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"These Sacred Fools are cool."
- Polly Warfield, Senior Critic, Backstage West/DramaLogue (September 1998)

"Sacred Fools Theater is proving they are anything but. 
With impressive productions, they are emerging as a major theatrical force"

- Faye Bordy-Fears, Publisher / Theater Editor Drama-Logue (January 1998)

"One of the most talented groups of actors/comedians
this reviewer has had the pleasure of seeing in quite some time."

- Amy Schaumburg Drama-Logue (August 1997)

"The Sacred Fools Theater Company is well on its way
to becoming a major force on the L.A. theatre scene."

- Elias Stimac
Drama-Logue (July 1997)

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March-April, 2000

  • LA WEEKLY *Recommended
    Women’s dreams and disenchantments are the substance of Harry Kondoleon’s eloquent poetic narrative. His heroine is the universal bride, a trusting, anxious naïf who yearns for love but is repeatedly betrayed by a controlling, sexually capricious groom. Quintessentially female in perspective, this compelling 40-minute tapestry of a text unwinds with lilt and metaphor, while bereft of delineated roles or characters. Its format offers broad scope for stylistic interpretation, an opportunity boldly seized by Sacred Fools Theater Company, which offers three renditions, presented consecutively in one evening and directed by Pogo Saito, Gerald McClanahan and Blake Williams, respectively. Saito’s concept, featuring a white-garbed, finely choreographed all-female cast serves Kondoleon’s poetry and metaphysics best. Jessica Schroeder portrays the male voices with striking swagger, and Donna Tina Charles’ background film (projecting images of medieval maidens and knights on horseback) sharpens the irony. McClanahan’s campier staging hints of MGM and takes place in a women’s spa, while Williams’ somewhat contrived and awkward version transpires among a coven of ‘60s hippies. The latter two both have a unique tone and color — their mixed-gender ensembles are generally strong, with the male performers notably intensifying the play’s sexual dynamic.
    - Deborah Klugman, ©2000 LA WEEKLY

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February, 2000

    In this boisterous and philosophical comedy, Jacques and his master bounce across France getting into trouble (mostly of a sexual nature). In the midst of all the hijinks, observations are made regarding the nature of love between men and women, gender politics, the class system, the immorality of bad poets, the triumph of gentle wisdom over cruel cleverness and an ultimate truth-that we just don't know which way we're going. Warm, witty, wise and naughty, JACQUES AND HIS MASTER is superbly entertaining.
    - jam, ©2000 THEATERMANIA.COM

  • LA WEEKLY *Recommended
    Leave it to Milan Kundera to seamlessly meld sexual farce with social commentary. In this 1981 three-act "homage to Diderot" (here translated by the estimable polymath Simon Callow), Kundera follows the exploits of a sassy servant named Jacques (Phil LaMarr) and his kindly, uncertain master (Patrick Towne). Against a backdrop that's part "Canterbury Tales," part Pirandello, Jacques and His Master spin tales of sex defined as much by cuckoldry and revenge as by lust and wantonness. Occasionally, they break the fourth wall, journeying through France toward an unknown goal, but mostly they just interrupt each other. Along the way, they meet a loquacious innkeeper (Shelley Wenk), who hijacks the storytelling for a while, but soon the principals regain their footing and carry on. Director John Sylvain has wisely not sought too much deep meaning in this entertaining if meandering work, and his skillful staging, peppered with enough physical humor to leaven Kundera/Callow's highbrow musings, gives the show needed zip. As Jacques, LaMarr brings a range of voices and facial expressions to his likable role. Towne offers less variety, but his mincing, lascivious portrayal works perfectly. Wenk's innkeeper is in the Ethel Merman mold, and the rest of the supporting cast make similarly favorable impressions. Sylvain himself designed the aptly plain set.
    - David Mermelstein, ©2000 LA WEEKLY

    "Where were they going?... What were they saying?" are utterances from Jacques and His Master by Milan Kundera, a play based on a novel by Diderot. Unfortunately, I couldn't help asking myself the same questions during the first two acts of this production. After intermission, the third act at last makes this romp through the countryside coherent and worthwhile.

    In the vein of Brecht, the production and the play do everything possible to remind us we are watching an imagined situation. This is not inappropriate: The play is essentially an intertwining series of tales about friendship, fornication, and the role of storytelling itself. The pre-show consists of half-dressed actors preparing the stage for performance, and during the play the characters have a philosophical xmailabout their "creator." The distancing technique works, but not necessarily to the show's benefit: I kept thinking instead of feeling for the characters, especially in the beginning of the show, which is one continuous and confusing interruption.

    Director John Sylvain has an enormous storytelling task, and there are moments which slip away from him and his cast. For the most part, the show is directed at a speedy tempo, with barely a distinguishing variance between the beats of the show. Much of the staging is flat, especially when the characters are consistently lined up in the same plane. When Sylvain exploits his monochromatic blue set, or finds interesting diagonals and levels, some very clever pictures are created.

    As for the acting, Sylvain and his ensemble lean towards a broad comedic style which suits the production. The two leads, Phil LaMarr as Jacques and Patrick Towne as the Master, are clever and charismatic. As far as technique is concerned, both are masters of voice and facial expression. Towne, especially in the third act, steals many moments with his comedic timing and hilarious looks. Most importantly, LaMarr and Towne understand their text and play objectives.

    This is an element lost in some of the other roles, such as Shelley Wenk's Innkeeper, a performance in which objectives give way to sounding like the role instead of being the role. The ensemble members try their best to tackle the cardboard characters Kundera has written for them; Mark Auerbach as Young Bigre probably comes closest to finding an arc. But it's a nearly impossible task for the females to accomplish, trapped as they are in stereotypical roles of whores.

    In the wonderful third act, the best moments of directing, acting, and writing come together. The acrobatics of the structure subside for the most part, and there is a quiet and intimate scene between Jacques and his Master which finally allows us to care about the characters-to feel they have some true human depth. If one has the patience to deal with the lunacy of the first two acts, the payoff is not far behind.

- Adelina Anthony


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December, 1999

    Jonesing for a fix, jello topped with mayonnaise, getting shot at while delivering a Christmas present, and a brawl between two couples - one Jewish, one Mormon. Such are the seasonal joys in Sacred Fools' bracingly raucous bill of eight holiday-themed plays. The assemblage makes for a long, often manic, occasionally flat evening. It's a wonderful opportunity for the ensemble to show off its razzle-dazzle. In David Rodwin's savage Holiday Resort, directed by Quinn Sullivan, the clash of Nastler family and the Goode clan provokes anything but good cheer; P.J. Byrne, Linda Miller and Tina Ballabio bristle in their roles. Blue X-Mas, written by Joshua Rebell, contains the production's most intriguing storytelling, tracing monied Will's (Jeff Benninghofen) mysterious odyssey through New York on an apparently innocuous errand. David P. Moore's direction makes good use of the Heliotrope Theater's wide stage. George Larkin's The Naked Holidays Opening, directed gleefully by Alexander Yannis Stephano, is the pick of the show. A multicultural mélange outlining the contrasting traditions of Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa melds with a debunking of Christian traditions, climaxing in a semi-clothed chorus line.
    - Paul B. Cohen, ©1999 LA WEEKLY
    Perhaps it was to distinguish themselves from the flood of Christmas Carols and Nutcrackers on stages this December, or maybe their costume budget had shrunk to the size of a sugar plum. Whatever the reason, the wacky folks at Sacred Fools have shunned tradition and instead put together an evening of sex and silliness called Naked Holidays to celebrate the season.  As evidenced by the opening ensemble number-which includes a straight-laced Amish couple bellowing about the Bible while indulging in a spanking session, and men in g-strings emblazoned with proclamations such as "Stocking Stuffer"-most anything goes with this goofy group.  Written and directed by a total of 16 different company members, Naked Holidays is a collection of eight adult-themed shorts that look, through rather twisted lenses, at Christmas, Hanukkah, and other versions of holiday celebrations. "Terry Twigstix and the Christmas Lesson," for example, is partly narrated in Dr. Suess-like fashion by Lisette Bross and her rod-puppet mouse, and concerns two kids (Shirley Anderson and Eric C. Johnson) who conjure up a half-naked, wild-looking God of Winter named Terry Twigstix (Benjamin Davis) to teach their Grinchy old grandma (Elizabeth Warner) a tough lesson.

    And "The Christmas Fix," based on William S. Burroughs' A Junky's Christmas, demonstrates that even an addict (Joe Hernandez-Kolski) can get into the holiday spirit when he eases a sick child's (Dean Jacobson) pain by giving him the drugs he just scored. This tale is narrated by Maggie the Smoke Poet (a terrifically bold Jennifer Barrick), dressed as a combat vet, in a dark, urbanized take-off of ""Twas the Night Before Christmas."

    Lots of heart (and flesh) is revealed in "Nude, Nude, Nude, Holidays,Holidays, Holidays," in which a group of seasoned strippers (Barrick as dominatrix Tiffany, Ariadne Shaffer as working mom Candy, and Lisa Grant as little drummer girl Jasmine) pool their tips to send the homesick new girl, Amber (Stephanie Noel Little), back to her Midwest family for the holidays.

    In the intriguing but somewhat convoluted "Blue X-mas," an unknowingly neglectful husband (an appealing Jeff Benninghofen) gets a holiday lesson in appreciating his wife (Babe Marie Hack). Timbre Henning sparks a lot of laughs here as an off-kilter receptionist.

