The ICT Ain’t Got No Behavior – And That’s How We Like It

Frédérik SisaA&E, Theatre

Review of Let's Misbehave at Long Beach's International City Theatre.The ICT launches its 2014 season with a treat: A Cole Porter soufflé. You can hardly go wrong with a production founded on music by a hall of famer in the Great American Songbook. Just put a CD player (or MP3 player, if that’s your thing) on an empty stage, press play, and Porter’s music is enough by itself to keep an audience entertained. In Let’s Misbehave, the ICT thankfully goes beyond a recording with a spirited production that …

Two Vets Shows Close This Week at Amvets

temp312A&E, Theatre

Next Monday marks Veterans Day, and the United States Veterans Artists Alliance has produced two critically acclaimed shows with a cast of United States veterans. Tracers, originally conceived and performed by John DiFusco and other Vietnam veterans, is now revived with modern day vets providing “crisp and chillingly authentic” performances.

Dressed for Laughter

Frédérik SisaA&E, Theatre

Review of Don't Dress for Dinner, on stage at the International City Theatre in Long Beach.The ICT in Long Beach previously served us a dish of deep thought with Red, a study of artist Mark Rothko and his work. With Don’t Dress for Dinner, the company caps off its 2013 season with the sort of play that deliciously frustrates the critical writer, a production whose lack of substance is absolutely irrelevant to its quality and capacity to delight.

Tylerr Pery Is No Jesus, but He’s Still a Superstar

Frédérik SisaA&E, Theatre

Do the performing arts have an equivalent to dive bars? If so, Santa Monica’s Promenade Playhouse – tucked in a Third Street crevice next to a soap shop – surely must fit the bill. Lest you think that a condemnation, consider that…

Oy! Is the Way to Remember

Frédérik SisaA&E, Theatre

Oy! is simple in concept but profound, mostly, in effect. Two elderly Jewish sisters, embodied on stage with a full measure of poignant humanity by Mary Eileen O’Donnell and Jeanette Horn, reminisce about World War II, the Holocaust, and their own lives on their return from a trip to Germany to share their experiences with a younger generation in need of a history lesson.

Don’t Miss Seeing Red at the ICT

Frédérik SisaA&E, Theatre

Red is my kind of play; cerebral yet laced with a passion whose dosage straddles the line between poison and remedy. Where much theatre dwells in the granularity of raw human drama, begging the question as to whether it’s possible to achieve any greater insight now than in the past, Red chooses instead to confront the trials of civilization. Think of it as climbing Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and focusing attention on its apex, the need for self-realization. The vehicle for expressing the pinnacle of self-realization?

Forget Judas, It’s the Audience Who Undergoes the Trial

Frédérik SisaA&E, Theatre

The last time I occupied an uncomfortable seat at the Hudson Theatre's dingy Backstage, it was for Julia Sweeney's atheist epiphany Letting Go of God. Ironic, then, that the same space would be given over to an exercise in Christian apologetics. The difference between the two theatrical efforts, other than religious polarity and separation in years, is that…

Dead Men, Cell Phone Tales

Frédérik SisaA&E, Theatre

Dead men may not tell tales, but they do leave cell phones behind. Shenanigans invariably ensue, especially when a bold, foolish soul picks up the ringing nuisance and answers the call. Such is the premise for Sarah Ruhl’s Dead Man’s Cell Phone, a play auspiciously heralded by the Ghost of Stephen Foster, one of many songs by the great, spicy band Squirrel Nut Zippers that electrify the score.

Inflaming the Shrew

Frédérik SisaA&E, Theatre

Review of Taming of the Shrew, on stage at the Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum. Could the fault, dear reader, be not in our Bard but in ourselves, that we are sensitive? Controversial among Shakespeare’s plays, the Taming of the Shrew could just as easily be called The Making of a Stepford Wife for its misogynistic proclamation of female submission to husbands…While the text is the text, the play’s delivery can achieve some measure of ironic detachment from the material with the right troupe, enough to achieve a satirical rather than literal effect. Despite a promising start, the Theatricum Botanicum is…

‘A Raisin in the Sun’ Heats Up the Kirk Douglas Theatre

Frédérik SisaA&E, Theatre

It always puzzles me when fellow critics take notes during a performance. I’ll notice them scribbling away on their note pads or in the margins of the press kit – sometimes sedately, sometimes madly – and wonder how they can possibly foster an osmotic relationship with the performance.