Posts Tagged ‘Macro Review’

Thomas Hampton Reviews MY PENIS – IN AND OUT OF TROUBLE

July 22, 2010

photo credits Charci Stinson, Dixie Sheridan

At the top of MY PENIS – IN AND OUT OF TROUBLE, the stage is nearly bare, but for a smattering of photos spread around a lone chair.  Antonio Sacre steps out, takes a seat, and picks up pictures one at a time in a seemingly random order.  He shares with the audience the age of his penis at the time of the photo, and the related memory/ story that the image evokes.

Originally produced in 1999 and 2000 at Fringe Festivals in New York, San Francisco, and Chicago, MY PENIS – IN AND OUT OF TROUBLE was Sacre’s big step forward as a writer/ performer.  Working with director Jenny Magnus, he found a way to portray a character similar to, but not quite, his own persona.  Sacre purposefully tackled powerful topical material that he could not approach in his day job as a respected storyteller for children.  He created a show that used a lurid title to titillate and line ‘em up for a classic bait and switch; turning the tables on the audience to confront them as to their complicity in the rampant sexual abuse of children throughout our society.  Sacre points out in the show that by his own semi-scientific reasoning, 17,000 of the children he has performed for have been molested.  Seventeen thousand.

After this initial round of performances, Sacre transitioned back in to the world of children’s storytelling; and went on to perform new works for adults at Summer Fringe Festivals.  In 2007 he attended the Conference of World Affairs as a last minute sub for a friend with a broken leg.  Sacre took part in many panels, including one at a local high school whose topic was Sex, Teens, and Drugs.  During a slow news cycle this panel caused a stir, and for nearly a week a Fox News channel blowhard railed on against him using quotes out of context.  Obviously, a daily nationally televised rant about you, your penis, and your day job speaking to hundreds of youngsters at a time is not the best thing for business.  However, Sacre has taken his experiences and allowed them to simmer on the back burner.

The new MY PENIS, directed by Paul Stein, has folded the story of this culture wars battle back in to the original piece, creating an updated show that moves beyond its ‘sex sells’ genesis, and connects personal incidents to larger questions of import.  Sacre walks us between his separate public lives as a boundary pushing solo performer and a storyteller for children.  In the process he asks how one’s honesty, and desire to teach and connect effects one’s ability to communicate at all.  Does communication necessitate taking sides in the culture wars; and whose fault is that?  Would sound bite culture exist if we did not condone it?

It is evident that Sacre begins his writing process by asking what conversation he wants to start, not merely as a way to work though personal issues.  Sacre’s command of the stage is second nature, and it was especially enjoyable to watch him deal with late arrivals to the show.  Employing a favorite clowning technique, he quickly recapped the beginning of the show after greeting the late comers.  When they informed him of the rest of their party still on their way in, he began to do the show en Español, until the entire group was seated.

For fans of the one person memoir, MY PENIS – IN AND OUT OF TROUBLE is a breezy hour that touches on issues of import to us all- without getting preachy or mired in a self help, tell all, work through my issues trap that many solo performers face.  Sacre has given himself the distance and perspective necessary to re-craft his experiences in to a meditation on how we connect with the rest of the world, and our responsibility to do right by our fellow man.

Thematic content includes:  Redemption, Love, Sex, Violence, Self Destruction, Highbrow, Lowbrow, Humor.

MY PENIS- In and Out of Trouble $15
Adults only!
7/15 to 8/5
Th 8pm
Purchase tickets
Map of Theatre Asylum
Visit Antonio Sacre’s web site

Thomas Hampton Reviews SONGS AND DANCES OF IMAGINARY LANDS -Overtone Industries

July 9, 2010

“There is something about that real, hands-on, making it together art… that is so real.”  O-Lan Jones

Photo Credits:  Christina House and  lennyBruce Lee

You must see SONGS AND DANCES OF IMAGINARY LANDS.  Counting tonight’s performance at 8pm, you have nine more opportunities to be a part of this incredible new work, seven years in the making.

The show opens with Tom and Sue visiting the Social Services Office.  They have an appointment, but no ID.  They cannot recall their identities.  Our protagonists set forth on a journey through imaginary lands, taking part in their indigenous songs and dances, attempting to reawaken their sense of self; reclaiming their id, and then hopefully ego and super-ego.

