The Alliance Repertory Company is back! After 21 years in Burbank and offering high-quality, cutting edge multi-awarded productions on Magnolia, a mass realty shuffle forced them out of the “theatre home.” (Neighbors on the same block as my store “Hubba Hubba!,” I nearly got ousted at the same time but was saved at the last minute.) Though many of the original Alliance members have, by now, moved on, ARC is rebuilding the “company” under the guidance of Artistic Director Royana Black. Finally having found a new home in our NoHo Arts District, they currently have 30 members whose talents and dedication seems every bit as solid as the former troupe. After countless auditions, Royana states, “If we have strong members, we can survive anywhere. It was about looking for the right creative people to get us back on our feet.” I took their “maiden voyage” on the weekend and caught the first offering in their two-night production (running in rep), and hope to find time to also catch the second half.
“Eight… Love is a Gamble”
I saw the grouping penned by Chicago playwright Michael Bassett with thought-provoking and gritty flair. My press sheet stated: “Bassett’s plays are tightly-wound dark comedies in which the characters’ very lives are perched on a razor’s edge.” This is a titillating truth! Let me pique your interest with a mini view of each act: Directed with eerie suspense by three different company members.
“Bleach” Director: Andrew Benne
Taking place in an outdoor café… three friends gutwrenchingly reunite for a revealing “heart to heart” discussion. Jack (JD Goldblatt) has been in a coma for months after a car accident (… the oak tree won!). His buddy Kurt (Brad Hills) and girlfriend Karen (Stefanie Seifer) welcome him back to the “living…” as all face a change in their relationships.
“Devoured” Director: David Peryam
A nervous married couple, Janice and Martin (Monica Lawson and Jed Alexander) have arranged an erotic/kinky “three way” sexual experience via e-mail. When the hunky Rocky arrives (Emerson Brooks), after the initial awkward moments, we realize that as in all areas of life… matters of sex are not always what they seem.
“The Last Judgment” Director: Courtney Elkin Mohler
(My favorite…) In the reception room of a doctor’s office, three patients’ lives are powerfully entwined as they wait to see the doctor. In a trio of fine tuned performances, this cast shines! Two male strangers, one uptight and stuffy (Bryan Kopta) and the other offensively chatty (Javier Ronceros), verbally spar. When a distraught woman enters in tears (Leann Slaby), the poignantly touching story of their personal situations unfolds.
“Cake” Director: Andrew Benne
In the wackiest scene of the quartet, we meet two guys obviously up to “no good.” Taking place in an empty apartment, they’ve attempted a “small time” money-making robbery… and failed! The frazzled groom, late to his own wedding (JP Hubbell) and his best man (Michael Doonan) have some explaining to do when the furious bride turns up in a rage (Royana Black). Very funny!
On a minimal black box set… this production focuses mainly on the fine performances at hand… The second set of one-acts (which I haven’t seen) is written by New York playwright Adam Kraar.
Running in rep, alternating weekends through December 20th at The Andrew Benne Studio (4930 Lankershim Blvd. in NoHo). For tickets and performance schedules of each set of 4 stories… call (818) 284-6709 or go to alliancerepertory.org.
In my review last week of “Molly” at The Victory Theatre, I credited the lighting designer incorrectly. The play was actually “illuminated” by Carol Doehring. So sorry!
Good Neighbor Restaurant in Studio City
After reading our special Restaurant Edition recently, I vowed to check out some of the “featured” eateries that I hadn’t been to… Having not yet visited this bustling and popular spot open for 35 years… My “book of choice” and I stopped in for a hearty breakfast. Greeted warmly by owners/hosts Bette and Rick… the delicious food, friendly service and “vibe” were all worthy of praise! Do stop in… 3701 Cahuenga Pass…
Back next week to tell you all about Group Repertory’s adaptation of “A Christmas Carol” opening Nov. 28th…
HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO ALL!