STAGE FEATURE on producer Sir Cameron Mackintosh

Photo by Stefan Okolowicz

This riveting production from Poland's TR Warszawa theater troupe, presented as part of the UCLA Live Eighth International Theater Festival, is adapted from Pier Paulo Pasolini's 1968 movie Teorema. A typical suburban upper-class family's pleasant, if complacent daily lives are interrupted by an unexpected telegram warning that someone is “arriving shortly.”  Before long, a mysterious stranger (Sebastian Pawlak) inexplicably moves in.  We don't know who the darkly handsome fellow is, but he's probably not close family, as he almost instantly seduces and sexes up everyone in the household, from the tightly wound maid (Jadwiga Jankowska-Cieslak), to the mother of the house (Danuta Stenka), the stern father (Jan Englert), and the virginal, innocent son (Jan Dravnel).  After having his way with everyone in the area but the cat, the man simply leaves – and it's after his departure when things really take a weird turn.  The mother becomes a nymphomaniac, the father gives up his fortune, and the son becomes an artist.  Adaptor-director Grzegorz Jarzyna's engrossing production is essentially a balletic ghost story:  Although there is some dialogue, which is translated via projected supertitles, the majority of the story is conveyed by delicate gesture and nuanced expression, which nevertheless communicate the characters' passion and ultimate emotional fragmentation.  The play posits the provocative suggestion that sexual and religious ecstasy are not too apart – and that sex's subversive nature is capable of undermining all relationships and beliefs.  Suffused with sinister undercurrents and an atmosphere of angsty malaise that's amplified by Magdalena Maclejewska's crisp, but cold set, the play's haunting depiction of a family's decomposition is stunning.  Ralph Freud Theater, 245 Charles E. Young Drive East, Westwood; Closed. TR Warszawa and UCLA Live Festival Production.  (Paul Birchall)

For a schedule of productions to be reviewed this weekend, press the Continue Reading tab directly below

Check back here Monday afternoon for reviews of Joey Arias and Basil Twist's Arias With a Twist at REDCAT; Bill Cain's  Equivocation at the Geffen Playhouse —  the story of Shakespeare's commission by King James to write the official history of the Gunpowder Plot; Shakespeare's Globe Theatre of London's presentation of Love's Labour's Lost, at the Broad Stage in Santa Monica; Peter Lefcourt's La Ronde de Lunch, a farce set in a pretentious Hollywood restaurant at the Skylight Theater in Hollywood; Michael Hyman's Love Will Tear Us Apart at the Hudson Guild Theater in Hollywood; Brian Freil's Molly Sweeney at Son of Semele Theatre; Levi Lee and Rebecca Wackler's satire, Tent Meeting, about a reverend and kin on a road trip, at Burbank's The Banshee; Chris DeCarlo and Evelyn Rudie's Love in Bloom at the Santa Monica Playhouse; The Wanting at Highways Performance Space in Santa Monica

LA Weekly