The audience physically follows Tom and Sue as their adventure leads to new, distant lands, each a site specific set within the massive square footage of The Songs & Dances Warehouse, a re-purposed car dealership in Culver City.  Depending on your ticket, each participant rides in a train car(t) from location to location, or carries their own chair while following the action.

Any seat is a good one, but allow me to recommend the train for those of you who have difficulty walking, and the chairs if you like to sit close to the action, or want to see all of the tremendous details of the sets and costumes.  Bringing a pillow or cushion is also a good call; only the ‘luxury trains’ have cushioned seating.

The first act takes Tom and Sue to Jam, where the denizens don western wear, the daddies are drunk, everyone is over-consuming and drowning in debt, and the dance is a variation on the Virginia Reel.

We also visit the University of Alaska, where academia is skewered as nothing more than a 12 step rehabilitation program, where submission is mandatory, and signals one’s abandonment of the personal ability to actively participate in life’s outcome.  The student body is encouraged to settle for a zombified state of semi-frozen consciousness by their counselor/ instructor.

By the end of the first act, Tom and Sue enter in to their marriage contract, allowing Sue to escape the mundane rituals of office drudgery, setting off a kinetic dance of office desks and revelers.  Tom and Sue’s union transforms their denim duds in to the sparkle of satin-y finery as they transition form their workweeks in to a private familial bliss.

O-Lan Jones coordinated over twenty writers, scores of musicians and performers, impeccably skilled production teams of designers and builders, as well as the input and efforts of countless local community volunteers.  So many people had a hand in the creation of the show that they could not fit in the program.  As an addendum, an enormous chalkboard stretches across the lobby inscribed with the names of all of the contributors.

So many ideas- both big and small- are awakened by the unique collaboration that is SONGS AND DANCES OF IMAGINARY LANDS.  Does socialization and engagement in society force us to strip away one’s sense of self?  Is our coming water crisis to be worsened by the disappearance of fish and dance instructors?  Are modern wars fought for the good of those engaging in the battle?  Do our personal relationships merely provide us with escape from our daily grind, and how do we reconnect to the cosmic/ divine spark within us to reclaim our own sense of spiritual completion?  How do we prepare for our departure from this existence; how do we let go when it is our time to die?

A conversation in the lobby after the performance juxtaposed the public monies spent on LA Opera’s recent Ring Cycle, and how many SONGS AND DANCES could have been funded for the same cost, even including living expenses for O-Lan Jones for the last seven years.  How many other cities could get their hands on the magic that is this show?  How many empty retail stores and economically devastated communities could come together to create this wondrous project in this time of need?

The retort was that there is not enough money or interest in experimental theater.  But what does that moniker mean?  This show is in many ways a grown up theme park attraction, full of moving people and parts, high tech trickery, stunning sets and costumes, and top notch musicianship and vocal prowess.  It explores themes relevant to all people who live in our modern times.  That sounds suspiciously like regular ‘old’ opera.

Of note are the performances of MJ Silva as Curf on Oldie Mountain, Michael Harris as the University of Alaska counselor, and Silvie Zamora, whose intense physicality throughout the show was a pleasure to behold.  You will certainly walk out of the show dazed by its transformative ability, with your own precious favorites lingering in your head, haunting your return to the industrial Culver City streets that await you.

Thematic Content includes:  Bring Kids, Redemption, Love, Violence, Puppets, Singing, Live Music, Dance/ Movement, Highbrow, Humor.



7/8 to 7/25 $25-$50
Th,F,Sa,Sn 8pm, Sn 2pm
Map of The Songs & Dances Warehouse 
Purchase tickets online or by phone: 323-655-2410
Visit the event’s web page

Thomas Hampton Reviews TOHUBOHU! WITH GEORGE HERMS -Rachel Rosenthal Company

July 7, 2010

This review is of a performance of TOHUBOHU! with guest artist George Herms that took place on Sunday, June 11.

Photo credits: Martin Cohen, Joanna Grasso, Michael Childers.

In a terrific move forward, TOHUBOHU! the current monthly show by the Rachel Rosenthal Company at Espace DbD, incorporated the art of beat collage artist/ sculptor George Herms in to the mix.  This review will focus specifically on aspects of the collaboration with Mr. Herms; for a better overview of what TOHUBOHU! is, please read my original review.  This weekend, July 9,10,11, brings a collaboration between the TOHUBOHU! ensemble and Amy Knoles and Eric Clark of the EAR Unit.

