Thursday, May 29, 2014


In this witty and engrossing play, two damaged kids meet in the infirmary, she has stomach cramps, he has a cracked skull. So begins a tortuous love story that switches back and forth in time. They meet at years-long intervals, always when he is badly injured, and they deeply bond. She has the magical ability to help him heal, while he has an intense longing for her love.

As this two-hander takes them into deeper disasters and frustrating emotional misses, we are both fascinated and appalled at the catastrophes that unfold. We recognize their need for each other and hope for a resolution but sadly, in the end, playwright Rajiv Joseph leaves us suspended in the midst of a near fatal encounter.

Both Brad Fleischer as Doug, and Jules Willcox as Kayleen, are totally believable and touching whether at eight years old or thirty eight. While their performances are heartbreaking they still provide flashes of humor that alleviate the tension. In fact, under Larissa Kokernot’s sensitive and imaginative direction, they effortlessly transform through non-chronological scenes from troubled children to anguished adults to embattled teens. 

Produced by John Perrin Flynn and David Mauer (who also designed the stark adaptable set) with lighting by Dan Weingarten, sound by Colin Wambsgans, and simple but effective costumes by Halei Parker. Photos by John Flynn.

At Rogue Machine Theatre, 5041 W. Pico Blvd., LA through July 14. For tickets: (855) 585-5185 or

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

BLOOD RELATIONS …North Hollywood

 Canadian playwright Sharon Pollock cleverly creates a play within a play to explore the motivations and actions of the notorious Massachusetts 1892 axe murderess Lizzie Borden. 

As a true crime aficionado, I have no doubt that she killed her hated stepmother with 19 blows then, barely an hour later, her father with 11 blows. Still, by using this oblique device, Pollock walks us through the day’s events with a plausible explanation, both emotionally and psychologically, for what motivated Lizzie. Apparently it came down to money, as with many other famous crimes, but in this intriguing play the personal dynamic of the family is laid bare and we see the deeper forces at work.

The actors superbly reveal the crazed dynamic of a family seething with unspoken contempt but it is Lizzie, crazy Lizzie, a bad seed in a polluted garden, who acts out the undercurrents. It is well known that she despised her stepmother but, in this telling, the revelation of her true feelings for her father brings a sad but plausible end to the story.

The excellent cast are: Carolyn Crotty as an enigmatic Lizzie and also the Irish maid; Meg Wallace as an actress brilliantly “performing” Lizzie; Hap Lawrence as the beleaguered father; Deborah Cresswell as the devious stepmother; Amy Moorman as the timid older sister; Steve Peterson as the greedy brother-in-law; Jay Disney as a flirtatious local doctor, and Steve Jarrard as Lizzie’s adroit defense attorney. 

Subtly directed by Jarrard, who also designed the simple set, with lighting by Jason Ryan Lovett, and lovely costumes by Meg Wallace. Photos by Mani Horn.

Produced by Collaborative Artists Ensemble. At Raven Playhouse, 5233 Lankershim Blvd. NoHo, through June 15. Tickets at 323-860-6569 or

Wednesday, May 14, 2014



 A young composer of today, in a gorgeous Brooklyn apartment, inherits a piano that once belonged to his idol George Gershwin. Well, it seems the piano brings good luck and most especially when Gershwin himself turns up.

It’s a fantastical conceit and really doesn’t add up to much, but the performers are all multi-talented and the choreography, from tap to ballet, is outstanding. The songs, intended as a salute to the great George and Ira, all seem to belong back in the thirties. Thus the show is one of nostalgia for an era of lighthearted melodies, foolish romances, and shared digs with Broadway hopefuls on every floor.

 Heading the cast is Andrew Bourgeois as a youthful wunderkind; Emma-Jayne Appleyard as a zoftik hoofer, and Daniel Lench as the philosophical phantom. Jean Altadel is an ingenuous love-interest; Gregory Guy Gorden a grumpy manager; Kyle Bares is a dashing dance coach, and Suzy London an understanding apartment manager.

Snappily directed by Jules Aaron, with dazzling choreography by Michele Bernath. The book is by Doug Haverty, based on an idea by musical director Wayland Pickard, who composed the music while sharing lyrics with Haverty and Laura Manning. Beautiful set by Chris Winfield and Aaron, with clever lighting by J. Kent Inasy and eclectic costumes by Angela M. Eads. Produced by Richard Alan Woody and Leah Shaw for the Group Rep.  

At the Lonny Chapman Theatre, 10900 Burbank Blvd, NoHo, through June 22. Tickets (818) 763-5990 or

Also reviewed in the June issue of NOT BORN YESTERDAY