Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Dark and Stormy at Little Fish

Martin McDonagh is an Irishman.  There is a dark history of the Irish.. drinkin' and whathaveye.  His play, The Lonesome West reminds of this limerick. It pretty much sums up the Connor boys, Valene (Bill Wolski) and Coleman (Cylan Brown).

"There once were two cats of Killkenny
Each thought there was one cat too many
So.. they fought and the fit 
And they scratched and they bit
Until .. except for their nails 
And the tips of their tails
Instead of two cats
There weren't any! "
Bill Wolski and Cylan Brown.  Photo by Mickey Elliot

The absurd meets the fantastic in McDonagh's 1997 play and a trip to San Pedro had better be on your agenda, if seeing what is pretty much a straight play is of any interest to yas at all atall. 

The lilt.. of the English language has never been more lyrical than in the speech patterns of the Emerald Isle. Having enjoyed The Cripple of Inishmaan recently at Antaeus Theatre Company in Glendale, hearing these well tuned actors filter into the rhythms that McDonagh creates beautifully is simply delightful, though the battle of the Connors carries on and on and on a bit.  Delightful is Eliza Faloona as Girleen.. a hot seventeen year old with mischief and the good Fr Welsh (Brendan Kane) on her mind. 
Eliza Faloona  and Brendan Kane Photo by Mickey Elliott
Directed by Stephanie Coltrin, The Lonesome West is the third play in McDonagh's  Connemara Trilogy.  As I am coming late to discovering McDonagah, the first two will be interesting to read, if not lucking into seeing productions.  

There's a lot of hair in this show.. And, it all adds to the feeling of authenticity that the cast brings to it.  To do an analysis of beards and curls would be a good project for any student of these characters. 
The off hand way that McDonagh presents the brothers.. as well as Fr Welsh and Girleen, sending them willy nilly into one another is at once charming and sad.  The evolution of  each of the characters is the essence of the story, unfolding in bursts of passion and moments of pure love.  

How do those of us who love one another redeem ourselves when we've behaved not just badly, but despicably? And, on purpose? McDonagh questions the 'rules' of the Catholic Church. How is it that there is redemption for those who confess to any manner of mayhem but...  for the suicides there is only Hell to pay.  Murders are confessed to.  And, there are suicides. It's very dark comedy with a thoroughly committed cast.  The pathos of loss and the question of redemption leave the audience to determine for ourselves what's fair, what's not and in the end, the sad situation of the Connor boys whose best efforts go for naught. 

If for no other reason than an immersive evening that will leave you with as many questions as answers, The Lonesome West is highly recommended. 

The Lonesome West 
by Martin McDonagh 
Little Fish Theatre
San Pedro’s Arts District
777 S. Centre St., San Pedro, CA 90731
Ticket Range: $15 - $28
Prices above do not include a $1 ticket service fee
Discounts Available for Groups of 10+
Discounts for Seniors 65 and over ($26) and Patrons 25 and under ($15)
Box Office: 310.512.6030

Monday, August 26, 2019

Kelly Mullis / Marilyn/ at The Whitefire

Marilyn Monroe, 
American icon, died 
August 4, 1962
in Brentwood, California.

In her one woman show, "Marilyn Monroe: The Last Interview," Directed by Wayne Orkline, Kelly Mullis walks a narrow pathway, imbibing champagne and as the show evolves...  harder alcohol while flirting with an interviewer, Richard Merryman (woodenly voiced by Robert DiTillio), to recount a version of the life, the legend... of a woman who was so desperate to be loved that she sometimes peddled it and sometimes gave it away, in reality, all the while the woman child whom America and the world came to adore.

The Last Interview has bubbles of silliness and moments of tragedy, especially for anyone who remembers the story of the Lost Actress and her rocky career.   Mullis, touching briefly on Marilyn's early days,  meanders through the biographical points of interest mostly on one note. One of the  problems is that the brief references to the celebrities and others in Marilyn's life, voiced by actors apparently pre-recorded, are very brief.  Projections used are almost intrusive. 

There is more effort in Ms Mullis's seventy five minute monologue than really necessary. Had she taken another route to the character possibly by even transforming from the actress she is to functionally become the star, that might have made the anecdotes and de-evolution of Monroe's state of mind... which may or may not have led to what was pronounced a suicide in early August, 1962, more interesting.

Mullis's visual presentation is credible. She does not present a fawning stereotypical look-a-like  / Marilyn impersonator.  There are moments when the actress selects a pose or a story that reminds us of the fragile beauty and genuine simplicity of the star.  One brief projection, Marilyn's famous nude shot on a brilliant red drape, is shocking and welcome.

