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Sunday, February 7, 2016

POST PUNK PRODIGY? BED AT THE ECHO

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Sheila Callaghan’s rough and tumble play, BED, currently at the Atwater Village assaults the senses from the moment the house opens.  The Echo Theatre at the Atwater is a totally flexible space. It’s a well appointed black box with the ability to move the stage area and the audience to create any atmosphere.  Callaghan has said that BED is not autobiographical, but was inspired by a traumatic event in her life. The trauma is palpable as we find our seats.  The stage, strewn with everything from a toy keyboard, sheets of musical scores and articles of clothing set the scene.  That may be blood on the floor. Seating is cramped and not all together comfortable, which is appropriate because the story that unfolds is chaotic, invasive and crude.   Kate Morgan Chadwick as Holly slithers drunkenly from the slammed door, circumnavigating the huge platform on Se Oh’s post apocalyptic feeling set.     Holly’s life is about rock and roll and sex, not necessarily in that order.   
Kate Morgan Chadwick and TW Leshner
Photo by Darrett Sanders
(Click on the photo for the full effect!)

The Bed in question is enormous.  It is disheveled, as is Holly’s life.  The abandoned care with which Callaghan has constructed Holly’s character is both tender and tough.  Enter Cliff (T.W. Leshner) who takes commands from Holly becoming slightly disoriented as he has never encountered a woman like this before.  She tells him that usually, she comes pretty quickly and in a flash we witness unabandoned fucking.  The graphics are left to the imagination, but the intensity that is commanded by Ms Chadwick proves to be the wave that crests and breaks again and again in Callaghan’s well honed story.  Cliff has been told by the friend who introduced him to Holly that he’ll fall in love with her.  Zap!

Chadwick’s performance is extraordinary.  Her raw energy and acute sense of self and sexuality is undeniable.  Personally, I hate tobacco.  Period.  At one point Holly, frustrated, shreds a pack of cigarettes into her hair.  This lays the foundation for how tobacco as a harbinger of toughness emerges in the show.  Cliff and Holly do get married and do have a baby and Holly’s music bursts into the plot.  An affair with Cliff’s hunky tattooed brother, JC (Johnathan McClain) complicates things.  A fourth “character,” Jeff Gardner’s sound design, emerges and buoys the production up throughout.

Callaghan’s earthy script reminds of Oscar Winner Diablo Cody’s brilliant 2007 film script, JUNO, which examined the adventures of another young woman and sex. Callaghan even resembles Cody a bit. The playwright’s credits include a teaching career and many produced stage productions (including an upcoming show at the Kirk Douglas). She is a writer/producer on the down and dirty Showtime series SHAMELESS.  Of course, it’s the words that get things rolling and with Jennifer Chambers’ tight direction and strong performances by Chadwick, Leshner and McClain, this one is a hit. 
Leave the kids at home.

BED by Sheila Callaghan
Directed by Jennifer Chambers
Echo Theater Company
Atwater Village Theatre
3269 Casitas Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90039.
Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m.,
Sundays at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m.,
Feb. 6 through March 13.
 $25.00
Tickets and Information: (310) 307-3753
www.EchoTheaterCompany.com.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

RED by John Logan SCR and Rothko

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Born in Russia.  Moved to Oregon.  A maverick from the start, Mark Rothko (Mark Harelik) and his enormous ego are brought to life in  RED, John Logan’s wordy and emotional peek into Rothko’s studio (no natural light) where he has in production a series of paintings to decorate the new Four Seasons Restaurant in a monument to wealth:  the Seagram Building designed by Mies Van der Rohe and Philip Johnson.  Rothko accepts $35,000.00 (amounting to almost $300,000.00 in today’s economy) to create the series of murals.  Ken (Paul David Story), a new assistant arrives to help Rothko with the project. 
Mark Harelik and Paul David Story


Rothko announces that he is Ken’s employer and not a litany of other relationships including ‘mentor’ and ‘father’ as he launches directly into mentoring mode. Logan’s dialogue is crisp and deep.  For students of Contemporary Art, the story enlightens with insights into the rage and depth of Mark Rothko and his extraordinary works of art.

