Monday, January 18, 2016

MY SISTER …in West Los Angeles


An award winner at the 2015 Hollywood Fringe Festival, this mesmerizing play is about identical twins in Berlin in 1930’s Germany who witness the rise of Nazism. One of the sisters is a cabaret singer, the other, the brilliant one who writes her materiel, is disabled by cerebral palsy. 

We see how Magda must moderate her performances to please the ominous cabaret attendees; while from the shelter of their apartment Matilde realizes the oncoming tumult.  As they endure we are aware of the awful danger they face from the mad Nazi distortion of the science of eugenics.

Playwright Janet Schlapkohl wrote the play for identical twins Emily and Elizabeth Hinkler and their extraordinary identification with the relationship brings it vividly to life. There is not a moment that rings false, as we bear witness to their loving connection. 

In her songs Emily (Magda) has a sweet melodious voice and saucy manner, but with her sister she is motherly and anxious. In her isolation Elizabeth (Matilde) writes savage anti-Nazi sketches and dark poems that show her awareness of the evil lurking outside. Although the story is set in tragic circumstances, the spirit of the play is life affirming and heroic.

Odyssey Founder Ron Sossi, who discovered the play at the Fringe, adds his direction to Paul David Story’s, to expand and enrich the staging. Original music is by Christopher Gene Okiishi with lyrics by Schlapkohl, and incidental music by onstage accompanist Barbara Rottman.
At Odyssey Theatre, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd, West LA, through March 6. Tickets: (310) 477-2055 or
Photos by Enci Box.

Also reviewed in the February issue of NOT BORN YESTERDAY. 

DEN OF THIEVES …in Hollywood

Who knew that my favorite US playwright, Stephen Adly Guirgis, wrote slapstick comedy! Well, in “Den of Thieves” he certainly succeeds. Here is a hapless crew of safecracking robbers, out to grab a fortune on a caper that their leader says only a bunch of stupid idiots could mess up! Well, guess what! As their plan implodes the play develops into a delightful existential dialogue about the meaning of life. This colloquy will not only have you laughing but also makes a lot of sense. What is your life worth, eh? Think about it, they all do, and not to be a spoiler there’s a happy ending for all – even the one who deserves to die. In the classic mold of caper films of the past, this play begs to be made into a movie.
Kudos to the wonderfully over-the-top performers: Alison Quinn is touching as depressed Maggie; Frank Gallegos is bombastic as altruistic Paul; Kevin Hermann is mercurial as loony Flaco; Paulina Gamiz is coquettish as zoftik Boochie; Eric Geller is hilarious as sadistic Sal; Chris Lanehart is petulant as sentimental Little Tuna, and Chris D’Annunzio is imperious as the suavely Machiavellian Big Tuna.

Directed by Eric Augusztiny at a pace and energy that matches Guirgis’ swift changes of mood. Minimalist set and lighting by Nicholas Acciani and Andrew Dunn.  Believable 1990’s costumes by Jessica J’aime. Produced for 2Cents Theatre Group by Kristen BoulĂ© & Roxanna Kaye.

At Hudson Guild Theatre, 6539 Santa Monica Blvd, Hollywood. Tickets at (323) 960-5770 or online at or
Photos by Daniel J. Sliwa.

Also reviewed in the February issue of NOT BORN YESTERDAY.