The style and tenor of the evening remains the same (a free improvisation sans language; incorporating dance, vocalization, and touching on bits of theatrical styles like mime, contact improvisation, and commedia,) but as the company brings in new guest artists for special weekends of TOHUBOHU! you may decide to take a second visit to Espace DbD, and see the company collaborate with a guest artist who piques your interest.

In the case of this collaboration with George Herms, the company included him in their rehearsals for a number of weeks leading up to the show, and he brought some of his sculptural art pieces for the company to play with.  In a very interesting discussion post show, both the company and Mr. Herms spoke to the intriguing dilemmas that the rational brain concocted, and the artists had to overcome.

For Mr. Herms, the idea of working collaboratively in any way, let alone performance, was a constant lesson in the difficulty of ‘letting go’ in to the communal nature of the troupe, and trusting that the company is there to push the performance along, and that all choices are good ones.  I must say, for a novice performer, George Herms was definitely in the best of hands.  There was no noticeable dichotomy between the ‘actual’ ensemble of the Rachel Rosenthal Company and their newest temporary member as he concocted sets for improvisations, and joined in the performance.

One of the most magical experiences for Herms was the ability to see his sculptural pieces (which were utilized as set pieces, props, and costumes) again as living, soulful creatures.  When collectors get their hands on them, they wind up hung on walls, or placed on pedestals, distanced from the chaos of the world around them, cut off from real life in a sanitized surreality of what ‘art’ is as a commodity, not a living piece of his soul, or active reflection of society.

On the flip side of this coin, several company members, most notably Doug Hammett, spoke to the difficulty of treating the art like any other prop.  All of the company members were well aware of Herms’ status as an artist of significance.  They knew that each piece he brought in to play with, if hung on a gallery wall, would be priced in the thousands.  It took time to disconnect the ‘value’ from these props so the company could freely incorporate them in to performance- and that they did.

In one sequence, Hammett had wedged a sculpture around his neck.  Throughout the scene, he continued to struggle with it physically; bending and stretching out what seemed to be a clock spring further and further, invoking humanity’s constant struggle against time.  Mortality.  Our collective and simultaneously individual, yet absolutely futile attempts to unburden ourselves; force off this yoke.

Worthy of mention is the participation of Kate Noonan, Managing Director of the Rachel Rosenthal Company, who incorporates light and sound in to the mix.  Because this week’s guest was not a musician, all of the audio was Kate’s contribution.  Over and over throughout the course of the evening, Kate found just the right accompaniment to action on stage, and tracks that propelled and instigated performance opportunities.

Thematic content includes:  All performances will differ, but expect Dance/ Movement, Highbrow, Humor, Live Music, Violence, Love.

TOHUBOHU! runs July 9,10,11, Sept 24,25,26, Oct 15,16,17, Nov 5,6,7, Dec 3,4,5
F,S 8:30pm Sn 7:30pm $20
Map of Espace DbD/ Rachel Rosenthal Co.
Buy Tickets online or by phone 310-839-0661
Visit the DbD/ Rachel Rosenthal website
Contact the production/ producers
View a Charlie Rose interview with Allen Ginsberg, Steven Watson and George Herms from Nov 29, 1995
Please note:  interview begins at 22:30




June 27, 2010

“This is the most retarded piece of rubbish I have ever been a part of.”

Photo Credit:  Michael Lamont

Brimmer Street Theatre Company, a local troupe consisting of Emerson graduates, has focused its attention on a little known meeting between Pablo Picasso and leading French existentialists in Vichy France.  They gathered in secret, past curfew, to stage a reading of a new play Picasso had written, DESIRE CAUGHT BY THE TAIL.

In an attempt to pump some life in to Picasso’s dreadful play- and it is truly horrible- writer and director David Jette has composed a classic farce around the events of this evening.  Resistance fighters, Sartre, Picasso, Leiris, Camus, de Beauvoir, the ladies in their lives, and even an SS officer slam doors, swap partners, berate each other physically and emotionally; all under the watchful gaze of a six foot tall bronze swastika, our reminder of the ever present occupational forces of the Third Reich.

