of a fraternity bar in a college town. Violinist Nancy

Kuo plays a sweet sadness that curls pleasantly around Ryan Ross'

gospel-tinged piano, and lead singer Tony Benedetti is awfully earnest,

if a little tone-deaf. Save for a few glimmering melodies, the show was

like a summer fling.  You know it happened, but in such a

bourbon-soaked, humidity-stoked blur, all you recall is a fine haze.

Paul Gleason Theater. CLOSED (Rebecca Haithcoat/L.A. Weekly)

Photo courtesy of paperStrangers' Performance Group

Coups de théâtre abound in this haunting adaptation

from wunderkind director Michael Burke and his Indianapolis-based

paperStrangers Performance Group. Burke, who also choreographs and

designs the show's brilliantly inventive feathered costumes, set

pieces, video projections and lighting, pares Euripides' text to its

brutal, psychic core. Melissa Fenton's sympathetic Medea is a tour de

force of blistering anguish and unbridled rage spilling into

infanticidal madness. Kellen York's aloof Jason is the emotionally

detached bastard who done her wrong. An eerie, wraithlike chorus

externalizes inner demons in ritualistic dance. And Burke's

breathtakingly theatrical denouement is not to be missed. Dorie Theater

at the Complex, 6476 Santa Monica Blvd., L.A.; Thurs.-Sun., 7 p.m.;

thru June 27. (866) 811-4111. (Bill Raden/L.A. Weekly)

NEW REVIEW  GO THE EVENT Starting as an objective narration of the relationship

between the actor and the audience, this solo show slips quietly from

theater and the specific to life and the universal, doing so with

dignity but without pretension. Written by John Clancy, directed by Ian

Forester, and starring the mesmerizing Paul Dillon, this production is

destined for the status of a classic–if you tolerate Beckett and the

like. Though the character refers to himself as The Man and the

audience as The Strangers, he binds us to him as we reverently watch

without breathing, fascinated and ultimately awash in emotion.

Needtheater at the Paul G. Gleason Theatre, 6520 Hollywood Blvd.,

L.A.Thurs.-Sat., Sun., June 24, 26-27, 7:30 p.m. (323) 795-2215). (Dany

Margolies/courtesy of Back Stage)


Taco Dog Productions production of Sue Cargill's amusing comedy about

victims and the people who love them.  Amid kitchen banter between a

gossipy wife, Myrna (Danielle Fink), and her forlorn husband, Bink

(Michael Whitney), Bink reveals how his energetic performance of

singing a telegram in a gorilla suit induced a fatal seizure in the

almost 90-year-old recipient of his entertainment. As Bink faces the

loss of his job and some guilt, even his own wife starts to subtly

blame him. She cannot help but side with victims; this includes an

impassioned and slightly goofy defense of her favorite director, Roman

Polanski, attributing his alleged molestation of a 13-year-old girl to

his harrowing upbringing during the Holocaust, and the trauma of the

Sharon Tate murders. The droll humor spins in circles for a bit too

long under Michael A. Stock's direction, until  Bink chooses to visit

the deceased woman's nephew (Joel Brady), her only living

relative, at her funeral. “I've decided not to sue you or your

company,” is supposed to be good news from the nephew, leading instead

to Bink's questioning the nephew as to why, exactly, he chose to hire

a guy in a gorilla suit to deliver a greeting to a woman so obviously

frail — a reasonable question that shifts responsibility back to where

it would belong in a rational world. But Cargill's world, in her

intriguing play with competent performances, is far from rational.

Theatre Asylum,  6320 Santa Monica Blvd., Hlywd.; thru June 27.

hollywoodfringe.org/project/view/108. (Steven Leigh Morris/L.A.



Lieberman and Loren Niemi's storytelling tour de force plants its tent

pole deep in the territory of 1970s mythos, with the two men

improvising earthy tales that are hilarious yet strangely melancholy.

