Dec 6, 2004

From Radio Tales to "Orlando"

A pair of spooky radio tales form QUIET, PLEASE at Hollywood’s Sacred Fools Theatre through Dec. 17. Back Stage West’s Jeff Favre found director Corey Klemow's staging of two classic scripts by Wyllis Cooper “moody… captivating,” writing that the four-member cast “skillfully balance(s) the intense acting style of classic radio with a modern sensibility to deliver eerie performances.” The Weekly's Miriam Jacobson thought the minimal staging resulted in a "somewhat stilted but endearing evening," concluding that it "succeeds in transporting us back to the time before entertainment got so diluted and dumbed down." (The show sure sounds informative, at least: Jacobson mentioned the "awkward, albeit educational, technical descriptions of an Oxnard oil rig’s operations" of one script and the "interesting details of a Cairo excavation site" in another.)

The featherweight Molière adaptation SCAPINO! at NoHo’s Company Rep apparently hit its comic mark. According to Back Stage West’s Hoyt Hilsman, “Silly is what they are after here, and they succeed quite nicely,” singling out Matt Ryan’s “energetic and effusive performance” in the lead and appreciating that director Brad Shelton “wisely whips through the twisty plots of the story.” The Weekly’s Amy Nicholson was slightly less enthusiastic, writing that while “the production threatens to collapse” at some points, “Brad Shelton’s effusive direction” helps smooth things along, in part by giving the cast a chance to recover with ad libs—which “came in handy,” she reported, “when an actor nearly brained a patron in the third row with a wine bottle.” Oh, that’s the other thing: There’s audience interaction. Just so you’re warned ahead of time.

A friendship tested by an authorship controversy? Happens every day with Hollywood scripts, but in Jay Reiss’s new play THAT MAY WELL BE TRUE at the Hudson Mainstage through Dec. 19, it’s a dispute over a novel’s provenance that reunites estranged friends. Back Stage West’s Brad Schreiber was impressed with Reiss’s ability to “fluidly and demonstratively have his characters recount past histories in a constant flow that suggests bicker is better” (nice wordplay), with Greg Jackson’s “assured” direction, and with the “familiarity” created by the show’s three actors. The Times’ F. Kathleen Foley noted the play’s resemblance to Donald Margulies’ Collected Stories and quibbled with some of its twists but called it an “amusing… incisive examination of the creative process.” For her part, the Weekly’s Erin Aubry Kaplan called it “The Odd Couple meets Amadeus, with lots of modern irony thrown in,” and despite her own reservations declared that this “high concept… for the most part stays airborne.”

Critics didn’t have many kind words for A WORD WITH ORLANDO at the Odyssey Theaetre through Dec. 19. While Back Stage West’s Terry Morgan called David T. Chantler’s play, about a couple trying to save their marriage by moving to Sicily, “a mostly familiar if pleasant comedy,” he detested the “charmless lead character,” whom in Nat Christian’s performance somehow manages to be both “peevish and bland.” Steven Mikulan was quite dismissive, finding himself speculating about the set (specifically, why there’s “a small pyramid of stone steps in the middle of an archway leading to a living room”). He found director Judy Rose’s staging clumsy and the lead couple to be ciphers, concluding that Orlando “soon reveals itself to be little more than an exercise in dialogue writing that goes nowhere.”

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