Arts In LA
Theater Reviews
 
Tirade for Three and Girl on a Bed
Open Fist Theatre Company

Reviewed by Melinda Schupmann


Derek Manson, Josh Trant, Laura Liguori, and Jeff LeBeau
Photo by Photo by Darrett Sanders

The Gary Plays, an ambitious project by Padua Hills Playwrights Festival Founder Murray Mednick, is a six-play cycle about an unemployed actor who has lost his son in a park shooting in Los Angeles. Varied stylistically, the plays recount his life’s failures and the tangential interactions of several other characters whose stories overlap the central core.
   Open Fist Theater Company presents the plays independently over several evenings or as a complete cycle on a single day.?Part I, as reviewed here, consists of two acts: “Tirade for Three” and “Girl on a Bed.” In “Tirade for Three,” Gary (Jeff LeBeau) and a chorus of two (Derek Manson and Amanda Weier) begin to unfold the tale of Gary’s loss, with the chorus expressing his inner voices and Gary articulating his attempts at trying to make sense of his circumstances.
   “Girl on a Bed” introduces his son, Danny (Josh Trant); Laura (Laura Liguori), a victim of drug addiction; her parents, Charles (Carl J. Johnson) and Monica (Barbara Schofield); Rondell (Phillip C. Curry), a dealer and user; gangster-type Antonio (Peggy Ann Blow, who also plays a schoolteacher); Gary’s ex- wife, Gloria (Laura Richardson); his current wife, Marcia (Amanda Weier); Laura’s friend, Rena (Sandra Kate Burck); and Laura’s shrink, Dr. Jones (Derek Manson).
   “Tirade for Three” is less audience friendly, with the chorus and Gary delivering staccato lines choreographed as a tableau. “Girl on a Bed” is more realistic in style, with characters interacting as their personalities unfold in story form. Even so, it never lets you forget it is a play, designed by author Mednick and director Guy Zimmerman.
   Jeff G. Rack’s scenic and Hana S. Kim’s projection designs add context to the story with large panels at the rear of the stage that have abstract art or city scenes as dictated by the story’s events. John Zalewski’s sound design also provides an often unsettling mood for the unfolding drama.

Mednick’s characters are a sorry lot, mostly victims of their own shortcomings. Largely unappealing, they are casualties of a storyline that puts protagonist Gary Bean at the center of the tale and then relegates him to second fiddle as Laura’s story becomes more compelling than his ineffectual attempts at managing his life and dealing with his son’s death.
   Zimmerman manages his ensemble well, and the actors are well cast for their parts. Blow and Curry deliver dark characterizations effectively. Johnson makes believable Laura’s ineffectual father, and Schofield makes a nasty piece of work of her mother, even though Mednick makes both characters entirely too stereotypical. LeBeau and Liguori also make the most of their characterizations.
   This is theater for those who like to see experimentation. It is both abstract and conventional, and it challenges the audience to make meaning of the events surrounding Gary’s journey. It is often crude and angry, in this case painting a portrait of a society that produces glaring failures. It is at times one-dimensional, which diminishes the emotional impact of the narrative. Overall, it provokes reflection.

June 4, 2017
 
May 4–June 10. 3269 Casitas Ave., Atwater Village. Thu-Sat 8pm, Sun noon, 3pm & 7pm. $30 each play, $50 for series. (323) 882-6912.

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Lucky Stiff
Actors Co-op David Schall Theatre

Reviewed by Dink O’Neal


Brandon Parrish and Claire Adams
Photo by Lindsay Schnebly

It’s a head scratcher as to why this little gem of a show isn’t produced more often. Lynn Ahrens’s script and libretto supported by Stephen Flaherty’s jazzy compositions seem made-to-order for smaller theaters. Toss in a goofy murder mystery, a bevy of mistaken identities and a charming boy-meets-girl subplot, and it’s off to the races for director Stephen Van Dorn and his tremendously talented, not to mention athletic, troupe of ten.
   A milquetoast shoe salesman from somewhere in London learns that a heretofore unbeknownst uncle with Atlantic City casino connections has named him heir to a $6 million fortune. That is, as long as he follows a ridiculously intricate series of demands involving transporting said dead relation through a weeklong vacation on the French Riviera. Fail to carry out even one of the minutest of specificities, and the money reverts to a canine rescue center in the exotic locale of Brooklyn.
   With more than a few gags reminiscent of Weekend at Bernie’s, this delightfully engaging piece, based on Michael Butterworth’s 1983 tome The Man Who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo is a nearly nonstop race full of hilarious characters and slapstick humor. As the story’s everyman Harry Witherspoon, Brandon Parrish is downright loveable. Demonstrating a lovely tenor voice and razor sharp comic timing, Parrish has us firmly on his side as he encounters obstacles galore in carrying out his mission.
   Serving as a temporary source of his frustration is one Annabel Glick, played with equal parts charm and nuttiness by Claire Adams. A representative of said home for unloved dogs, Glick must follow Harry in the hopes of witnessing a slip-up on his part in carrying out Uncle Anthony’s wishes. Along the way, Adams’s rendition of the first-act ballad “Times Like This” and her duet with Parrish titled “Nice” are beautifully lyrical interludes among Flaherty’s often chaotically funny full-cast numbers.