Some of the anecdotes undeniably hint at a nostalgia for a freer,

hippie past — of the four stories the two men unspooled, three

described incidents involving sex-and-LSD drenched communes. Of the

pair, Niemi, a craggy-faced, ponytail caparisoned character actor,

tells more deeply introspective stories about drug use and an innocent

romance, while Lieberman assays the persona of a neurotic Jewish

intellectual as he describes his first (near) homosexual experience and

his loss of virginity to a beautiful she-hippie. These two are

fascinating performers who manage to whip up a theatrical experience

from little more than their mouths and imaginations.  ComedySportzLA,

Ballroom Studio Theatre, 733 Seward St., Hlywd.; June 22-27,

hollywoodfringe.org/project/view/54 (Paul Birchall/L.A. Weekly)


GO 4 CLOWNS Here be four clowns — Sad Clown (Alexis Jones), Angry

Clown (Kevin Klein), Nervous Clown (Amir Levi), and Mischievous Clown

(Quincy Newton) — and as an announcer intones, they've lived, died and

resurrected, never changing, since “Before the earth trespassed across

the sky.” Odd, then, that creator Jeremy Aluma then shows us the

terrestrial agonies that shaped them: bad moms, torturing older

brothers, horny school teachers. It's clown catharsis as each directs

the rest to re-enact their childhood, adolescence, adulthood and death

in scenes that are skilled and true. Aluma may be saying that human

pain is at once particular and universal; what's certain is his cast is

gifted, including musical director Ellen Warkentine as the one woman

orchestra in the wings. Art/Works Theatre, 6569 Santa Monica Blvd. An

Alive Theatre production. hollywoodfringe.org/learn/content/257 (Amy

Nicholson/L.A. Weekly)

NEW REVIEW  THE FUNERAL CRASHER From a grandma taking pictures at funerals and

saving the photos in the family Bible to a military funeral at sea,

which finds the coffin bobbing back up as the mourners look on,

writer-performer Stacy Mayer's concept of collecting funeral stories

from friends as she mines the field of dark comedy is clever. Vivacious

and bubbly, Mayer's delivery is well-suited to stand-up comedy, but her

material is slight and oddly cobbled together. Director Kimmy

Gatewood's penchant for moving chairs and stools around further

fragments the narrative. The stories need TLC. Presented by MC2

Productions and Green Room at ComedySportz LA, 733 Seward St., Hlywd.;

Sun., June 20, 7 p.m.; Mon., June 21, 3 p.m.; Tue., June 22, 7 p.m.;

Wed., June 23, 3 p.m.; Fri., June 25, 5 p.m. (866) 811-4111. (Melinda

Schupmann/courtesy of Back Stage)

As you might expect from a comic who

dubs himself “the Goth Comedian,” Mark White tells jokes that edge

toward the darker and more disturbed side of the spectrum. Yet, you

need not be afraid that the Goth Jokester will come onstage, bite the

head off a bat, and then tell that tired gag about the two peanuts

walking down the street. Fortunately, it turns out that White is a

first-rate comedian who just happens to have a goth persona. Some of

White's material is amusing  — most particularly jokes about his unique

childhood masturbation technique (“Assume the paratrooper position!”)

and his parents' sagging tattoos (“I have seen the future of tattoos,

and they're not pretty!”). Even given White's costume trappings of

ghoulish lipstick, mascara and a seersucker suit, the Goth Comedian's

routine is fresh and unexpectedly touching. In spite of his attempts to

portray himself as a freak, he ultimately comes across as a sweet,

oddly vulnerable fellow whose makeup belies an unexpected romantic

streak. Complex Theatre, 6476 Santa Monica Blvd., Hlywd. CLOSED. (Paul

Birchall/L.A. Weekly)

NEW REVIEW  INVISIBLE The art of self-deprecation is beating the critic to the

criticism in order to sidestep public embarrassment.

Twenty-four-year-old writer-actor Anya Warburg takes that art to an

audacious new level by trying to wring humor from the dilemma of being

too young, too white, too “normal” and having lived too sheltered a

life to be a compelling stage artist. Unfortunately her show supports

that thesis with less than stellar results. Despite a sweet onstage

presence and several mildly amusing anecdotes, there just isn't enough

insight, incident or energy here to power a 70-minute performance.