As Rothko, Harlik carries the piece in fits and starts.  Embodying the artist physically, he finds moments of clarity and moments of rage, exploding at  Story/Ken who simply answers a question that he thinks has been directed to him.  Jackson Pollock enters the discussion.  Rothko accuses Pollock of suicide.  Incredulous, Ken remembers that Pollock died in a car accident.  To which Rothko responds that the evidence of alcohol abuse and the difficulty of handling fame as an artist drove the splatter painter to his death.  “Believe me,” announces Rothko, “when I commit suicide there won't be any doubt about it!”

Rothko ended his own life with no ambiguity about ten years later. 

Ken’s evolution in the relationship with Rothko is fascinating to experience with somewhat uncomfortable blackouts that signal time change.  Rothko’s ego is so engaged with his own work that the Tigers at the gates of Abstract Expressionism: Rauschenberg, Johns, Lichstenstein, Warhol, et al, that he thinks that Johns is out to kill him!  Imagining Warhol on display in perpetuity makes him scoff.

After two years working for the artist; having absorbed Rothko’s tutelage, Ken announces that abstract expressionism is dead.  PopArt is undeniable, exploding back at the master to virtually declare his own independence. The 1960s are at the doorstep and times are changing.

Comparing the performances of Harelik and Story to Alfred Molina and Eddie Redmayne, the originators of these roles, is not a fair comparison, but Harelik and Story’s dedication to the words and the arcs of their characters is undeniable.

SCR Founder David Emmes direction creates beautiful stage pictures on Ralph Funicello’s highly functional set.  The absence of a work table to construct stretcher frames makes the construction of a frame that leads to a highlight of the show is a mystery. 

RED by John Logan
Directed by David Emmes
South Coast Repertory Theatre
655 Town Center Drive
Costa Mesa, California  92626

(Copied from the SCR Press Release)
 There are no Monday performances.
    • Evening Performances:
    • Sundays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Jan. 30, 31, Feb. 2 and 3; Feb. 7, 9, and 10; and Feb. 14, 16 and 17, at 7:30 p.m.
    • Thursdays-Saturdays, Jan. 30, Feb. 4-6, Feb. 11-13 and Feb. 18-20, at 8 p.m.
    • Matinee Performances:
    • Saturdays-Sundays, Jan. 30-31, Feb. 6-7, Feb. 13-14, and Feb. 20-21, at 2:30 p.m.
    • ASL-interpreted: Saturday, Feb. 20, at 2:30 p.m.
  • Post-Show Discussions: Wednesday, Feb. 3, and Tuesday, Feb. 9. Discuss the play with cast members of Red during free post-show discussions led by South Coast Repertory’s literary team. Segerstrom Stage.
  • Pre-Show Lecture: Thursday, Feb. 4 at 7 p.m. Enjoy a half-hour pre-show lecture with Todd Smith, CEO and director of the Orange County Museum of Art, about Mark Rothko and his art, followed by a performance of Red.
  • Inside the Season: Saturday, Feb. 6, from, 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Led by members of SCR’s literary staff, this lively two-hour session features in-depth interviews with cast members and artists from the production staff, revealing secrets and offering insights into SCR’s production of Red.  Segerstrom Stage. Tickets are $12 and may be purchased in advance or at the door.
Location: South Coast Repertory is located at 655 Town Center Drive in Costa Mesa, at the Bristol Street/Avenue of the Arts exit off the San Diego (405) Freeway in the David Emmes/Martin Benson Theatre Center, part of the Segerstrom Center for the Arts. Parking is available on Park Center Drive, off Anton Boulevard.

Monday, February 1, 2016

"Safe At Home - An Evening With Orson Bean." Pacific Resident Theatre

Full Disclosure.  
Years ago Orson Bean took me to lunch at Musso and Frank’s in Hollywood.  We had the same voice over agent at the time.  After a chat in the agent’s office one day, he said, “Let’s go to lunch.”  This has absolutely no impact on the impartiality of my review of this genius actor, raconteur, monologist, magician and all around good guy. (Please click on the photo for the full effect.)

