Sunday, February 27, 2022


Christian Telesmar and Rori Flynn

 "On the Other Hand, We're Happy" by Welsh playwright Daf James debuts in a West Coast premiere that employs more characters than we have actors. The device of fewer actors lends a dreamlike tone with a term that I had to look up.. "TARDIS" (Time And Relative Dimensions In Space). Indeed we travel back and forth through Time and Space as the characters morph from one to another smoothly and mostly successfully.

 We meet Abbie (Beautiful Rori Flynn) and Josh (Christian Telesmar) slipping forward and back in time while coming to grips with the fact that Josh can't have children. The discussion that Abbie and Josh engage in may be one that many couples have had.  Shall we have children? The exchange between Abbie and Josh:   banter, if you will,  is fraught with anxiety; while at the same time skirting on hope. 

There are questions.  Now and then, the fourth wall vanishes as the audience is included.  At one point were any parents here concerned that their child might stab them to death while they slept in the middle of the night?! The guy next to me raised his hand. 

As luck would have it, on the radio coming home from what is actually a very enjoyable production over all.. I caught the tail end of a delightful eighty year old British woman. She is psychologist who was telling a story on The Moth Radio Hour. There are dialect specialists who could tell you from what part of England she came. She was delightful. 

Then KPCC presented  Weekend Edition with Scott Simon interviewing Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith, the guys from Tears for Fears. The eighties rock stars are together again after fourteen years apart. Their British accents were crisp and genuine. 

The contrast of American actors attempting English accents and the relaxed lilt of native speakers was overwhelming.  I was bothered by the actors' work and hearing genuine native speakers clinched my bias.

For this production, enunciation and projection need work. That said..We come back to Cameron Watson's purposely disjointed and beautifully choreographed staging of On The Other Hand  to find:  

Elegant Alexandra Hellquist as a prim counselor.  Later she pulls out the stops with her rendition of Kelly, the troubled mum who is giving up her daughter, Tyler,  to give the kid a shot at a better life. THEN.. Hellquist brings it down to play several ages of Tyler. Daf James gave her some very good stuff. 

Alexandra Hellquist and Christian Telesmar  

Stephanie Kerley Schwartz's bare stage surrounded by ruggedly molded screen door material and Jared A. Sayeg's lights virually become aother character,  transforming the open space with three simple toad stools to life. The transforming episodes in the lives of the characters are amplified by the dramatic changes in lighting accompanied by Christopher Moscatiello's sound design.

 Watson makes use of the new tennis court style Matrix stage to advantage.. My issues with English accents notwithstanding, this deliberately provocative and energetic production takes us where theatre really must go to fulfill the promise of tackling issues and deliberately exciting the audience while in the process. 

Production photos by John Perris Flynn.

Highly recommended.


by Daf James

 Opened Saturday, February 26, 2022

Fridays, Saturdays and Mondays at 8PM, 
Sundays@ 3PM
Rogue Machine at the Matrix Theatre
7657 Melrose Ave, 
Los Angeles, CA 90046
Tickets and information: 


Monday, February 21, 2022



John Fleck Photo by Cooper Bates  

John Fleck is a one of a kind guy.  For students of the limits of what the theatre might aspire to,  "Fleck 101 For Dummies" might be an appropriate read.  Fleck, with Karen Finley, Holly Hughes and Tim Miller: the "NEA Four", challenged the First Amendment and the fussy old Jesse Helms to win a judgement in the Supreme Court.  Outrageous behavior, pressing the envelope, or even obliterating it, as Fleck has done in the past takes a small step back here. However! the message is still a vital one.  In collaboration with David Schweizer, who also directs, the show is ripped from the headlines with Fleck, assisted by John Snow on Upright Bass and Scott Roberts on Piano, we find a bare stage,  a few light changes and life as we know it in 2022. 

Fleck takes on a bubble head to represent the C19 virus and later dons the horns of the QAnon Shaman to spout juicy bits of The Revelation as well as the noisy rherotic that some folks still find truth in..  Kyle G. Fuller and Tomoko Karina provide lively back up.

Fleck admits to his seventieth birthday as the show turns on how the dreaded C19 dampanic has scrambled the world physically, mentally and emotionally. He becomes a Proud Boy spouting a silly litany of screwball accusations, What if some fleeting iota of what 'They' have presented might be true? At the same time he espouses how 'we' don't want 'them' to be enemies, but to embrace them and come to some reasonable grounds for communication.  An Admirable Goal.

