Monday, December 22, 2014


Its very French! The wife will be away for the weekend so he has invited his mistress to visit. His best friend arrives, which shouldn’t spoil the fun, except that the wife is having it off with the best friend. 

Now this setup may sound okay to a European audience, but in America its called infidelity and is not considered a joking matter. (As I am also a paralegal in Family Law I can assure you its not!) Still, it’s a farce, and the actors give it their best try. The tangled web they weave is full of good humor and quite delightful complications, but all sadly negated by the underlying sleazy theme.
Patrick Burke is an energetic philanderer and Julie Davis is his not-so-naïve wife.  Patrick Skelton is his friend in-deed and Stephanie Colet his bewildered mistress. Stealing the show is Jennifer Laks as a hired cook who manages to make a proper stew, and J. Christopher Sloan is believably Gallic as her genial husband.

Written by Marc Camoletti (author of the acclaimed Boeing-Boeing), adapted by Robin Hawdon and jauntily directed by Drina Durazo. The charming country-home set is by Chris Winfield and plaudits to dialect coach Glenda Morgan Brown. Produced by Bert Emmett and Dan Sykes for the Group Rep.

At the Lonny Chapman Theatre, 10900 Burbank Blvd., North Hollywood, through January 25. For tickets: (818) 763-5990 or Ample street parking.

Friday, December 19, 2014


Superstar Dame Angela Lansbury triumphs in this totally delightful revival of Noel Coward’s 1944 comedy. Set in an elegant English country home, a novelist has arranged a séance as research for his new book. 

He didn’t reckon with eccentric medium Madame Arcati (Lansbury) who, after cycling eight miles to the house,  accidentally summons up his dead ex-wife. This blithe spirit is not approving of his new spouse and is determined to win him back. So Madame Arcati is called on again to exorcise this ghost, a talent she obviously does not possess. However, she is quite willing to give it a try, and she does, with predictably disastrous results.

Lansbury is a bundle of energy, even doing the hokey-pokey to connect with the other world, and taking the stage so completely that the rest are in danger of becoming mere shadows. 

Charles Edwards is a gallant hero caught between warring wives; Charlotte Parry presents a stiff-upper-lip as his beleaguered present wife; Jemima Rooper is a kewpie-doll ghost with a sensual memory; Simon Jones and Sandra Shipley are a neighboring couple of skeptics, and Susan Louise O’Connor is the daftest maid that ever served high tea.

Directed with impeccably high style by Michael Blakemore, the exquisite set is by Simon Higlett, with lighting by Mark Jonathan and sound by Ben and Max Ringham. The costumes are exquisite, with Lansbury’s colorful outfits by Martin Pakledinaz. Delightful interlude vocals of Coward songs by Christine Ebersole.

After winning accolades in London the show is being launched at the Ahmanson Theatre for its North American Tour. At Los Angeles Music Center, 135 North Grand Avenue, through Jan. 18. Tickets: 213-628-2772 or or CTG Box Office.

 Also reviewed in January issue of NOT BORN YESTERDAY

Monday, December 8, 2014


Poland, 1928. Strangers on a train meet and chat and, even through the veneer of small talk, we soon get the picture. The handsome young man is a successful businessman from Russia, and Jewish. The chatty peasant girl is a Polish army nurse and blatant anti-Semite. She boasts that she can spot a Jew from across the room, but he has slipped under her radar. Angry, and with amused contempt, he plans to draw her to him and after their first passionate kiss (or more) tell her he’s Jewish. Ah, the plan is a good one under the circumstances, a well deserved reproof, until he recognizes under her naiveté a fragile girl and falls in love with her. They spend three days in Zacopane, a luxury resort, and the secret that divides them becomes an ominous shadow.
Based on his own father’s youthful true story, Henry Jaglom has created a simple yet persuasively real situation where we are like flies on the wall observing people as if in real life. All this is overshadowed by our modern awareness of what the blatant anti-Semitism in Poland led to during the Nazi occupation. Here it is the elephant in the room, and the final confrontation is a powerful statement on the tragedy guaranteed by racism.

Tanna Frederick is superb as Katia, blossoming from a frowsy chatterbox into a passionate vulnerable woman; Mike Falkow matches her as Semyon, a sophisticated charmer opening into an emotionally honest man. Also excellent are Cathy Arden as a worldy-wise actress, Stephen Howard as a bigoted priest, Jeff Elam as a wary doctor, and Kelly DeSarla as a fun-loving flapper.

Written by Henry Jaglom and directed with great sensitivity by Gary Imhoff. The complicated yet  exquisite sets are by Chris Stone. Produced by Alexandra Guarnieri and presented by The Rainbow Theatre Company in association with Edgemar Center for the Arts. At the Edgemar Theatre, 2437 Main Street, Santa Monica. Tickets: (310) 392-7327 or Don’t miss it.
Also reviewed in the January issue of NOT BORN YESTERDAY.