Monday, September 14, 2015


Los Angeles architectural history brought to life, Princes of Kings Road is an ambitious idea conceived, written and directed by Tom Lazarus.  Lazarus has been writing for a long time and his decision to tackle the estranged relationship between former architectural partners Rudolph Schindler (John Nielsen) and Richard Neutra (Ray Xifo) is a very good idea on the brink of success.  A unique performance space, the Neutra Museum in Silver Lake has serious challenges to the production.  Lazarus’s dialogue and the dramatic build of the story work just fine.  The challenge is for the audience in the seats behind the front row to see and hear the actors.

It is 1953. Schindler, now 66, is in Cedars of Lebannon Hospital for a condition that has had him there for a long time.  He has not had to share a room with anyone and is catered to lovingly by dedicated Nurse Rothstein (Heather Robinson), whom we first meet half naked as she changes her clothing in Schindler’s room.  Schindler is a notorious rogue and even in his diminished state, he has an eye for the ladies.  As a referee for the ensuing action, Robinson does well.  She has wanderlust and yearns to become a stewardess to see the world, but in the meantime she commands the boys and they fall under her charms.

Enter Schindler’s old colleague, Neutra and the sparks fly.  It’s been over twenty years since they have had anything to do with one another.  Neutra’s had a heart attack.  The only bed available is the last one...  in the room where Schindler resides.   Schindler is forced to confront his old pal and their story unfolds.  Had the play been staged in such a way as to create a more intimate connection to the audience and had black outs (literally just overhead florescents  abruptly winking out and then on again to convey a passage of time) been avoided with the device of scene changes while the audience simply watched, the flow of the piece would have worked more efficiently.  The use of projected slides on a large screen stage right supplemented the dialogue with passages of lovely cello music played by Neutra's wife, Dione, from an archived recording.  With a different set up of the hospital room the slides might have been projected directly over the actors to potentially more interesting effect.  Of course, as this space was never intended for theatre, that challenge may have been too difficult.  I discussed with a director friend the set up and we agreed that the use of a ‘tennis court’ staging with only two rows of seats might have allowed the piece a more intimate quality.

All of that said, given the limitations of the space and the only available lighting choices, the story of these two giants of architecture whose influence on World Modern Design is undeniable, is a worthy effort.  Nielsen  and Xifo (ringers for the actual men) with German/Austrian accents fulfill the needs of the characters.  The bombast of Schindler and the humility of Neutra shine through.  As the play resolves, Nurse Rothstein tells Schindler that a bed has opened up and he may be in a ‘private’ situation again. Schindler waves away the opportunity and as the men reconcile their long standing issues, in their hospital gowns, the two giants partner again to create a new project.  

It would be wonderful to see this show in a more traditional theatre setting.

Written and directed by Tom Lazarus
Neutra Institute and Museum of Silverlake
2379 Glendale Blvd.
Silverlake, CA 90039
Sept. 12-Oct. 4, 2015
Fridays at 8 p.m.: Sept. 18, 25; Oct. 2
Saturdays at 8 p.m.: Sept. 12 (opening), 19, 26; Oct. 3
Sunday at 4 p.m.: Sept. 27 ONLY
Sundays at 5 p.m.: Sept. 13, 20, Oct. 4 (no 5 p.m. performance on Sept. 27)
Sunday at 7 p.m.: Sept. 27 ONLY
Tickets and Information:
Call (323) 641-7747  

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