    In "Credit Where Credit Is Due," an arrogant, self-absorbed producer (John Hamm) learns about forgiveness and sharing when Santa (Scott McShane) finally delivers the train set he'd asked for, and never received, in 1973, during his parent's break-up. "Holiday Burn" refers not only to Grandma's (Ruth Silveira) tendency to overcook the meat, but to the way her granddaughter Lisa (Jessie Marion) reacts when Lisa's well-meaning but condescending mother (Noelle Potvin) arrives for dinner. And "Holiday Resort" examines the peculiar proclivities, sexual and otherwise, of two different families-one ridiculously high-strung and the other absurdly cheerful-as they celebrate Christmas together at a desert spa.

    Simple props, set pieces, and sound effects, supported by Aaron Francis' congenial lighting, help keep Naked Holidays exactly what it is: a frivolous and somewhat saucy way to make merry this holiday season.
    - Terri Roberts, ©1999 BACKSTAGE WEST

    There are 8 million stories in the naked holidays . . . and "Naked Holidays," at Sacred Fools Theatre, tells seven of them. It's naked in the sense of exposing all sorts of holiday-related emotions--the jangled as well as the jingled--as well as in a more literal way. Although there's no full frontal nudity, a few moments come close (with both genders). There are scenes of sex and violence. This is not a show for kids.  Most of the clothes come off near the end of George Larkin's frisky musical introduction, which also establishes that the holidays in question include Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and solstice celebrations, as well as Christmas. The show pokes fun at its own ethnic nondiversity by enlisting an unwilling white guy (Jeff Benninghofen) to explain Kwanzaa.  Not all of the seven vignettes that follow are especially raw. Even John Sylvain's "Nude Nude Nude," which is set backstage at a strip club, is sentimental in the time-honored Christmas tradition.

    In Joshua Rebell's "Blue X-mas," "blue" refers to melancholic, not to risqué. Rebell tells a shaggy-dog story about an upscale New Yorker (Benninghofen), bored by the holidays, who's asked to deliver a present by his wife and becomes involved in a trail of unsettling intrigue. Loose ends dangle, but the protagonist ends up excited anew by life and by his wife. As directed by David P. Moore, it's a strange but satisfying pick-me-up.

    Nothing else is as good. The first sketch is the most ambitious--combining puppetry, rhymed couplets, a mythological being and dark generational satire--but it misfires in a big way. Many of the other pieces, more modest in ambition, succeed modestly.

    Donna Tina Charles' "Holiday Burn" pokes fun at Middle American culinary standards and control freaks. Rik Keller's "Credit Where Credit Is Due" is a tongue-in-cheek account of a tardy Santa's transformation of a salacious Hollywood mogul. David Rodwin's "Holiday Resort" offers a bit of local California color before it slips into heavy-handed domestic lampoonery. Paul Plunkett's "The Christmas Fix," based on William S. Burroughs' "A Junky's Christmas," nimbly displays the holiday spirit at work in the lower depths.

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September, 1999

    Sexy cyberpunkettes, a Philip Marlowe–ish narrator and lots of cool technojunk are the real draw of Steve Pickering and Charley Sherman’s adaptation of William Gibson’s sci-fi short story, set in "the Sprawl." It seems a place not much different from lowlife L.A., really, but with a better soundtrack (by J. Warner), imaginative futuristic costumes (Mary Hayes) and a killer lighting design (by Aaron Francis, lighting software by Norman Gilmore). "There are a million naked stories in the Sprawl," the narrator (Patrick Towne) says as he squints through cigarette smoke, thus setting the tone for director Scott Rabinowitz’s comic-bookish rendering of one of the oldest naked stories in the world: two guys involved with the same girl. Rikki (Piper Henry) seems to have popped in from cyber-Hee-Haw; still, her too-big character matches the proceedings, which focus on computer-"cowboy" partners — daring, handsome Bobby (David Holcomb) and a love-struck sad sack named Automatic Jack (Adam Bitterman) — as they try to outsmart the underworld’s evil Chrome. But mostly this is a romance tricked out with terrific gadgets (props by Stan Freitag and Darrin W. Jaques). The miscast Bitterman plays this cybersilliness seriously and stolidly — which is problematic, since he’s the star. Still, there’s plenty to get your cyber-rocks off on.
    - Constance Monaghan, ©1999 LA WEEKLY

    As much as I loathed every nanosecond spent in front of The Matrix (indulging a visiting teenage nephew, if you must know), it turned out to be valuable groundwork for grasping this no-budget show, which best exemplifies the raffish charm for which the Sacred Fools is becoming noted. Steve Pickering and Charley Sherman have adapted William Gibson's cyber-noir story of love and chicanery (two men, one girl, and then a whole lot of money get liberated) into a surprisingly endearing piece of theatre.

    As wonderful as designer Aaron Francis' dyspeptic vision of the future is (like today, but junkier, and with fabulous lighting), it's Adam Bitterman in the role of the hardened yet not hopeless romantic Automatic Jack who carries the show. He's gruff yet honest while dealing with the reality that the affections of the tempestuous Rikki (Piper Henry, who grows on you in spite of her listen-to-mah-ayccent accent) will probably fall to his arrogant young friend, Bobby Quinne (the vibrant David Holcomb).

    Rikki wants to be a SimStim actress (and here I must urge you to read the glossary in your program before the show), so she's just passing through, and, anyway, the boys are operating in a milieu where dames are set pieces, so the real story is how the two of them are going to relieve the criminally rich Chrome (a striking if non-speaking Tenny Priebe) of much of her ill-gotten gains. There is a deliciously jaded bartender thrown into the mix, of course, and he is played with great humor by Jeff Goldman. The background actors are usually quite complementary to the proceedings, although at times the hey-I've-got-an-inner-dialogue-too approach can be a bit distracting.

    Mary Hayes displays great imagination with her costumes and never forgets that, whenever possible, the cantilevered breast is best. Her creations are matched by the inventive props of Stan Freitag and Darrin W. Jaques (although I think some money may have been spent here). Director Scott Rabinowitz keeps the show moving and never becomes so enamored of the techno-babble that he slows it down so we can absorb it; he knows as well as we do that it doesn't really matter. I appreciate that.
    - Wenzel Jones,©1999 BACKSTAGE WEST

    BURNING CHROME, the William Gibson short story of love in the near future, opened at the Sacred Fools Theater. In this world that we all know, or will know, there is Cyberspace; part of the communication grid, where the Internet would be created. Closer within, there is the Matrix; the place where the computer data live. A pair of ‘cowboys’, computer hackers, Automatic Jack (Adam Bitterman) and Bobby Quinne (David Holcomb) plan to hack the wealth of a mob head, Chrome (Tenny Priebe). She is a woman that’s more a part of simulated stimulation, or ‘simstim’, than real reality. These two cowboys are in love with Rikki Wildside (Piper Henry). She has some ideas of her own on with what’s going on in a world that consists of big corporations getting bigger, and virtual reality is reality!!

    Gibson’s sci-fi writings, including this adaptation by Steve Pickering and Charley Sherman, has been read and followed for quite a while. (Gibson is accredited to coin the word cyberspace long before it became within the lexicon of the last decade of the 20th century). This version, incredibly directed by Scott Rabinowitz, has a feel of a world that is all mean looking gadgetry, and meaner looking persons living in an element (real or otherwise) that is out of control and within the points of no return. Sci-fi is the only story genre that hasn’t worked well on stage. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule, as BURNING CHROME holds up! It shows that this sociated ‘world’ is mean, hard and is almost the place where love can exist. In cyberspace, however, there is no love, only players in the matrix.
    - Rich Borowy, ©1999

    The technically flashy "Burning Chrome" at Sacred Fools gives a futuristic spin to hard-boiled noir, with mixed results.

    Based on a story by William Gibson, the celebrated progenitor of cyberpunk, this stage adaptation by Steve Pickering and Charley Sherman preserves Gibson's stylistically experimental, computer-influenced techno-jargon.
    And that's a problem. Cyberpunk may be the cutting edge in sci-fi fiction, but the technological double-talk that characterizes the genre doesn't always cut it as theatrical dialogue. Despite impressive technical effects, the visualization of cyberspace remains amorphous.

    Unwieldy exposition sets the dystopian scene, a dehumanized society in which computers have supplanted religion as the opiate of the masses. Brilliant "console cowboy" Bobby (David Holcomb) persuades his reluctant partner Automatic Jack (Adam Bitterman) to rip off Chrome (Tenny Priebe), a mobster queen with vast financial holdings and a lethal reputation.

    Chrome's cash is hidden deep in the Matrix, a glorified Internet where world commerce, legal and non, is conducted. First, the partners must hack through the "black ice"--the deadly countermeasures--protecting the dough. The scam is complicated when both guys get a yen for Rikki Wildside (Piper Henry), a free spirit who has come to town hoping to star in "simstim"--a virtual reality medium in which the actors replace their eyes with cameras. Although Jack's love for Rikki is true, he's destined to download the blues.
    Impelled by driving rock music, Scott Rabinowitz's carefully syncopated staging is meant to be comically overwrought, and succeeds. Aaron Francis' set and lighting design, Mary Hayes' fetish-inspired costumes, and J. Warner's sound are wildly inventive, as are Stan Freitag and Darrin W. Jaques' props and Gene Lushtak's original video, which opens the action.

