I enjoyed two worthy productions on the weekend

Very different in content, but both featured three ladies…. (sort of … more about that later.)

Aftershocks

From l, Summer Harlow as Beth, Dorrie Braun as Daphne, and Julia Silverman as Olive in “Aftershocks.”

A heartwarmingly funny, “slice of life” story of three women’s lives, and the complex ways they connect … this is a poignantly passionate play. Written beautifully by Doug Haverty, whose award winning plays and musicals have delighted audiences, this is an emotionally involving, yet humorous journey. Director J.C. Gafford inspires excellent performances all round. The overly exuberant “would be” actress Daphne, and her longtime friend … the sensible and realistic Olive, are living in a fantasy world. These two housewives from Cleveland with troubled pasts have been living in a trailer far from home for 23 months, gleefully working as movie “extras.” Both Dorrie Braun as Daphne, and Julia Silverman as Olive, give wonderfully multilayered performances. From heartwrenching to hilarious repeatedly, they never “miss a beat!” Bursting their “showbiz bubble,” Beth, a sweet young woman, turns up on their doorstep with shocking news from 32 years ago. Claiming to be Daphne’s daughter, given away at birth … the plot thickens as events from the past unfold. Summer Harlow gives a lovably focused performance as the young, expectant mother, needing answers. A totally enjoyable evening of theater, probably most suited to female theatergoers … Why not round up a group of your favorite “gal pals” and plan a theater night? On the technical side: Janet President has designed a delightfully detailed set, and Hunter Wells costumes are fun too. Lighting by Ryan Shull and sound by Craig Jessen, round out the behind the scenes efforts effectively. There are countless memorable, humorous, and touching moments in this well written script. Running through June 16 at The Lyric Theatre located at 520 N. La Brea in Los Angeles. For seats, call (323) 960-1055 or visit www.plays411.com/aftershocks.

Bitchslap!

From l, Michael Taylor Gray, Therese McLaughlin, and C. Stephen Foster in “Bitchslap!”

O’migod! This is an outrageously hysterical, “laugh till you cry” production. Totally bananas! Written with caustic and non-stop hilarity by Canadian playwright and noted “Drag Queen Artiste” Darrin Hagen, this whacky play should be a smash hit in West Hollywood (the area called “boys’ town”….) Directed with maniacally mad passion by Odalys Nanin … three high spirited “campy” artists of stage (2 men & 1 woman) play these female roles with electric energy! The story chronicles the bitter rivalry between Joan Crawford and Bette Davis, which went on for decades. Two self centered dynamic divas, they ruthlessly competed for roles, Oscars, and men! Starting off with insanely funny old film clips of volatile scenes from their early films, and later reenacted scenes “live” onstage, from Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?, the madness is endless! The amazing C. Stephen Foster plays the cryptic Davis, and Michael Taylor Gray perfectly depicts the evil Crawford. Both “drag” performances are “spot on” and brilliantly entertaining! Therese McLaughlin is a tantalizing treat as the infamous “gossip queen” Hedda Hopper, shrewdly grilling the two feuding stars, for monetary gain and notoriety! A trio of flawless depictions … I laughed so hard and often that my cheeks hurt! The audience the night I went also fell apart with laughter! The incomparable Shon Le Blanc costumed the “ladies” in stunning 1940s outfits … and John Toom cleverly designed the set and lighting. This is a wildly zany party … and you’re invited! If you’re up for a feisty and fabulous evening of naughty, bawdy theatre, based on true facts, and loaded with hilarious glamour years “dish” … this is the one to catch! Take along all of your most outrageous friends … I hope to find the time to go back and see it again myself! Running through June 17 at the Macha Theatre (dark June 1 & 2) located at 1107 N. Kings Rd. in West Hollywood. For seats, call (323) 960-7724 or go to www.plays411.com.

Compleat Female Stage Beauty – Opening May 31.

Written by Jeffrey Hatcher – Directed by William A. Reilly

Looking forward to this one! Crown City Theatre never disappoints! The always impressive Ben Rovner stars as noted actor, Edward Kynaston in the year 1661. The most famous portrayer of female roles in London, his career is threatened when an unknown “woman” appears in an illegal theatre, as Desdemona. So inspiring was her performance, that King Charles changed the law … allowing women to “act.” Sounds captivating! For early booking, call (818) 605-5685.

Back soon with more critiques… Pick the ones that interest you and support L.A. theater!


Tagged as: