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Twisted Unconsciousness

URBAN_DEATH_Edinburgh_Poster_888_GIFA dark twisted sprawl, an urban mindscape of diabolic collective unconsciousness pulses and oozes its way across the Atlantic seeking to convert yet another metropolis to sadistic delights. As Urban Death heads to Edinburgh Fringe, I have to wonder if they know what they’ve gotten themselves in for. To invite more ghosts, demons, monsters, and twisted beings into the city… Ah well, Urban Death only afflicts the mind after all, I’m sure nightmares have never caused much harm. Though the twisted delights in display in Urban Death might certainly chill the blood, steal breath and seize the heart. So fair bit of warning…

On display Hob’s own cornucopia of sin & pain, a writhing mass of humanity in all its glorious unglory.  In Urban Death, you will see before you will be a collection of vignettes delving all manner of death. This life is long, and it’s inhabitants twisted by its passage, for there are all manner of ways to kill a man, or woman for that matter, while preserving the flesh… or preserve the flesh after vital energies extinguished…

As I said Urban Death is a collection, of deaths, scenes of life which could very well happen next door, down the street, or in that low rent tenant building you try to ignore. Peer too deeply into the Urban sprawl and Death stares back. Will it be decency, sanity, sexuality, or even the flesh. What deaths wait for you, you have to see that for yourself. Steel yourself though, you’ll need it.

Urban Death is beyond all an experience, an experience I won’t dilute with too much detail. This is the type of thing you really must survive first hand. Stare into the blackened mirror of society and hope you don’t catch something starting back out at you, yourself mayhap.

While experiencing Urban Death at Fringe: your breath will catch, your sensibilities will probably be challenged a few times, your neck will try to pull your eyes away, your heart will race and you will be enthralled as never before.

It’s okay to scream, many do…

Enjoy the ride.

Urban Death (directed by Zombie Joe and Jana Wimer) will be showing throughout the Edinburgh Fringe Festival for more information please visit: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/urban-death

Viscerally Real

A most painful slice of life you can’t help but wish to know more, more slices of the cake. Wounded by Kerry Kazmierowicztrimm unravels lives before the audience revealing the bare pains underneath. Wounded is the breath before bottom, half a step before you look up and hope for better.

Wounded begins with those most awkward moments of all things new, those moments you are unsure and eager simply radiate out of Samuel (Kyle Felts). Kyle maintained a tension like an overly taught string trying to loosen just enough to resonate with beauty and clarity. Such life in a character is truly what is great about theater, that energy you can feel coming from a pulse on stage modulating how you feel for the duration.

Wounded builds intensity through the whole story, while unwinding the characters and audience, pulling them deeper into these tense painful pulsing, though invisible, wounds. Tommy (Scott Kuza) physically acted with such depth you could let go of yourself and feel his wounds, his pains. The ultimate looseness compared to Kyle’s tense portrayal. All balanced between Angelica (Jessie Holder Tourtellotte). As Kyle and Scott applied the ebb and flow of polar needs, Jessie became this emotional fulcrum, supplied the energies the other triad fed upon. The men were high and low, while Angelica is the beat which sways between them.

 

I won’t say more, Wounded (written by Kerry Kazmierowicztrimm Directed by Liz Lanier) is a must see this Fringe. Go, now!

 

For more info and tickets: http://www.hollywoodfringe.org/projects/5189

Rhythmic Emotions

macbeth

Oppressive silence… movement divorced from sound… For a show based on a women’s perspective, “her tragedy”, this adaptation of The Scottish Play (Heidi Powers Directing) guts you hard from go. The good bye, the unwilling dance, oh the dance, screams unheard… traumas ignored. Macbeth-325

It never is easy putting on Macbeth, not one of his longer works, there is complexity and nuance to be conveyed in word and deed. This adaptation pulls the audience along through what would be longer bits with motion and atmospheric tone weighted like gravity. You are drawn forward deeper into the story with each passing moment.