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July, 1999

    Sexual harassment, racism, job-site murder, corporate downsizing - they all seem plucked from today's headlines. Yet these "topical" issues, and others, eerily resonate throughout El mer Rice's prescient 1923 expressionist classic, in a splendid mounting by director Lauren Hollingsworth for Sacred Fools Theater Company. Meet Mr. Zero (played with appropriate faux toughness by Craig Mathers), a store receipt-cruncher of 25 years, who, having just been informed that he will shortly be replaced by a machine, goes postal and murders his boss. Zero's subsequent imprisonment (a strange, involving moment in which Zero is treated like an attraction at a zoo), trial and execution aren't the end of the saga, however. He ventures into the afterlife, encountering other dead souls, including a co-worker (Amy Jones) for whom he had the hots. Zero also learns some unpleasant truths about himself, as well as the disconcerting news that he must return to Earth to do it all over again. Call it the reincarnation treadmill. In a lesser director's hands, all this could easily implode into didactic tedium, but Hollings worth's inventive, well-focused staging not only sustains but embellishes upon the piece's harsh, satirical wit. Stacie London's bleak, gray set pieces are simple yet perfect complements.
    -Lovell Estell III, ©1999 LA WEEKLY

    The winner of the Worst Karma of 1923 award goes to the number-crunching shlub of Elmer Rice's play "The Adding Machine."   Rice's Expressionist study, which retains surprising wit and potency in director Lauren Hollingsworth's Sacred Fools Theater Company staging, follows the emblematic Mr. Zero. He lives the drone's life, 25 years' worth of "adding figures and waiting for 5:30."  At work, Zero (Craig Mathers) entertains lovesick daydreams about his co-worker, Daisy Diana Dorothea Devore (Amy Jones). Then Zero gets the boot--replaced by a machine. He retaliates by killing his boss. After his own trial and execution, he shoots up to heaven, where in the Elysian Fields, having reunited with his (now dead) co-worker Daisy, Zero proves the same unreflective schmo he was on Earth.  By 1923, American playwrights had gleaned a few things from German theater, the primary source of theatrical Expressionism and its distortional techniques. Mr. Zero belongs to a long line of characters ensnared by the machine age, as well as his own rash and futile actions. More intriguingly, Rice's protagonist is a blood relative of various small-minded American Babbitts, mindful of appearances, racist, anti-labor, conformity-plus. Even in heaven, Mr. Zero can't shake his old hang-ups about respectability.  We're inside a suffocating character's head throughout "The Adding Machine."  Director Hollingsworth works well with choreographer Pogo Saito and her designers to create a cold gray universe on a budget. Zero is connected, literally, via conveyor belt to his beloved co-worker. Around them, minions glide by, walking at half-speed.  In a graveyard way-station en route to heaven, Zero chats up a fellow deceased murderer, played by Jeff Goldman. Goldman's an exceptional hysteric, reminiscent of Gene Wilder; he knows how to make anxiety funny.  Throughout, Hollingsworth doesn't over- or under-stress the distorted atmospherics. She has an eye, but she also makes room for her better actors, chief among them Mathers, Goldman and, in bit parts, sleek, born-for-film-noir sensualist Piper Henry.   There's a lot going on in the best of the '20s dreamscapes, as Michael Greif's recent New York production of the 1928 "Machinal" revealed. Even with some routine acting, the Sacred Fools rendition of "The Adding Machine" works. Together, the material and the production illustrate the life of a guy whose enemy isn't the machine; it's his own underfed imagination.
    - Michael Phillips, Times Theater Critic, ©1999 LA TIMES

    What's black and white and gray all over? Why, the soul-stunning, worker-bee world of the aptly named number cruncher, Mr. Zero, that's what. Zero is the exasperated anti-hero of The Adding Machine, Elmer Rice's darkly comic 1923 forecast of the dangers of a mechanized, dehumanized society, which remains amazingly relevant as we reach the dawn of a new millennium.

    Cleanly directed by Lauren Hollingsworth, this provocative production is ably complimented by Nicole Thomas' uniform but stylized costumes; the choreographed movements of Pogo Saito (who also plays Mrs. Six); Stacie B. London's flat-faced, monochromatic scenic design, starkly lit by Bryan Schulte, and the assembly line mutterings of Drew Dalzell's sound. Hollingsworth's average-to-above-average-level cast is led by a trio of potent performers (Craig Mathers, Amy Jones, and Jeff Goldblum), and by her directorial underscoring of the script's humor, which helps to illustrate the point while not depriving us of the full impact of a mind-numbing, by-the-numbers lifestyle.
    A spineless schmuck who's been on the job for 25 years, Zero (Mathers, who walks confidently and crazily right on the edge) cannot stand up for himself. Whether it's the constant haranguing of his harpy wife (M.E. Dunn) or going seven years without a raise, Zero just grimaces, swallows his rage, and gets up the next day to don the same black-and-white suit and carry the same black-and-white perspective into the same dull gray office (where he's never missed a day) and then go back home to the same dull gray wife and house.

    When Zero is told he's being replaced by an adding machine that can do his job more efficiently, more accurately, in less time and at a lower cost, he goes berserk and shoots his boss. A trial, an execution, and a trip to the heavenly Elysian Fields soon follow, where Zero is befriended by a distraught fellow with anxiety problems (a hilariously intense Goldblum), maybe because he murdered his mother.

    But Zero's dismal point of view doesn't allow him to accept forgiveness or enjoy pleasures he missed on earth-including the affections of his now deceased co-worker, Miss Daisy Diana Dorothea Devore (the lovely, light, and airy Jones), who committed suicide just to be with him. With his rigid, close-minded attitude, Zero learns-you guessed it-zip about himself. When he makes the startling discovery that, like a cosmic conveyor belt between the spiritual and earthly worlds, reincarnation really exists, and, like it or not, he's gotta go back, Zero's unwillingness to relax, open up, and learn even a little bit from his experiences guarantees his next time around won't be much different from the last-the same black-and-white p.o.v. in the same kind of dull gray office, surrounded by the same kind of dull gray people, and so on and so on ad infinitum.
    - Terri Roberts, ©1999 BACKSTAGE WEST

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April, 1999

  • LA WEEKLY *Recommended
    On a dark and stormy night, corporate lawyer Laura (Desi Doyen) admits she's been suicidal for some time, so it's no surprise when the other weekend renters at an isolated Hamptons time-share stumble upon a corpse.   With the deceased center stage, rival lawyer Douglas (Allen Lulu) steals Laura's legal briefs while depressed social worker Tuba (Scott Rabinowitz) reads her diary and finds himself smitten with her. Mousy tax lawyer Cathy (Alexandria Sage) revels in the excitement, comforting the deceased's fiancé Peter (Graham McCann) until Michael (J. Haran) arrives claiming to be the real fiancé.  Playwright George Larkin cannibalizes various genre conventions with mistaken identities, elevating the whodunit spoof to new levels of hilarity.  Director Adam Bitterman keeps the action moving, the jokes zooming and the pratfalls flying at a breathless pace, with the energetic cast delivering uniformly strong comic performances. Dominated by a nautical motif (including a giant taxidermied marlin), Aaron Francis' multi-doored set is nicely suited to the action, particularly to Bitterman's well-choreographed fight scene.
    - Sandra Ross, ©1999 LA WEEKLY

    Although George Larkin's script is hardly the Shakespearean bloodfest the title promises (I will admit to nurturing a sweet fantasy wherein an arena of lawyers battle each other until only a few cell phones and a Porsche key chain are left behind), it's still a fun little show based on the Agatha Christie premise of a house, cut off from civilization by a storm, containing a mysterious corpse and a number of terrified occupants.

    Lawyers Douglas (Allen Lulu) and Cathy (Alexandria Sage), along with the way-out-of-his-element social worker Tuba (Scott Rabinowitz), all arrive at their Hamptons time-share to find a corpse, head neatly bagged, sitting upright on the couch. A quick perusal of the nearby diary, with its 17 subheadings, reveals what they think to be the truth - until the corpse's fiancé  Peter (Graham McCann) shows up. And then the corpse's fiancé  Michael (J. Haran) shows up. And then things get complicated.

    Lulu and Sage are wonderfully reprehensible as lawyers who attempt the occasional human emotion, while Rabinowitz proves a warm and personable foil. McCann and Haran are fun, but I can't tell you why. Desi Doyen has a captivating Grace Kelly quality, but I can't tell you who she is. I may have told you too much already. The delightfully named Adam Bitterman shows an adept directorial hand for farce.

    I don't know who to applaud for the lights - I'll guess it's production designer Aaron Francis-but they're wonderful. Much of the play happens by candlelight, and it's not until they all light up at once after a blackout that you even realize they're not real. I don't know how those warm little pools of light were achieved so naturally, but it's quite an effect. The set (the modest Mr. Francis again?) is a lovely bit of seafoam green real estate, although I'd question the necessity of adding a full, visible bathroom (trust me, nothing you need to see happens there). Babe Hack's sound makes for a ripping good storm. Only the addition of deceased IRS auditors could make for a more appealing premise.
    - Wenzel Jones, ©1999 Backstage West

    Question: A lawyer dies, goes to heaven and they throw a parade for her.   Why? Answer: Because she was the first one to get there.   Despite this and dozens of other clich attorney jokes, the play Dead Lawyers is a hysterical send-up of Agatha Christie whodunits and door-slamming farces with more egotistical lawyers than an O.J. trial.

    A raging storm, a washed-out bridge and a secluded time-share house in the Hamptons provide the ideal clich setting for this comic mystery.  Renters arrive to find a corpse on the couch, an apparent suicide of a corporate lawyer named Laura. Douglas (Allen Lulu, whom youll recognize from a series of collect phone call ads), a rival of Lauras, reacts to the corpse like its a piece of furniture. Tuba, a suicidal social worker, reads Laura's diary and falls in love with her. Cathy, a reserved tax lawyer cares for the shocked fianc Peter ... until another man also claiming to be the fiance enters and the mystery deepens.

