Orange County Theatre Reviews

Costa Mesa, Review, South Coast Repertory, Theater, Uncategorized Comments Off on S&M without the Guilt – Venus In Fur @ South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa – Review |

S&M without the Guilt – Venus In Fur @ South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa – Review

Written by Alina Mae Wilson 

There are not enough S words to describe the production of Venus & Fur at South Coast Repertory, but I’ll try. The show was simplistic, splendid, suggestive, and straightforward all at once. And don’t let me leave out sexy, there’s plenty of that.   

Venus & Fur is a 90 minute one act play about a new director named Thomas, who is about to give up on finding the perfect actress to star in his adapted version of the book Venus in Furs.  When he’s about to leave an actress named Vanda (coincidentally the same name as the character he is casting for) blazes through the door as a crazy mess.  She proceeds to audition for him, and he is shocked and pleased to find that this lunatic might be the performer he has been searching for.  But who is this Vanda?  Where does she come from?  What does she really want?  And where exactly will their relationship end?  All of these questions and more are answered in this simple but thickly layered show that will leave you thinking, way after you leave the theater.

Graham Hamilton (Thomas) Jaimie Paige (Vanda)

In addition to  flat out mystery, we are also witnesses to some delightful sensuality.  Jaimi Paige (Vanda) and Graham Hamilton (Thomas) play off of each other so well. Some moments in this play positively sizzle. But it’s not just about sex. There is actually more laughter than lust and the jokes are well done, not one boring moment.

9/10

Side note :

Roman Polanski just released an international film release of this play this year.  

Ticket Info at the website:

http://www.scr.org/calendar/view?id=6782 

Location & Dates :  

South Coast Repertory
655 Town Center Drive
Costa Mesa, CA 92626

October 5, 2014 – October 26, 2014

 


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Free, Review, Santa Ana, South Coast Repertory, Theater Comments Off on Looking Over Santa Ana : The Long Road Today/El Largo Camino de Hoy – Review |

Looking Over Santa Ana : The Long Road Today/El Largo Camino de Hoy – Review

“Santa Ana Toy Theater” A collaborative work by Adriana Sanchez Alexander, Chilo Te, Zuleica Zepeda

Written by Alina Mae Wilson 
I recently attended  The Long Road Today/El Largo Camino de Hoy in Santa Ana, which  is a story centering on the community’s response to the death of a young boy playing in the streets of Santa Ana.  With a large cast and crew running around determined to bring the audience different stories and experiences, the show is muddled and lacks decisive strength.

The play is a walk-through show meaning you’re standing the entire time.  The production takes place outside, and it begins when each audience member receives a card with the image of their “tour guide” on it.  Once the prologue concludes, everyone begins to walk through the show.  It doesn’t matter which tour guide you get or what order you see the scenes in because the characters are fairly independent of each other–they are just different people showing varied responses to the same event.  I want to give them their props, this is a pretty neat idea and it’s always cool to see something different.  Unfortunately the execution is just not there.

The sound issues are distracting.  I am all about suspension of disbelief, but it really takes away from the current performance, when I can hear the scenes going on at the other side of the courtyard. Things are spaced pretty far apart as they are.  I suppose if placed inside a building and the audience walks from room to room instead of yard to yard some sort of sound proofing could be placed into effect, but that might make it harder for the audience to travel without smashing into each other.  It might just be one of the hazards of putting on a play in this format.  Not sure what the solution to this particular problem is.

There were puppets.  Several puppets.  Personally, I could do without a few of the puppets.  But they seem to go over well with the children. I tried to keep an eye on them to see how they were enjoying things, and it seems to really be a 50/50 shot as far as how they cope.  Some kids laugh, others sort of pace around in circles during the more tedious parts of the show, despite the actors urging them to come forward and dance at surprising and infrequent intervals.  If you are worried about whether or not your little ones will be scarred for life from such gory material, don’t be.  You know your kid best of course, but the fact of the matter is that the actual death scene is done with a car made from a poster cut out. The subject matter is very dramatic and there are people crying but I didn’t notice any children getting particularly freaked out by anything going on.

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My main problem with the show is it’s so undecided.  It wants to be both light and dark, both life and death. Moments that should be filled with pain and anguish fall flat because the actor seems to be holding back (possibly because she knows that another scene is taking place fifty feet away)  and moments that should be lighthearted and entertaining are for the most part sporadic and confusing.  There was a vague outline of an overarching theme but for the most part it was pretty nondescript. Since the story is so spread out over many years the ending I felt sort of comes out of nowhere. 

As far as comprehension goes, if you do not speak Spanish/you have relatives that don’t speak English I am sure you’ll be able to understand the gist of what is going on.  It is mostly just a matter of patience.  Do you have the patience to stand through a minute or two of dialogue in a language that you aren’t fluent in?  If so you will be just fine.

All in all, if you want to educate your child on the dangers of playing in the street, take them to this show.  If you want to familiarize yourself a bit with the culture of Santa Ana, or if you want to brush up on your Spanish, or just want to watch a play in a format you might not have seen before, go to this show.  For the purpose of pure entertainment though, I wouldn’t recommend it.

Side note : Certain actors were particularly believable.  I really enjoyed the performances of Selene Peréz who plays Luz, Bryan Alejandro Perez who plays Yound Salvador, and Samuel Matthews who plays one of the Andrés boys.  Well done to all three.

7/10

Location & Dates : City of Santa Ana Civic Center Plaza September 18th,2014-September 28,201 

Admission : Free

Check out the plot synopsis and ticket information here:http://www.scr.org/calendar/view?id=7331

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Costa Mesa, Review, shakespeare, South Coast Repertory, Theater, Uncategorized Comments Off on Phenomenal Magic, Good Shakespeare : The Tempest @ South Coast Repertory – Review |

Phenomenal Magic, Good Shakespeare : The Tempest @ South Coast Repertory – Review

tsc_tempest_25

(left to right) Manelich Minniefee& Zachary Eisenstat (Caliban) Tom Nelis (Prospero)

Written by Alina Mae Wilson 

William Shakespeare’s The Tempest at the South Coast Repertory promised me magic and wonder, which it delivered enthusiastically, albeit single-minded.  Meaning,  I wish all of their actors were as skilled as their magicians.

The story focuses on the usurped Duke Prospero’s quest for vengeance after his brother’s Antonio fails to kill him.  Prospero escapes to an island with magical books and supplies were he becomes a sorcerer residing with his daughter Miranda and his spirit slave Ariel, waiting for his moment of revenge. The play begins with Prospero using his magic to create a tempest ship wreaking the the king and many other royals including Antonio onto his island. From there, we watch the interactions between the spirits and the group of visitors.  Continue Reading

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