Depending on how steeped in the lore of Marilyn's last day on earth one might be, we know that the star was found dead of an apparent overdose in her locked bedroom, nude, with an empty bottle of barbiturates nearby.  In The Last Interview, the drama continues to unfold with Marilyn rising for a final confrontation with the audience; to declare that she was, in fact, not a suicide and lists the reasons why.  A beautifully revealing final tableau closes the show with Marilyn, nude, slowly glides up stage  to 'a better place' ... and bids us adieu.

What really happend to our Marilyn may always remain a mystery.  Mullis shows us why Marilyn had every reason to live and therein lies the tale. 

Marilyn Monroe: The Last Interview
Written and performed by Kelly Mullis
13500 Ventura Blvd, 
Sherman Oaks, CA 91423
Final Performance 
Sunday, September 29, 2019
Tickets and Information
818 990 2324  

Monday, August 19, 2019


 In her interview with Carolina Xique, playwright Jiehae Park  discusses  how she came from being primarily an actor to finding her way to writing a play that eventually became the foundation of her Masters thesis. 
Jully Lee and Monica Hong
Photo by Jenny Graham

On Yee Eun Nam's beautifully functional set, we meet Monica Hong as Hannah who must be the doppleganger for Ms Park, as her mystery unfolds. Hannah addresses the audience directly and as the story begins, we meet Hannah's family: Janet Song, her over engaged with Craig's List mother; her dad, played by Han Cho, pedaling for all he's worth in the world of Seoul; hip and like happening, yo, Brother Dang (who refuses his given name Dong: for cause) Gavin Lee.  Like Alice down the rabbit hole, Hannah receives a mysterious parcel (literally, the Inciting Event) with a note written in Korean by her mother's mother whom we meet only in a flash, perhaps her leap to freedom? The parcel holds a small bottle containing a pebble: a wish.   
With the use of appropriate projections by designer Yee Eun Nam and the protean hopping back and forth from one character to another by shapeshifting Jully Lee,  a phantasmagorical polygolt unfolds. 
Has Grandmother actually committed suicide by leaping from the sixty third story of the Sunrise Dewdrop Apartment City for Senior Living into the DMZ that has divided North from South Korea for over fifty years?  Kin Jong Il is dead! Will there be nuclear war?? Can the family reclaim Grandmother's body... if there is one? Can Dong/Dang find love and purpose riding the subways of Seoul while encountering mysterious strangers including the incredibly cute Girl (really, really cute Wonjun Kim)?
Wonjung Kim and Gavin Lee
Photo by Jenny Graham
Is garlic the secret to long life and health and happiness? What about the origin story: The Tiger and the Bear?

Park's story moves apace with smooth as silk set changes enhanced by spectacular video projections.  How will Hannah's mother, anxious for her daughter to be married and to have the good life that she imagines for Hannah survive? AND!?? How will Hannah herself survive?  She, who has worked like anything through years of schooling and internships and residencies to become a board certified pediatric neurologist: her crucial final test looming in New York  only hours away, while fielding calls from her Argentinian lover intrude making life for this modern young woman a battle on many fronts? Well she does. 

Park's fluid script and smooth staging by director Jennifer Chang create an evening where suspension of disbelief is made relatively easy by the genuine quality of each of these over the top characters.  Occasional interaction by the Koreans spoken in Korean has no need of translation as the folks in power we encounter are pretty much all the same around the world.  We hear the familiar name of Grandmother's retirement home within the Korean discussions and experience the rooftop where she might have taken the plunge with bullets flying from the North. We find resolution in.. oh wait.. no spoilers... but we do find resolution and you may, too, by visiting .

The Fountain Theatre in partnership with East West Players again charms us with socially relevant issues that go beyond the obvious.  This experience is just right for Los Angeles... located only a few blocks from Koreatown, from where, we hope a native audience may come to enjoy native language, myth and fairy tale ... and garlic.  Everybody else should come, too.
Hannah and the Dread Gazebo 
by Jiehae Park 
The Fountain Theatre
5060 Fountain Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90029
Opened Saturday August 17, 2019 
Performances: Aug. 17 – Sept. 22
Wednesday at 8 p.m.: Aug. 14 ONLY (preview)
Thursday at 8 p.m.: Aug. 15 ONLY (preview)
Fridays at 8 p.m.: Aug. 16 (preview), 23, 30; Sept. 6, 13, 20
Saturdays at 2 p.m.: Aug 24, 31; Sept. 7, 14, 21 (no matinee performance on Aug. 17)
Saturdays at 8 p.m.: Aug. 17 (Opening Night), 24, 31; Sept. 7, 14, 21
Sundays at 2 p.m.: Aug. 18, 25; Sept. 1, 8. 15, 22
Mondays at 8 p.m.: Aug. 26; Sept. 2, 9, 16 (dark Aug. 19)

Tickets and Information:
626 336 1525 /