At the age of 87, Orson Bean is a dynamo.  Charming, full of energy with stories dating back to his childhood and early days in show business, he mounts the stage full of love.  Living in Venice has had Orson active with the Pacific Resident Theatre for years and because of the popularity of his first outing with Safe at Home, he’s back again to whatever the complete opposite of ‘polite applause’ might be.   Standing 'O!'

Even with some intimidating winds and weather, the Sunday Matinee was filled to the rafters with an appreciative audience.  The ease with which Orson takes the stage and the wonderful stories he spins with interstitials of magic tricks that start with the production of a flower from an empty vase (he did that one at the age of seven… or was it five?) he is completely and genuinely engaged with us.

With a career that spans over sixty years (probably seventy), Orson brings us up to the time that his career has started to fulfill his dreams. We then fast forward to the "big time show biz really in the circus."  His familiar face is one that certainly everyone who has watched the Johnny Carson Show or Ed Sullivan on Sunday nights long ago, will recognize.  He’s the favorite uncle who comes for Thanksgiving with a pocket full of treats and may just find a quarter behind your ear.  The man is present and lovely. 

Super stardom, it seems, has never been of much interest.  He rides his bike from his Venice canal home shared with his lovely wife Alley Mills, to the theatre; engages with the produce man at the local Ralph’s just down Lincoln Boulevard.  He is comfortable in his own skin and as the audience comes to the theatre loving him with that preconceived notion, the magic of the man glides comfortably from the stage to each one of us.  We are not a group.  We are individuals: friends, who have come to see this familiar friend who shares his life in a mesmerizing monologue of magic tricks and tears and that pure laughter that is only really experienced when we have been led down the garden path to a very nice surprise.

The light coming into your heart as Orson Bean takes his second bow is, many fold as bright for him, I’m sure.  As he says regarding being an actor, “It beats heavy lifting!”  If you haven't gone, please GO!  And, if you have, go again and share the light, bring a friend. 
 

Safe At Home - An Evening With Orson Bean
Written by Orson Bean
Directed by Guillermo Cienfeugos

Pacific Resident Theatre
703 Venice Blvd.
Venice, CA 90201
Fridays and Saturdays at 8PM
Sundays at 3PM
Closing March 13, 2016
Tickets and Information:
310 822 8392
pacificresidenttheatre.com






Saturday, January 23, 2016

THEATRE FORTY PRESENTS THE MANOR: A TREAT!

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Reminiscent of the environmental theatre piece TAMARA that held forth in the early eighties at The American Legion Lodge in Hollywood, THE MANOR by Katherine Bates and directed by Flora Plumb  invites the audience to return to the days of flappers and the ultra rich in the elegant setting of the old Doheny mansion: Greystone in Beverly Hills.  Director Flora Plumb revives this Theatre Forty tradition for the 14th year affording the audience to experience how the other half lived (unless you are ultra rich, then none of this will be a surprise!) Remnants of the Jerry Lewis film The Disorderly Orderly are, thankfully, mostly gone now.  Lewis had the interior of the mansion painted in “mental hospital green” which remained even after a ‘clean up’ in the ornate carvings for years.  The flamboyant Grand Entry and ornate interior will be familiar from dozens of movies and television shows that have used the mansion as a location many times.  This is a terrific undertaking and the old adage of the director ‘directing traffic’ is literally a part of the production.  Flawless and unique!


The saga of the Doheny family and the gothic tale of murder/suicide continues to be somewhat of a mystery in Ms Bates’ expansive script.  As with TAMARA, our sixty member audience was divided into groups of about twenty who become virtual flies on the walls of the historic mansion to witness the unfolding tragedy.  Mansion guides, Ursula, the Housekeeper (wonderful Katherine Henryk), Ellie, the mute maid (adorable Esther Levy Richman) and crispy Daniel Lench as the ever efficient James, butler who addresses us as Ladies and Gentle… men…  keep the tours organized and coordinated as we are led from room to room to hear the history of the MacAlisters.   

