Theatre Out is not modest about anything it does. Even its name speaks to the transparency of its shows. When directed in the right way, this can be a strength. As I nestled in my seat amongst a small audience divided into those wearing Hawaiian shirts and everyone else, I was bombarded with a scene-by-scene, in-your-face comedy that holds no punches and goes places that would make Andy Kaufman blush. With an outstanding cast and breakout performances from the two (sort of) leading ladies, Psycho Beach Party leaves you a little bamboozled. It might be the most brilliant or brainless show I’ve ever seen. Whatever I just saw, I couldn’t look away.Continue Reading
Garden Grove’s Strawberry Bowl Theatre was built-in 1979 and has provided a variety of programming: band shows, comedy skits, and movie nights. Most notable however are their Shakespearean plays, which Shakespeare Orange County performs, typically with fervor and quality costumes. Now they are breaking new ground with their first non-Shakespearean play (fine, musical), the Gilbert and Sullivan favorite Pirates of Penzance. Based on what could be heard the acting and singing ability are definitely on full display. To get the full picture across I will point out that I saw the preview night performance. As such there were visible kinks to work out. I can’t ignore the blatant issues, but if they intended to hook up the speakers before their real run then the problem may have already been fixed. But therein lies the problem–audio. Despite setting up chairs on the stage to form closed in quarters, the microphones do very little to pick up sound. The soloists are all but inaudible. In spite of this obvious problem the delightful chorus and enthusiastic acting communicate the story effectively.Continue Reading
Music and theatre have always gone hand in hand. In some ways, they pull from the same emotional well. While watching playwright Diana Burbano’s new play, we get a nicely condensed drama about punk rock, love, and family. I liked it, but I couldn’t help but feel I had seen this story done before. Of course, Fabulous Monsters is its own narrative. The plot has enough differences to set it apart –especially for an older generation. Still, the positive differences felt less new after watching it and more like a rehash of another story.Continue Reading
School may be out, but there are still a lot of life lessons to be learned at the Maverick Theater in Fullerton. That’s where you’ll find Avenue Q. This Sesame Street parody won Tony Awards on Broadway for dealing out the harsh truths of the real world via whimsical songs, colorful puppets, and an unapologetic lack of political correctness.Continue Reading
Having already seen and loved Sarah Ruhl’s Dead Man’s Cell Phone earlier this year, I was well prepared for this 2010 Tony and Pulitzer Prize nominated play “In the Next Room (or the Vibrator Play).” However, as currently staged at the Camino Real Playhouse’s Stage II, this production doesn’t live up to the more cerebral demands of Ruhl’s works. Her plays are heady treatises on the folly of human endeavor that manage to find hope amidst the shards of love and relationships. They are populated by humans at odds with the world around them, where a central female character struggles against both people and events to find some harmony and truth. They’re also damn funny.
Directed by Rick Kerrigan, this rather timid production plays more like an English drawing-room comedy, in that it manages to capture the story’s humor. But it fails to mine the deeper depths that lay within Ruhl’s characters. The story takes place in the 1880’s New York era and concerns a Dr. Givings. He is experimenting with a certain kind of electrical stimulation meant to treat women for “hysteria” – basically depression due to sexual frustration, not a condition that society would ever recognize in that era. Dr. Givings is essentially using a homemade vibrator on his female patients to produce orgasms (or paroxysms, as Dr. Givings indifferently calls them), which is something they’ve never experienced before. Miraculously, they suddenly feel much, much better. Coincidentally Dr. Givings’ wife Catherine is herself depressed due to her inability to produce enough milk to breast feed her newborn. Catherine’s own nature is, however, lost on her husband, who sees women only as experimental subjects. The doctor does have resounding success with his new patient, Sabrina Daldry, who becomes rather addicted to the treatment, and who encourages Catherine to try it on herself. Continue Reading
(Spoiler alert : This review is full of Spoiler, you have been warned)
If online dating really went like this it might put the whole internet out of business. Comedy of <<ERROR>>, now in its world premiere at Vanguard University’s lovely Lyceum Theater, and produced by American Coast Theater Company, is a wild and wooly look at dishonesty and deception as played out on a particular dating site, Date Jane Eyre.com.
The idea is to put bookish folks together for romance. The site’s creator, Charles, is both the culprit behind a good deal of the malfeasance here and the romantic lead of the story. Charles is desperately trying to hook up his apparently one and only paying customer, Bill, before he quits and demands his money back, a sum of $800 which Charles happens to need desperately as a down payment for a honeymoon with his girlfriend Chloe, to whom he has not yet even proposed. Being that the engagement ring has been inadvertently locked in a kitchen safe by Chloe’s wacky brother Donald and cannot be extracted for a week, Charles has some nifty romance-spinning to do in order to keep alive his hopes of a successful proposal. Yeah, it all seems pretty convoluted and far-fetched. The basic idea that a dating site can exist with only one paying customer is crazy enough, but what follows is even crazier.