Director Debra de Liso deals Warburg a disservice by even allowing this

out of the workshop. Dorie Theater at the Complex, 6476 Santa Monica

Blvd., Hlywd.; CLOSED. (Bill Raden/L.A. Weekly)

NEW REVIEW  GO KILL YOUR TELEVISION Writer-performer Jeff Gardner's dialogue-free

solo comedy packs a wealth of trenchant pop-culture satire and

technical wizardry into a lightning-paced 40 minutes. A send-up of

couch-potato addicts and the pitfalls of leading lives enslaved by the

tube, the piece demonstrates what happens when the power of the

airwaves takes over the life of an obsessive watcher. Gardner's

ingenious physical shtick and rubber face bespeak volumes about his

socially isolated character. There are terrific lighting effects, and

the smashing soundtrack is punctuated with iconic sounds of commercials

and shows, contemporary and historical. Vicky Silva's slam-bang

direction seals the deal in Gardner's brilliant tour de force. Quantum

Theatre at Elephant Stages, 1076 Lillian Way, Hollywood. Sat., June 19,

3:30 p.m.; Sun., June 20, 3:30 and 7 p.m.; Wed., June 23, 8 p.m.; Sat.,

June 26, 2 p.m. (866) 811-4111. (Les Spindle/courtesy of Back Stage)


LA LIGHTS FIRE With elements of humor and crude carnality, Joe Calarco

portrays 12 men, as a fire rages in the Hollywood Hills. Inspired by

recent L.A. conflagrations, Eric Czuleger has written a tightly

structured series of monologues, giving Calarco the opportunity to

become such characters as a firefighter, an aging skater-dude, an

agent, an actor, and an evangelistic preacher, to name a few. Directed

by Czuleger, Calarco delivers emotional heft to the characterizations

and makes the philosophical underpinnings of the story plausible.

Though the production could use editing, aided by Calarco's inventive

sound effects, it is memorable. Coeurage Theatre Company at

ComedySportz LA, 733 N. Seward St., Hollywood; CLOSED (Melinda

Schupmann/courtesy of Back Stage)

NEW REVIEW  LOST MOON RADIO, EPISODE 6 A too-rare theater occurrence, this latest

episode of a serialized variety show that's been appearing every few

months at Los Angeles clubs is funny and intelligent. A somewhat hipper

“A Prairie Home Companion,” this hourlong faux radio show, hosted by

Jupiter Jack (Matt McKenna), features ridiculous commercials, sketches,

and callers, all performed by a cast of five and a live band. This

episode, an early Fourth of July celebration, features hilarious takes

on Americana, most memorably scenes from a forever-bickering Lewis and

Clark during the pair's famed expedition, and a doo-wop song sung by a

racist in the 1950s.  Lost Moon Radio at Fringe Central Theatre of

Arts, 1625 N. Las Palmas, L.A. Fri., June 18, 9:30 p.m.; Wed.-Thu.,

June 23-24, 8 p.m.; Fri., June 25, 11 p.m.; Sat., June 26, 4:30 p.m.

(866) 811-4111. (Jeff Favre/courtesy of Back Stage)


LOVE HAS NO GENDER Pacoima-based The Unusual Suspects presents Love Has

No Gender,  written and performed by local youth, with guidance from

adult artists, in a program supported by El Nido Family Centers and the

office of City Councilman Richard Alarcón. The place is packed with

parents and friends, if the venue's 40-some seats warrant the adverb

packed. They've performed this show before in a 500-seat high school

gymnasium, they said in a postperf discussion. But here, in intimate

confines, they can be heard. In the story, two Latino families grapple

with issues of immigration, drug abuse and daughters who are a little

too close for their families' comfort, but things work out in the end.

