Category Archives: Review: Past Productions

Reviews for plays no longer in production.

Pink Champagne at the Hollywood Fringe Festival

I saw Pink Champagne at the Elephant Stages, part of the Hollywood Fringe Festival. It’s written and performed by Dylan Jones, directed by Aryiel Hartman.

This show is billed as a cabaret filled with ‘Glitter & Shenanigans.’ I like all of these things, but this play doesn’t provide any of them. To me, it came across as Theatre of the Absurd, with dancing and singing.

It opens with the backup performers warming up their voices, dancing a bit and ad libbing as the audience enters. They begin the show with the cast singing and dancing to showtunes and Dylan Jones, the star, enters.

This is when the show, in my opinion, jumps the shark. Dylan Jones goes through a past life regression and we see three different random scenes, I guess dealing with love and rejection. Or was it four scenes? I really don’t know and I was there.

While sitting in the audience, I remembered when my sister and I would put on impromptu plays for our family. It’s kind of fun to watch, but mostly because the performers are having fun and you’re captivated to see more because you have absolutely no idea what’s going to happen next.

I left the show wondering, “What the fuck did I just see?” The actors’ energy levels seemed low and maybe Pink Champagne would be better at different performance, but then again you only have one chance to wow your audience and they didn’t do it.

That being said, I hate saying something negative about a production without having an idea about how to improve it. I have no ideas on how Pink Champagne could’ve been better. Maybe if they served booze and if you watched it all liquored up it would be better. I don’t know.

Still though, it’s not a completely terrible show. I guess it’s kind of fun, but not really worth going to see just for this one show. I do have to say I’d go see another show Dylan Jones puts on. She grabbed my attention enough to see what else she can do, but this show didn’t do it for me.

There’s one more performance of this show left, on Saturday, June 26 at 3:30 PM. If you’re there to see the earlier performance of Kill Your Television, which I already reviewed, stick around and see it and let me know what you think.

Defending Against Eros: BLERG

Review:

So, I went to see Defending Against Eros: Three One Act Plays at the Complex, one of the plays in the Hollywood Fringe Festival.

The whole premise of this series of productions was that each playwright had to write a one act play based on Adolphe William Bouguereau‘s painting A Young Girl Defending Herself Against Eros. The painting is beautiful and I personally find inspiration to write from seeing paintings, so I thought I’d go so this show.

The show didn’t live up to the hype that I created in my own head. The first play in this series is Eros, written by Bryy Miller and directed by Gwendolyn Dreyer. It features four greek gods visiting earth to view this painting.

It was quite bad.

The actors were lackluster and didn’t know their lines, dropping their speech and back tracking as they remembered their words. The script itself seemed phony, with jokes that didn’t work and filling in the dialog with too much exposition about each individual god. Furthermore, there’s no goal, no driving force that carries the plot along. The direction was OK and the costume design added a delightful touch with having an owl-print t-shirt on Athena and Dionysus wore a wine-colored silk shirt.

The second one act was Interrogation, written by Nicholas Doan and directed by Joshua Grant. This play features two police detectives interrogating a Suspect for killing 8 people on the 3rd Street Promenade with arrows. This production worked better for me than Eros, but still just didn’t do it for me. The script itself was fairly well done, working with issues of love and acknowledging that you are indeed worthy of love. The direction didn’t really work for me, with the actors just kind of standing there reciting their lines and no sense of suspense as you watch this crime-drama play out. The acting was fairly two dimensional, but a vast improvement than the first play. There were only a few dropped lines, but then again one dropped line that is noticed by the audience is too many.

Just at this point, I was honestly wishing I had sat next to the aisle so I could ninja my way out. Then the last play, CODA, performed, at it was good. Really good.

CODA, written by Cynthia Glucksman and directed by Vincent Tula, is about four people in a Co-Dependency Anonymous (CODA) meeting. The four characters, Brian (Scott Cooper), Craig (John Cragen), Diana (Nancy Solomons) and Jillian (Cady Zuckerman) sit on chairs, surrounded by the items which drive them in life. As the play unfolds, Cynthia Glucksman bends time and space. Each character is talking about the same co-dependent relationship, some during the relationship and others years later. It does a great job of working in the painting by focusing on the theme of wanting a love so badly, yet forcing it away because it’s unhealthy.

The entire cast did a great job and the direction was spot on, but I do have to single out Cady Zuckerman. She was simply brilliant and being a young actress I am excited to see how her career grows.

Other Notes:

The house manager wasn’t bad, but pretty inexperienced. Not too friendly greeting the patrons, but not rude. She ushered guests in late, which really did disturb everyone else.

The directors were actually standoffish. It’s no that I introduced myself or anything, but they didn’t seem happy to have people in the audience. The crowd was pretty big, but I think it was mostly people they knew. Young directors: if someone you don’t know has paid money to see your show, please be nice to them. Those are the people you want to see.

Both Eros and Interrogation really could’ve benefited from a few more re-writes and more rehearsal time. The premise was there for both of them, but the productions really lacked. CODA, as I mentioned, was really good. If you see it being produced near you do yourself a favor and see it.

The Venue:

The Complex is kind of a nice space. It’s several, maybe a half dozen, theatres in one building. That’s nice because you could, hypothetically, go there as a destination and find  a show to see. The spaces themselves are cramped and stuff like concessions and bathrooms that won’t get you pregnant are non-existent.