Thursday, June 12, 2014

Durang Deranged in the Fringe


Christopher Durang writes plays:  some very funny stuff over the years including one acts like Actor’s Nightmare and Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All For You.  Gnarly word play and silly satire extend to his ‘DENTITY CRISIS, under the brilliant direction of Alexa Sascha-Lewin as part of the current Hollywood Fringe Festival.  Only three performances left, but for half an hour of high energy silliness and a nice slice of banana bread, it’s a ‘don’t miss it’ situation. 

Just to the west of Theatre Row on Santa Monica are some neat little performance spaces.  The 56 seat venue, Theatre Asylum, is a seat of the pants space ideal for the Fringe Festival.  One show comes in and plays as another sits on deck. As we enter the theater we are greeted by Edith Fromage (Sela Victor); fresh banana bread (actually her own invention… or so she says) and a smile.  A little guitar music lulls us into a false sense of the demurity.  And, then, the fun begins.

Durang shocks us time and again with Robert (seventeen year old dynamo Nicholas Podany) whom we think for a moment is Jane’s (Haley McFarland) brother and Mme Fromage’s son.  Proteus has nothing on this kid as he morphs madly from one character to another: the son, the father/husband, granddad and a dandy suitor who also woos his mom.  It really doesn’t matter who’s on first. Poor Jane, sitting quietly, is the eye of the whirlwind that continues to swirl about her as her mother insists that she play the piano, though she has never had a lesson and never really plays.  Enter Mr. Summers (more transformational Townsend Coleman) who gets to the essence of the issues that have Jane previously attempting suicide before ending the session abruptly.  It seems that as a child, Jane has been traumatized by a frightening production of Peter Pan where, after Tinkerbell drinks the poison to save Peter, the audience doesn’t respond loudly enough with applause and Tink dies.  Was it a dream?  Do you believe in fairies?

Off the wall hijinks ensue.  Deborah Marlowe appears announcing that SHE is Mr. Summers who has had a sex change operation!  Imagine Coleman then reappearing. There are fish net stockings involved.

It’s a pure romp. The tickets are ten bucks and there are only three more performances.  It’s worth finding parking off Santa Monica and enjoying a well written, well directed and nicely acted one act. 

by Christopher Durang
Theatre Asylum
6320 Santa Monica
Wednesday, June 18th at 10PM
Saturday, June 28th @ 6:30PM
Sunday, June 29th @ 4PM
Tickets and Information @

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