And what a wild and wacky ensemble Van Dorn has amassed to round out this zaniness. Offering more characters than can be individually credited in the program are José Villarreal, Alastair James Murden, Gina D’Acciaro, and Selah Victor. Villarreal is a master of the deadpan expression, while Murden assays the more over-the-top roles. D’Acciaro is a riot whether as a dead-drunk hotel maid, Harry’s Cockney landlady, or a French babbling spokeswoman welcoming visitors to the Monte Carlo train station. Victor’s pièce de résistance has to be a gold-digging cabaret singer who bears a well-crafted resemblance to Charo.
   Equally outrageous are Brian Habicht and Rory Patterson as brother and sister, Vincent DiRuzzio and Rita LaPorta. Habicht portrays a neurotic optometrist, while Patterson plays the widow of the intercontinental traveling corpse as this pair also pursues her dead husband’s assets. That Rita is legally blind and refuses to wear her glasses affords Patterson some of the production’s funniest moments. And, in one particular musical instance, these two, under Taylor Stephenson’s expert musical direction, join Parrish, Adams, et al., for perhaps the show’s most amazingly complicated number, “Him, Them, It, Her.”
   David Atkinson moves in and out of this collection of whirling dervishes as Luigi Gaudi, who appears to be a jack-of-all-trades Italian playboy. His contribution is a curiously revelatory dichotomy to the rest of the show’s parade of personages. But without a doubt, the award for dedication to one’s craft clearly goes to Vito Viscuso, who spends the entire evening in various states of rigor mortis as Harry’s uncle Anthony. What director Van Dorn and choreographer Julie Hall do to and with Viscuso and his electric wheelchair is nothing short of astonishing.

So, too, is Lex Gernon’s ingeniously crafted scenic design that contains just as many surprises as the plotline. Brought to life by Lisa D. Katz’s lighting, Vicki Conrad’s costuming and Nicholas Acciani’s properties contribute to the show’s first-rate production values as well as the countless twists and turns leading to the denouement that caps off this evening of lighthearted fun.

May 30, 2017
  
May 12–June 18. 1760 N. Gower St., Hollywood (located on the grounds of First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood). Fri-Sat 8pm, Sun 2:30pm (additional Saturday performance June 17, 2:30pm). $25-34. (323) 462-8460, ext. 300.

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The Sweetheart Deal
Latino Theater Company, in association with El Teatro Campesino, at Los Angeles Theatre Center

Reviewed by Dany Margolies


Linda Lopez, David DeSantos, and Valente Rodriguez
Photo by Grettel Cortes Photography

In 1970, when Americans had causes to fight for, we literally took a stand, physically joining forces, moving into action for what we believed in. We didn’t merely tweet.
   Even the popular music that year was the soundtrack for social activism, including the evocative rhythms and potent lyrics of “Ball of Confusion,” “Ohio,” and “War.”
   Music of that era forms the soundtrack for the story of Mari and Will, the couple at the heart of writer-director Diane Rodriguez’s play The Sweetheart Deal , in a world premiere production by Latino Theater Company, in association with El Teatro Campesino.

Mari (Ruth Livier) and Will (Geoffrey Rivas) return to their hometown of the grape-growing Delano, Calif., to volunteer at a newspaper. This one is not just your average small-town pamphlet, though. It’s the real-life El Malcriado, the farmworkers’ underground newspaper founded by labor leaders and civil-rights activists Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta.
   Here, El Malcriado (translatable as “the mischievous child”) is run by editor Chon (Valente Rodriguez) and campesina and union organizer Lettie (Linda Lopez). At the office, Mari and Will also meet Charlie (Peter Wylie), an organizer from Chicago. At his prompting, the couple tries to get close to and convert Mari’s brother, Mac (David DeSantos), to the workers’ position. He, however remains a proud Teamster.
   The play’s title has a double meaning. It represents the relationship between Mari and Will and their agreement to pledge a year to volunteerism. It also describes the relationship between the landowner-growers and the Teamsters to keep the field workers from unionizing.