    Adam Bitterman directs George Larkins play for The Sacred Fools Theater Company, which has forged its name as one of the citys better troupes. The show continues Thursdays through Saturdays at the Heliotrope Theater, 660 N. Heliotrope Drive, Hollywood. On Thursdays two lawyers get in for the price of one. And on Saturday nights, theater-goers can stay for free and see the late night show Crime Scene, a continuing saga of violence and intrigue.
    - Jeff Farve, ©1999 Ventura County Star

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March, 1999

  • LA WEEKLY *Pick Of The Week
    We're offered glimpses of a bona fide modern classic in director Alexander Yannis Stephano's brisk and wonderfully farcical staging of playwright Kirk Wood Bromley's sexy and intellectually thrilling verse comedy - a pyrotechnic verbal feast in pun-filled iambic pentameter. This tour-de-force production offers arch satire, bawdy repartee and clockwork comic performances. It's so clever, you regret that comedies written in verse are so rare. Prim feminist Professor Bertha (Caroline Gray Andres, hilariously strident) opens an all-female "Women's Study" center and invites her acolytes Marla (Amy Bryson), Lydia (Shirley Roeca) and Corme (Lauren Daniels) to move in - on the condition that no menfolk sully their corridors of power. Of course, Marla and Lydia soon prevail on the fave studs - handsome, dim Leavus (Michael Houston King) and hirsute hippie poet Warren (Scott McShane) - to don women's clothes for clandestine visits. Occasional patches of Bromley's savage dialogue are lost to imprecise diction, but Andres' daffy Dr. Bertha, King's humiliated bohunk Leavus, Bryson and Roeca's pedantic, but horny feminists - as well as a supporting cast of hilarious, acrobatic players - are deliberately ingratiating, offering spry and assured performances. Add M.E. Dunn's Astrobrite cartoonish set and costumes, and you have a production that's as much a feast for the eyes as the ears.
    Paul Birchall, ©1999 LA WEEKLY

  • LA TIMES *Critics' Pick
    Kirk Wood Bromley writes with witty bite, bawdy flair, gender-bending dynamics and iambic pentameter in the romantic comedy "Want's Unwished Work, or A Birthday Play," at the Sacred Fools Theater in Hollywood. Intellectual analysis is pitted against lusty love as director Alexander Yannis Stephano whips this shamelessly funny ensemble into a breathless gallop.

    Dr. Bertha Lerner (Caroline Gray Andres) opens a psychological research center to work with her idol, the pompous and slightly sinister Dr. Kling (Christopher Paul Hart). The center allows only two men, Kling and his assistant, Erad (Dallas Dickinson), and the gender-questionable housemother, Vazoline (Kurt Carley), who explains his sexual identity by declaring, "I am a man although to manliness I am AWOL."
    Entering the house are the attractive Southerner, Marla (Amy Bryson); the bookish Lydia (Shirley Roeca); and the sensible Corme (Lauren Daniels).

    Lonely for lovemaking, Marla's boyfriend, the insensitive jock Leavus (Michael Houston King), and Lydia's hippie poet boyfriend, Warren (Scott McShane), don feminine frocks to meet with their sweethearts, and a farce of mistaken identity and cross-purposes ensues.

    In a wild but funny tangent, some brash bachelors (Rob Brink, Joe Hernandez-Kolski, Bryan Bellomo and Charles Barrett) scope out the females, and a birthday-gram in the form of the Wishful Waiters (Graham McAnn, Charles Michael Edmonds, Dan Etheridge and Sacha Vaughn) arrives.

    M.E. Dunn created an explosion of color between the set and costume design. This production is a wonderful blend of wordsmithing and wackiness.
    - Jana J. Monji, ©1999 LA Times

  • NITELIFE Volume 31 Issue #6
    By popular demand, the Sacred Fools Theatre Company’s acclaimed production of Kirk Wood Bromley’s "Want’s Unwished Work or a Birthday Play" has not only been extended, but moved to the Hudson Mainstage to continue its run (and make room for the opening of the groups new production "Dead Lawyers" on April 22nd at its 660 N. Heliotrope Dr. theatre in Hollywood). This new company is beginning to make a name for itself in town.  But I digress...This odd little tale of girlish feminism, testosterone and budding hormones, "Want’s Unwished Work," tells of youthful romance by way of verse-an iambic pentameter...of sorts.

    Here’s the good news: the piece cleverly blends several classic comedy styles from Commedia Dell’Arte and Shakespearean flavor to slapstick and contemporary. The extraordinarily fire-cracker cast fairly exhausts its audience by the sheer power of its energy and commitment. Each player creates a caricature of marvelous originality and likability. They virtually fly around the stage. Director Alexander Yannis Stephano has staged and paced this show at break-neck speed and manages to maintain a sense of bizarro style that is quite charming. M.E.Dunn’s cartoonesque set and flamboyant costumes are a delight. And speaking about de-lights, Burris Jackes lighting design brightly dazzles the visual offerings.  All that having been said, here come the bad news: the script’s neo iambic pentameter unfortunately translates-to this reviewer anyway-as more iambic pentamebabble. I think Bromley, who obviously has a generous bit of genius in him, has taken the goof on the verse pattern just a bit to far. There is no variance to be found; little lyricism; lite on lilt. Confusing and ponderous at times. With the continuous barrage of jarring verse, my ears soon became weary, though obviously many have enjoyed this "work of unwished wants."
    -Dave DePino, ©1999 NiteLife

    Want’s Unwished Work Or a Birthday Play, by Kirk Wood Bromley, is a July Fourth kind of play, one that explodes with color, energy and excitement. Written in verse-iambic pentameter to be exact-it is anything but stuffy, pretentious or difficult. On the contrary, Bromley writes with an irreverent, pop flair and packs his dialogue with jokes, puns and enough double entendre to satisfy a Benny Hill fan. His exuberant, freewheeling comic style is perfectly matched by Alexander Yannis Stephano’s directorial gifts, which exploit clowning and commedia dell’arte to hilarious effect. Stephano’s contributions are wellmatched by designer M.E. Dunne who has come up with some of the whackiest, way out costumes and set-pieces this side of Crumb Comixs. The creative team is also fortunate in having such a gift company of actors as Sacred Fools to deliver its skewed vision of the play. All 18 actors in the cast were not only able to deliver Bromley’s jaunty, rapid-fire dialogue but to run, tumble, jump and dance-sometimes solo, other times in ensembles. The storyline, such as it is, involves a newly married playwright (Kurt Carley) who cranks out a comedy as a present to his bride (Nicole Gallie). His feverished imagination conjures up an all-female institution for the study of "sex and women" run by a nutso doctor (Caroline Gray Andres). The first three enrollees are dismayed to find their boyfriends will not be allowed to visit them. The guys, facing celibacy, take the news even harder (pun intended). They scheme with their irate, macho leader Nichedigger (Rob Brink), to infiltrate the institution, dressed as women. Gender-swapping, cross-dressing and much high-camp humor are the result. The theme that emerges from all this bawdry and buffoonery is that people will go at any lengths to find love and sex.
    - Willard Manus, ©1999 Theaterscope

    Alexander Yannis Stephano has come to Los Angeles from New York and has brought him the ‘comedy for smart people’ "Want’s Unwished Work" which will open at the Sacred Fools Theatre on February 25. Alexander was in the original New York cast, but now he has taken on the task of directing the comedy of Kirk Wood Bromley. "Directing and acting, though of course they intermingle, are quite separate. When I act I must only think of one character but when I direct I have to get into the minds of all 18 characters," said Alexander, rushing between rehearsals.  The play employs a framing device of an adoring husband who writes a play as a birthday present for his exhausted, overworked wife. The contents of this frame are displayed as she sleeps. Though lightly reminiscent of Shakespeare, Bromley definitely speaks with his own hilarious voice providing theatergoers with a play of wit, intelligence and imagery. It was a success in New York, playing an extended run to capacity audiences.  Alexander was born in Philadelphia though his family came from Heraklion, Crete. He returns often to see his family, his mother and stepfather, who is a medical professor at the University of Crete, and his younger brother who is a student at that university.  Alexander has an impressive list of credits as an actor. He has worked in many New York and regional theaters and has a level of professional training unusual in this film business city. Six months ago he came here resolved to break into film and television and it was Los Angeles’ gain. There doesn’t seem any problem about adjusting to the west coast. "I live in Venice near the beach, which is a big leap from Brooklyn. I love driving so the fact that L.A. is a car city is fine with me. I also love the idea of watching the sunset and being able to run on the beach, and the burger joints are better here."
    -  Mavis Manus, ©1999 The Hellenic

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January, 1999

  • LA WEEKLY *Pick Of The Week
    When cynical lawyer Howard (Gerald McClanahan) stumbles onto the manuscript of a brilliant novel, written by an elderly Vermont recluse who has just died, he decides to claim authorship and reap the profits. But the old writer was not entirely reclusive: A waitress in a local diner (Linda Miller) befriended him, saw him working on the manuscript and wants to know what's become of it.

