MAY 22 - JUNE 28, 2009
Fridays & Saturdays at 8pm
plus Sunday Matinees May 24 & June 28 at 2pm
Call 310-281-8337 or Buy Tickets Online

Lust, love, madness, nobles, peasants, high and low humor, and mistaken identities abound in this delightfully earthy play. A contemporary of Shakespeare, Lope de Vega's hilarious play is for anyone who’s fallen in love at the wrong time - and asks, aren’t love and madness really the same thing?

"...amiable goofiness... absorbing... delightful... Terrific performances..." - L.A. Weekly (GO)

"...a madcap frolic... fast paced and high octane..." -Edge L.A.

Read the Reviews!

PREVIEW: Thursday, May 21 at 8pm - $12.50
Before we open, "STEP INTO MADNESS"
with us, on Saturday, May 9 @ 7:30pm

Live performance!  Food by Chef Gabriel Mejia!
Cash Prizes!  Get hitched!  And more!

More Details...

Starring Juliette Angeli, Joseph Beck, Jay Bogdanowitsch,
Wil Bowers, Paul Byrne, Craig Calman, Brandon Clark,
Matthew Garland, Michael Holmes, Vivian Kerr,
JJ Mayes, Laura Napoli & Tyler Tanner

Understudies: Jennifer Fenten, Paul Plunkett & Marz Richards

Scenic Design
Costume Design
Lighting Design
Prop Design
Stage Manager
Assistant Producer
Graphic Design

Suzanne Karpinski
Paul Plunkett
Monica Greene
Kurt Boetcher
Wesley Crain
Karyn Lawrence
Laura Napoli
Suze Campagna
Heatherlynn Gonzalez
Suzanne Karpinski


L.A. Weekly (GO)

We get a look-in on Spain's Golden Age via playwright-poet Lope de Vega's 1590 farce about love and lunacy, in David Johnston's pleasing and somewhat audacious 1998 translation. (Johnston's version adds a second, alternate ending.) Across the English Channel at around the same time de Vega and Calderon were fusing dreams and life in their writings, Shakespeare was toying with similar ideas in both The Winter's Tale and A Midsummer Nights Dream. In Madness, however, we get no magic potions concocted by the sprites in order to fool mortals into believing that they're donkeys, or "enamored of an ass." De Vega worked from the presumption that people are either mad, or pretend to be so, without any medicinal help. Floriano (Michael Holmes) arrives in the woods around Valencia in a panic that, for the love of a woman, he's murdered a local prince. He confesses this fear to a young beauty, Erifila (Vivian Kerr) - a trusting confession to say the least. Erifilia fled with a servant from her father and his plans to bind her future to an arranged marriage. (The servant strands her in the woods after robbing her of her jewelry and outer-garments.) In order to escape notice, the pair choose to seclude themselves in the safest place around -- Valencia's famed mental asylum - where the pair pretend to be nuts, and where the play's enveloping metaphor for society, and for lovers, takes root. There's an amiable goofiness in Suzanne Karpinski's staging of her 13-member ensemble, and this is the right company to pull off a show so influenced by the Italian Commedia clowning. Holmes' Floriano has a hangdog charm that makes him both a persuasive leading man and idiot savant, depending on whom he's trying to fool, while Kerr possesses a vivacious esprit that spins, when needed, into the requisite arrogance that accompanies sanctimonious betrayal. Kurt Boetcher's set relies heavily on burlap and cloth drapery to symbolize the woods, in hues of green and purple. And though Karpinski's tone is a bit languid at the start, the play's tangles of attraction, and their accompanying pangs of jealousy, grow increasingly absorbing. For all the technical details and the abundant merits of Karpinski's production, one does get the feeling that the play has been more staged than interpreted. The canvas on which the play unfolds contains few striking visual motifs that offer an urgent idea of why this play is being performed - beyond the obvious explanation that a few people sort of liked it. As such, it's a delightful museum piece that could be much more, with a greater breadth of vision. Terrific performances also by Laura Napoli, Juliette Angeli, Brandon Clark, and Paul Byrne, among others.