LEIRIS/PICASSO:  WEDNESDAY NIGHT AT THE HOME OF MICHEL LEIRIS A READING OF THE PLAY ‘DESIRE CAUGHT BY THE TAIL’ BY THE PAINTER PABLO PICASSO wants desperately to escape the black hole of the source material, as well the gravity of it’s own title, but is never able to take off.  And like passengers on a commercial airliner stalled on the tarmac for hours, the audience is left completely in the dark, asking one question over and over; “Why?”

Why are the costumes in no way accurate for the period?  Why is there no fire in the belly of the show?  Why are the actors having such a good time while the audience suffers?  Why do Picasso and the SS officer have accents, but the Frenchies do not?  Why am I thinking about any of this while I should be engrossed in this show?

Brimmer Street’s stated mission is, “…to develop original theatre artists whose work challenges established forms and expectations…”  Yet LEIRIS/PICASSO challenges no established forms, and the only expectations it challenges are those of it’s audience to experience a fresh evening of entertainment.  Merely throwing artists, trust fund babes, resistance fighters, and a Nazi into the ‘farce machine’ does not cut it.

The audience slogging through LEIRIS/PICASSO is bored into submission.  Yet there was so much action to put on stage, which all occurred off of it:  resistance fighters stealing a larger than life swastika from the Eiffel Tower, Picasso’s mistress de-robing, arousing, and teasing her scene partner, “hidden” homosexual lust, the gourmet preparations of a pigeon in the kitchen.

At some point in its development, someone should have pulled the plug.  It is very possible that LEIRIS/PICASSO reads very well.  Like Cirque’s insistent fall on its own BANANA SHPEEL, were the decision makers too emotionally invested in the success of the show, blinding them to its mediocrity?

Each performer on stage tore in to their roles, showing the marks of a fine tuned ensemble comfortable with each other after years of work.  Lets hope that Brimmer Street harnesses its talents in the cause of a more vibrant experience moving forward.  They are most certainly capable of it.

Thematic content includes:  Love, Adultery, Sex, Violence, Self Destruction, Highbrow, Lowbrow, Humor.

6/12 to 7/24 $24
Th,F,Sa 8pm
Purchase tickets
Map of Bootleg
Visit the Brimmer Street Theatre Company web site
Visit Bootleg’s web site

Thomas Hampton Reviews FORBIDDEN ZONE: LIVE IN THE 6th DIMENSION -Sacred Fools

June 17, 2010

“I don’t like that new girl; she’s too pretty and she smells funny.”  Princess

Little d democracy is a beautiful thing.  Sometimes, theater can feel incredibly like democracy in action.  Messy.  Necessary.  Empowering.  Inclusive.  Repulsive and impressive, with fleeting moments of emotional engagement and stagecraft wizardry.

FORBIDDEN ZONE: LIVE IN THE 6th DIMENSION (FZ6D) takes a great leap forward from what could be considered in some ways its theatrical progenitors- the late night Chicago shock theater of CANNIBAL CHEERLEADERS ON CRACK, KILLER JOE, and CO-ED PRISON SLUTS, et al… in both production values and intellectual curiosity.  Spun together from Richard Elfman’s distillation of Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo’s theatrical, cabaret roots in to the 1982 film “Forbidden Zone,” FORBIDDEN ZONE: LIVE IN THE 6th DIMENSION keeps an eerie, otherworldly hold on its audience.  What is a dream?  What is reality?  In the 6th Dimension, does it matter?

Marz Richards IS your trusting and good willed MC, Uncle Satan; giving you, and the people of Venice, California, exactly what you always wanted, but never asked for.  He just can’t help himself.  Other standouts are Jaime Andrews as the Ex-Queen biding her time in the pit writing a screenplay, and Bryan Krasner as our Jewish, near-deaf, wrestling Gramps.

But picking stand-outs in a show like FZ6D is unfair.  Each performer, as well as the live on-stage band, shines in one vignette or another; just as Tifanie McQueen’s set’s quick changes and Andrew Bentler and Ben Rock’s animation have their own star turns.  The cabaret genesis of the original source material is difficult to overcome, and why should anyone bother?  The charm and success of the show does not lie in traditional narrative structure or cohesive plotting.

Where the show consistently comes alive is in the full cast production numbers.  With an ensemble as large (if not larger) than many touring musical productions, the effect of the dancing in Sacred Fools’ 99 and under black box is absolutely stunning, mind altering, and completely transportive in to the world so carefully crafted.

