Dominique Morisseau's play "Skeleton Crew" is a feel good play about an auto plant closing. It takes place in the break room of a Detroit auto plant. Times are tough. Plants are closing all over the place. People are losing their jobs, their dreams. And there are rumors that this plant might be next. That's got this play’s quartet of African-American characters on edge.
It's June - which for Los Angeles intimate theater means it's time for the Hollywood Fringe Festival. Now, if you've never done the fringe, it's a bit like doing a tasting menu with a drunk chef. Everything happens quickly, some things are brilliant, some experiments are catastrophes, and almost everything goes better with a wine pairing.
Mfoniso Udofia's play at Boston Court is not a satisfying play. In the opening scene of “Her Portmanteau,” Iniabasa certainly does not look satisfied. She's at arrivals at JFK - she's just flown here from Nigeria with a big tattered suitcase, the “portmanteau” of the title.
You know that moment at the bookstore when you're browsing the serious, literary classics and the salacious cover of something pulpy catches your eye? It's that same impulse that has you order a plate of cheese fries. You know it's not going to be good for you, but god is it satisfying. "Forever Bound" by Steven Apostolina is the theatrical equivalent of that moment.
Two facts you need to know before you go see "Soft Power" David Henry Hwang and Jeanine Tesori's new musical at the Ahmanson. One, weeks after the 2016 election, playwright David Henry Hwang was walking home in Brooklyn when he was brutally and mysteriously stabbed in the neck - this really happened. Two, that election? Hillary Clinton didn't win. Both these facts are critical dramaturgical departure points for "Soft Power."
About 10 minutes into Antaeus Theatre Company's production of "Native Son", a black man accidentally kills a drunk white heiress. With most structurally sound plays, that would be enough. We have our moral crisis. We have a protagonist and a powerful question - "what will society do when a black man in 1939 accidentally kills a white woman?"
It's a sold out opening night of "the theater is a blank page" and even though there are only 80 of us in the audience - we're in the very last rows of the balcony at Royce Hall. Even stranger, it looks like we've come to the end of a tech rehearsal. All the rest of the seats are covered with white muslin. The stage, befitting the title, is mostly empty.
"ICE" is the story of an undocumented immigrant who comes in search of the American dream in the 1980's. We see him work a full day at a construction site only to be paid less than half of what was promised. When confronted the boss says basically "look you've got no papers, I can do what I want." We see this pattern repeat while he struggles to live his dream - converting an old ice cream truck into a gourmet taco truck.
If you go see Sarah Jones' one woman show "Buy/Sell/Date" at the Geffen Playhouse, I'll bet you that someone in the seats near whispers during the show "wow, she's good." It's that kind of performance: one designed to elicit appreciation for its technique and virtuosity.
It took me three hours to fall in love with Taylor Mac's "A 24-Decade History of Popular Music." Before I can even begin to explain what's so extraordinary about the show, or why 3 hours makes up barely act one, I have to orient you to the it of it.
There's a lot of this ‘witnessing’ happening in the theater right now. Our political climate has theater makers anxious to do something, say something, to protest in some way. The challenge is–when you're preaching to the choir, what do you say?