The Living Room / Minstral Gallery  is an amazing space with vaulted ceiling and a gallery where guests might peer over into it for performances.  This is the only actual room where we were all together at the same time.  It’s a wedding in 1928 of Charles MacAlister’s son, Sean (bodice ripper handsome Jean-Paul Lavoisier) who has just been married to MacAlister’s attorney’s daughter, Abby (dark and luscious Shelby Kocee).  Darby Hinton as Charles is perfectly modulated as the shanty Irishman made good.  Exposition presents the story of the MacAlister Family’s fall from grace and introduces us to all of the players.  It is certainly a soap opera; slightly Gothic in scope. The tour of the mansion alone is worth the price of admission.

Theatre 40 is celebrating its Golden Anniversary:  Fifty years of producing mostly at their tiny space shared with Beverly Hills High School.  The work is not always professional in a traditional sense, but has always been thoughtful and heartfelt.  This show in its fourteenth turn at Greystone is a magnificent tribute to what can happen when you take a chance.  The story of the Dohenys rise to power, forever preserved in the mansion and the grounds now administered by Beverly Hills Parks is fascinating.  The family insisted that if the story was told, that the family name would not be used, thus Doheny’s oil strike and subsequent wealth has been changed by Ms Bates to MacAlister’s mining operations.  The shady deal that brought Doheny to heel in the Teapot Dome Scandal has been well converted to reflect the times and the rich, rich, rich family. 

The wedding party introduces all of the players before we head off into the interior of the mansion to discover jealousy, scandal and tragedy.  Unlike being confined to a theatre seat for two or more hours, the audience is almost constantly on the move.  Finding front row seats becomes a challenge, as the rooms have no rake leaving some sight lines difficult for those in the back rows.  Flora Plumb’s direction, however, is aware of the challenges and with the exception of being taken out of the play by over acting from time to time it flows like honey.  Daniel Leslie as the corrupt Washington Senator Alfred Winston forgets that his audience is literally five feet away and though bombast is certainly a huge part of his character, being shouted down becomes more of a problem than an asset to the work.   In contrast, Melanie McQueen, as his wife, Cora Winston, in her final confrontation with Marion MacAlister (playwright Katherine Bates) is subdued to a perfect “T.”  Bates portrayal of Marion comes with the intimacy that creating the piece must bring. Not only is she well intended as the story unfolds, but also adds ambiance with actually playing the concert grand in the living room.

Over all, it’s the Mansion that is the real ‘star’ of this production with the players as the seasoning that add to the gravitas of the tragedy.  In the true story of the Doheny’s and the deaths that occurred in the home, we are never sure how it all went down.  Bates’ play leaves no question, as the entire sixty members of the audience witness  the dramatic climax.  The dénouement is revealed back in the Living Room as the tragic characters repeat their initial entrances and the story ends.

Bring comfortable shoes and be prepared to experience the theatre in an intimate and personal way.  Remember that the front row is where the good seats are and come prepared for an unforgettable evening with the rich and notorious.  Applause to Ms Bates and Ms Plumb for an experience that should not be missed.  Applause.

THE MANOR by Katherine Bates  
Directed by Flora Plumb
Through February 5, 2016
All performances at 6PM
January 22, 26, 27 and 29
February 1, 2, 3, and 5.
Tickets $60.00
Greystone Mansion (in Greystone Park)
905 Loma Vista Drive 
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
Reservations: 310 694 6118

www.theatre40.org

Monday, December 7, 2015

THE WINTER’S TALE by William Shakespeare

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William Dennis Hunt is an old friend.  It is because of his pioneer vision that The Company Theatre of Los Angeles became a cause celeb many years ago holding forth in a magical space on Robertson Boulevard.  I am grateful to The Company for many things.  So..  with that said.. Bill has taken a plunge!  It’s the Bard!  It’s one of his plays that most of us know little about.  THE WINTER’S TALE! (Emphasis mine.)