FZ6D benefits tremendously from its’ Sacred Fools location.  The audience gathers on the Heliotrope sidewalk before and after the show, just North of the 101.  The concessioner hawking beer and wine is kitty corner from the active reality of LA’s Bicycle Kitchen, LACC, and perhaps most relevant for our discussion here, the haunting ghost of Mondo Video A Go Go.  The audience is together inhabiting a living, breathing piece of Los Angeles, away from the hot mess of “Hollywood Glamour” in both tenor and atmosphere.

I hope all of the patrons leave asking themselves if the Devil is calling all of the shots; wondering if they, like the denizens of Venice and the 6th Dimension, are aware of their controlling overlord?  And who is the devil that pulls our strings and offers up our deepest desires?  Is it divine spark, evil, or mere convenience that drives our attempts to find pleasure; even in what seems the most egregious of circumstances?

Thematic content includes:  Love, Adultery, Sex, Violence, Rape, Self Destruction, Drug Use, Nudity, Puppets, Singing, Live Music, Dance/ Movement, Lowbrow, Humor.

runs 5/21 to 6/26 $25
Th F Sa 8pm
Special Sn performances 6/13 and 6/20 7pm
map of Sacred Fools
Purchase tickets
Visit the event’s web page

TOHUBOHU! performs with guest artist George Herms June 11,12,13

June 4, 2010

photo credits: Martin Cohen, Joanna Grasso, Michael Childers

TOHUBOHU! Extreme Theater Ensemble returns for new performances June 11th, 12th, and 13th with special guest artist George Herms.  Known as American assemblage’s Beat Generation master, Herms will be integrated into TOHUBOHU!, adding props, making sets, and performing with the improvisational theater group.

We reviewed TOHUBOHU! this Spring, and strongly encourage you to take part in this incredible, unique experience.

Here is our review:


“We just create art on the spur of the moment.”
Rachel Rosenthal

In a sentence, that pretty much sums up the experience that is TOHUBOHU! at Espace DbD.  For those of you unfamiliar, Rachel Rosenthal has been performing and teaching and pushing the boundaries of experimental theater for over half a century.

Over the course of an evening of TOHUBOHU!, the audience, or witnesses, have the pleasure of experiencing some rather “pure” improvisation.  That is, full and total freedom of the performers to find the truth of the moment, with no pressure to create anything- be it drama, humor, or a wacky wrap up.

For those of us who have studied theater games, be it Compass Players, Spolin, Piven, or even Groundlings/ IO/ UCB/ etc… TOHUBOHU! will be a pleasant reminder of the best that these techniques have to offer:  skilled players, surprising coincidences, revelatory moments.

And not to offend any of you “lovers of the herald” out there, but TOHUBOHU! also dismisses with the worst of what performances based on the games have become- an excuse for performers to grand stand, steal focus, push forward horrible jokes and insults, and see who can be more outrageous than each other.

The evening is almost like a spiritual or religious experience, with Rachel Rosenthal as your shaman, guiding not only the performers in their quest, but the audience as well.  The seating is limited, with only 35 patrons per performance, and the experience is quite intimate.  It felt as if the audience was a voyeur, a nearly invisible yet necessary element in the progress of an incredibly talented corps of dedicated performers.

TOHUBOHU! realizes what many scripted performances attempt yet fail at achieving; it poignantly deconstructs the human condition, and awakens the audience to confront their own place within it.

Thematic content includes:  All performances will differ, but expect Dance/ Movement, Highbrow, Humor, Live Music, Violence, Love

TOHUBOHU! runs March 12,13,14 April 9,10,11 May 7,8,9 June 11,12,13 July 9,10,11
Friday and Saturday at 8:30pm Sunday at 7:30pm $20
Map of Espace DbD/ Rachel Rosenthal Co.
Buy Tickets
Visit the DbD/ Rachel Rosenthal website
Contact the production/ producers
View a Charlie Rose interview with Allen Ginsberg, Steven Watson and George Herms from Nov 29, 1995   Please note: interview begins at 22:30

Thomas Hampton Reviews THE EVENT Needtheater at the Hollywood Fringe Festival

May 27, 2010

Needtheater is bringing special encore performances of THE EVENT to the Hollywood Fringe Festival.