The visuals are the strongest theatrical elements here. Efren Delgadillo creates the play’s stupendous set from empty crates, constructing floor-to-ceiling walls that appear to house boxes of newspapers. Crates become Mac’s truck and then the interior of a cathedral, where Pablo Santiago’s gorgeous lighting turns the patterns on the crates into a line of crosses.
   In the play’s more-traditional scenes, the writing and acting are too often on the nose—though, to be fair, Livier and Rivas stepped into their roles a few days before opening night.
   Working far better are Rodriguez’s “Actos.” Historically, these were short agitprop sketches in commedia style, originally created in the 1960s by Luis Valdez (considered the father of Chicano theater) and El Teatro Campesino (the theater arm of the United Farm Workers). Actos were used to educate the farm workers on the issues of the strike. Here they’re used to educate the audience, and they get their points across sharply.
   Rodriguez’s versions of Actos are El Malcriado’s cartoons that come to life. The man labeled “Boss” wears a pig mask. His sweetheart is a trampy woman labeled “Teamster.” Mutual seductions keep the struggling workers down in Acto after Acto.

But this is Mari’s story. She passively arrives in Delano, expecting to find a profitable news business that tends to the comforts of its own workers. Citified, she wears a dainty pale yellow 1960s dress. As the play progresses, her outfits grow more casual, more freeing, and finally bolder as she drapes herself in a poncho of the UFW flag’s symbol and colors, thanks to costume designer Lupe Valdez’s subtle but period-correct work.
   Mari’s hands that at first clutch her designer purse are soon used to sculpt newspaper content into shape and tally circulation figures. As time passes, they’re used in gesture to stir crowds. A stronger story arc might show her growing from timid to a powerful speaker.
   And, should Rodriquez consider edits and rewrites on this piece, the audience participation prompted at the top of the show could be better woven into the rest of it, as it stirs the audience into action and lets us feel even a touch of what 1970s crowds might have felt, speaking up—with voices rather than with tweeting thumbs.
  

May 22, 2017

Republished courtesy of Daily Breeze
 
 
The run has ended for this show.

 
Long Way Down
Sherry Theatre

Reviewed by Dink O’Neal


Lane Wray, Christa Haxthausen, and Meg Wallace
Photo by Rebekah Atwell

Set somewhere in the Deep South where the accents are thick and the IQs are low, playwright Nate Eppler’s West Coast premiere is a tough row to hoe. The beneficiaries of their dead father’s “estate,” Saralee and Maybelline reside in a ramshackle house bequeathed to them and their incarcerated (therefore never seen) elder sibling, Chanel. Occupying the abode with them is Saralee’s husband, Duke. Rounding out this quartet of characters is Karen, the nonrelated catalyst in Eppler’s tale, who haunts the premises as though she has legitimate grounds for her presence.
   On its face, Eppler’s story has the potential to be much better than is eventually realized in this production. Maybelline clearly has developmental issues exhibited by a childlike naïveté and inability to carry on anything more than the most-rudimentary of conversations. Saralee and Duke are in the very beginning stages of their first pregnancy. His debilitating depression, leaving him unable to work in his family’s construction/excavation business, has Saralee frustrated to no end. Her answer is to sell the house, divide the assets, and pursue a “do over” for just the two of them. Clearly, she’s the only one of these three with any semblance of common sense.
   Enter Karen, a whacked out pro-life activist Eppler paints with the broadest of pejorative brushstrokes. She spars with Saralee, ignores Duke, and manipulates Maybelline to the point that it’s no wonder things turn out as they do.