Decrying the stuff of aging and deftly switching from one character to another, aided by the band and chorus, Fleck delivers the goods.  Food for thought. His extraordinary energy is palpable as the notion that the time is coming for us all: the inevitable, by hook or crook, the time is waiting.. waiting.. But, for now.. the Theatre is Alive.  It's Alive!

it's alive, IT'S ALIVE!

Written and performed by John Fleck

Directed by David Schweizer

Odyssey Theatre
2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd.
Los Angeles CA 90025

February 19 – March 20:
• Saturdays at 8 p.m.: February 19 (Opening Night), February 26, March 5, March 12, March 19
• Sundays at 5 p.m.: February 20, February 27, March 6, March 13, March 20, 2022

Tickets and Information:

310 477 2055 Ext 2





Sunday, February 20, 2022


WORLD PREMIERE  of DETAINED by France-Luce Benson sets The Fountain Theatre on the road to polemic importance again.  The Little Theatre that Could and Can brings exciting and meaningful art to Los  Angeles, whether we like it or not. Strong ensemble acting and a meaningful script coalesce on Sarah Krainin's stark set amplified by Matt Sosin's unique video design: These are the true stories  of detainees unfairly imprisoned. 

Mark Valdez's cast of eight actors double  and triple.  They are Liana Aráuz, Camila Ascencio, Christine Avila, Will Dixon, Jan Munroe, Theo Perkins, Marlo Su and Michael Uribes.  Only Argentinian Claudia Slovenski (played by Christine Avila), an immigration attorney basically narrates and remains unchanged throughout the play.

I started to try to match the actors with their roles, but instead will mention the memorable performances and the characters who lived them.

Amadou, a tall black actor, limns an energetic Gunian who, on coming to the United States at the age of three, hears of the American Dream and as his native culture also believes in the importance of dreams, still searches for the American version.  

Melida Ruiz is days away from her American Citizenship when ICE comes knocking. She shows her passport, green card and other credentials, but is carted off because of a twenty year old situation where a minor indiscretion and the advice to plead guilty and pay a fine was the best way to resolve the issue. Melida attended trade school and leanred carpentry. She is a roofer!  Her daughter, Mercedes, is a pregnant outspoken teen who, with Melida in custody, delivers her baby without family support and points up the stringent rules in place to make it practically impossible to visit her mother. 

Flashy video with some hand held scenes are impressive but distract a bit from the message. Other tech, typical of The Fountain's dedication to putting the money on the stage with professional sets, lighting and effects over all does not disappoint. An interesting adjunct to the video of the performances from time to time is an active live feed of the audience on the upstage wall. 

Every immigrant's story points up the initial information that the original laws regarding  immigration to the United States was formerly in a pamphlet that would fit in one's pocket.  Each actor then presents the current code that fits in a binder over three inches thick and must weigh five pounds! 

Warren sites his love of the US Flag and how after being in the United States for a short time, served eight years in the military. He was a highly decorated soldier. He presents his actual uniform with medals and decorations that mean nothing in the face of over 900 'rules' that bind the hands of presiding judges.  Judiciary discretion is out the window, when, in the past, a presiding judge could evaluate the character and substance of someone brought before him/her and find a way to be fair. 

I repeat the term "polemic"  to point up the obvious bent that this play intends to present in a strong condemnation of an unfair system. It is important to remember that art has ways of inserting itself into our society that may often make a difference. The tone of the audience on exiting the theatre buzzed with the information that we had all just experienced.  

France-Luce Benson, who conceived and co-created "Detained" with  Judy Rabinovitz, becomes a character in the production. She addresses the audience and essentially dedicates the piece to her father, who, as an immigrant, gained the respect of community for his work with detainees. 

Characters come to life with simple costume changes. The bright orange jumpsuits they are forced to wear are identical to prison garb that felons and true criminals are clothed in.  When appearing before a judge, often on video, handcuffed and shackled, the delineation between detainee and  a person charged with a crime such as murder blurs.

Social and Political activism movements all start with an idea. This idea: that human beings who have made their way into the United States and become tax paying, law abiding and involved citizens regardless of their official citizenship, are being held without bail, without legal advice because many are simply without funds. Unlike those charged with a crime who may have an attorney appointed and opportunities for bail is curtailed in five pounds of 'laws' that have been mangled to suit the political agendas of folks who have forgotten that these human beings are the victims of unfair and uncompromising rules. That's a long winded way to say, this situation must change.

A call for action with the dumping of the huge binders closes the performance, but the hope remains that these stories open the eyes of attendees with an aim to change our current situation with intelligence, compassion and fairness. 

Director Mark Valdez allows the play to be as intended:  presentational and personal. 