Motion is key, this adaptation of Macbeth is fluid, alive, palpable with motion. Dance, movement, of course fighting, and emotion all swell ebbing and flowing in beautiful currents. The Play starts quite quickly with an attempted escape via dance. Alwayse subjective, the choreography by Heather Lynn is beautiful and painful to watch. Lady Macbeth (Cyanne McClairian) conveys an ache on stage with such depth as to show the Queen in a light I hadn’t seen before. Too often The Lady Macbeth is cast in poor light, some greedy power hungry witch herself manipulating her good Lord and would be King.

Macbeth-262Showing things in new light is entirely the point of this adaptation, and new lights illuminate cycles often unseen in our own society. Patterns of repetition, generation to generation, pains passed on over and over.

Ever present through this version is dance, be it the social dance of avoiding persons or the beautiful dancing of Cyanne a fluid energy permeates this version of Macbeth. Dance, movement is the unspoken, language of Women.  Movements unending: making ourselves smaller, or moving quickly to the hand of a girl friend to avoid a horrid man. All of a woman’s life is a dance, and this shows in Macbeth, personified especially in Lady Macbeth.

Macbeth-73Fluidity of life’s pulse isn’t the only fluid element to this adaptation. More than ever the two faced natures of every character shown in multiple scenes becomes apparent. Macbeth (Brendan Weinhold) pulls off the manic swing of his “affliction” in beautiful fashion. The mania of a world dropping away to your own mind while needing to be present at all times shown through strains of face at switch. With one drawback in delivery at times Brendan confuses volume with pains inexpressible. When dealing with dialogue hard to follow as The Bard’s Plays often are, sudden spikes, over crescendo, to inaudible may convey pain but not the emotion of it. The spikes almost like a crack in a beautiful illusion. Such volume emotive issues, a minor thing in a strong delivery from, curtain to curtain, Brendan in a beautiful version of Macbeth with a depth of character a joy to witness.

The entire play, flows beautifuly, each recurring character shows sway and rhythm a change from scene to scene. Highlighted via double casting, each actor stretches and shows multiple facets of talent. Corinna McCoy as the Stranger brings a puckish delight to a strong archetype of a Witch. Spinning this into drunken irreverence when serving the castle unseen by the main players, but highlighted by her mirth and general put outed-ness by the general state of affairs to which they find themselves subjected. Esther Mira appearing as Maiden to Lady Macbeth a stalwart friend who would stand by her Lady until the end. The Mother (Josie Adams McCoy) brings a warmth to the role in a way that would cut any too close to those she would protect.Macbeth-197

Each part of the show brings a smile to remember in the writing of this review.

 

Macbeth His story Her Tragedy (directed by Heidi Powers, Written by William Shakespeare) appears Friday Saturday through April.

For Tickets: survivingmacbeth.brownpapertickets.com

For more info:www.facebook.com/events/1481258821996259

Infectious Smiles

Flu Season

A beautifully sad twist of life plays out on stage in Will Eno’s The Flu Season. Managing to be non-linear in a linear way, you’ll find yourself pulled into the interplay of narrative present with contemplative hindsight. An intricate mechanism, complications of a watch spinning beautifully, pulled off by a completely captivating & charming Epilogue brought to life by Anna Evelyn.

Taking place just before and through a cold winter, Epilogue provides a biting harsh cut of reality. Epilogue; cold recounting of events as immutable fact. Through this more somber role Anna brings sweetness to the personification of a literary device. Each scene will end precisely the way it should with Epilogue guiding the events as they unfold.

With Epilogue serving as a controlling back stop, each scene is free to start off with as much emotion as needs be to capture the essence of what is to come. Serving this kick off just right is Prologue (Nick Moss), be it manic gibberish or mournful airs Prologue is free to set any needed tones with Epilogue there to rein in any wild ways.

While Prologue and Epilogue play out their delicate dance, we are left to this beautiful art house slice of life. Many scenes within the whole playing on the fullness of life experienced by all, even when we are unable or unwilling to see and hear this fullness in the lives of others. A piece of Sonder pie as it were, a rich complex tapestry magnified until the interweaving threads become visible. An absent minded Doctor (Mark Hein) and a well-meaning Nurse (Heidi Mendez) go about the business of trying to help an introspective Woman (Brooke Markham) and a self absorbed Man (Joe Sartee) put their individual lives back together. As often happens, threads, of life, splice together forming new patterns before coming apart again.

