Very different in style and content … but both are ambitious efforts, worthy of your time.
The Petrified Forest
Written by Robert E. Sherwood (1896-1955) in 1934, the filmed version starred Bette Davis, Humphrey Bogart, and Leslie Howard. An offbeat variety of society’s quirky misfits interact in a combination gas station and luncheonette, in the desolate Arizona desert. An involving and powerful production throughout, Director Laura James guided the large cast of 18 actors with a lot of heart, and many memorable spot-lit moments. On Jeff Rack’s excellent set, and in eye appealing costumes by Emily Brown-Kucera, the play opens on a compelling filmed sequence, depicting the newsworthy issues of the period (videographer Kaz Matsugu). The remote establishment is owned and operated by the Maple family. Jack Kutcher plays the Granddad with sassy sparkle. Joe Nassi plays the father with pig-headed panache, and Leona Britton as the passionate Gabby (in the Bette Davis role) gives an award worthy performance, as the small town girl with romantic and poetic dreams! John DeMita is flawless as the refined but penniless drifter, John Druska is solid as the employee with his heart set on Gabby, and Frank Gangarossa was a stand out in a smaller role, as a customer. The story takes on a dark tone when a quartet of gun toting gangster thugs turn up, holding the others captive. They are played by a tough George Tovar (in the Bogart role), an animated David Mingrino, Damien Burke, and Roger Payano. Jeanine Anderson and Alan Schack as the wealthy and snooty couple who turn up here purely by “bad luck,” are a snobby sensation, arriving with their chauffeur (Avila Collin Kahey). A wide variety of diverse people, thrown together by chance … Each are forever changed by the experience. Capably rounding out the cast in smaller roles are: Anita Noble, Donald Moore, Roger Kent Cruz, Philip Sokoloff, and Ernest McDaniel. A well presented, captivating theatrical journey, with plenty of life’s passion weaved in … the audience seemed to be captivated throughout! A multi-faceted, edgy evening of theater … do try to catch this one! Running at Theatre West through April 27 at 3333 Cahuenga Blvd. in the Studio City section of L.A. For seats call (323) 851-7977 or go to theatrewest.org.
Is There Sex After Marriage? A World Premiere Comedy.
Riotously written, and maniacally directed by Jeff Gould … this x-rated adult comedy is outrageously funny! This is the third in Gould’s series of comedies about male/female relationships. Each has been highly acclaimed, and critically touted. This is a 75 minute, fast paced, one act romp, peering in on the whacky dynamics of three attractive married couples, as they experiment with new activities to spice up their love lives. The trio of couples often gets together … all married for years, and longtime friends. As the 3 couples hang out together, the inner dynamics of each relationship are exposed with bittersweet hilarity … (some playing dual roles). Roger and Sherry, together 20 years and with two kids, seem to have it all together, yet something is missing … a bit humdrum. Strong and sassy depictions here, offered by Jaret Sacrey and Rene Ashton. When they unknowingly turn up at a “swingers” party … they run into people they know. Joe and Mindy bicker constantly over menial things … both somehow dissatisfied. Strong portrayals by Brad Lee Wind and Nata Salins. The youngest duo Zack and Beth, still desire each other constantly, as if new lovers. Playfully performed by Joel Berti and Anne Leighton. All of the couples have their own issues, and dabble in sexual group experiences, in their search for fulfillment. This may sound like heavy stuff … but believe me, this is a naughty, bawdy, “laugh a minute” lark! The audience was falling apart with laughter throughout. Allison Schenker (scenic design), Steve Pope (lighting), and Jen Bendik (costumes) set the manic tone perfectly. For a highly entertaining peek at the unpredictable dynamics of male/female relationships, and dozens of hearty, relatable laughs … this is the one to catch! Do bring along your “significant other” … Running through May 4 at Two Roads Theatre located at 4348 Tujunga Ave. in Studio City. For seats call (323) 960-5770 or online at Plays411.com/sexaftermarriage.
That concludes my weekly dose of theatrical opinions for this time. Now get out there, and enjoy some local theater!