Sunday, August 7, 2022


 Timing is everything. This we learn from the handsome bartender, Rex (Kasey Esser),  near perfect in his red bikini whom I'll get to in a minute.  I've said in the past that my reviews are actually a broad report on my experience of the theatre when I go to see a show.  Tonight was a real experience.

I owe a huge apology to ,the playwright / producer / production designer Mr. Charles A. Duncombe and the patient  director, Frédérique Michel and the terrific cast of "Beach People."  I got lost on the way to the theatre and rolled in just at curtain time.  It's embarrassing. I am truly sorry.

That said, The City Garage: announced in Red Neon! at the far end of Bergamot Station in Santa Monica is a gorgeous jewel box with a comfortable seating arrangement, just the right size for this World Premiere Experience. Apologies to the audience for my awkwardly bumbling in and losing the contents of the Press Kit all over the place.

But! What about "Beach People?" Take about a pound of Pirandello and a pinch of Beckett,  add zest of Zen and.. and.. then start the discussion with what turns out to be the second act.  Blend , hot Existential Angst.. shake well.. add more angst and try to figure out what Rex, the bartender, is doing as he stacks Jenga blocks on his bar.

We meet the apparently married couple: Anna (Angela Beyer) and Paul (Henry Thompson),   lounging on the beach. It is a hot summer day on Duncombe's beautiful set. 

Whoa!!  Anna is spoiling for a fight! 

Toss in a gorgeous  teeny weeny string bikini filled to perfection by Diana (Naomi Helen Weissberg) and beneath a sky filled with beautiful scudding clouds, we have Lift Off.  

Let the playwright's philosophy filter its way into the mix as he evidently becomes his own shrink. That said, the challenge now comes to director, Frédérique Michel, who has taken what is essentially a talky roundabout discussion of "what's it all about anyway?" and keeps it moving as we meet the text head on, thanks especially to an alliterative diatribe perfectly slammed by Angela! Masterful.

 Billed as a farce, be ready to define and defend your own essential philosophy of life while either nodding in agreement or scratching your head as Duncombe's notions about infinity and the essence of 'Essence ' surface and stew...  more or less...  in their own juices.

Frederique Michel's direction of her actors in what is essentially a static and intellectual conundrum, reminds of Beckett and the existential errand of Waiting, especially in the second half which tells the story that we got the gist of in the first half... 
Are you with me?
Paul and Anna bicker. To Anna's chagrin, Paul engages the gorgeous Diana with a simple explanation of the endlessness of Infinity.
Patience and a fine tuned ear may catch moments of personal truths as they flitter by.
What IS it all about? 

(Left ti right: Henry Thompson, Naomi Helen Weissberg, Angela Beyer. Photo Paul Rubenstein

What is Happiness? Well we may ask.
In Act II (the show runs without an intermission) we learn how Paul and Anna 'found' one another.  The notion of serendipity and carpe dieum,  prodded by Rex as he coaches Anna in her pursuit of Paul, questions the business of what happens by design?  What by chance?  Or..could Design actually be in charge of Chance?
Where would I have been had I not opted to drive to Santa Monica for the World Premiere opening of this terrific show? (Well, I would not have been late, that's for sure.)  The actors are all having a terrific time and thanks to director Michel, their timing works nicely with a really, really impossible alliterative monologue by Anna and a melt down by Paul which brings the couple truly together, making for an  opportunity for us to question our own philosophical trip.  
Also? What's up with Rex and his Jenga Blocks?
The Metro stops directly across from the theatre.  Take a ride and don't miss this challenging and very enjoyable show. 

Angela Beyer  :  Anna
Henry Thompson  : Paul
Naomi Helen Weissberg : Diana
Kasey Esser : Rex
Beach People:  World Premiere
 by Charles A. Duncombe

Directed by Frédérique Michel

Producer/Production Designer:    

Charles A. Duncombe

The City Garage 

2525 Michigan Ave. Building T1 

Santa Monica, Ca. 90404

Opened:Saturday, August 6, 2022
Plays Fridays & Saturdays @ 8:00pm  

Sundays @ 4:00pm
Through Sunday, September 11, 2022

General Admission $30

 Students/Seniors w/ID $25
Tickets and information: 

(310) 453-9939



Monday, August 1, 2022

Midsummer Redux at Open Fist

 Having the unique experience of seeing this play on opening night and hearing that two of the lovers are being played by new actors: Anna-Laurie Rives as Helena

Jeremy Guskin as Demetrius,
I was interested in seeing how the show may have changed.  The Lovers are especially interesting because of the  wonderful Lovers' Battle. 

Director James Fowler has turned one of Shakespeare's best loved comedies into a commentary on the antebellum culture of the United States before the Civil War.  Getting used to the Southern accents takes a few minutes but the essence of the text remains, Y'all.

Stand outs in the cast remain.  Monazia Smith as Puck lights a pipe at the opening and I wish I understood the symbolism of that.  One criticism that won't be changed by my saying so is that though I am okay with the Fairies and the Rustics being essentially played by the same actors, it's hard to tell who's who now and then. Michael A. Shepperd still rocks Bottom... so to speak.

The energy released by Sandra Kate Burck as Hermia could illuminate a small town for a week. 

Physically, the Lovers' Battle is still a highlight. I remain puzzled, however, by the strong polemic with which director James Fowler presents the final scene. 

It's Midsummer with an edge: A very enjoyable production. 

Cast of Characters
Theseus:  Bryan Bertone
Hippolyta:  Heather Mitchell
Philostrate/Puck:  Monazia Smith
Egeus:  Alexander Wells*
Hermia:  Sandra Kate Burck
Helena : Anna-Laurie Rives
Lysander : Dylan Wittrock
Jeremy Guskin
Oberon:  Phillip C. Curry
Titania:  Ash Saunders
Peaseblossom/Fairy/Starveling/Moonshine:    played by Syanne Green

Cobweb/Snout/Wall:  Erica Mae Mcneal
Moth/Snug/Lion:  Azeem Vecchio
Mustardseed/Flute/Thisby:  Malik Bailey
Peter Quince:  Debba Rofheart
Bottom:  Michael A. Shepperd 

The Crew

Scenic Design  Jan Munroe
Costume Design Mylette Nora
Lighting Design Gavan Wyrick
Sound Design Nayla Hull
Properties Ina Shumaker & Bruce Dickinson
Scenic Artist Stephanie Crothers
Choreographer Faith Knapp
Fight Choreographer Nick Mizhari
Production Stage Manager Jennifer Palumbo*
John Dimitri
Vocal Arrangements James Fowler
Publicist Lucy Pollak
Production Manager Amanda Weier
And a special thank you to Justin Eick for original choreography of the lover’s quarrel. (It's wonderful)


A Midsummer Night's Dream

by William Shakespeare

Directed by James Fowler

Open Fist Theatre Company

The Complex 

Atwater Village Theatre 

3269 Casitas Ave.

Los Angeles, CA 90039

July 2 through August 13,  2022

Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m.  

Sundays at 7 p.m. 

General Admission (except previews): $25

Students, Seniors, Veterans: $15

• Check website for current Covid-19 protocols on the date of each performance.
• Appropriate for ages 10+

(323) 882-6912 or