Return with us now to those dusty days of when kings and queens roamed the hills and nonsense was afoot.  Remembering the names of King Leontes of Sicilia (Max Lawrence) and his old pal King Polixenes visiting from Bohemia (Allen Barstow) has been tough as I’ve discussed this show with friends. What Shakespeare had in mind is confusing and frustrating because his basic elements are in here somewhere and Director Hunt in a creative way has done his best to ferret them out.  Motivation for the action of this play in Act I is cloudy at best, though the actors are working their tails off to get through the language, and accomplish this with some success. 

The Other Space is not unlike many intimate little theaters in town.  Forty seats, simple lighting. A black box.  As we enter, the cast is on stage sort of chatting.  It was unclear if this was an actors warm up or if the characters were just having a little get together before the show actually began.  This is a young company and the energy for the play is palpable.  A good thing.

Leontes has been entertaining his friend from childhood, Polixenes as a guest in Sicilia.  Polixenes doesn’t want to overstay his welcome and announces that it’s time to head for home.   Leontes persuades his pregnant wife, Hermione (very lovely Carolyn Marie Wright) to coax Polixenes to linger a little while longer.  For reasons that are unclear, Leontes becomes mad with jealousy and orders his retainer, Camillo (Taylor Jackson Ross) to poison his old pal because he’s decided that Hermione’s unborn child is Polixenes and not his!  He denounces his wife and trouble's afoot! 

Camillo decides that the king must be nuts and tells Polixenes she is supposed to poison him! They run away poste haste! Following the plot here becomes troublesome. Hermione delivers a daughter.  Hermione ‘dies’ and the “bastard” daughter, Perdita (appearing in Act II as a young maiden, Hayley Brown) is taken away in a basket by Antigonus and left on the shore of Bohemia (shades of Snow White).  What ever got into Leontes to make him go off his rocker is unclear.  Even with my program in hand, telling who was who after this with doubling and tripling makes it impossible to report specific performances.

ACT II..  “Time” (Played by producer Hannah Pell) announces at rise that sixteen years have passed! Perdita, having been been raised by the generous Old Shepherd (Frank Weidner who, as Antigonus, was eaten by the bear at the end of Act I) is now sixteen.  Highlight of the show is the appearance of the scallywag, Autolycus (excellent Olivia Buntaine) who brings the second half to life with her pickpocketing skills, skullduggery and mandolin virtuosity.  Cute!   

Suffice it to say that all’s well that ends well, with Leontes coming to Bohemia, making amends with his old pal, Polixenes as Polixenes son, Florizel (Roman Guastaferro) has fallen in love with Perdita, Hermione ‘comes back to life’ and la dee dah. 

This is a noble effort. Hunt and his young cast deserve an audience and applause, though the twists and turns of Shakespeare’s wonky plot would be impossible to follow were it not for a thorough perusal of a synopsis before heading down to the theater! 

The Winter’s Tale by William Shakespeare
Directed by William Dennis Hunt
Mine is Yours Theatre Company

The Actors Company/ The Other Space
               916 A North Formosa Ave
               West Hollywood, CA 90046

Friday 12/4 at 8:00PM
              Saturday 12/5 at 8:00PM
              Sunday 12/6 at 2:00PM
              Friday 12/11 at 8:00PM
              Saturday 12/12 at 8:00PM
              Sunday 12/13 at 2:00PM

$18 general admission
                 $10 w/code BEAR
                 http://miytale.bpt.me        
                 www.facebook.com/MineisYourstc
                 www.twitter.com/MineisYourstc

Sunday, November 8, 2015

STILL GRANDE! EL GRANDE CIRCUS de COCA COLA

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I am an unabashed fan of this show.  To critique it would be a Fool’s Errand, as nothing goes right. Well.  It all goes right, but the left turns are so much fun… which is the whole point.. and, of course, the reason to simply go!   
Paul Baird, Lila Dupree, Marcelo Tubert, Olivia Christina Delgado, Aaron Miller    Photo by Ed Krieger
Spinning off the forty year legacy of El Grande de Coca Cola, penned by Ron House, Diz White, Alan Shearman and John Neville-Andrews which ran for over 1,400 performances Off Broadway, El Grande Circus de Coca Cola never fails to burlesque Burlesque.   

