Monday, July 15, 2019


It's a long way to go to tell the old Bible story of the wisdom of Solomon. What Bertolt Brecht has done in one way or another with most of the many plays he's written has been to set a standard for production that makes the show itself not just a play.. not just a few hours in a dark space with a story, but a polemic .. the undercurrent of the times.. the strong cast of characters.. and Anteaus's cast of thousands.. well.. a few dozen played with aplomb by sixteen protean professionals... starts with a preshow that sets the tone for putting on a play! 

"We'll put on a play!" exclaims John Apicella as an Expert who is responding to a situation in a mythical village in the Caucasuses.  The play will be called..  "The Caucasian Chalk Circle!"
Liza Seneca, Alex Knox, Turner Frankosky,
Gabriela Bonet, Steve Hofvendahl,
Claudia Elmore and Troy Guthrie
Photo by Jenny Graham

Brecht's telling   of the chalk circle reportedly goes back to an ancient Chinese tale that echoes the Bible telling of Solomon and the two mothers.  What Brecht does and has done and Antaeus does  beautifully is to expand the idea of positive political action as well as revealing wrong doing in nations and in courts with a polemic that speaks directly to what the United States is experiencing today. Corruption and rule by force all come to light with a slight tongue in cheek while our sixteen actors interchange  characters on the fly. 

The ever moving basic set pieces by Frederica Nascimento and Erin Walley's props work beautifully. Scenes evolve smoothly as the characters all change,  accompanied by actor/musicians on a multitude of odd instruments to uplift each scene. I particularly liked Apicella's banjolele.

Brecht drops the fourth wall and makes no bones about keeping us informed that this is not just a show but an examination of ideas dramatically expanded.  The acting is sometimes deliberately slightly off kilter or maybe that actor has not fully engaged with his role? Regardless, it's a play: a theatrical. It's transformational and current. Stephanie Shroyer's direction is so smooth that the ensemble seems to guide itself through the paces!

Played with a particularly casual quality, Steve Hofvendahl as The Judge (having attained his position with no qualifications whatsoever!) reveals that 'the law is the law!" and his rulings are final, adding an ironic twist to how the law might work. La Dee Dah..
Steve Hofvendahl
Photo by Jenny Graham

The ensemble:   
John Apicella Noel Arthur Paul Baird
Gabriela Bonet Claudia Elmore
Turner Frankosky Troy Guthrie
Steve Hofvendahl Connor Kelly-Eiding
Michael Khachanov Alex Knox
Mehrnaz Mohammadi Madalina Nastase
Liza Seneca Janellen Steininger George Villas

Caucasian Chalk Circle by
Bertolt Brecht
Antaeus Theatre Company
Kiki & David Gindler Performing Arts Center
110 East Broadway
Glendale, CA 91205
(between N. Brand Blvd. and Artsakh Ave.)
Performances: July 11 – Aug. 26

Thursdays at 8 p.m.: July 11 (opening) ONLY
• Fridays at 8 p.m.: July 5 (preview), July 12, 19, 26; Aug. 2, 9, 16, 23
• Saturdays at 8 p.m.: July 6 (preview), July 13, 20, 27; Aug. 3, 10, 17, 24
• Sundays at 2 p.m.: July 7 (preview), July 14, 21, 28; Aug. 4, 11, 18, 25
• Mondays at 8 p.m.: July 22, 29; Aug, 5, 12, 19, 26 (dark July 15)

(818) 506-1983 or

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