    To protect his own backside, Howard hires a dupe - a naive and nerdy high school teacher (Andrew Friedman) - to pose as the author, and, if necessary, take the rap. Playwright Joshua Rebell keeps us fascinated by refusing to show his hand. Is this a superier sitcom, or a fable about the destructive power of greed? A comic caper, a social satire, or a tale of nihilism and urban anomie?  Will the teacher be the fall guy or the worm that turns? Director David P. Moore underlines the play's cool ambiguities, a fine cast fleshes them out with style, adn Jennifer

    Vogt's handsome abstract set, ornamented with Jackson  Pollack drippings, makes clever use of the thrust stage.
    - Neal Weaver, ©1999 LA WEEKLY

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November, 1998

    It's rare to find a production of a Shakespeare play you haven't seen a dozen times, and an audience seeking entertainment might think twice before attempting to tackle Timon of Athens, which was beyond reasonable doubt only partly written by the Bard, with not very good contributions from unnamed others.

    What will bring people into the theatre is the Sacred Fools Company, a group now in its second year, which is dedicated to bringing vibrant life to challenging and original works which invigorate, enlighten, and entertain. (Their words, not mine.) Under Scott Rabinowitz's direction, Timon of Athens does exactly that.

    It's a simple storyline: Timon (Michael Louden), a wealthy player in a high-stakes game of give and take--mostly take--is joyful benefactor to a bevy of hangers-on who are his best friends as long as he has deep and generous pockets. Parties at Timon's house are legendary; the food and wine and women flow fast and classy; the party favors handed out to his guests are a millionaire's trinkets.

    Impervious to the warnings of his steward, Flavius (a sound Jon Hamm), Timon spends and lends, is a generous patron to starving artists, and foresees no end to his fortune. When the reality of his penniless situation hits home, Timon finds himself friendless, with enormous debts, badgered by those who had benefited most from his generosity, and refused help by those he had helped. His self-indulgent delusions turn to fierce misanthropy, and he moves from castle to cave, unable to reconcile his friends' betrayal, their greed, lust, back-stabbing selfishness, and ingratitude. There's a certain nobility in his inability to adjust to a new scenario, even when he becomes rich once more.

    The beauty of Rabinowitz's concept is its creativity. Without changing a word of the original text, he has set the play in a very modern environment, in which many of the same evils found in ancient Athens are said to pollute the already polluted air: Hollywood (the psychological state of) and Las Vegas. It works surprisingly well; one scene takes place in a casting office on the Warner lot in Burbank, one at the Golden Horseshoe in Las Vegas. The clarity of Rabinowitz's vision and his inventive playfulness make this totally accessible Shakespeare (or whoever). In fact, the muddled last third of the original play is considerably clarified by Sacred Fools.

    Liberties have been taken with cross-gender casting--now many of the Senators and servants are played by women, though still referred to as men in the dialogue. The role of the churlish Apemantus, a told-you-so philosopher, is played to a fare-thee-well by a sultry Jill Bennet, who can destroy the vulnerable Timon with a curled-lip sneer or allure him with a dart of passionate sexuality.

    J. Haran is a sturdy Alcibiades, a crooked cop on Timon's payroll; Jennifer Wu, Piper Henry, and Laura Ford, all playing multiple roles, are at their best as the lascivious lap dancers who entertain Timon's party guests; Marc Ian Sklar is greasily good as a fawning poet and rich man Lucullus. Joel Christian makes a fine mark as Sempronius, who refuses the impoverished Timon because, though he was the first to receive Timon's bounty, he feels his honor has been flouted because he was the last to be asked for help.

    A busy ensemble of 16 players doubles and triples in clashing brass, a jazzy interpretation of a classic that never was. Majorly inspired set design and changes, sound design, and lighting by Rabinowitz, Aaron Francis, and Brenda Price, and neat costumes by Jee OK.
    - Madeleine Shaner, ©1998 Backstage West/DramaLogue
  • L.A. TIMES
    "Timon of Athens" is not considered one of Shakespeare's great tragedies. Scholars argue that it is unfinished-roughly sketched out, with irregular blank verse patterns and some plot inconsistencies.

    Director Scott Rabinowitz transports Timon to a Hollywood-esque Athens, giving this seldom produced play a pointed yet sometimes heavy-handed update at the Sacred Fools Theatre.

    Michael Louden is an attractive, charming Timon who begins the play as a godlike, slightly indulgent philanthropist. He is happy and unconcerned, seemingly surrounded by friends, partying with high-class prostitutes provided by policeman Alcibiades (J. Haran).   Nothing darkens his life except his sometime lover, an angry Apemantus (Jill Bennet), and the mild-mannered servant Flavius (Jon Hamm), who quivers over the increasing enormity of his spendthrift master's debt.  Timon soon discovers that when his wealth disappears, so do most of the beneficiaries of his generosity. When he again finds wealth-conveniently in Las Vegas, an option that Shakespeare didn't have-he remains embittered at the shallowness of his fellow men.
    In this version, philosopher Apemantus is transformed into a snarling black-clad woman with eyelids heavily blackened with eye shadow and an even darker attitude. But the exact nature of the mutual attraction between Apemantus and Timon is never adeuately explained in this staging.

    Rabinowitz does make the nature of Timon's sudden windfall and his demise more explicit than the original text and it mostly works. Yet he underlines some passages needlessly with heavy spotlights or lengthy pauses.
    Despite its faults, this production enlightens the text,alleviates some plot problems and features some fine performances, making it well worth seeing.
    -J.J.M., ©1998 LA Times

  • L.A. WEEKLY *Recommended
    Shakespeare's unfinished tragedy is a poor relation to King Lear, both involve leaders who give away their riches to false friends or family and then, in their time of need, are abandoned by those same beneficiaries. But Timon is a comparatively repugnant fellow, an ostentatious pleasure seeker who comes across as shallow as the sycophants who surround him. Director Scott Rabinowitz only partly succeeds in his stylish, contemporary adaptation of the rarely produced play: In Act 1, the themes of greed and betrayal translate well to Hollywood and its denizens, and without altering the language, Rabinowitz ingeniously brings out the humor. But he loses momentum in Act 2, which, although cleverly set in a Vegas casino, is truncated to focus attention solely on the static, mad rantings of the disillusioned inconsolable central character. Michael Louden gives a blustering, Richard Burtonesque interpretation to Timon, creating sparks with punky Jill Bennet as Apemantus, the surly voice of reason, they're supported by a deliciously wicked cast of reporters, drug addicts, strippers and second-rate artists. A diverse backdrop of pop music, ranging from Burt Bacharach to Marilyn Manson, enhances the production's sleazy atmosphere with musical irony. Even though the second half falls short, this Timon is worth checking out, if only for the sheer fun and vivacity of the first half.
    ©1998 LA Weekly

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November, 1998

    As masterfully as many of Edgar Allen Poe's written works illustrate despair and madness, Sacred Fools' theatricalization of seven Poe pieces does well to interpret said despair and madness. On the Sacred Fools stage these attributes come together, then split apart at times, and a seeming joyous rapture in the macabre is embraced by the characters. And it's not just the sight of blood or gore shed by the hands of a trembling character which has such high impact, but also the subtle and terrifying euphoria testified by these characters after paving an enemy up in a wall or hanging a seductive cat, or the glorious sorrow of a losing a love to a chilling, possessed wind that proves more than just a pneumonic.

    The running together of the pieces in quick succession gives the production a fluidity which portrays an endless roiling about of emotions and thoughts black and somber, but kinetic, hardly sedentary, not simply sadness. In The Black Cat, the cat is a woman (Aura Wright), and this effect is striking, as Wright's svelte physicality, her yowlings, and her impish subterfuge flesh out the cat; the anthropomorphism makes the piece more seductive, the demise of the narrator (Jason Turnage) more resonant. The Fall of the House of Usher is also powerfully depicted, with incestuous, necrophiliac writhings, and the character of Roderick (Julio Perillan) is well portrayed in extremes of mood, from chattering and wild to shrunken and reticent.

    It seems an easy mistake, in these quick-cut times, to overuse viscera to emphasize the horrific. Under Bradley Warden's direction, Sacred Fools thankfully does not quite fall prey to this but focuses on the intuitive examinations Poe made of macabre situations. The dialogue used in place of Poe's narration, though, is too contemporary and makes for just a little discord in a few areas. The sound and lighting design (by Jennifer Hamel and Aldrich Allen, respectively) work in eerie elements, and the whole production leaves an impression something akin to watching the creaking open of a dark cellar's door.
    -Ken Pfeil, ©1998 Backstage West/DramaLogue

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September, 1998

    Ten feet tall on stilts, Rob Crites weaves without mishap through the pre-show crowd on the sidewalk while downing an occasional fiery blast from one of the flaming torches he juggles. These Sacred fools are cool and anything can happen.
    And it does in this boldly imaginative play by Robert Previto Esq. The playwright (also a New York lawyer) is in town to witness the world premiere of his lengthily titled play, as directed by the Sacred Fools' Jonathan Goldstein. Previto's play is allegorical, metaphorical, somewhat metaphysical, and a labyrinthine honeycomb of allusions--literary, literal, mythical and theatrical.  It's clear that Previto loves the language of Shakespeare and Shelley, using it with such glee that he sometimes can't help breaking into verse.

