Musings on what Los Angeles theater is - and can be. Want to know more? Subscribe to Anthony's weekly Theater newsletter.
KCRW's longtime producer, host and cheerleader, Matt Holzman, who died Sunday, only texted me once about my reviews. Matt Holzman is the reason I'm at KCRW.
13/04/2020 • 3 minutes 58 seconds
What do we do in the theatre when there is no theater?
At the most fundamental level, the theater connects artists with an audience at one time, in one space. That's about presence. You show up at eight o'clock, the lights come up, you see a show. We are together. Dig deeper and the connection gets vastly more rich and complicated. Connecting with an audience means understanding the moment in time we are living in; appreciating the particular place where you are making theater. What is happening here and now? Theater must do more than simply reflect our moment. It must care for its audience's soul through that moment.
16/03/2020 • 3 minutes 33 seconds
‘Home’ review: domestic magic and the fleeting American dream
The show "Home" begins with a magic trick. When you walk into the theater, you see an empty stage. As the show begins, an unassuming man, played by the show’s creator Geoff Sobelle, walks from the audience to the stage to survey things.
09/03/2020 • 4 minutes 4 seconds
Four Larks’ creepy and gorgeous ‘Frankenstein’ will punch you in the gut
"Frankenstein" is a major work and a major leap for Four Larks: it’s a dark and visually stunning play but it's also a concert, opera, musical and a dance piece all in one. “Frankenstein” will punch you in the gut.
03/03/2020 • 3 minutes 32 seconds
‘Found’ Review: Finding a musical in scraps of paper
Every couple of years LA's intimate theaters produce a musical that gives the big theaters a run for their money. Right now it’s IAMA Theatre Company's "Found: A New Musical." It starts off a little awkwardly. We're in a bar in Chicago with some disgruntled 30 somethings. Denise, the bartender, went to art school but can't find a better gig than slinging shots. She's got a punk vibe and a bruised heart — so you can sense the setup there. Mikey doesn't have a job or a lover but he's got his old friend Davy who pays the rent and generally keeps him afloat. Davy's our protagonist and — at least at the top of the scene — he's got a job but not one he likes. Davy looks around the bar and beefs that everyone is on cell phones; no one is really connecting with one another. He makes a half-hearted attempt to get everyone in the bar to put down the devices and be together. It sort of flops.
25/02/2020 • 3 minutes 41 seconds
'Revenge Song' review: Geek theatre rules!
Did you ever have a nerdy friend in high school? Or maybe you were the nerdy friend? Someone who was super into anime, comic books, sword fights; always had a corny joke or a geeky pop-culture reference; totally into cosplay; also super smart and knew really weird but cool stuff about history? Maybe queer? Maybe not? Super creative, super self-aware but also sort of a mess which kind of bugged you but at exactly the moment you were going to give up on them you realized they had a heart of gold and were doing the right thing? If you could roll all that up into a play, it'd be Qui Nguyen's world premiere "Revenge Song."
18/02/2020 • 3 minutes 27 seconds
The loss of the LA Weekly will drive you nuts
In the first scene of playwright Steven Leigh Morris' new play "Red Ink," our protagonist makes a cri-du-coeur: "What was he thinking?...Why would a successful business man do to his own property?"
11/02/2020 • 3 minutes 21 seconds
Are we listening?
Dael Orlandersmith's one-woman show "Until the Flood" is set in and around Ferguson, Missouri. It's 2014, immediately after Michael Brown was shot 6 times by a police officer. Ferguson erupted in protest. The following year, the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis commissioned Ms. Orlandersmith to write and perform a solo show to give voice to the city's racial divide. "Until the Flood" is based on interviews she did across Ferguson and St. Louis and boiled down to 8 poetic composite characters. We hear from black residents who are scared and angry. We hear from white residents who are angry and scared. Remarkably, Ms. Orlandersmith gives voice to it all.
04/02/2020 • 3 minutes 44 seconds
What does the constitution mean to you?
You know how the constitution has a preamble? "We the people of the United States ..."? Okay, before you go see the play "What the Constitution Means to Me" (and you definitely need to go see this play) - you should probably imagine a preamble to the play … not a disclaimer exactly, just an explanation for what you’re about to see.
28/01/2020 • 3 minutes 46 seconds
What’s happening at REDCAT?
Miwa Matreyek’s work doesn’t fit neatly into a simple box.
21/01/2020 • 4 minutes 8 seconds
Roll with it
Stephen Adly Guirgis play "Between Riverside and Crazy" is one of those scripts that plays very differently outside of New York.
