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The Spotlight: The birthday party in 'Tales From Hollywood' at the Odyssey Theatre Ensemble

November 30, 2010 |  3:39 pm

Turning 40 is always an event, but for Ödön von Horváth, the sardonic hero of “Tales From Hollywood,” hitting the big 4-0 in 1941 proves to be particularly memorable: “On Sunday, Pearl Harbor. Monday, war was declared. And on Tuesday, I was 40. I’ve known better starts to the week.”

Party And what more suitable way to celebrate than with a party out of bounds at the Santa Monica home of Heinrich Mann, brother of Thomas. Heinrich’s beautiful, troubled wife serves up a birthday surprise that neither Horváth--nor the audience--will easily forget. (Hey, with the right shoes, any outfit can work.)

This surreal and weirdly sexy scene captures the sly dark humor in Christopher Hampton’s portrait of European emigres struggling in Lotus Land during the 1940s. Bertolt Brecht and crew might have taken a knocking in the movie business, but they get first-class treatment in Michael Peretzian’s revival of "Tales." Enjoy the timeless showbiz satire--and perhaps reconsider the dress code for your next birthday bash.

--Charlotte Stoudt

At the Odyssey Theatre Ensemble through Dec. 19. Click here to read The Times' review.

Photo: Gregory Gifford Giles as Horváth and Ursula Brooks as Nelly Mann in "Tales From Hollywood." Credit: Enci