"Detained" deserves an  audience.  Go!  Invite your friends. Pass it on.

DETAINED by France-Luce Benson

The Fountain Theatre
5060 Fountain Ave.
Los Angeles CA 90029
(Fountain at Normandie)

Performances: February 19 – April 10:
Wednesday at 8 p.m.: Feb. 16 ONLY (preview),
Thursday at 8 p.m.: Feb. 17 ONLY (preview),
Fridays at 8 p.m.: Feb. 18 (preview), 25; March 4, 11, 18, 25; April 1, 8
Saturdays at 8 p.m.: Feb. 19 (opening night), 26; March 5, 12, 19, 26; April 2, 9
Sundays at 2 p.m.: Feb. 20, 27; March 6, 13, 20, 27; April 3, 10
Mondays at 8 p.m.: Feb. 28; March 7, 14, 21, 28; April 4 (dark Feb. 21)

Tickets and Information

(323) 663-1525 




Saturday, February 19, 2022

MARVIN'S ROOM at Actors Co-Op


In no particular order:  Tara Battani, Justin Bowles, Francesca Casale*, Brian Habicht*, Dean Hermansen, Crystal Jackson, Marek Meyers & Kimi Walker*

At last!  As news of the return of health brings us cautiously back to the theatre, Actors Co-Op resumes with Scott McPherson's 1990 play, "Marvin's Room"..  ironically discussing the end of life. Bessie (Francesca Casale) is Marvin's dedicated daughter. Her sister, Lee (Tara Battani), has been absent.  It's a classic "family battle, reconciliation, what about dad" story that, with dark humor illustrates what most of us confront or fail to deal with, as time marches inexorably on. 
Bessie has opted to stay in Florida and tend to their aging dad. She's helping Aunt Ruth, too.

Bessie's diagnosis of leukemia has summoned Lee and her boys in search of a bone marrow donor.  Marvin (whom we only hear from time to time) is mostly wasting away in his room as McPherson's  exposition lends itself to the irony of how each character has an issue and to resolve issues, some form of intimate communication is required.  Don't hug Aunt Ruth too hard!

 Into the salad we toss Lee's son,  Hank (Dean Hermansen), on leave from the loony bin.  He's at just an age to be a problematic teen on top of his incarceration for burning down his family's home.  Little brother Charlie (Marek Meyers) arrives with his mom and brother because he has no choice. The kid's a reader.

When the electronic device that is supposed to help dotty Aunt Ruth's (Crystal Yvonne Jackson.. who also produced the show) bad back malfunctions?  The garage door may open or close.  

At rise Bessie is doing her best to hold it together as Dr. Wally (Brian Habitch) turns the show into a sort of sitcom with the opening night crowd completely on board. Not only is every punch line thoroughly enjoyed by the audience, but the broad humor in the face of impending doom for Bessie runs at an unusual counterpoint.

Attendees laughed uproariously and applauded every scene. The scene changes on  Nicholas Acciani's beautiful turn table set are a highlight of the show.  It made me hope that this company may tackle "Noices Off!" in the future.

Director Thomas James O'Leary has his hands full with some actors taking their time to settle into what is, simply: one story: how family survives.  The broadest character change falls to Lee, who initially is so far over the top that her energy literally buzzes off the stage.  As she comes around to a genuine love and reunion with Bessie, Lee pretty much wins the day.

This is a 'straight' play by a gay playwright who succumbed to AIDs a short two years after the play's original production  The characters are drawn in mostly believable terms. They deliver with few surprises. Comic relief by Halbick and Justin Bowles as Bob are welcome.  Acciani's set and Avery Reagan's appropriate lights and David B Marling's sound lend a professional feeling to the piece.  I am unsure if it is the writing or the production itself that left me wishing for more. For those who value comfortable theatre with sincere effort all around, this is the show for you.


  Written by Scott McPherson

      Directed by Thomas James O’Leary

   February 18 – March 27, 2022

   Friday and Saturday Evenings at 8:00 pm

      Special Saturday Matinees March 5 & March 12 at 2:30 pm

               Sunday Matinees at 2:30 pm               

Actors Co-op’s David Schall Theatre

1760 N. Gower Street

Hollywood 90028, on the campus of First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood

FREE PARKING: Available in the church parking lot and on local streets without meters.

TICKETS: Adults: $35, Seniors (60+) $30, Students w/School ID: $25. Group Rates and Student Rush Fridays (excluding

 opening night) available.  


 (323) 462-8460 or visit

Current covid policy:  Patrons must show proof of full vaccination and wear a mask while inside the theater complex. Updated Covid Policy Information can be found at