14/01/2020 • 3 minutes 30 seconds
Theater for a new year
Happy New Year! LA theater is all about women in the new year. There are one woman shows, re-imagining women from history. Here’s a quick list of the shows I’m looking forward to this spring. Let’s start with a hit one-woman show … that now stars another woman.
07/01/2020 • 3 minutes 48 seconds
Best of 2019 LA Theatre: the gender act.
Okay, Best of LA Theatre 2019 part two. Last week, I shared plays that tackled race head on. This week, one last favorite production that made an audience confront how race haunts our national drama from an unlikely source: The Getty Villa.
31/12/2019 • 3 minutes 35 seconds
“Best of 2019 LA Theatre: the race act.”
It’s time for the best of theatre of 2019. Like last year, the best theatre in Los Angeles - the theater that spoke with the clearest voice this year - was political. But where last year the politics had to do broadly with who was leading who. This year, the politics were mostly about race and gender.
24/12/2019 • 3 minutes 51 seconds
A big play in a tiny space
A couple of years ago "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time" was a big play. By big I mean it got a Broadway production, it won Tony awards, it went on a national tour - you know, big play. But here's the thing, it's not really a big play in a broadway sense. It's a really beautiful small play that found it's big-ness. At it's core it's a wonderful ensemble play where a small group of actors not only play a bunch of roles - they make a whole world. This is the magic of the production at the Greenway Court a 99-seat theatre. They rediscover the heart of the play in an intimate setting.
17/12/2019 • 3 minutes 16 seconds
A male swan’s spell
Matthew Bourne’s “Swan Lake” is the production that 24 years ago catapulted Mr. Bourne’s work into the international spotlight. Famously, he reimagines Tchaikovsky’s ballet about women trapped as swans by an evil sorcerer's spell -- into the tragic and heroic story of a closeted prince discovering a secret world of male love.
17/12/2019 • 3 minutes 22 seconds
Punk? Or Poser?
Remember being a teenager? If you are now or ever were a teenager, you've probably had to navigate some tricky social waters. Who's cool? Who's a poser? Who are your people? Those are some of the questions at the heart of Circle X's production of "punkplay" ... but in a very particular time period.
03/12/2019 • 3 minutes 32 seconds
A holiday cab
I’m guessing the last thing you need is another “to do” on your holiday list…but I want you to add one more. You need to go see “Jitney” at the Mark Taper Forum.
26/11/2019 • 3 minutes 30 seconds
Theatre tip: just use white people
There’s a problem with school Thanksgiving plays. But not in the particular high school drama classroom you can see onstage at the Geffen. Logan, the drama teacher, is finally getting to make her Thanksgiving school play and it’s going to right those wrongs.
12/11/2019 • 3 minutes 30 seconds
Comfort food comedy with a dark side
The setup at the center of Mike Birbiglia's one-man show "The New One" is not particularly new. In fact, it's familiar trope: the reluctant dad.
05/11/2019 • 3 minutes 41 seconds
An essential journey
You need to drive to Pasadena and see a 3 hour play. Okay, I know that's a big ask so let me break down why the trip is worth it. Greg T. Daniel's production of "Gem of the Ocean" is important... and it carries the weight of a ton of history both locally and for us as a nation.
28/10/2019 • 3 minutes 38 seconds
Internal thoughts becoming external cues
It’s not that often that stunning design is the reason to go see LA’s intimate theatre. But design is really the reason to go see Son of Semele’s production of Sarah Kane’s play “4:48 Psychosis.”
21/10/2019 • 3 minutes 40 seconds
Seeing Beckett through a clown's eyes
Think of something you love. Something you’re really passionate about; something that, at least in your mind, can either be done right or really wrong. Maybe it’s a sport? Or a recipe? Or maybe even a kiss. When that thing’s good, it feeds your soul. When it’s bad … well, sometimes you’d rather just skip it. That’s how a lot of theater folks, myself included, feel about Samuel Beckett.
14/10/2019 • 3 minutes 45 seconds
When a play is more of a story
What’s the difference between a dramatic story and a play? That’s the question that nervously filled my mind with the first words of “How the light gets in” at Boston Court.
07/10/2019 • 3 minutes 26 seconds
When is a “Handjob” more than a handjob?
Erik Patterson’s play “Handjob” does indeed include a handjob. So if you’re the kind of person who might be offended by that or by male frontal nudity then this play might, oddly, be perfect for you. Stick with me.