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Author Topic:   Review: "Chopin in Space" & "Crime Scene" @ Sacred Fools
Kevin Delaney
posted February 05, 2001 09:57 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Kevin Delaney     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Chopin in Space
Sacred Fools Theatre
660 N. Heliotrope Drive in Hollywood
Thursday-Saturday @ 8 p.m., through Feb 24
Tickets: $15
(310) 281-8337 / http://www.sacredfools.org/

Crime Scene
Saturdays @ 11 p.m. - ongoing
Tickets: $7 (or $5 if purchased with Chopin)

Chopin in Space is a quasi-theatre-of-the-absurd piece that leaves you entertained but wondering, "What does it all mean?" In it, 19th Century Polish composer Frederic Chopin dreams about the future of Poland -- and drifts forward through time, meeting with Franklin D. Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan, and eventually turning into Lech Walesa. It no doubt had a lot of topical relevance when it was written in the early 80's, but the Sacred Fools' decision to present it now is -- like much of the play itself -- mysterious.

The talented cast do a fine job, though, and deliver some remarkable performances. Jeff Goldman is a strong and memorable lead as Chopin, and works well with Majken Larsson -- a superb actress who plays Chopin's Polish lover. Carla Jo Bailey plays an engaging French muse who helps to narrate the story, and later a Nancy Regan who bears a remarkable resemblance to a department store mannequin.

Stan Freitag is a fine comic actor who easily switches between a Pope character, a Groucho-Marx-impersonating FDR, and Ronald Regan. Paul Plunkett makes a great Hitler, and also plays a nasty Polish official named Stash. Pogo Saito's portrayal of the Polish "common folk" is amusing, as is her Elanor Roosevelt. Tom Chalmers is an inexplicably funny human tank, the French painter Delacroix, and a wacky Harry Truman, while Ariadne Shaffer plays a bear who enters the action from time to time, even pedaling a bicycle across the stage in fully grizzly costume.

If you're expecting a laugh-a-minute yuk-fest, this ain't it. It is an often interesting and moving work, thanks to its highly talented ensemble. (Chopin in Spacewas written by Phil Bosakowski and is directed by Michael Rainey.)

Crime Scene is a different story -- three, actually. If you've never been to it, Crime Scene is a new show every week -- not improv, but a fully scripted show, performed only once. Despite the fact that it's "minimalist rehearsal theatre," the end result is remarkably polished and very funny. Last Friday's performance began two new serialized adventures.

The debut installment of "The Game" (written by Aaron Francis and directed by Michael Franco) was a series of action-oriented skits with some impressive choreography. The quieter wit of "Christopher Marlowe, P.I. -- Playwright / Investigator" (written by Christopher Gauntt, directed by Bryan Bellomo and Christopher Gauntt) was an interesting contrast, with Bruno Oliver in the title role of the thespian sleuth.

"Marlowe" effectively mixes high- and lowbrow humor, avoiding the temptation to make too many academic references and staying accessible to those without a great knowledge of classical drama.

A third series of skits, "Mojave Falls," written and directed by David Neilson, concerned three inept mobsters (Scott Rabinowitz, Brad Friedman and Stan Freitag) who are trying to off their prisoner (Dean Jacobson) over the course of the show.

Starting this Saturday, a new saga titled "Lucky Joe and the Case of the Heisted Hymen" will begin. (Now this I gotta see...) It'll run with "Marlowe" and "The Game" over the next three weeks.

Get thee to Crime Scene -- and get there early. On the night I attended, the house was packed.


[This message has been edited by Kevin Delaney (edited February 06, 2001).]

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