22 - JUNE 28, 2009
Fridays & Saturdays
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?
absorbing... delightful... Terrific performances..." - L.A. Weekly
"...a madcap frolic... fast
paced and high octane..."
Read the Reviews!
PREVIEW: Thursday, May 21 at 8pm - $12.50
Before we open, "STEP
with us, on Saturday, May 9 @ 7:30pm
Live performance! Food
by Chef Gabriel Mejia!
Cash Prizes! Get hitched! And more!
Starring Juliette Angeli, Joseph Beck, Jay
Wil Bowers, Paul Byrne, Craig Calman, Brandon Clark,
Matthew Garland, Michael Holmes,
JJ Mayes, Laura Napoli & Tyler Tanner
Understudies: Jennifer Fenten, Paul Plunkett & Marz Richards
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.
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
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
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.
© 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
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.
© 2009 Edge