The beauty of The Flu Season is in the complex interplay of journey on stage. What seems like an impossible to write piece, plays out with the beauty of a well written orchestral number. A huge part of a complex piece of art coming off well is a great first chair, holding to analogy, in Anna Evelyn. Truly any number of scenarios could have been coming towards the end and Anna would have wrapped them all together beautifully in real time. A mournful, sweet tragic soul in Epilogue given beautiful life through Anna.

The Flu Season may leave you feeling a bit sad, but it is a journey worth the ride, worth checking out.

 

The Flu Season (Directed by Doug Oliphant Written by Will Eno) shows at The Pico in Los Angeles Friday & Saturday nights at 8pm

For Tickets: https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/3378926

Beautifully Complex

Love

Never before have I seen a show capture as many of the converging divergent facets of love, as Love has.

Language, particularly English is so severely lacking in depth when it comes to the ephemeral concepts. For a Germanic/Romantic language hybrid, we seem to have come up short on both the “romance” and preciseness of language itself.

What language alone could not accomplish Force of Nature Productions brings to life in the exquisitely simple beauty that love, actually, is. Each piece fitting together like so many infinite fractal facets of an indiscernible thing we call love. Each as true as the previous and proceeding, each a reflection into ourselves through a mirror we may not look through often.

Using every tool of the emotional spectrum, including their own selves the ensemble approached the rapture of the divine perfection of all love feels like. Brian Hilarious, strong on stage each time I’ve seen him perform, walks you down a road you know not the destination until it smacks you in the face. The ability to love yourself for who you are, shed the pains society, and yourself, placed upon you. Burdened no more to know who you are truly, and love that person. From altering center of being shown through body and deep micro expressions the show starts with a beating heart we all need to find and love through one man. On a stage, alone but not alone…

That’s just how the show starts past the prologue. What follows is a torrential diluvial wash, shades of love seen and unseen. Where, how does one begin to use language to describe something on stage which took full sensory onslaught to gently pull you under its spell.

Speaking of spells, Love revealed a truth of FON Producitons which I’ve felt lightly, only to feel the full impact of its force through Love.

Sound, music inspires Sebastian and those he works with, it’s easy to see. Love, takes that to the next level, Love is scored to a film festival winning emotional roller coaster. The songs pull you in as much as the dance, frantic pains, beautiful prose. You sit fully engaged in something else, something wholly complete. Love was amazing and would have been no matter the score, it was dance and score of Stoneczko which finally made the tears pour down my cheek, a silent release of a beautiful knowing.

Lest you think love, and Love is deep and heavy all the time, there is humour to be had in Love. From an overly polyamorous promiscuous Tinder app in a support group for dating apps led by “Tom”. If you’re too young to understand who Tom is, well that’s okay too. Mayhapse a musical number just for the women, Total eCLIT of the Heart had me in stitches and reliving fond memories…

If you are in anyway introspective and self-analytical see how much of yourself is altered, added to by Patchwork Doll. A moving piece diving into the ocean, trying to discover who you are for all you’ve been shaped by.

There is a flow to Love, starting with loving yourself moving on through anxiety, falling in love, and pain of isolation. The cycles go on and on, love grows and dies and grows anew, this rise and fall is seen in Love, if you sit back and see all the pieces as the beautiful gem for which it is.

 

Before closing this review, I feel I must mention Whiskey Eyes, an original song by Tom Jones. The 13th piece of Love, 14 may have been the nail which broke the dam, Tom’s song was the lead up, the set up. I will alwayse be a daddy’s girl and miss my Pa daily. I was his little tomboy and he knew the real me. Whiskey Eyes nearly brought tears to my eyes for all the things I know my Pa can only see from a faraway place I can’t perceive. Stoneczko made me cry in theatre, Whiskey Eyes made me cry writing this review… Why I hid it at the end.

There is something for everyone in Love playing a small theatre above a church.

 

Love (directed by Sebastian Muñoz) has two more showings. March 29th and April 5th at 8:30 pm, The Belfry Stage in North Hollywood (behind the Petco Unleashed)

For more information visit: www.fonprods.tix.com

Hurts So Good

28381417_10155137341412750_272032904_nScrew “love” give me the warped endearing odd worlds presented in Love Hurts from Force of Nature Productions. At least this way after going “awwww” you can laugh at the absurdity that is the world of love. Love, that absurd dance with death which brings about life and change in our lives.