Still, the fault for the failure of this saga to resonate lies squarely at the feet of its author. Eppler falls into the trap of having to constantly one-up whatever has just occurred in order for the plot to go anywhere. The result is an almost snicker-inducing outrageousness, which director Steve Jarrard and his cast do their level best to combat.
   Unfortunately, due to Eppler’s repetitively constructed scenes and dialogue, none here are able to hurdle the one-dimensional crafting of their personages. Christa Haxthausen manages, to some degree, to clue in on Saralee’s motivation. But, with the least amount of onstage time, her character’s ability to drive things forward in a logical manner is cut woefully short. As Duke, Lane Wray’s work amounts to nothing more than a series of cameo appearances, perhaps intended by Eppler to break up the proceedings. Instead, Wray is sentenced to wander the stage aimlessly bemoaning Duke’s lack of meaning in his life.
   Meg Wallace as Maybelline and Lauri Hendler as Karen carry the majority of Eppler’s script. Wallace is saddled with the most difficult of tasks: bringing to a life a simple-minded adult without falling prey to a one-note performance. There are a few rare moments in which she’s up to the challenge, but Eppler gives her very little to work with. Likewise, Hendler struggles valiantly to rise above the writing or lack thereof. We see Karen’s frustration in dealing with those she thinks are beneath her, but missing from Hendler’s performance is Karen’s ability to turn on a dime from cajoling endearment to frighteningly murderous rage.

Although his scenic design exudes the nearly uninhabitable features of this dwelling, Jarrard’s direction lacks the feeling that events are spiraling out of control faster than Eppler’s characters can make sense of them. Scenes feel disjointed due to delayed cue calls. Unnatural pauses in dialogue diminish the play’s progress. And, the inevitably called-for stage violence feels under-rehearsed, as though it’s taking place in slow motion so no one is injured.

May 23, 2017
 
May 19–June 18. 11052 Magnolia Blvd., North Hollywood. Fri-Sat 8pm, Sun 7pm. $15-20. (323) 860-6569.

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Actually
Audrey Skirball Kenis Theater at Geffen Playhouse

Reviewed by Dany Margolies


Samantha Ressler and Jerry MacKinnon
Photo by Chris Whittaker

We see the kiss twice: once at the play’s beginning and once at its end. Her hands express her uncertainty. They don’t push him away, but they don’t embrace him. Her left hand hovers near his shoulder, a question mark over the moment and certainly over the play.
   In between, Anna Ziegler’s Actually pulls back most of the curtain to show what happens before and after that kiss.
   The two-hander play, in its world premiere at Geffen Playhouse, is not heavy on blame and judgment. It’s not a polemic against anyone or anything. It leaves the audience exhilarated by the intellectual stimulation, the visceral wrenching, and, more objectively speaking, the burning intelligence of the theatermakers, from writer through designers to two gifted actors.

First, let’s be clear. Rape is a malignancy, and it doesn’t appear to be diminishing, particularly on college campuses. But here, as Ziegler has crafted it, the consent is unfortunately murky, compounded by way too much alcohol and way too much desperation in the two characters to prove something to themselves and others.
   A few days later in the lives of these two Princeton University freshmen, he’s undergoing an investigation pursuant to federal civil rights laws after her best friend insisted she report his actions as rape. Well, what she had said to her friend was, “Thomas Anthony practically raped me." Insensitive bragging, or a painful plea for help?
   Under Tyne Rafaeli’s direction, the script is delivered as mostly direct address to the audience, with bits of dialogue in which the characters interact.
   Every fragment of the characters’ confessions reveals the complexities of language and of sex. But their “sides” of the story are being told to a panel of academics and administrators. In that culture, it seems expected that words will speak louder than actions.
   “Actually...” Amber had started to say that fateful night. Did Tom not let her finish her sentence? Should he have taken a step back, just hearing her speak?
   They seem to agree that they had intercourse. Though, as soon as we hear he started the evening with three Jägermeisters and “a coupla Sam Adams” before he even met up with her for drinks, we have doubts about how the evening progressed.

The acting is smart, simple and deep. Samantha Ressler plays the naïve but not inexperienced Jewish student Amber. Jerry MacKinnon plays cocky but self-aware African-American student Tom.
   Are their ethnicities a red herring, or do they add an almost subconscious layer to our expectations for their behaviors? Both characters have previously been involved in what seems like reluctantly consensual situations, both are educated and sensitive, and both should have been wary this night.
   Ziegler makes her audience wonder about letting responsibility for our actions be given over to others, letting our reactions to our actions be labeled by others.
   No matter the investigating panel’s ruling, we wonder what will happen to these two afterwards. This part of their lives will follow them, perhaps forever, tagging them or lurking in the backs of their minds.