This production of John Clancy's short one man show, directed by Ian Forester, is certainly written for a crowd that has already fallen in love with the theater.  Paul Dillon narrates our communal experience, slowly unraveling the artifice of the performance, the relevance of the crew, and the unspoken contract between the audience, actor, and critic.

Dillon's brash, no nonsense attack on Clancy's words is the perfect fit.  None of the simple, yet effective, theatrical tricks up their sleeves are forced.  And the result is incredibly effective.

THE EVENT attempts to preempt and silence the thoughts in your head, muffling your inner dialogue.  And then it steers you towards the understanding that the event itself is the simple act of communication.  And the only way to truly communicate is face to face; live and in person.  A give and take including physicality as well as emotion, information, personality, disorder, and discomfort.

Thus the question; what are we in danger of losing as we avoid true communication through technological complication? Or perhaps, have we passed the tipping point, and our loss, quite simply, has not yet been understood?

Thematic content includes:  Highbrow, Humor, Singing

THE EVENT  $10 runs
6/18 8pm
6/19 6:30pm
6/24 7:30pm
6/26 7:30pm
6/27 7:30pm
Map of the Paul G. Gleason Theatre
Buy Tickets

Visit the Needtheater website

Visit the Hollywood Fringe Festival website


May 23, 2010

Grand Ole Echo         May 16, 2010

The crowd had the feel of a family reunion about them as they settled in for an afternoon of fun.  Lots of hugs and hearty handshakes were given and received.  A young rocker-to-be carried in his Dad’s hardcase as parents kept their own hands full with bottles of beer.

A rare appearance on the Left Coast for William Lee and the Modern Primitives was the perfect start to this season’s opening of the Grand Ole Echo, a seasonal, weekly, Sunday afternoon show for all ages at The Echo, in the heart of Echo Park.  Javier, a long time attendee, has taken over as your host, introducing each act, and playfully enticing the audience to pick up a cd or other swag.

Like all good Western/ Blues bands, William Lee and the Modern Primitives move you to tap your toes, bob your head, and sway to and fro with the steady beat supplied by G.J. Garcia’s drums and guest bassist D.A. Foster.  Even a youpster (young hipster) with blonde hair to his shoulders, ran around and danced with his dad to the yodeling antics of the band.

William C. Lee sang songs about being in love, and keeping the world at bay, shifting styles from straight ahead honky-tonk to shamanistic prayer chant; even touching on a groovy cattle drive/ truck convoy instrumental reminiscent of the scene in The Blues Brothers when the band loops the theme to Rawhide to pacify the rowdy crowd.  Needless to say, no bottles were thrown, nor chicken wire safety curtain needed at this show.

Socio-economic politics were at the core of many of the lyrics…

Where do the old cowboys go
When they can no longer ride?
Out to pasture
With Social Security and plastic in their sides.

…as well as a diatribe against a hipster “music machine” contingent that makes music completely devoid of a singular, personal style.

But the most moving aspect of William Lee and the Modern Primitives’ voice was the desire to- and peace found in a- return to the country after time lost in the city.

If moving back to the country brings the peace and creative fuel necessary to nurture the new songs on display, then by all means, the creative forces behind this band need to stay out of urban centers unless they are on tour.

William Lee and the Modern Primitives served up a cohesive set of songs that continually pushed its audience further and further, opening them up to a worldview where story and substance take precedent over popularity and profit.  For an encore, they serenaded a lovely couple who danced all by themselves in front of the band; arm in arm, twirling around each other again and again, in time to their slightly southern lilts.


Thomas Hampton Reviews SECOND

May 11, 2010

“We are just real people making real mistakes.”

See and download the full gallery on posterous

Photo Credit Joe LaRue

At it’s heart, SECOND is a post 911 redemption song.  It asks if belief can heal us out of our time of grief, and wonders if we are ready to be reborn.  Most importantly, are we able to recognize and move past our own sins as a more open, honest, loving society?

The Filament Theatre Company’s ensemble cast displays fantastically controlled, realistic performances that play well in person, or on the live video feeds that show you the action in the rooms you are not seated in.

The action takes place in three rooms of a lovely Echo Park home, and the set up creates a fabulously intimate venue.  Be forewarned, the only seating is on cushioned benches without backs.  While the run time is only 90 minutes, if you have back issues, I recommend bringing your own folding chair.  Some of the sound cues can also be a bit loud.  If you have sensitive ears, sit away from the large speakers that play the audio feed from other rooms.