    The house of world-famed "fictionist" Dr. Artemus is hidden deep in Germany's Black Forest (shades of the Brothers Grimm) , so presumably it is Hansel and Gretel sleeping there at the doctor's door. But never mind that--they have nothing to do with the story. Peter Falco's canny, tenebrous lighting send a chill as it frames the doctor's brooding face in an upstairs window. The spooky, twitchy-faced woman in black who opens the door (Jessica Thompson) isn't a witch, though she's a ringer for Young Frankenstein's Frau Bluecher. The eager young pilgrim seeking admittance to the doctor's shrine is the well known explorer Dr. Morgan Mead (Daintry Jensen) an amalgam of, let's say, Margaret Mead (if portrayed by Jodie Foster or a young Jane Fonda), Alice in Wonderland, Dorothy in Oz, Amelia Earheart, Shirley MacLaine, the Woman Warrior, etc. She is in fact the Ultimate Woman: She is Eve! And this is the playwright's homage to her. But out of his fictionist's head, the doctor, poor wretch, has created Leah (Amy Bryson), who is no longer content with being mere fiction and demands to be the doctor's real live woman. She wants to come out of "The Loop" of his imagination.  The doc thinks this is a bad idea, and Leah gets nasty. If Morgan is Eve, Leah is now Lillith. The creature becomes her creator's nemesis. But not before a lot of things happen. While Leah wants out of the Loop, Morgan wants in. Clever as she is fearless, she indeed gets in and finds herself in Atlantis in the company of a cheeky jester, Knick-Knack the Paddy Whacker (a kinetic Brad Friedman, who juggles several balls as he speaks in rhyme). The Atlantean court he serves is headed by an addled king and bossy little queen (Alexander Yannis Stephano and Michelle Philippe), whose petulant prince (Martin Yu) falls for Morgan. She bests him in a duel and slays a ferocious dragon with a whale of a tail (Aldrich Allen).   So it goes in this phantasmagoric excursion into terra incognita. Morgan manages to emerge from Atlantis' deluge, though not unscathed (amusing visual effects here), and since Artemus is a good guy at heart, he sees to it that virtue triumphs over evil, more or less.

    We have gone too long without acknowledging that the professorially authoritative, egg-bald Adam Bitterman fits impressively into his role as the fictionist as if it were tailor-made for him, which maybe it was. And his pal, Dean Alfred Hochler (Danny Kon), with his spats, goatee and accent, evokes early hypnotist Dr. Mesmer and certain Dracula moments.

    David Oliver Holcomb has created a setting, complete with "The Loop", which is both functional and cosmological.  Costumes by Nicole Lee Thomas are most colorful as worn by Atlantean royalty. Original Score is by Peter Nissen and sound by Wav Magic.
    -Polly Warfield,
    ©1998 Backstage West/DramaLogue

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August, 1998

  • L.A. TIMES
    However much we acknowledge the importance of challenging the old cultural guard experiments in the opera run up against a formidable legacy. David Rodwin takes the O-word for a spin in his engaging project, "virtual motion," billed as a"one-man hyper-opera," which had its premiere at the Heliotrope Theater on Thursday and continues tonight and next weekend.

    The tragicomic tale of Mike, a hapless virtual reality designer facing existential, romantic and automotive woes, the work is often fascinating and strangely poignant. It is brought to life by a hyper-hyphenate: Rodwin serving as composer-cast-narrator-mime-choreographer-dancer and generally a self-reliant conceptualist.

    Surface effects--Rodwin's dazzling and literally multifaceted performance, for instance--are clever enough to momentarily distract us from the simmering angst. Throughout, themes of dislocation and alienation hover over like dark clouds, as does the specter of looming catastrophe, whether a fatal automobile accident or the doomed flight of the Challenger or lost love. Rodwin gamely juggles several roles, splitting personalities right and left, and right.

    Still, questions dog us: For one, is this, in fact, an opera? A textual-musical component runs throughout, but usually without a melodic line, and when songs do appear, they tap into a bland language of pop and Broadway. In its best passages, the sonic framework is based on precise, rhythmic fragmentation passed through a sampler and woven into a fairly simplistic fabric of Rodwin's electroacoustic sounds, Lester Lewis' guitar and Mark Zaki's often doubled violin parts.

    The sum effect can be a bit too canned. Then again, artifice is part of the aesthetic equation. Nothing is quite as it seems. The empathetic qualities of the vignettes are kept at bay through a disarming blend of lip-syncing and live speech, with occasional--and serviceable--singing. Cartoon sound effects punctuate the proceedings, adding to the "virtual" ambience. The story itself is told in jigsaw-puzzle chronology, gradually revealing itself.

    A spare but effective scheme by lighting designer Aaron Francis and director Valeria Vasilevski help maximize the minimal setting. But the stage truly belongs to Rodwin. If less than a musical triumph or an operatic innovation, his "hyper-opera" serves as a psychodrama of his own admirable invention, and execution.
    -Josef Woodard, ©1998 LA Times

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June 1997

    The Fatty Arbuckle Spookhouse Revue begins with a playful kazoo quartet and barrels from there into a sinister, vaudevillian bacchanal of gallows humor.
    Chris Jeffries' brilliant musical tells the tragic Fatty Arbuckle/ Virginia Rappe legend through a surreal narrative set in a 1920's cinematic wonderland, with Alice (Piper Henry) as the alluringly naive starlet. Fatty (Pierre Fromage) and his Thespian ensemble careen Alice through smarmy pleasures, substance abuse, and other debaucheries, until the initially pristine girl is roughened and wizened by her lasciviousness in the clamor for stardom, then met with a grisly fate at the hands of her desires.

    Skillfully using the violence and social commentary, subtle and otherwise, in such immortal bits as Punch and Judy (Ben Currier and Alix Goodwin, respectively), director John Sylvain and cast fashion a fairy tale of their own seamless design. The story's elements, all bleak and comic, run in an apparently haphazard direction, but the underlying plot is never lost, and the brazen tangents -- a football game/orgy/football game/orgy (see it -- you won't believe it, but you'll get it), and a sodden, yodeling musical bit with Andreas Olavarria's enchanting crooner's repertoire -- actually give the Arbuckle/Rappe story more resonance.

    It's the Sacred Fools Theater's premiere Los Angeles production, and it delivers amazing performances; foppish, baggy costumes (designed, along with the set, by M.E. Dunn) which expertly bespeak the play's content, and a flawless live band (Joel Zighelboim, Jonathan Dyke, Gene Lushtak, and Ben Currier) providing the gay and lurid melodies. It's a relentless assault --one that may leave you repulsed, but positively unable to contain your laughter.
    - Ken Pfeil, ©1997 Backstage West

    This production is the maiden effort from the Sacred Fools Theater Company, and it is by no means a timid one. Using elements of "Alice in Wonderland" and puppet theater such as "Punch and Judy" to retell the tale of Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle's downfall, the production, complete with music and dance numbers, demands your attention. It also, unfortunately, never quite rewards that attention with a strong, cohesive plotline.

    Using allegorical characters from the aforementioned works, the play attempts to tell the story of Virginia Rappe, a starlet who dies after being allegedly assaulted by Arbuckle during a weekend spree in San Francisco. Arbuckle was tried for her death and, after four trials, eventually was acquitted. By that point, however, his career was in ruin and he never completely recovered, dying a few years later. Several books have researched the entire case to a fare-thee-well, with none of the players coming out completely clean. It has been largely surmised, however, that Ms. Rappe was far from the innocent she claimed to be, and Arbuckle was, more than anything else, a victim of his own poor judgment with regard to party planning.

    In this effort, however, Rappe is painted as downright virginal, while Arbuckle is demonized to an alarming extent. The two are played by Pierre Fromage and Piper Henry, both of whom put across convincing and heartfelt performances despite the one-dimensional level of their characters. Actually, everyone on stage does the same, investing themselves completely in their portrayals. Shelley Wenk does a very nice turn as the Queen, prowling and chewing up scenery in grand style. Phil LaMarr and Dan Etheridge are comical and appropriately whacky as Tweedledum and Tweedledee, as are Kelly Hawthorne and Adam Bitterman as the March Hare and the Mad Hatter (in this instance, representing silent stars on the fade). Ben Currier, Alix Goodwin, David P. Moore, Martin Yu and Alan Reynolds are wildly over the top, and funnily so, and the various puppet characters in the "Punch and Judy" segments, while Shana Susman, Danielle Surrette and Tara Beth Connolly have a lot of fun as flapper/ dancer gals. Andreas Olavarria as the Crooner and Sharon MacMenamin as the Script Girl also are interesting, in that they take small parts and make them memorable. It's a big cast on a small stage, and John Sylvain deserves much credit for keeping everyone moving at a frenetic but controlled pace throughout. Ditto musical director Jonathan Goldstein, who along with his band (Joel Zighelboim, Jonathan Dyke, Gene Lushtak, and Ben Currier) kept the music bright and lively throughout, even making the darker numbers trot along appropriately. Jason Bloom's lighting design is very effective, particularly when evoking the eerier moments of the production. Set design and costumes also work throughout. Chris Jeffries, who wrote the entire shebang, has tackled a personage and time period with verve and gusto, succeeding sporadically.

    The Alice concept works better than the Punch one, and interchanging the two throughout often is confusing, particularly for audience members who don't know the full story and didn't have time to read the rather lengthy program notes. And the attempt to link Alice (Virginia Rappe) to the Virginia of "Yes, Virginia, There Is A Santa Claus" really perplexes more than it compares "the suffering of all Virginias." The writing is solid, however, especially in the songs, most notably the Queen's homage to the lusty Hollywood. All said and done, there's an interesting concept to be found here, but it requires more digging than it should. If nothing else, however, the show's an interesting mix of music and theater that isn't often done, and deserves recognition for that feat.
    - Joe Morris, ©1997 DramaLogue

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July 1997

    Paul Mullin's offbeat tale shows one man's descent into wrenching sadness and self-examination. David P. Moore's production is a standout -- not just because of Mullin's edgy dialogue or Patrick Ryals' gutsy, multilayered performance in the central role. It's also fueled by the play's unpredictability -- an enchanting quality that sustains to the final scene.