The acting is remedial, and it doesn't matter a jot. What matters is

the postplay confession of sweet Sandra Gonzalez, who played one of the

leads, that — midsentence she teared up — “everyone here is so

friendly.” Theatre of NOTE. CLOSED (Steven Leigh Morris/L.A. Weekly)

One of the keys to successful

dating, explains writer-performer Lambeth Sterling, is to look for “the

less fucked.” Directed by David Ford, Sterling's rather random musings

on her misdirected life course after growing up in the South–“the

buckle of the Bible Belt”–begin with a clever, spreadsheet-ready

breakdown of proper mate selection. The advice is heavily influenced by

12-step programs, therapists, and spiritual gurus. But the smart,

surprising writing that occasionally pops out in the meandering story

that follows never quite hits its mark. And as a performer, the quirky

Sterling often seems more lost in her own material than we are. Various

venues; thru June 27, (866) 811-4111.  (Jennie Webb/courtesy of Back


NEW REVIEW HIS MINUTE HAND In writer/director Stephen Kaliski's play, officers Rip

(Lloyd Mulvey) and Charles (Christopher Salazar) are bound to uphold a

law that demands women remain confined indoors because of “the war”

outside. However, their pregnant wives, Hilda (Rebecca Newman) and

Penelope (Nancy Noto), have cabin fever, so Charles decides to bend the

rules. The ensuing nonlinear collection of scenes, unfortunately, is

like a shower with an erratic water heater. Sometimes the volcanic

plumes of anger scald you, while at other times the disconnected

dialogue leaves you cold. Mostly, the action is lukewarm and confusing,

or as Charles says, “like pouring vinegar on waffles.” The Complex

Theatre, 6476 Santa Monica Blvd., Hlywd.; Mon.-Thurs., 3 p.m.;

Fri.-Sat., 3 p.m. & 7 p.m.; thru June 27. (866) 811-4111. A Green

Room Presents Production. (Mayank Keshaviah/L.A. Weekly)       

NEW REVIEW MISSION OF FLOWERS Australian actor Leof Kingsford-Smith's solo

performance of Gerry Greenland's biographical drama is based on the

life and diary of English-Australian aviator Bill Lancaster. Alan

Walpole's set creates a kind of cart carved from the imagined wreckage

of Lancaster's plane, which crashed in the Sahara in 1933. And there's

that image of water once more as the essence of what we are. Lancaster

sits preserving energy, and crossing off chalk lines on a water canteen

as day after day tick by, with flickering and then fading hope that his

flares will be noticed by nearby pilots. The play is a fever dream as

Lancaster awaits rescue. For a fever, however, it sure is a

straightforward and rational account of the guy's memories, including

his affair with a flame — female aviator Chubby Miller — for whom

Lancaster divorced his wife. A mutual American friend then struck up a

romance with Chubby, and issues of betrayal, murder and/or suicide

percolate. Kingsford-Smith gives a tenderly rendered portrayal of

haughty adventurer who runs out of adventures, under Damien Lay's

direction. When he smacks his lips, you can feel that blistering Sahara

heat. Theatre Asylum, 6320 Santa Monica Blvd., Hlywd.; thru June 27.

hollywoodfringe.org/project/view/106. (Steven Leigh Morris/L.A.




THE MAKING OF THE AMERICAN DREAM Eighty years after her death, Mother

Jones' howl for safe mines and responsible corporations still echoes.

Therese Diekhans' hell-raising one-woman show captures the lioness

shaming a field of miners about needing an 83-year-old woman to fight

their fight (in fairness, she lied about her age). Playwright David

Christie isn't interested in biography; this is a snapshot of a

firebrand and the climate that forged her, and under Carol Roscoe's

direction, the actress shifts wonderfully between 15 characters,

including a grandstanding John D. Rockefeller Jr., who pontificates to

workers that if they can't afford to feed their families, “Your

children should not have been born.” Theatre of NOTE, 1517 N. Cahuenga

Blvd., Hlywd.; hollywoodfringe.org/project/view/97. (Amy Nicholson/L.A.