--Steven Leigh Morris
© 2009 L.A. Weekly


Spanish playwright Lope de Vega (1562–1635) sailed with the Spanish Armada, served as secretary to the Duke of Alba, and indulged in scandalous love affairs, even after becoming a priest. Somewhere along the way, he found time to write scores of plays, ranging from sex comedies to high tragedy. Madness in Valencia, seen here in a clever new translation by David Johnston, might be described as a knockabout farce, or a sort of Renaissance sitcom.

Floriano (Michael Holmes) has crossed swords with a rival and now finds he's wanted for the murder of the heir to the Spanish throne. With the assistance of his friend Valerio (Wil Bowers), he hides out in a lunatic asylum, pretending to be demented. Erifila (Vivian Kerr) has run away from home to escape an unwanted marriage, only to be robbed of her jewels and clothes by a lecherous, treacherous servant (Tyler Tanner). Stranded in her undies, she has a brief encounter with Floriano, and the two immediately fall in love.Then she, too, is carted off to the asylum. In the madhouse, things get complicated when all the males are smitten with Erifila, while all the ladies are in love/lust with Floriano.

Director Suzanne Karpinski provides a lively and colorful production. Holmes deftly lends a goofball streak to his handsome leading man. The women all offer strong performances: Kerr's Erifila is a closet spitfire in maidenly clothing. Laura Napoli shines as a woman determined to possess Floriano, and Juliet Angeli is her high-spirited servant and amorous rival. Brandon Clark spouts pompous pedantry as Dr. Verino, Craig Calman is appropriately peppery as the governor of the asylum, and Joseph Beck paints a satiric portrait of a lunatic who thinks he's Lope De Vega. Paul Byrne lends savoir-faire as a sort of aristocrat ex machina. They receive lively support from a clutch of Zanies.

Wesley Crain's inventive costume design combines handsome period pieces made of unlikely materials: a lavish gown made of camouflage fabric, a man's Renaissance outfit converted from a modern pinstripe suit for the aristocrats, and medical scrubs and matching bloomers and trunk hose for the lunatics.

--Neal Weaver
© 2009 BackStage

Edge Los Angeles

Sacred Fools' new production of "Los Locos de Valencia" is the scaffolding from which the ensemble drapes a madcap frolic worthy of Benny Hill.

A minor league Spanish grandee called Floriano has accidentally killed a nobleman and needs to hide out somewhere. Erifila, a well-born young lady has escaped her overbearing father’s house only to be robbed and left half naked by the roadside. She needs a place to recuperate. Both find themselves conveniently within sight of Valencia’s famed insane asylum.

While the grandee has to fake insanity to gain admittance, she, with her tale of woe and her bra and bloomers, looks insane to begin with. So, in they both go.

Naturally they fall for each other and as lovers do, start acting stupid. This encourages the rest of the loons to join in and pretty soon there is chaos in Bedlam.

The production is fast paced and high octane and frequently in danger of crashing into the stands, yet director Suzanne Karpinski keeps it on the asphalt. Barely.

Anchoring the madness, Michael Holmes’ Floriano is a charming lead, half doofus, half matinee idol with bedroom eyes and an infectious grin. Vivian Kerr gives Erifila enormous energy, imbuing her role with the vaudevillian instincts of a Vivian Vance.

The two female asylum inmates who try to displace Erifila in Floriano’s affections are played by Laura Napoli and Juliette Angel, and their screaming, hair-pulling catfight is an eye-popping bit of business de Vega certainly never envisioned, but would reach out through the centuries to steal if he could.

Brandon Clark is marvelous with his sardonic, slightly fey portrayal of institutionalized sanctimony as the doctor. Wil Bowers is silky in treachery as the sometimes friend who delivers Floriano safely into bedlam and tries to take Erifila as fee for the service.

Matthew Garland skulks about nicely menacing the loons as the snarling, whip wielding Pisano. Craig Calman, Jay Bogdonowitsch, Tyler Tanner, Paul Byrne, Joseph Beck, and JJ Mayes each add spice to the roiling stew as various guards, relatives, and nut cases.

Kurt Boetcher’s set is a winsome panorama of burlap-draped trees and Moorish arches accented by Karyn Lawrence’s rich honey-toned lighting. Bravo to Wesley Crain’s costuming which hints at 17th Century Spanish flamboyance with a motley of modern colors and bizarre patterns.

--Trevor Thomas
© 2009 Edge Los Angeles