Alan Shearman’s deft hand and a cast of five amazing performers bring El Grande Circus de Coca Cola from recent sold out beginnings at The Skylight in Hollywood arriving now in Burbank!  It continues to leave the audience limp from laughter.   Ringmaster, Don Pepe Hernandez (excellent Marcelo Tubert), shows up a little late as half seesters Maria Hernandes (Olivia Christina Delgado) and Consuelo Hernandez (Lila Dupree), daughters of Don Pepe, respectively, are from ‘wifey numero uno or dos.. (I’m unsure) and numero quarto, a beautiful Swede. They 
engage the audience, hustling acting jobs and for Maria finding a husband! “Martha Stewart” and “Larry David” are interviewed.  “So? How was prison? Was it like Orange is the New Black?”  Non-stop silliness!

Over the top; filled with hubris, Don Pepe presents silly ‘eempersonations’ and promotes his own special brand of acting. He poopoos Uta Hagen (sounds like an ice cream!) and Lee Strasberg.. mumble jumble..  There’s even a coupon in the program for a discount to attend his acting workshop.

Drummer Juan Rodriguez (manic Aaron Miller) fiercely attacks not only his drum kit, but takes on history with his portrayal of a three foot tall Napoleon loading a gigantic cannon ball into an impossibly huge cannon.  The physical agility and prowess of all of the cast members is nothing short of incredible. 

Handsome Paul Baird as Miguel Vasquez plays piano, charms every woman in the audience, AND circles the stage riding a unicycle while playing the accordion!

John Iacovelli’s cotton candy set transfers beautifully from the smaller venue.  Sarah Vigoten’s costumes are perfectly tacky. 

Having become a fan of this craziness, all that really needs to be said is that one must abandon all disbelief to fully embrace an hour and a half of hilarity (mostly in Spanglish and Spanish! Which really need no translation) at the beautiful Colony Theatre.  This is professional work by an energetic and professional cast.  The Colony now has a license to serve at their bar, so come thirsty, my friends.

EL GRANDE DE COCA COLA by Ron House
Directed by Alan Shearman
THE COLONY THEATRE
555 N. Third Street
Burbank, California
Through December 13, 2015
Tickets and Information:
818 588 7000 extension #15
www.Colony Theatre.org




Sunday, October 25, 2015

SCOTT AND HEM at The Falcon in Toluca Lake

Playwright Mark St. Germain’s take on what a meeting between old pals Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald might have been like in the hey day of Hollywood circa 1937 ran into a slight glitch opening night.  Adam J. Harrington, the original actor to play Scott, was replaced by understudy Thomas Owen.  St. Germain’s play itself on Francios-Pierre Couture’s beautiful adobe set struggles with a sense of true purpose. The actors, though reciting well and embodying some essence of these two famous writers, only hit their marks if you buy their story. 
 
Ty Mayberry, Jackie Seiden, Thomas Owen
Fitzgerald is squirrled away in an apartment at the infamous Garden of Allah and is all watched over by the gorgeous Eve Montaigne (gorgeous Jackie Seiden) who is on hand to be his assistant as well as his guardian to prevent him from lapsing into his cups, preventing him from finishing a screenplay.  We learn that if Scott doesn’t come up with the goods, it’s curtains for him as well as for Ms Montaigne.  It’s an odd situation for the Fourth of July at a notorious hot spot where orgies and other shenanigans going on were legend.