NEW REVIEW THE PACKER Take away the geographical and cultural specifics and remove

the heavy Australasian accents, and Dianna Fuemana's gritty solo show

starring Jay Ryan and directed by Jeremy Lindsay Taylor could easily

take place in any American setting. That's because what drives

Fuemana's dozen or so characters are universal human desires that run

smack into harsh realities. Expertly played by Ryan, who seamlessly

transitions from the protagonist, Shane, to his alcoholic mother and to

a variety of West Auckland inhabitants, this production in one hour

offers a complex slice of life without moralizing or judging. Taylor

sets a lightning pace from the opening lines and drives the story full

speed until its satisfying conclusion. Theatre of NOTE, 1517 N.

Cahuenga Blvd., Hlywd.; Tue., June 22, 8 p.m.; Thur., June 24, 10 p.m.;

Sat., June 26, 6:30 p.m.; Sun., June 27, 2 p.m. (323) 956-8611. (Jeff

Favre/courtesy of Back Stage)


PINK CHAMPAGNE Writer-performer Dylan Jones heads an offbeat musical

entertainment, supported by four able dancer-singers (Jay Willick,

Addison Witt, Tara Norris, Kaiti Tronnes), under Aryiel Hartman's

direction. Jones is superior to her acid-trip material, which suggests

a cross between On a Clear Day You Can See Forever and Lady in the

Dark. When diva entertainer Mathilde (Jones) admits to a crisis of

confidence, she undergoes past life-regression therapy to find herself,

experiencing a series of bizarre misadventures. The songs are primarily

lifted from classic Broadway shows. The rewritten lyrics are awkwardly

imposed, and the songs seldom fit their contexts or work as parodies.

Presented by Freakstar Entertainment at the Elephant Stages, 1076

Lillian Way, Hlywd.; Sat., June 19, 2 p.m.; Wed., June 23, 9:30 p.m.;

Sat., June 26, 3:30 p.m. (866) 811-4111. (Les Spindle/courtesy of Back


NEW REVIEW  THE STORIES OF CÉSAR CHÁVEZ Writer/director Fred Blanco's heartfelt if

hagiographic, one-man show about the late civil rights leader, labor

organizer and United Farm Workers founder seeks to put a human face on

the enigmatic and provocative Hispanic messiah. Through multiple

characters and perspectives, Blanco charts Chávez's rise from his

childhood as a California migrant worker, through his zoot-suited teens

as a barrio tough, to the discovery of books and learning, which

culminated with his conversion to the cause of economic justice. While

Blanco is an affecting performer, this life in brief revels in the

triumphs but avoids the controversies that might have lent complexity

to his blemish-free portrait. Theatre Asylum, 6320 Santa Monica Blvd.,

L.A.; Thurs., 10 a.m.; Sat., 2:30 p.m.; thru June 26. (866) 811-4111.

(Bill Raden/L.A. Weekly)



Performer Jacquetta Szathmari explains that for many years she had “given

up on being black,” not out of any internalized racism but because she

had always disapproved of the narrow definition of behavior imposed on

her by the outside community. In her cracklingly smart, funny,

philosophical and often politically incorrect monologue, Szathmari

describes growing up in an isolated, hardscrabble rural Maryland

community, where she always dreamed of finding class and culture — it's

not that she didn't want to be black, she wanted to be upper class and

live the life exemplified by a copy of The Official Preppy Handbook she

purchased at a library bookstore. Thoughtful, introspective and sweetly

intimate, Szathmari's solo show offers a great deal to ponder, as it

presents a genuine, unapologetic nonconformist on her own journey of

self-discovery.  Various locations,

hollywoodfringe.org/learn/content/268. (Paul Birchall/L.A. Weekly)

NEW REVIEW  GO THAT'S WHAT SHE SAID This lesbian-themed, cabaret-style piece,

featuring the abundant talents of vocalist Amy Turner and

keyboardist-singer Kathryn Lounsbery, is first-rate fun. Their original

numbers (“Lesbian Cliché Song,” “Fanny Pack Lover,” “U-Haul Rap,” etc.)

and comedic rapport are charmingly witty. Though occasionally a bit

“inside” with the countless sexual/genitalia references, the duo's

output is remarkably diverse in style. Highlights include a send-up

called “H.M.Lez Pinafore,” “You Can't Spell Pussy Without US,” a

country-western piece whose title adorns the pair's T-shirts, and “Why

Is My Right Wrong?” a requisite yet touching anti-Proposition 8 ballad.

