Nov 21, 2004

More Remote Review Reviews

Still in London, near Bloomsbury. The sun goes down at around 2 p.m. but there's still plenty to until at least 11, when the pubs close. Caught a screening of Being Julia, which, apart from a bit of storytelling slack and one terrible performance in a minor role, is a surprisingly delicious backstager, with a breathtakingly vibrant but never self-indulgent lead performance by Annette Bening. The result is a bit like a starchy-Brit version of All About Eve.

I've found a bit of time to add some more to a very heavy batch of reviews accumulated over the weekend. Bear with me and I'll get to them all:

Three more reviews are in on the Cornerstone production of AS VISHNU DREAMS at Little Tokyo’s East West Players, and they continue in the mixed vein of previous appraisals. The LA Weekly’s Steven Mikulan thought adapter Shishir Kurup’s “bold gamble… pays off in an entertaining night of Indian storytelling, song, shadow puppetry and music, adroitly directed by Juliette Carrillo.” On the other hand, opined the Daily News’ Evan Henerson, the show “feels like a fable… brought handsomely but distantly to life”; he found Carrillo's production “a thing beauty” that nevertheless “comes across as neither contemporary nor especially vibrant.” In the positively neutral column was Terri Roberts’ assessment for Back Stage West, whose only non-descriptive passages were as followed: that the adaptation “manages to distill this sacred Hindu text down to its spiritual essence,” and that East Indian theatrical tradition is balanced with “a playful tone and modern humor, making the tale more accessible to present-day audiences.” If anyone else can figure out what Roberts really thinks of the play from her review, I’ll buy them a cigar.

Likewise, I’ve found two more takes on Chuck Mee’s A PERFECT WEDDING at the new Douglas Theatre in Culver City, and they keep the controversy, such as it is, alive. Pretty much agreeing with my conflicted take was Joel Hirschhorn of Variety, who felt that while the show “is the right kind of off-kilter vehicle for a theater dedicated to original, experimental works,” the “alternately playful and ponderous” work represents Mee “in second gear,” despite the efforts of an “impeccable cast.” The Weekly’s Judith Lewis saw what some would call the work’s shortcomings as strengths, writing that “there is no logical sense to be followed here, no meaning to be extracted bigger than love’s ubiquity and death’s finality,” and that the show “displays its multiculturalism so self-consciously that it pokes fun at the very notion of separateness.” There have been reports of an intermission exodus by some theatregoers; the Saturday matinee I saw was sold out with a mostly older crowd, and though the second-act audience wasn’t noticeably smaller than the pre-intermission crowd, there were some conspicuous walkouts during the first act. One came just as soon as the show’s first girl-girl kiss began, another at a moment that looked briefly as if four gay wedding planners were about to have their way with a young bride. The easily offended wouldn’t seem to be the Douglas’ natural constituency anyway, now would they?

Next: Oh, so much more.

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