Hemingway enters. Rather, in bursts handsome Ty Mayberry, mid thirties; sui generis.  Mayberry captures the swagger and even the look, but after consuming two full fifths of alcohol by the end of the full length one act, he is still ramrod straight and unchanged from the moment he enters and attempts to seduce Ms Montaigne.  All the while Hem’s attempt to lure Scott back to drink has an ulterior motive.  The killer complications of these two most famous contributors to the American literary scene swing to Scott’s need to institutionalize Zelda; resist the temptation to abandon his full nine days of sobriety and finish this script.. Or, else!

Energy rises on stage when Seiden sweeps in to monitor the goings on and fend off Hemingway’s advances.  Otherwise, it’s pretty much a text book rendering of a “what if” that is a play that leaves more questions wanting than answered.

SCOTT AND HEM
By Mark St. Germain
The Falcon Theatre
4252 Riverside Drive
Burbank, CA 91505
Through November 15, 2015
Tickets and Information:
818 955 8101
www.FalconTheatre.com

STRANGE EVENTFUL HISTORY at ISC

What I love about the Independent Shakespeare Company’s work is that it’s all about the Work..  No frills to speak of, trained professional actors, simply ‘a plank and a passion.’  They are lean and lithe, especially our gorgeous little Ingénue, amazing Erika Soto, who flies in to an “open rehearsal” for RICHARD III starring Himself: The Actor (David Melville, who also collaborated with the company on the script).  He is the man with all the credits and all the attitude and all the ‘stuff’ that sometimes makes us cringe if we are dragged kicking and screaming to see something by The Bard.  Melville’s tongue in cheek approach to Richard is delightfully way over the top and his impatience when we learn that the director of the piece has fled and that the actress to play Mrs. III, Anne Neville, has split the scene as well. 
Erika Soto, Sam Breen, David Melville

The Ingénue is handed the script and attempts to read the queen’s lines.  As all actors should do in seeking clarity in their character’s parts, she is flummoxed by the speech, stops the reading and simply asks for clarification regarding the lineage of Richard…   and away we go. 

Stage Manager Sam Breen’s terrible Accent Francais thankfully disappears as The Actor and The Ingénue and The Stage Manager begin to chart the Strange Eventful History of the kings of England.  Familiar scenes from other plays of Shakespeare emerge with these three:  these happy three, this band of two brothers and a sister as they embark on a wild and furious ride that, though imperfect, is perfectly presented with The Actor using an entire wall to chart the lineage of the Kings of England.  Melville and the ISC are not the Reduced Shkspr Co.  They are specific in this presentation that brings to the audience a peek into what Theatre is all about.  We see behind the scenes a bit and as the actors morph through generation after generation of the Royal Monarchy, we keep track of who’s on First by the writing on the wall. 

Direction is a bit hazy.  Joseph Culliton is credited with ‘Direction’ instead of ‘directed by’ and this may be because the entire company is credited with the development of the piece with Melville.  Some scenes placed far downstage play wonderfully well for the  first row, but then the folks behind must shift and crane our necks to see the action.    However, the evening goes a pace and the actors coming in and out of their ever changing characters proffer a lesson of which few of us may be aware.  This presentation is wonderfully graphic with these three strong talents romping through the ages.  A rack of costumes stage right by Houri Mahserejian and simple set by Caitlin Lainoff work just fine. 

Especially wonderful is Ms Soto as Princess Catherine with Breen as the English speaking nurse discussing body parts from Henry V.  C’est formidable.  Le elbow!

Uncomfortable seats in a wonderfully rag tag rehearsal space elevate this production to the heights.  Go and see it! 
Ticket prices are as follows:
Generous Admission: $35
General Admission:  $20
Ten tickets are set aside for each performance at no charge. 
Call ISC for information. 

STRANGE EVENTFUL HISTORY
By David Melville and the ISC company with
William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe
 Independent Shakespeare Company
3491 Casitas Avenue  #168 
(Enter on the west side by the parking lot)
Los Angeles, CA 90039
Through November 22, 2015
Tickets and Information:
818 710 6306
www.iscla.org