Speaking of dancing, that’s where we kick this adventure of vignettes; I’m assuming a group of vignettes is an adventure, because that’s what Plays are an adventure of emotions, FON is good, better all the fucking time, at weaving those adventures together in semi coherent arcs. While each story stands alone as it’s own entity, the gestalt of the jigs fit together, a moving flow of emotions with Sebastian and Andy acting as our emotional conductors as much as directing the directors and actors.

First shot to that funny snarky side of whatever organ serves as the seat of love is the Cupid Shuffle (Written by Stephen Anthony Bailey, directed by Tom Jones), a slice of life/love gone wrong and what new things can happen in the wake of an ending. Even if things end before they began. Funny, witty and touching Cupid Shuffle not only kicks off the night right with smiles and joy, while showing “love” is alwayse more complicated than the simple four-letter English word. Friends, even new ones can strike various cords within our souls, we simply need to find the right dance partners.

If Cupid Shuffle showed us an overlooked angle of love, 5am Workout (By Mike Knowlan, directed by Corey Chappell) takes a stroll down the humorous side of the beginning of a famous horror story. Go mad or flee screaming into the darkness of ignorance and superstition. Whatever happens when you can suddenly read the minds of those attracted to you, it isn’t pretty. It also plays out in hilarious, paranoid, self-absorbed ways on stage and it is glorious.

Most folks have a story and then a prop, but Sebastian does things oddly and his writers must work odd things into their stories. How do you combine love hurting and a teddy bear? To show us where a childhood was broken of course… Giving credit to Tyler Bianchi for crafting The Ghost Of Valentine’s Heartache which humorously handles what is beyond a painful topic. Props to Brian Hilarious for giving life and empathy to a man and a boy’s bear on stage. Paul Millett directed two strong presences (Stephanie Rojo and Susan D. Marlowe ) to push and pull complex the emotions with grace and humour into something oddly cathartic.

How the hell do you turn a trash bag and a flower bouquet into a stage piece? Be the brilliant Jennifer Novak Chun. Then making something weird warped and utterly perfect is what you do! Only Jenny and the quirky cast could keep the audience in such stitches with Heartbreak Roach Motel (directed by Heidi Marie) that no one realized there was technical difficulties. Nicole Craig helped with that, strutting on stage as a Cockroach Dominatrix in the most twistedly hilarious polyamourous arrangement ever. Managing to tackle social norms and sexism Anne Westcott with David Kaufman and Kyle Felts had the audience laughing and snorting, chuckling through the entire freaking piece.

That’s one thing I can say for Love Hurts, I smiled from the opening moments to the end. Trying not to let my laughter get away from me

That became harder as And They Called it Puppet Love (Written by Steven W. Alloway directed by Jeff Rack) unfolded. I’ve never been one to empathize with the person who strikes out has portrayed, Steven changed that with what he cooked up for Eli Godfrey to bring to life. Endearing, sad, pathetic and I mean all of those as compliments to the life Eli brought forth on stage. This poor bastage has a puppet for a best friend, and that should be the makings for a Seth MacFarlane style buddy comedy, but no, you get something poignant and oddly tragic for a short peace in a show of short stories. I was sitting there hoping Tosca Minotto’s character would at least give the guy a fake number or something, but what happened with Susy Vera and that Dustin wow…

Coming into the close of the show you need a good anchor. Go weird or go home, and to that end no one does fucking weird and just wow than Ian Heath on stage. Pushed further; directions I hadn’t seen before. Looking at the playbill, that makes sense. Jahel Corban Caldera, the too talented, was directing. What were those rehersals like, I digress, The Foolish Lover’s Game (by Roert J. Watson) was a perfectly happy weird silly end to a lovely weird heartfelt show. How one makes a couple of murders and adultery come off as heartfelt and sweet, Melissa Muñoz might have something to do what that. If it’s possible to steal stages from Ian her charm as the evil beauty Miss Cordova will have done it.

