Reviewed in NOT BORN YESTERDAY, July issue
This is a zany musical Vaudeville Show, hilariously teetering on the edge of madness, based on the works of “Theatre of the Absurd” playwright Eugène Ionesco. While creating this work in the 1970’s, composer/lyricist Mildred Kayden, now 90, was Ionesco’s guest in his Paris apartment. They remained friends until his death in 1994 and, as Kayden tells us, he lived in Nazi-occupied Paris during WW II and believed that “we need to look at life and find the humor in it, or we can’t take it.” Only laughter could help to survive oppression.
Outstanding in multiple roles are Alan Abelew as Gallic Writer/Magician; Tom Lowe as robust Searcher for The Leader; Andrew Ableson as Balladeer and Killer, Joey D’Auria as Chef and Politician, and Jennifer Malenke provocatively singing “Fire.” Memorable support from Kelly Lester and Cristina Gerla, who constantly change from mad to sad before our eyes.
A lot was funny but much was dark in this cockeyed way of seeing life. My favorite sketches were “The Peace Conference” - nobody listens while everyone speaks; “The Leader” where people chase after a phantom Hero, and “Bobby Watson and Family” a ditzy Music Hall sketch that happily makes no sense at all.
Kayden’s musical numbers are haunting and beautiful. Quick-witted direction and choreography by Bill Castellino and musical direction by Gerald Sternbach. Produced by Ron Sossi from original concept by Robert Allan Ackerman.
At the Odyssey Theatre, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., West Los Angeles, through August 11. Tickets: (310) 477-2055 or www.odysseytheatre.com.
Photos by Enci Box.