All in all, these ladies offer something for everyone. Los Angeles

Women's Theatre Project at the Stella Adler Theatre, 6773 Hollywood

Blvd., L.A. Fri., 8 p.m.; thru July 16. (818) 471-9100. (Dink

O'Neal/courtesy of Back Stage)

NEW REVIEW GO  T-O-T-A-L-L-Y!  In Kimleigh Smith's one-person show, she portrays

herself as a 17-year-old virgin, an ingratiating cheerleader who speaks

in Valley-girl cadences, where every sentence is peppered with

“totally.” She endures a gang rape and the eventual recovery of her

sexuality, which was shut down after the attack. This is the formula

for what could have been the worst one-woman show ever seen; it's

actually among the best, thanks entirely to Smith's superhuman

vivacity, her blistering sense of humor, in which, with considerable

physical heft, she performs those ridiculous high school cheers in a

teensy, revealing skirt with a mania that crosses deep into mockery.

She is without shame, and she's earned that right. There's not a trace

of self-pity; rather, super-hero determination. And when she details

her technique for seducing a lover, the result is one of the most

erotic, funniest scenes you'll find on any stage, anywhere. Paula

Killen directs, and obviously knows exactly what she's doing. Theatre

of NOTE, 1517 N. Cahuenga Blvd., Hlywd.; June 25 8:30 p.m.; June 26,

4:15 p.m.; June 27, 4:15 p.m. (323) 856-8611. (Steven Leigh Morris/L.A.



TRUE WEST GIRL “There were good times too.  It wasn't all incest and

booze.”  While this is true, Barbara Lee Bragg's solo show is akin to

being accosted by a passionate PETA activist and spending an hour with

her: you believe in the cause, there's genuine emotion behind her

claims, but the unchecked gusher of words and imagery spewing at you is

a little hard to take.  Bragg's source material is gold, especially her

stint as a youth coordinator for Dick Cheney in the 1970s, but she and

director Deborah De Liso could stand to tame the wild west a bit in

order to make the experience less overwhelming.  The Lounge Theatre,

6201 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood; Sat., 5 p.m.; Mon., 8 p.m.; thru

June 26. (866) 811-4111. A White Hawk Productions Production.  (Mayank

Keshaviah/L.A. Weekly)    

NEW REVIEW  GO UNBUTTONED At the end of Andreas Beckett's musical solo show, from

backstage he reemerges sporting a Bavarian alpine hat, and then dons a

baseball cap as he sings “God Bless America.” It's a fitting finale to

this whirlwind tour of a life that started in a farming community at

the foot of the Bavarian Alps and wound up in America steeped in show

business. Beckett spends a lot of time discussing numerous romantic

escapades, which aren't always interesting, but he makes up for that

with crackling spontaneity and humor. He can sing — really well — and

receives splendid piano accompaniment by Mikael Oganesian. Mitzie Welch

directs. Lounge Theater, 6201 Santa Monica Blvd., L.A.; Mon, Fri.,

Sat., 8 p.m., Sun., 2 p.m., thru. June 27. (Lovell Estell III/L.A.



GO  THE WASTELAND Nothing is simple about T.S. Eliot's seminal

modernist poem, and co-directors Hilario Saavedra, Jason Bonduris,

Celeste Den, Tane Kawasaki and Carla Nassy use it as inspiration for a

provocative performance piece. The troupe employs dance, spoken word

and simple objects (lights, glasses) and the beating of a drum to

create stark images while reciting sections of the poem. Themes of

death, infirmity and impotence are common throughout, which Saavedra

and his darkly clad actors capture with subtle force. The section

titled “Death By Water,” is especially powerful, where a flurry of

balloons, representing water drops, is unleashed onstage. Theatre

Asylum Lab, 6320 Santa Monica Blvd., L.A.; Tues. 2:30, Wed., 7 p.m.;

Sat., 1 & 10:30 p.m.; thru June 26. (Lovell Estell III/ L.A.


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