I only caught one production on the weekend to tell you about

Presented by an innovative theater troupe called “Stages of Gray.” They have recently taken residence at the long respected Hudson Theatre, in the intimate space next to the café. This production is double cast … so my review is only on the actors I saw the night I attended.

Mandrake’s End

From l, Dash Porter, Wendy Rostker, and Jay Antonos in “Mandrake’s End.”

From l, Dash Porter, Wendy Rostker, and Jay Antonos in “Mandrake’s End.”

A World Premiere murder mystery and the third in a trilogy of related plays. Written with complex and eerie suspense by Randall Gray, this one marks the final segment in his “Lake House Chronicles,” and the trio will be united as a motion picture in 2015. Although this production stands on its own as a compelling evening of theater … having not seen the prior two plays, it was tricky for me to follow at times. However, all was revealed and explained in the final scenes. With more “twists ‘n’ turns” than a roller coaster … this is a wild ride! Directed by the playwright with suspenseful pizzazz, assisted by Barb Woods, the dark secrets of his characters revealingly explode, one after another. Set in modern day … the story unfolds at the eclectic lakeside home of world class murder mystery writer, Byron Meade (passionately played by Jay Antonos). The complex and eye appealing set design … also by the multifaceted playwright, set the mood brilliantly! Dealing with the darkly deceitful realities of Byron’s family secrets through the years, he invites the forever “love of his life” Evelyn to his home for dinner (a heartfelt Wendy Rostker), along with her grown son Joshua, who is Byron’s protégé (played with youthful exuberance by Dash Porter). Byron, reflecting on his life up until now, must face the bitter truths of his darkly secretive past, and try to make amends. At the same time, he must advise his daughter, Rebecca, and her estranged husband Christopher, who are facing complications of their own (solid performances by Erin Poland and Sean Randall Crayne). As the complex plot unfolds, Harold Mandrake, the villain in all the others’ existence, returns to complicate their lives further. As devious and hateful as ever, he is out for blood … and no one’s destiny is secure. Who will survive and at what cost? The playwright, Randall Gray, who never performs in his own plays, makes an exception this time … and plays the conniving and heartless Harold Mandrake with creepy and heartless zeal. I’ve given you as much of the plot as I dare … without spoiling your journey, when you see it. For a complex and eerie theatrical experience … this is one to catch. The Hudson Theatre Complex is located at 6539 Santa Monica Blvd. in Los Angeles running thru’ May 30. For reservations call (323) 960-7776 or online at plays411.com/mandrake.

So far, I have no plays booked for next weekend … but that can change in a flash! On May 9, I will cover the opening night performance of The Ghost of Gershwin, at The Lonny Chapman Theatre in North Hollywood.

Hot Tip … If you also book seats for “Opening Night” … you will enjoy a complimentary buffet of food and desserts … and a chance to chat with the cast afterwards. This has been a long standing “treat” at all of The Group Rep’s opening night performances. Call (818) 763-5990 to reserve your seats.


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