Category: Boston Court

Theater review: 'The Treatment' at Boston Court

March 1, 2012 |  2:04 pm

The treatment
Theater Movement Bazaar continues its investigation into the works of Anton Chekhov with “The Treatment,” a movement theater riff on “Ward 6,” one of the Russian author’s indisputable masterpieces of short fiction. A collaboration with the Theatre @ Boston Court, which is hosting the production, the piece isn’t so much an adaptation as a playfully stylized response to the story of a doctor who goes from supervising mental patients to joining their ranks.

The physician in question is Ragin (Mark Doerr), a man who would rather philosophize about the world (with a glass of vodka by his side) than do anything to improve it. A frustrated intellectual, he quickly dispatches his medical duties so he can engage in fruitless talk with Michael (Jake Eberle), an agreeable if dimwitted postmaster, who passes for cultured company in this one-horse town.

Desperate to bandy ideas with someone with a little more firepower, Ragin begins to take a keen interest in Gromov (Mark Skeens), the most highly literate of the Ward 6 inmates. But this new relationship doesn’t just force Ragin to rethink his most complacent beliefs—it causes those around him to question the doctor's very sanity, not least because Gromov, although lucid at moments, is a paranoid lunatic.

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Theater review: 'The Dinosaur Within' at Boston Court

October 13, 2011 |  3:10 pm

DinosaurWithinPhoto

John Walch’s evocative, overstuffed “The Dinosaur Within,” now at the Boston Court, has plenty to say about overcoming loss, but can let ideas bury its emotions.

Gorgeously directed by Michael Michetti, this ambitious drama weaves three mysteries, ingeniously linking celebrity handprints in Hollywood with the sacred tracks of a dinosaur in Australia. Middle-aged Maria (Shauna Bloom) struggles to find an identity apart from her long-lost father and movie-star mother, Honey (Mimi Cozzens in the present, Emily Kosloski in flashbacks); Aussie Eli (Nic Few) abandons Aboriginal tradition (embodied by his father, played by VJ Kesh) to make it big in L.A.; newspaper editor Jerry (Chuck McCollum) can’t recover from the sudden disappearance of his son, Tommy (Ari Skye), 10 years ago.

Any one of these stories merits its own play, and Walch struggles to service all of his characters, their pasts, and the considerable exposition required to get this epic up and running. Michetti and his impeccable design team give Walch’s fever dream elegant shape; Francois-Pierre Couture’s desert landscape set, a twilight outback of the mind, allows the players to move smoothly between past, present, and imagination. Cozzens and Kesh are masterful, and McCollum breaks your heart as a man trying to do the impossible. Despite the big ideas, it’s the details that land: Jerry rebuilding his son’s bike; a time-traveling cigarette lighter; and finally, Tommy holding a wishbone: “What do I have to break,” he wonders, “to make my wish come true?”

--Charlotte Stoudt

“The Dinosaur Within,” Boston Court Performing Arts Center, 70 N. Mentor Ave., Pasadena. 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays. Ends Nov. 6. $27-$32. Contact: (626) 683-6883 or www.bostoncourt.com. Running time: 2 hours, 25 minutes.

Photo: Emily Kosloski and Nic Few in “The Dinosaur Within.” Credit: Ed Krieger

 

Theater review: 'Heavier than...' at the Theatre @ Boston Court

July 27, 2011 | 12:30 pm

Heavier than 

Plays about the Minotaur have been out of fashion for at least two millenniums, but that doesn’t stop playwright Steve Yockey from reintroducing the character of Asterius in his curiously compelling new drama “Heavier Than…,” now receiving its world premiere at the Theatre @ Boston Court.

A few things are working in favor of this theatrical long-shot. First, there’s the masculine beauty and brooding sensitivity of shirtless Nick Ballard, who plays the half-man, half-bull creature with a James Dean scowl, camera-ready six-pack and dapper pair of horns. Then there’s Abigail Deser’s stylish staging, which revels in the play's springy non-naturalism while never stomping on its tender heart. And finally there’s Yockey’s spryly inventive take on an ancient myth, a revisionist approach mixing Classical gravitas with campy humor and post-Freudian angst.

OK, the family psychology involving the aloofness of Asterius’ mother, Pasiphae, (Jill Van Velzer, impressively aristocratic) and the flirty, homicidal selfishness of his half-sister Ariadne (a scarily effervescent Laura Howard) is probably the least original aspect of “Heavier Than…." At times, it seems that maybe all Asterius really needs is one of those “It Gets Better” videos for bullied gay youths, only this one targeted to bovine young adults sick to death of their violent reputations. But how can you resist the larky way Icarus (an adorably bratty Casey Kringlen) flies in on handmade wings to visit his best bestial buddy, on whom he has a not-so-secret (and unabashedly masochistic) crush?

