Monday, June 29, 2015

OFF THE KING'S ROAD …West Los Angeles

The sadness underlying this poignant play, by Neil Koenigsberg, creates a shadow over the often humorous action. An elderly man who has lost his wife to cancer returns to their favorite city and stays at a boutique hotel off King’s Road in London. Under psychiatric advice he intends to visit all the usual haunts: museums, theatres, parks, to lift his mood and find a purpose in going on with life. 

However, there are a few things on his bucket list that he decides to try, the best of which is a visit to a prostitute that turns out to be quite nourishing. Still, later, when he writes on a blackboard “I am so lonely… ” the bleakness of his life cancels all joy. In spite of the genial presence of others at the hotel, in the end, when we long for an affirmation of life we are left with a sense of desolation.

Tom Bower is moving as a desperate man clutching to life; Casey Kramer is sweet as his nosy cat-loving neighbor; Thaddeus Shafer persuades as a harried psychiatrist who has his own problems, and Michael Uribes is just right as the sympathetic desk clerk. 

Outstanding is Maria Zyrianova as a prostitute who is beautiful in both body and spirit.

Under Amy Madigan’s calm direction the story unfolds in short scenes that are transitioned smoothly by the extraordinary rotating  bedrooms/hotel lobby set designed by Joel Daavid. Original music is by sound designer Joseph “Sloe” Slawinski; lighting by Christina Schwinn, and costumes by Sharell Martin.

A Guest Production at The Odyssey Theatre, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd, LA, through August 2. Tickets at (323) 960-7712 or
Photos by Ed Krieger

Monday, June 15, 2015


This award-winning play, by Samuel D. Hunter, belongs in a new genre that is becoming sickeningly common – the family that battle each other to the death. Forget psychology, it’s war, and just wait for the down-on-the-floor battle that is sure to come. In this case, Dad has committed suicide in order to become part of the cosmos (I kid you not) and Mom, who appears to be a smart, no-nonsense woman, has demonstrated inner turmoil by painting the entire house white, pictures and all. Now she has invited the kids home to help her follow Dad into the stratosphere.

Yes, that’s the plot and it makes no sense unless you are of the opinion that people who live in the Midwest - here it’s Idaho – are really a loopy lot. The parents are questionable enough, but when the lesbian daughter gets really nasty with her aloof photographer brother, it’s a physical wrestling match. (Shades of Osage County).

Pity the poor actors who all deserve better material, even Mark L. Taylor, as Dad, who only appears as a hologram. Anne Gee Byrd’s witty and practical Mom is hardly a woman ready to off herself; as elder son Bo, Ned Mochel demonstrates inner conflict mainly by outer exasperation; while Tracie Lockwood’s Ally is so belligerent there are no surprises in her final sad confession. When the play ended with Mom taking the potion, the audience burst into applause. Have we really sunk so low that a pointless suicide merits applause?

Directed by Rogue Machine’s founding artistic director, John Perrin Flynn. At Rogue Machine, 5041 W. Pico Blvd., LA, through July 27th. Tickets: 855-585-5185 or
Photo by John Flynn

Friday, June 12, 2015

AMERICAN IDIOT …in Hollywood

This is a lively punk-rock opera that springs noisily to life from the second it starts, as three young pals in an American suburb decide to escape to a new life in the big city. How each one fares is the storyline and it ranges from delirious to desolate as they come up against harsh reality. Will is forced to tear up his ticket to freedom because he has knocked up his girlfriend; Tunny is caught up in the excitement of a far off war until his dreams and his legs are shattered; Johnny boldly goes for the excitement of sex, drugs and rock n roll until even he realizes it’s a dead end street. Based on the 2004 hit album by Green Day (Billie Joe Armstrong, Mike Dirnt and Tre Cool) the show is as pertinent today as when it first exploded onto the scene, as it pictures the disillusion and rage of a generation.
Outstanding among the excellent cast are Jess Ford as Johnny and Andrew Diego as his drugged-out doppelganger St. Jimmy. Chris Kerrigan is Tunny, Wesley Moran is Will, Jackee Bianchi is pregnant Heather and Renee Cohen is poignant Whatsername. 

Under Marco Gomez’ energetic direction and Angela Todaro’s brilliant choreography the dazzling ensemble dance their hearts out even when in the shadows. Chris Raymond serves as musical director and pianist, with Graham Chapman on bass, Logan Shrewsbury on drums, David Abrams and Andy Moresi on guitars.

A DOMA Theatre production, at The MET Theatre, 1089 N. Oxford Ave., Los Angeles, through July 26. Tickets: (323) 802-4990 or

Photos by Michael Lamont. 
Also reviewed in the July issue of NOT BORN YESTERDAY.