    Set inside what may or may not be an exclusive psychiatric hospital, Audie (Ryals), a gruff, alcoholic junk-bond trader, awakens (or does he?) to a diagnosis of Korsakoff's Syndrome -- a rare form of amnesia that, with sleep, causes him to forget all that transpired during the day. Each morning, Audie's doctors and therapists (if they really are such) present him with a script filled with scenes from his life. (Where they got that info is anybody's guess.) Fantasy and reality collide in Audie's living nightmare, leading to his day of judgment. Leaping back and forth between Audie the patient and Audie the living train wreck, Ryals does not disappoint. Menawhile, using a minimalist set of props and settings, director Moore artfully moves his players who, with the exception of Ryals, play multiple roles. Adam Bitterman and Lauren Hollingsworth are also particularly grand as, respectively, Moe Perlman, junk bondsman extraordinaire and Audie's daughter, Emily.
    - Jim Crogan, ©1997 LA Weekly
    The Sacred Fools Theater Company is well on its way to becoming a major force on the L.A. theatre scene with its latest production, Paul Mullin's poetic play Tuesday. The fact that the show is only the group's second offering is a wonderful indication of things to come.

    Audie McCall suffers from an extremely rare form of amnesia called Korsakoff's Syndrome which causes him to forget everything he knows each night when he goes to sleep. Of course, he doesn't know that, so to him every morning is an exercise in confusion, frustration and discovery. The medical staff that is treating Audie comes up with a unique approach to help him recover his memory -- they force him to play-act scenes from his life using a makeshift script. But what Audie realizes on this particular day of therapy is that sometime it's not worth visiting the past, no matter what the benefit. Playwright Mullin definitely starts off on the right track, keeping the audience in the dark almost as often as Audie himself. But the mysterious mood dissipates as the therapy sessions begin, when the writer sacrifices some of the poetry of the piece in order to provide more literal exposition. The re-enacted flashbacks are convincing and compelling, but early on they seem a bit self-conscious and randomly inserted, and consequently could still be tightened. Director David P. Moore has staged this "day in the life" drama with sensitivity and flair, maintaining an intimacy between characters and audience while utilizing every nook and cranny of the sprawling Heliotrope venue. The uncredited hiospital setting instantly transforms into a number of diverse locations, in part thanks to props from Tara Beth Connolly and Gerald McClanahan. The lighting desitgn by John Sylvain is exciting at times, but doesn't always clearly define the various playing areas. Sound design by Joel Zighelboim and Jeff C. Kunins is more consistently crisp. Live music by Jonathan A. Dyke and Zighelboim is an invaluable aid in creating ambience and filling some overly-long scene transitions. Lori Kay does an imaginative job with costumes.

    Even more compelling than the technical look of the production is the excellent acting ensemble. Patrick Ryals is accessible and versatile as Audie, effortlessly changing back and forth from his unassuming patient persona to his more aggressive former self. The rest of the cast play multiple roles with style and humor. Among their assignments, Danielle Surrette shines as Audie's former wife and a helpful nun; Mark Auerbach has an imposing presence as Audie's doctor and a shadowy gumshoe; Lauren Hollingsworth goes from precocious little girl to sensual young lady as Audie's daughter; and Daria E. Mauldin portrays a determined street lady with plenty of panache. Adam Bitterman is particularly impressive as Audie's little brother and his former no-nonsense boss.

    Tuesday bodes well for a new group trying valiantly to attract audiences wtihin the Southland's crowded theatre scene. This playgoer, for one, will, not miss Sacred Fools' future offerings.
    - Elias Stimac, ©1997 DramaLogue

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Nicholas DeBeaubien's

    The recipe of using a play within a play to tell a more detailed story or comment on the production itself is tried and true. Look at Tom Stoppard's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, Michael Frayn's Noises Off, David Mamet's A Life in the Theatre, Ronald Harwood's The Dresser, and recently Ken Ludwig's Moon Over Buffalo, just to name a few. Using this device, an opportunity for humor, biting witticisms and comedic insight is possible. Plus, anything usually goes.

    Well, there's a new play-within-a-play to add to the list, and though there are times in  where the action drags just a bit, this is nevertheless a fresh, witty, biting and truly hysterical play that is delivered flawlessly by one of the most talented groups of actors/comedians this reviewer has had the pleasure of seeing in quite some time.

    Director Adam Bitterman in press release material is quoted as saying, "Never before has one man destroyed such an immortal classic so quickly and so completely." Actually, we should credit this "destruction" to four extremely talented writers: Larry Larson, Eddie Levi Lee, Rebecca Wackler and John Kohler. Director Bitterman and his talented ensemble no doubt contributed more than a few ideas as well -- but we'll get to them in a minute.

    First the play... and the play. Without giving too much away, playwright Nicholas DeBeaubien greets us and immediately breaks the fourth wall, talking straight to us and letting us know that this is "the people's theatre" amd we are all responsible for the production we are about to see. DeBeaubien,a struggling playwright/director/actor, is desperately trying to come up with a fresh, possibly politically strirring take on Victor Hugo's classic The Hunchback of Notre Dame. After the intial scene of a classic Hunchback staging, he comes up woith such off-the-wall takes as setting his production on the Notre Dame football field, with Quasimodo as one of ther football team's heroes and Esemralda a spirited, flirtatious cheerleader. The second act shows Esmeralda as a cabaret singer (a la Cabaret) and Quasimodo, another cabaret performer whose bell-ringing act is an absolute stroke of genius and a true showstopper. The play and the play-within-the-play both rush to unexpected, wacky, and eventually hysterical conclusions.

    And this is a dream cast. Four talents that can do everything and then some. Patrick Towne plays Nicholas DeBeaubien (and Phoebus) with an artistically maniacal air that is right on. Michelle Philippe plays Laura (and Esmeralda) with dangerously sympathetic strength; just when you think you know her, she shows another shade. John Sylvain plays Ward (and Father Frollo) with expert timing; he's a charmer who knows how to get a laugh out of every line. And Andrew Friedman as Jackie (and Quasimodo) is a comedic gem -- jaded and sarcastic, but willing to do anything... and he does. Joel Zighelboim contributes much as the Phantom of the Heliotrope, providing live music and sound effects from his perch above the action. On to the production staff, who are equally talented. An across-the-board attention to detail is a rare find in small theatre where the struggle to keep costs low but production values high is oftentimes overwhelming. John Sylvain's lighting design is fun; Perry Ash's costumes are fantastic (the costumes, at times, becoming characters themselves); Lita Roth's props fill the stage and Corinne Robinson's artsitic stage graphics help us with time and location. The original score by Zighelboim and Gene Lushtak is as unique as the production itself.

    Enough raving and rehashing of plot and detail; we don't want to give any more away. Just go see Nicholas DeBeaubien's Hunchback of Notre Dame -- you simply won't want to miss it.
    - Amy Schaumburg, ©1997 DramaLogue
    Although this collaboratively penned play-within-a-play is billed as being about the "responsibility of literary interpretation," as well as being a "biting lampoon on 'serious artist' types," it comes off as a clever spoof of really awful plays. In Act I, Nicholas DeBeaubien (Patrick Towne), an overwrought playwright obsessed with writing the definitive interpretation of Victor Hugo's The Hunchback of Notre Dame, introduces himself to the audience and explains his vision. Then for the next two hours, almost every interpretation -- from sci-fi to Andy Hardy -- is hilariously performed by four actors. All play their "scenes" wallowing in corniness, juxtaposed by backstage moments which show the thespians' "real life" problems. Ward (John Sylvain doubling as Father Apollo) is a gay hypochondriac; Jackie (Andrew Friedman doubling as Quasimodo) really does have a hunchback; and Laura (Michelle Philippe doubling as Esmeralda) is an ambitious New Ager.

    The company gives convincing portrayals while playwrights Eddie Levi Lee, Rebecca Wackler and Larry Larson fearlessly poke fun at all aspects of stage production, and fill their play with running gags. For instance, no one ever gets kissed; just as lips are puckered, the play is interrupted. Adam Bitterman's free-form direction works well with the anarchistic concept, though some people might be put off by the insider theater jokes.
    - Diedre Johnson, ©1997 LA Weekly

    There's a lot of talent on display in "Nicholas DeBeaubien's Hunchback of Notre Dame," an original production by Sacred Fools Theater at the Heliotrope -- but it is largely wasted on a patchwork that even snippets of comic invention can't save. Larry Larson, Eddie Levi Lee, Rebecca Wackler and John Kohler co-wrote this incipient satire, which lampoons the destruction of a work of literature by a talentless interpreter. The vandal here is egomaniacal theater director Nicholas DeBeaubien (Patrick Towne), whose spectacularly farfetched workshopping of Hugo's clasic results in versions ranging from a "Cabaret"-type musical to surreal sci-fi. Nicholas' long-suffering cast includes touchy-feely New Ager Laura (Michelle Philippe), who plays Esmeralda, and hypochondriacal homosexual Ward (John Sylvain) as Frollo. Quasimodo in this play-within-a-play is Jackie (Andrew Friedman), who becomes the voice of artistic conscience, rallying to defend Hugo's text against Nicholas' increasingly bizarre incursions. This half-baked dialectic loosely connects what is largely a series of episodic comedy sketches. However, under Adam Bitterman's direction, the actors have their hilarious moments. Perry Ash's makeshift but extravagant costumes are very funny. Gene Lushtak's original score, exuberantly performed by keyboardist Joel Zighelboim, nicely punctuates the silliness.
    - F.K.F., ©1997 LA Times

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September 1997

    While one should always be wary of comtemporized Shakespeare without the language, Todd Alcott's A Pound of Flesh tips the scales favorably. Trimming all the gristle from The Merchant of Venice, he effectively seasons his completely rewritten script into digestible modern verse. Briskly intermissionless, the sizzling strips of scene work barely add or subtract from the salient poits of the Bard's intention. With invigorating imagery, he presents the ready-to-eat issues and even overcomes some weaknesses from the original.