May 15, 2017

Republished courtesy of Daily Breeze

 

May 11–June 11. 10886 Le Conte Ave., West LA. Tue-Fri 8pm, Sat 3pm & 8pm, Sun 2pm. Running time 95 minutes. $76-82. (310) 208-5454.

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The Book of Mormon
Pantages Theatre

Reviewed by Jonas Schwartz


The “Mormon” cast of The Book of Mormon
Photo by Joan Marcus

The Book of Mormon is a phenomenon. It was geared to offend everyone and yet is so inoffensive that there have been no boycotts or controversy. The show has sold out on Broadway for 2586 performances and counting, in London, and on tours across the world. Even more surprising, the main target, the Church of Latter Day Saints, takes advertisements out in the playbill, giving money to a show that ribs it nightly. It’s obvious why such a jagged little pill goes down so smoothly. Book of Mormon is a hysterical musical pastiche created by people who love musicals.
   Irreverent and yet strangely respectful of its characters, The Book of Mormon is the brainchild of Avenue Q’s Robert Lopez and South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone. Anyone who has seen an episode of the long-running potty-mouthed cartoon on Comedy Central knows Parker and Stone commonly walk (and fall over) a fine line between satire and offensive. Here, they manage to juggle an extraordinary balance of X-rated songs, belly laughs, a morality play, and a touching buddy tale, featuring tragic bloodshed more apropos for an episode of the Keifer Sutherland series 24, but it all manages to work.

The youthful cast in the current tour consists of mostly newcomers fresh out of college, but their talent and professionalism match a Broadway cast. As Elder Price, the self-seeking new missionary who expected a life of ringing doorbells in glorious Orlando, only to be trapped in war-torn Uganda, Gabe Gibbs has a powerful voice and more teeth showing than the villain in Jaws. His overambitious smile projects Elder Price’s façade of pure ecstasy when he is actually dying inside. Conner Peirson’s Mickey Mouse voice and dumpy walk turn Elder Cunningham into a delirious cartoon worthy of South Park. Still, his sincerity and desire to help others shines through, making his character the play’s hero.
   Leanne Robinson, who shockingly made her debut with this tour, is a stick of dynamite. With a voice like a true diva in an enchanting persona, her Nabulungi steals the show from the rest of the talented cast. PJ Adzima is an energizer bunny of jubilation as the sexually buttoned-up Elder McKinley. His beet-red cheeks and twinkling eyes betray his character’s ability to “Turn It Off” as his main song claims.
   The songs riff on the classic musicals, sometimes hinting at successful tunes from the past. There are motifs in “Sal Tlay Ka Siti” very similar to the ear to Alan Menken’s “Somewhere That’s Green” from Little Shop of Horrors, “Joseph Smith American Moses” is a pitch-perfect spoof of The King and I’s “Small House of Uncle Thomas,” while the opening of “I Believe” all but thumbs its nose at The Sound of Music’s “I Have Confidence.”
   The choreography is more infectious than lice spread across a kindergarten classroom. Casey Nicholaw has the cast bouncing around like Mexican jumping beans. Everyone is in constant motion, spreading a kinetic energy into the audience.

One issue, at least for those in the center orchestra where this reviewer sat on press night: The sound reverb, particularly in Act 1, was set so high that much of the lyrics were difficult to hear. Because the naughty lyrics offer most of the fun, not hearing many jokes was a major issue. The mixing may have been fixed during intermission because most of the lyrics were decipherable in Act 2.
   Often tours that have been traveling for years lose their power over time and new casts become diluted carbon copies of the original actors. Book of Mormon smartly assembles a talented band of performers to capture the original’s spirit.

June 4, 2017
 
May 31–July 9. 6233 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood. Tue-Fri 8pm, Sat 2pm & 8pm, Sun 1pm & 6:30pm. Running time 2 hours and 30 minutes, including intermission. $35–175, “subject to change.” Preshow lottery before every show, limited number of tickets at $25. (800) 982-2787.

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The Last Five Years
Torrance Theatre Company

Reviewed by Dany Margolies


Dorian Keyes and Abby Carlson
Photo by Lucy McDonald

Catherine the actor and Jamie the writer find a bit of success during their marriage and start to see the other as unavailable at best, heartless at worst. Or were they always a mismatch? And so goes The Last Five Years, in which they reveal this in a series of songs about their courtship, marriage, and divorce.
   Jamie sings his version of their story in chronological order, starting with the type of woman he was looking for. Catherine sings her version of their story in reverse chronological order, starting with the pain of their divorce.
   In “Still Hurting,” Catherine supposes Jamie is surviving the breakup better than she is. In “Shiksa Goddess,” the Jewish Jamie looks to date any girl, as long as she’s not Jewish. By “A Summer in Ohio,” Catherine is working in small-town theater, leaving Jamie on his own at home. Meanwhile, Jamie has stepped away from the marriage, in “Nobody Needs to Know.”