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Theater review: 'How to Disappear Completely and Never Be Found' at Boston Court

May 5, 2011 |  4:20 pm

HTDC_1 
Charlie (a sensational Brad Culver), the protagonist of British playwright Fin Kennedy’s “How to Disappear Completely and Never Be Found,” is in the midst of a full-scale nervous breakdown. But whether the problem is in his head or the world around him is a question that this jangled play refuses to answer.

The truth is, you’re likely to be too exhausted to care one way or the other at the end of this mercilessly intense production at the Theatre @ Boston Court. The relentlessness of the piece, part expressionistic psychodrama, part dystopian adventure tale, is compounded by a purposefully disorienting style that doesn’t merely describe Charlie’s state of mind but enacts it. This is appropriately head-spinning, but when the plot transforms midway through into an instructional manual on identity theft, you may be tempted to diagnose the play with multiple personality disorder.
 
Nancy Keystone’s uncompromising staging, making imaginative use of a monochromatic set she designed of unwelcoming gray walls menacingly flecked with Adam Flemming’s futuristic video projections, catches the sense of urban anomie to a point that would have had Kafka waving a little white flag. It’s an unrelievedly grim landscape, where technology keeps one isolated and corporate savagery is always ready to pounce on the weak and wounded. (John Zalewski’s original music and sound design enhance the production’s overall chilling effect.)

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Theater review: 'Camino Real' at Boston Court Performing Arts Center

February 17, 2011 |  4:30 pm

CaminoRealTo claim that "Camino Real" was Tennessee Williams' best play, as former New York Times theater critic Clive Barnes once did, is like saying you prefer a band's deep tracks to its hits: It marks you as a hard-core fan.

Less-committed viewers have had a tougher time embracing Williams' experimental reverie -- now being staged at Boston Court Performing Arts Center -- which debuted on Broadway in 1953 to confusion and annoyance. On a dead-end street in some Latin American police state, characters drawn from literature and history (Casanova, Camille, Lord Byron) as well as Williams' imagination (Kilroy, a former boxing champ with a heart problem) struggle to understand their destiny, connect and escape — or at least avoid the Street Sweepers who carry off the dead. Their fragmented efforts proceed with the logic of a nightmare through 16 “blocks,” or scenes, announced by the despotic overseer of their misery, the hotel manager Gutman. 

Ahead of its time, “Camino Real” won admiration as audiences caught up, but it remains daunting to produce.

This collaboration between the Theatre@Boston Court and the CalArts School of Theater, directed by Jessica Kubzansky, approaches the challenge with great brio. Always generous to actors, Williams crammed his play with star turns, and many of the performers here — an ensemble of 21 students and professionals — shine.

Matthew Goodrich embodies the sweet, pugnacious über-Southern boy Kilroy so naturally that the role could have been written for him. Cristina Frias plays the Gypsy as a chatty, good-natured cynic; as her daughter, the prostitute Esmerelda, the stunning Kalean Ung is a powerful mixture of innocence and temptation.

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Local theaters celebrate Tennessee Williams' 100th birthday with a trio of plays

February 14, 2011 |  9:00 am

CaminoTennessee Williams, America's dramatist-poet of lost souls, would have turned 100 in March. Three local theaters are marking the occasion by giving audiences the chance to see some of his infrequently performed works, including his final full-length play.

"Camino Real," directed by Jessica Kubzansky, opened Saturday and runs through March 13 at the Theatre @ Boston Court in Pasadena in a co-production with the California Institute of the Arts School of Theater.

The West Coast premiere of Williams' final full-length play, "A House Not Meant to Stand," directed by Simon Levy, will open Feb. 26 and run through April 17 at the Fountain Theatre in Hollywood.

"The Eccentricities of a Nightingale," directed by Damaso Rodriguez, will open March 19 and run through May 28 at A Noise Within in Glendale.

The theaters are offering a "Ten/Tenn" program in which anyone who buys a regular-priced ticket to one of the three productions is eligible for a $10 discount on admission to the other productions.

Kubzansky, Boston Court's co-artistic director, calls "Camino Real" -- which premiered in 1953 -- "possibly the most unexpected Williams play ... a beautiful and surreal adventure that is a huge directorial challenge and a real behemoth." Twenty actors portray 65 characters drawn from literature, history and the author's imagination. Kubzansky, a CalArts alum, says the show represents Boston Court's first formal collaboration with her alma mater and features a cast of students, faculty and outside professionals and an all-student design team.

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