Sunday, February 8, 2015

A CARLIN HOME COMPANION: Growing up Carlin with Kelly Carlin


The Falcon Theatre in Toluca Lake is like a miniature Mark Taper Forum.  I may have commented on this in the past, but want to reiterate because the work I’ve seen here has been professional work, quality work and impressive.  No exception is Kelly Carlin’s one woman autobiography that discusses her life as the daughter of America’s premiere curmudgeon / raconteur: George Carlin.  The impressive set by Keith E. Mitchell is beautifully designed and features projections that aid and abet Ms Carlin’s ninety minute discussion of her life under the influence of her dad.
Kelly Carlin in
A Carlin Home Companion,
Growing Up With George

at the Falcon Theatre.
Photo by Sherry Greczmiel

Rolling smoothly from her dad’s early days as a wannabe comedian, partnering in at one time with Jack Burns (who later, yeh, is memorable for his work with Avery Schreiber) to television roles; meeting Kelly’s mother, Brenda and through the haze of drugs and booze and finally finding his niche to become the darling of college kids and on to Carnegie Hall. 

Wonderful projections by Fritz Davis with Nick McCord's lights with sound design by David Beaudry bring the piece to life as Kelly recalls the days of her struggle as the child of a guy whose idea of child rearing included taking the kid out to a street corner and leaving her there… like for a week.  Never literally, but in a way Kelly was sometimes left to referee fights that her parents had.  She was also called upon to shepherd her mother through tough times that included cases of Mateus Rosè, clouds of pot smoke and struggling through flurries of snow.  Ms Carlin’s timing and depiction of both of her parents as well as recreating some of the more dramatic scenes of her life “growing up Carlin” simply work.  Casually dressed, she obviously enjoys the movements and her  stories, though some are sad and thoughtful.  It’s a wonderful work of art.  Director Paul Provenza, no stranger to the lives of kids in  Show Business, guides the actress around the set with perfect timing that the technical aspects of the show demand.  It appears to be a smooth collaboration between still and video projections as well as light cues that almost become additional characters in the piece.

More applause to Garry Marshall and the staff of The Falcon for providing diverse and professional work at this unique venue.  This is a production that is not to be missed for fans of George Carlin as well as for those who may thirst for an inside peek into the life of an iconic genius who more and more told the truth in his attempt to awaken us to our own demise.

Growing Up Carlin with Kelly Carlin
The Falcon Theatre
4252 Riverside Drive
Burbank, CA 91505
Through March 1, 2015
Tickets and Information
818 955 8101  or

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