    Merchant is about Antonio, who takes a loan from Shylock. For various reasons, the lender refuses any interest but requires a default payment bond of a pound of flessh. The loan is for Antonio's loving friend, Bassanio, who seeks to woo the wealthy Portia. After Shylock's daughter betrays him and Antonio defaults on the loan Shylock tries to enforce the bond. However, through a tricky, but strict, application of the law, Shylock loses nearly everything he has. Preparing only a handful of original ideas, Alcott takes no sides in the argument, serving up the characters as the villainous humans they are. Shylock and family are persecuted Venetian Jews, while the rest are dubious Chrsitians. The play examines the value of life, love and humanity in the face of racist materialism.

    Both the inspiration and the adaptation filet our culture with pertinent symbolism. Sadly, Alcott diets Portia's unethical assistance of her lover's box choice and skimps the first course of Antonio's homosexual infatuation for Bassanio. Instaead, he offers a sweet dessert of "Jessica" that evens the odds. Grace Renn's heart succinctly fleshes out the small daughter's role. Gerald McClanahan and Vince DonVito are tasty in an original scene skewering the inherent racism of our society. Adam Bitterman, as Shylock, is so particularly powerful the he solicits a range of sympathy. From shamed admiration and emulation to even an elusively masculine sexuality, his fierce, eloquent defense is compelling. Melanie Hall and Danielle Surrette are a delightfully corrupt Betty and Veronica of the Hamptons, garnishing the stage with their flavored energy. Smartly cast, all the actors weigh in with skill and precision. Jonathan Goldstein, as the title character, deftly walks the line of a hero that isn't. Christopher Northrup's Bassanio salts L.A. culture with accuracy. His sidekick, Dan Etheridge as Gratiano, is a peppered Jimmy Durante for the '90's. Rob D'Entremont is easy to swallow as Lorenzo and Mark Lifrieri carefully complements as a modern chorus. None of the technical elements interfere with the clear direction of the concept. David Holcomb's set is bare but functional, as Perry Ash's costumes are smooth and accurate. However, Dan Reeds' lighting is quite creative. Without color, he angles the beams from the side and back to thereaten the tenuous mood of this new classic.
    -Reed Jordan, ©1997 DramaLogue

    Although evidence suggests that Shakespeare clearly inetended Shylock, the avaricious and stereotypically Jewish moneylender from The Merchant of Venice, to be a villain, modern productions tend to turn him into the play's tragic hero. In his retelling of the comedy, writer-director Todd Alcott goes one step further. Here, "the Jew" is the only sympatehetic character on the stage -- and this means that by the end you actually find yourself rooting for Adam Bitterman's wise, cynical and, at times, heartbreaking Shylock to slice the "pound of flesh" (if not much more) from his enemy Antonio (Jonathan Goldstein).

    Adapter Alcott follows Shakespeare's basic plot precisely, while jettisoning the original verse for his jazzy, breezy contemporary language. It's a risky decision which has mixed results; at first, the production seems pompous, since we're left with the impression that the adapter arrogantly considers himself on a par with the Bard. However, as the piece unflolds, Alcott demonstrates a powerful gift for language, and the glib, bracing quality of the dialogue amplifies the play's underlying themes of brutality, hostilty and bigotry. Still, while the ensemble's performances are rich in adroitly executed personality and depth, Alcott is not able to make the play's protagonists worth redeeming -- something Shakespeare does effortlessly.
    - Paul Birchall, ©1997 LA Weekly

    This Sacred Fools production achieves a great deal. Writer Todd Alcott has taken Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice and made it his own. Using the same story and the same characters, he's written a lively, engaging play that takes no prisoners. Often, the anti-Semitism of Merchant is downplayed, glossed over; Alcott's adaptation throws it in your face. But he doesn't judge his characters; instead, he puts them on the stage, ugliness and all, and lets us decide for ourselves. Alcott directs as well, and that's where the play becomes a bit frayed. The staging is both stiff and frenetic, and important moments in the play aren't given the time they deserve. Lost in the shuffle are some good performances: Portia (Melanie Hall) and Nerissa (Danielle Surrette), for example, are quite energetic and fun, but in the frenzy one often can't hear what they're saying, and the performances get blurry. In the quieter scenes, however, Hall is impressive. Even the show's two standout performances -- Jonathan Goldstein as the world-weary Antonio, and Adam Bitterman's Shylock, bristling with anger and pain -- would be helped by an occasional downshift in pace Gerald McClanahan and Vince DonVito are hilarious as the rejected suitors Morocco and Aragon, respectively. Bassanio (Christoipher Northrup) and his pals Gratiano (Dan Etheridge) and Lorenzo (Rob d'Entremont), on the other hand, are charmless and irritating. Rounding out the cast with respectable performances are Grace Renn and Jessica and Mark Lifrieri as Salerio. David Holcomb's set is very minimal, which works well with Dan Reed's stark, haunting lighting design. In all it's a good production -- so let us savor it a bit more and slow it down, guys.

    - Alan Clark, ©1997 Backstage West

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November 1997

    Any production that opens with a disemboweling must be applauded not only for clarity of artistic vision but for technical sophistication. Paul Plunkett's self-directed script envisions a hostile takeover in Hell, a place with a depressingly recognizable corporate structure. Lucifer (Jihad Harik) appears to be losing his managerial edge when one of his demons, Mr. B (the deliciously silky Gerald McClanahan), presents a way to downsize and streamline the torment distribution: Why not have everyone torture each other, thus eliminating the middle-demon? Of course, there's the usual caviling by the supervisory level of unskilled demon labor (Quinn Sullivan and Jenifer Hamel encapsulate pretty much everything wrong with organized labor in their mildly engaged characters) and the stockholders' interests need to be seen to by representative Mickey (Piper Henry, in a chillingly perky power-suit turn). But still, the plans seems workable. The jokes are numerous, and some of the best ones occur during the scene changes as the condemned souls sream backstage (Bang! "Not my BMW!"). Visual jokes abound as well, most of them during the Hell's Kitchen scenes in which Tortured Souls #1 and #2 (Martin Yu and Michelle Philippe as pulchritudinous waitstaff) glide by in little red aprons proffering one body part after another. "Scenic wizards" David Holcomb and Brad Hennigan have created the definitive Office Depot Abattoir, while Andrew Friedman skillfully manages about a jillion props. Jeffrey Smith and Theres Tinling as the duo condemned to remain in vituperative embrace forever are one not-so-Grand Guignol moment after another, and should probably not be experienced by couples going through a rocky period. And I haven't even gotten to the part yet where Santa (John Sylvain, in an endearingly huggy-bear performance) administers electric tit-clamps to Satan. Oh well, you'll just have to check it out yourself. See you in Hell.
    -Wenzel Jones, ©1997 Backstage West

    Writer/director Paul Plunkett envisons hell as just another corporate bureaucracy -- substitute angels for executives and demons for low level workers. Lucifer wears a pin-striped suits and smokes a cigar. Mr. B, that very suave corporate muck-a-muck, schemes for the boss' job and, by God (pardon the expression), almost pulls it off.

    Catching Hell is not for the faint of heart: guts are pulled from bellies and eyes are gouged out and flung against the wall of the stark, dreary-looking offices of the standing set (created by a non-credited set designer). The playbill notes "There are 10 minute intermissions between each of the 493.251 acts. Welcome to Hell" and that is about the level of humor Catching Hell offers. Lauren Hollingsworth's lighting design punctautes the action, assisted by a neatly oriented electronic sign above the proscenium. We are surprised to find Santa Claus in the inferno, but Plunkett has a good explanation for sending him there, and certainly John Sylvain, who has a great "Ho, ho, ho!" is a warmly welcome addition to the evening. What Catching Hell lacks is much of a dramatic impetus. With people and archfiends this unrepentant -- even the beautiful Mickey, the haughty liaison from heaven, has the oily personality of a Hollywood gossip with a dozen scoops -- who really cares what happens to them? Also, the episodic construction of Catching Hell gives the evening a start/stop rhythm that bogs down tha action. Still, Plunkett has created some sporadically nasty characters that haters of bureaucracy and lovers of Grand Guignol may find amusing. In addition to Sylvain's fine performance, Jeffrey Steven Smith does some lively dancing in the role of Dennis; Gerald McClanahan is the weasel you love to hate as Mr. B; Jihad Harik makes a swell Lucifer; and lovely Piper Henry as Mickey adopts a pesonality just this side of chalk scraping a blackboard. Less effective, though equally committed to flamboyant roles, are Therese Tinling as Kitty, who demands to be victimized; Quinn Sullivan as Mona who speaks the immortal lines, "Yeah, hell sucks now;" and Martin Yu and Michelle Philippe as Tortured Soul #1 and #2, respetcively; and Jenifer Hamel as the rabble-rousing Carrie.
    -Bruce Field, ©1997 DramaLogue

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