I wonder if an LA audience is as keen to experience this as a group of New Yorkers would be…  Unfortunately, Neal Utterback’s script, while able to toy with the ways that a secular society accepts, understands, and incorporates miracles in to their personal belief structures, struggles to sink its hook in to the cheek of the audience.

SECOND asks each of its characters to rationalize the unbelievable.  Some will attempt to begin life anew, and start fresh in the hopes of creating a better future.  Others will self destruct and fall victim to delusions of immortality.  But the most important choice that the audience can make lays outside of the theater, after the show.  Will we be able to come together to work towards a communal utopia as good neighbors and citizens?  Or will we fall deeper in to our own whirlpools of greed and isolation, seeking redemption from a golden calf, or whatever false idol we choose to worship.

Thematic content includes:  Redemption, Love, Adultery, Sex, Violence, Self Destruction, Singing, Humor.

SECOND runs 5/6 to 5/29
Th, F, Sa (and W 19th & 26th) 8pm  $20
Map of Laveta Villa
Buy Tickets
Visit the Filament Theatre Company website
Read the press release for SECOND

Thomas Hampton Reviews ENCORE L’AMOUR!

May 7, 2010

Love drives us to live our life to the fullest.
ENCORE L’AMOUR! is a box of fancy chocolates, all wrapped up pretty in a bow, and hand delivered to your door unexpectedly by the most attractive of messengers.  At first, you are overwhelmed by the grandiosity of your new gift.  But as you tear open the wrapping, and try each confection, you find that each truffle and treat has wondrous magic inside.  Your hunger, desire, and curiosity increase exponentially with each bite.

Nathalie Broizat and Jean-Paul Monsche have built an amazing evening of movement and music musing on love, loss, regret, redemption, and letting go.  Each vignette was a fully thought out meditation on different aspects of love:  romantic love, the love of friends and family, the love of music, lust, the love of movement, of self expression, and at its core, the joy of love itself.

Each member of their ensemble exhibited top notch physical control, exuding a unique, open, inviting, and expressive presence.  The confluence of skilled mime and clown work throughout the evening proved the continued relevance of the form.  This work, steeped primarily in story, not contrivance, will be a necessary revelation to many audiences who have only experienced more derivative American clowning and/ or classic mime.

Here are a few of the confections offered to a dazzled and dumbfounded audience:

A lover takes a running leap, sliding across a table to rest face to face with his sweetie, only to steal a glass of wine.

A pair find themselves entangled in the messy complexity of coupling as a rollerblading lover wraps his partner in a tangle of ribbon; a present he can unwrap in good time.

Two lovers dance a joyous farewell, as one accompanies their movements by playing an accordion worn as a backpack by his dance partner.

Heart headed lobster/ love monsters chase after objects of desire.  Confetti sprinkles the air in an attempt to intoxicate the audience as an aphrodisiac. 
All the while, a French Gypsy band transports you to a place where Michel Legrand has been appointed Minister of Music, and quality and quantity are derigeur.
As a final grace note, the last number opened on Nathalie setting a dinner table for a celebratory meal with close friends.

One by one, each cast member came in, sat down, and was served a salad dressed at the table, with bread and cheese, and wine.  And then The Mad Alsacians, one by one, came on stage, sat down, and began to eat.  Suddenly, the entire audience was invited to join in, and we all broke bread together, drank wine, and celebrated the love we share with each other, and the love we have for the performing arts.

By forgoing spoken language, ENCORE L’AMOUR frees your mind and opens your heart.  The audience is invited to move beyond personal hangups and baggage, sympathize with the players, and empathize with their unique conundrums, desires, disappointments, and triumphs.  Our participation in the finale/ onstage after show dinner party drives home the fact that it was our own personal brushes with love that we saw played out in each short love story.

Love crosses all societal boundaries.  Love is love.  Regardless of social class, caste, economic standing, race, gender, age, political ideology, language…  This show will reach any audience given the opportunity to perform for it.  If it arrives in your town, treat yourself to something wonderful.

Photo Credits:  Leo Garcia

Thematic content includes:  Dance/ Movement, Love, Highbrow, Live Music

ENCORE L’AMOUR! was presented in April of 2010
at Highways Performance Space
Visit the Nathalie Broizat website