This, wasn’t just a thoroughly enjoyable show to see, but to review in the verb sense of writing this review. Seeing the show play back in my mind brings a smile to my lips still. It was a good show, demonstrating not only the multifaceted nature of Love itself, but that Force of Nature Productions is pushing challenging reaching for newer and grandeur vistas. This is easily the best show from the FON team with Sebastian and Andy working some lost magical art. Which as was pointed out recently, I’ve seen Sebastian’s work on stage for more than a few years now.

 

With this being the start of the season, I can’t wait to see what Force of Nature Productions has in store for 2018. We’ll need whatever smiles and tears they can stir this year for sure.

 

Love Hurts: A Rush Story ran Feburary 16-18 in North Hollywood at the Belfry Stage.

For information on future projects, and you really should look them up, www.fonproductions.com

Twisted Fucked & Fun

PoPalypt1c@ZJU_Postcard

Shayne Eastin’s PoPalypt1c is what every dark souled, tormented depths delved, artist hopes to pull off in their work, and in her directorial debut no less.

Chaotic light and sound cascades over the audience ushering us from our present states to some altered blighted blasted world razed from some near similar time. Through the darkness, fast moving, scenes unfold, bits of life accelerated to some unknown end; stopping suddenly upon some post end times world of Miss Eastin’s making.

Taking biting wit and sarcastic cuts into modern times, Shayne found the just right cast to bring her words and world to life. A dichotomous look at what happens after ends begin again; a strong antagonist to drive is needed. Enter a beautifully talented bastage of North Hollywood stage playing that eternal evil Satan (Jason Britt), or do I have it backwards… So hard to tell Jason brings a curious petulantly entitled Satan to life pouting over his blasted kingdom. What’s the devil without their henchman to kick around, Squeak (Anes Hasi) makes a perfect twink of an evil minion. Personifying the name into this cute evil hybrid Squeak somehow stole scenes without taking away. A perfect puzzle jig guiding the crazy loops to their end.IMG_0807

PoPalypt1c uses a neurotic look at what happens when individuals go off kilter, the broken cracks pieced together before becoming a golden silver Kintsugi. Near empty tumbleweeds going on blown by unfought winds: existence. Existence continues even if we don’t understand why or our place in this new world left after all inside, and out, us shatters.

Neurosis, neurotic, repetitive obsessively obsessive-compulsive dissociation retreated away from everything. Itchy (Nick D’Alberto) carries a tension through the scenes from start to finish, an anxious electrical charge to repel any sense of ease which may be found in our hells. With Radar (Skye LaFontaine), my favorite of mothers children, this withdrawn all observing “psychic” seeing what others don’t from that far off place her psyche has fled… These and more fascinating characters are given preternatural life by whatever weird laws govern Miss Eastins mind, I mean story world.

Each of the characters personifies primary and tertiary coping mechanisms or symptoms; cracks under the surface of society thrust forth from within. Eventually the fault lines rupture and the façade falls away, what’s left is… survival… Bleak desolate day by day existence, but in this day to day drudgery hope can be held so close to heart as to be nearly hidden even from ourselves. A “milk” some magical nourishment we don’t understand to keep us going. Enter a captivating lead in Mother (Caiti Wiggins) the mother hoping to continue life after needed deaths in a life/death/life arch.

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For anyone paying attention Shayne showed us that humans can continue on and continue on hoping, even secretly, for better even in the darkest of times. A needed lesson in this age maybe, but it didn’t feel like a lesson. It was given as hope itself, a funny, weird piece of art that leaves you wishing it went on just that much longer. Turning darkness into hope isn’t easy and Shayne does just that.

I was left smiling and happy, having laughed into and end times sunset of some dark twisted world. To leave darkness happy and laughing, wanting to know more about this world. It’s a fucking good feeling, a needed feeling in the start of 2018.

You don’t even need to roll the dice on this one, go, see the show and you’ll love it. There is enough fun and weirdness to touch anyone.

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PoPalypt1c (written & Directed by Shayne Eastin) runs Friday and Saturday nights 8:30 through February 17th at Zombie Joe’s Underground Theatre Group

For more information please visit www.zombiejoes.com