Jason Robert Brown composed this 90-minute work—here, Torrance Theatre Company adds an intermission—based on his failed marriage, but a few well-placed comedic songs keep bleakness away from the show.
   Torrance double-cast the show, offering a chance for theatergoers to choose between styles—or see both casts and develop a deeper understanding of and appreciation for direction and performing.
   Jim Hormel directs both casts. Jade Taylor as Cathy and Zachary Smart as Jamie deliver power vocals. They don’t forget emotional subtlety but nor do they emphasize it in their belted lyrics. Abby Carlson and Dorian Keyes take a more actorly approach, putting the relationship’s joys and woes firmly into their vocal performances.
   Taylor and Smart “start” noticeably hopeful and young-at-heart. As each sings a goodbye at the musical’s end, hers is delivered with the feeling of “see you tomorrow,” while his seems to say, “I’ll never let myself feel hurt again.”
   Carlson and Keyes age less physically than emotionally, turning what could sound like a litany into swift thoughts and deep wounds.
   Brown’s story is relatively abstract. Hormel provides structure and visual interest. He sets it somewhere unfinished, perhaps an empty theater or a garage, giving it a fresh but somewhat on-edge feel.
   During the show, Brown’s music seems unprepossessing. Then, hours or even days later, bits of melody come back to mind to haunt the listener.

May 15, 2017

Republished courtesy of Daily Breeze
 
May 13–June 18. 1316 Cabrillo Ave., Torrance. Fri-Sat 8pm, Sun 2pm. Running time 1 hour and 45 minutes, including intermission. $25. (424) 243-6882.

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Kiss
Odyssey Theatre

Reviewed by Dany Margolies


Kevin Matthew Reyes, Kristin Couture
Photo by Enci Box

Critics have been asked to not give away the plot of this play. Out of respect to the theater, the work’s playwright, and its director, most of us won’t. But good luck to anyone who tries to describe the work and the potent sensations it induces.
   On one level, this West Coast premiere by Chilean playwright Guillermo Calderón tests the audience’s skills in observing and questioning. Didn’t we see one of the actors elsewhere, quite recently? Was a ticket snafu at the door part of the play? When does “real life” leave off and “art” begin?
   The art begins. The scenic design might bring our antennae to attention. How could director Bart DeLorenzo have let the audience see the sandbags securing the backs of set pieces?
   The acting is stilted. It looks and sounds slightly like a scene-study class. Acting clichés abound, but they’re so subtle that they don’t cause laughter in the audience. DeLorenzo couldn’t possibly have allowed acting like this in one of his plays.
   The writing is stilted. Exposition is clunky, repetitive, and beginning to feel too long.
   And then, what happens happens.

The stunners here are not skeletal hands reaching up from the soil to grab a leg. Providing more horror than bloody gashes or sudden materializations ever could is the sickening feeling that settles over us, created by the remarkably skilled artists—writer, director, actors, designers—we mistakenly thought weren’t doing their work well.
   The actions of a woman, an artist, in a clearly fake wig and oversized dark sunglasses repeatedly looking over her shoulder and peering into the darkness on the other side of a half-open doorway shocks us, terrifies us.
   Art gets made. It’s made despite misinterpretations. It’s remade on the fly, by artists flexible and open to change, willing to step to the edge and reveal their souls. The superb actors here, without reference to characters they play, are Natali Anna, Kristin Couture, Max Lloyd-Jones, Kevin Matthew Reyes, Nagham Wehbe, and Cynthia Yelle.
   We passively watch as things happen in other lands, to other people. We’d like to think we’re on their sides, we’re here to help. But if we’re being truthful with ourselves, what we’re probably thinking is, “Could this happen here? To my friends? To me?”
   One thing is for certain here: Kiss gets under the skin.

May 1, 2017
 
April 29–June 19. 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., West Los Angeles. Fri-Sat 8pm, Sun 2pm, plus select Wed-Thu 8pm. Running time 85 minutes, no intermission. $15-$34. (310) 477-2055.

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