STAGE FEATURE on L.A. Theater 2010, remembered


Photo by Rico Mejia

When presented with Aubrey Beardsley's Whistler-inspired illustrations for the first English edition of Salomé, Oscar Wilde famously complained that Beardsley's drawings were “too Japanese” for a work the playwright considered to be Byzantine. The truth is that Wilde's lurid, lyrical homage to French Symbolism is sheer Victorian camp — a flamboyantly baroque finale to English Aestheticism on the eve of its suppression by Wilde's conviction of sodomy in 1895. So it is no surprise that camp emerges as the salient keynote to director Aramazd Stepanian's wryly risible if uneven staging of a play generally considered unstageable. It's dramatic centerpiece, of course, is the Biblically-inspired legend of John the Baptist's beheading, which Wilde presents as the grisly denouement to a tragic chain of frustrated desire: Imprisoned holy man John — here called Iokanaan (played by beefcake Michael Joseph) — spurns the advances of petulant court femme fatale Salomé (the exotically androgynous Laura Cotenescu, also credited with the show's inventive costumes), who disdains the incestuous lust of stepfather Herod the Tetrarch (a hyper-kinetic Kevin Vavasseur), who unwisely ignores the simmering jealousy of the vengeful queen Herodias (the fine Jacqueline Axton). The production's prurient high point comes in Salomé's storied “dance of the seven veils” — performed by Cotenescu (in collaboration with co-choreographer Rico Mejia) in steamy, show-stopping, Jumbo's-worthy fashion — which makes the scene in which Iokanaan actually loses his head seem an unnecessarily literal and oddly redundant anticlimax. Luna Playhouse, 3706 San Fernando Rd., Glendale; Sat., 8 p.m., Sun., 7 p.m.; through Jan. 23. (818) 500-7200 or (Bill Raden)

For stage happenings, press the More tab directly below:

TUESDAY JAN. 4: Performance of Clowntown City Limits, to honor the show's late director, John Ferraro. Steve Allen Theater, 4773 Hollywood Blvd. (across from Barndall Park), 8 p.m. $10.

JAN 12 – MAR 6: Son of Semele Ensemble (SOSE) hosts the first annual Company Creation Festival, an 8-week festival of new work generated by Los Angeles ensembles.

Curated and co-produced by Matthew McCray,the festival aims to foster new collaborations by providing resources to vibrant ensemble companies in Los Angeles. The selection process for this year's festival was an online application that allowed for proposals to range from works-in-progress to conceptual ideas. Over the past three months, SOSE has provided the festival with over 600 rehearsal hours, administrative support, as well as designers and other artistic personnel.

Each production will play for 10 performances between January 12 and March 6, 2011.  The festival productions include:

Full Blown
(Spinable Productions)
A travel tale about two desperate stow-aways and their need to bond, told though song, dance, film and a variety of performance styles.

Shadow Anthropology:  A Post-9/11 Comedy
(Urban Ensemble)
A poor Afghan family struggles to save its farm as a warlord, U.S. contractors, and bawdy shadow puppets battle it out for who controls not only the story, but also the land. Support for Shadow Anthropology provided by Puffin Foundation Ltd. and California State University, Northridge.

99 Ways To Fuck A Swan
A long, long time ago, Leda makes love to a swan.
3,000 years later, Michelangelo paints a picture.
350 years later, Rudolph buys it.
130 years later, Dave and Fiona stand in a museum, gazing at what remains.  Set in a world of bizarre romantic obsessions and everyday ineptitude, 99 Ways to Fuck A Swan explores the dark corners of desire, and the eternal mysteries of love.

Cyclops: A Rock Opera
(Psittacus Productions)
Written 2,400 years ago, Cyclops is the only fully intact Greek Satyr Play in existence. Psittacus Productions drags this play kicking and screaming into the modern age, and presents it as an epic Rock Opera. Last year, Psittacus Productions presented the critically-acclaimed and LA Weekly Award-nominated piece A Tale Told By An Idiot.

Festival Passes are $40 (one admission to each production). Tickets to a single performance are $20. All tickets can be purchased through the SOSE website at Single tickets can also be purchased one half hour prior to curtain at the box office. Son of Semele Theater is located in Silver Lake at 3301 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles, CA  90004 (one mile west of Alvarado).

JANUARY 15-16: Theatre of NOTE's 16th Annual Performance Marathon, with ALFRED MOLINA, KIRSTEN VANGSNESS, BILL BROCHTRUP, JOHN FLECK, TAYLOR NEGRON,TEN WEST, SCOT NERY, AMY STILLER, VINYL CANDY AND MANY MORE, 3 p.m. to dawn at Theatre of NOTE, 1517 N. Cahuenga Blvd., Hollywood. $20 for all day/night pass (Announced acts subject to change.)  

LA Weekly