By Pat Launer
Consider it an Outsider’s Life X 3:
An African, a Golem and a Bug conspiracy.
OUT OF AFRICA
THE SHOW: Since Africa , the West coast premiere of the (occasionally comic) drama by Chicagoan Mia McCullough; the play premiered in 2005 and was a finalist for the Susan Smith Blackburn playwriting award
THE BACKSTORY: Africa’s longest-running war began in 1983, when the fundamentalist jihad of the northern government attacked villages in southern Sudan , driving an estimated 20,000 boys from their families. Some of them 5, 6 or 7 years old, walked barefoot, without food or water, across three countries, a thousand miles of lion- and crocodile-infested terrain, prey to starvation, bullets and yellow fever as much as to animals. Many of the survivors ended up in refugee camps in Kenya , where they subsisted on gruel. Sitting under sparse trees and drawing in the sand, they were taught English. In 2001, U.S. immigration authorities permitted 3,600 of these Lost Boys of Sudan to settle in America . 100 of them wound up in San Diego , another 100 in Chicago , which is how McCullough came to her story.
THE STORY: Set in present-day Chicago, the piece focuses on four disparate people, a microcosmic culture clash: Ater Dhal, a Dinka from southern Sudan, newly arrived in the U.S.; the wealthy, recently-widowed socialite Diane, a collector of all things African who has volunteered to be his mentor; Reggie Hudson, a light-skinned, highly assimilated African American, a Catholic deacon whose ministry and African ancestry are uncertain but whose church is welcoming to the refugees; and Diane’s 23 year-old daughter, Eve, struggling with her budding adulthood, her father’s death and her strained relationship with her mother. Ater is trying to adjust to life in his new country, getting sick from the donated food, clueless about how to manage so many quotidian American affairs. His naiveté, work ethic and steadfast morality get him in trouble at work and with the law. Diane and Reggie are the do-gooders who don’t always manage to do good for their ‘charge.’ And they come into frequent conflict — about religion, politics and identity. Identity is the key here; in some way, all four characters are searching for a home, a sense of place, a personal/political identity. All are dealing with some level of loss or grief. The role of ritual and spirituality also winds through the action, in the form of a ‘statue,’ an African dancer who is invisible to all but the audience, bringing a constant reminder of what’s been left behind. By dint of their interaction and introspection, each character is ultimately forced to change and move on. There are many wonderful dramatic moments, though perhaps McCullough lards on a few too many issues. But in forcing us to re-examine our own perceptions and misconceptions, the play is a heartfelt dramatic success.
THE PLAYERS/THE PRODUCTION: The production is also an unqualified success. Making her directing debut, Mo’olelo Performing Arts Company’s founder/artistic director Seema Sueko does a superb job. She teases out the nuances, doesn’t overplay the drama, makes the enigmatic figure of the ‘statue’ intriguing and effective. She’s abetted by an outstanding ensemble. Alephonsion Deng is the still center of the production. A Sudanese Dinka himself, his story (see below) closely parallels the one in the play. He is the victim of the same unfathomable hardship and tragedy, but he does not show overt signs of anger. He does not have the warrior scars on his forehead from the coming-of-age ritual that Ater has (makeup by Peter Herman), but when Ater (just like Deng) finds out that his mother is still alive in Sudan, he speaks to her by phone in Dinka (the play text is in English); it’s a powerful theatrical moment, which clearly resonates deeply for the actor, too. And though his emotions are tamped down (Diane’s shrink tells him he’s “emotionally dissociated”), there is sadness in his eyes (on and offstage); when Ater finally explodes in anger and frustration, it’s gut-wrenching. Rosina Reynolds shows as much of her character’s angst on her face as in her lines. It’s a lovely, layered performance, full of ache and disappointment. Her interactions with Erika Beth Phillips’ delightful Eve are spot-on. There’s a terrific moment when the mother goes to touch her daughter’s hair, and the young girl swats her away like a fly, with obvious disgust. There isn’t a mother or daughter alive who hasn’t been there. Eve’s terribly disturbing story about how she got the scar on her arm (it’s a little too neatly compared to Ater’s forehead markings, as is her defiant decision to get a tattoo) may not add much to the play, but it hints at more bonding between Eve and Ater than the playwright shows. Mark Christopher Lawrence puts in a quiet, finely shaded performance. His Reggie is confused about his background and conflicted about his connections to Africa . The late revelation of his link to Diane may be contrived, but the two play this scene in a beautifully muted manner. Nyeda Lane is graceful, passionate and evocative as the Statue (choreography by Suzanne Forbes-Vierling). Nick Fouch’s set design, well lit (Kim Palma), presents subtle suggestions of Ater’s unadorned (working-sink) kitchen and Diane’s high-end digs, adorned with African art. Paul Peterson’s sound design places it all in context. Excellent work all around. Mo’olelo continues its compelling commitment to other voices and cultures.
THE LOCATION: Mo’olelo Performing Arts Company at Diversionary Theatre, through October 29
THE BOTTOM LINE: Best Bet, though seats may be hard to come by. The production was sold out before it opened, but since many of the seats were purchased by groups, there should be walk-in tickets available. There’s an added performance on Thursday, Oct. 26 at 7:30pm.
The BACKSTORY of ALEPHONSION DENG:
Alepho was 7 years old when government troops attacked his village and he ran out into the night, barefoot and naked. He trekked for five years before arriving, like the fictional Ater, at the Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya , where he spent a decade subsisting on a half-cup of cornmeal a day. He was very fortunate that, several times during his terrifying journey, he met up with his brother Benson and his cousin Benjamin Ajak. When all three miraculously survived and were resettled in San Diego, they wrote a book, with the help of their mentor, Judy Bernstein, They Poured Fire on Us from the Sky: The True Story of Three Lost Boys from Sudan (Public Affair Press, 2005), which evolved from their personal notebooks and recollections. The book has been a best-seller. Alepho’s father, a lawyer who disappeared years ago in search of a son, had five wives and more than 30 children. Al doesn’t know the whereabouts of many of his sibs, but last Christmas, he found out that his mother was still alive, and he spoke to her for the first time in 14 years. Now 28, he recently celebrated his fifth year in the U.S. This may be his stage debut, he’s already been onscreen. Shortly after arriving in this country, he was cast in the movie, “Master and Commander,” and spent most of his first six months on the set in Ensenada . Quite an introduction to American culture! He and his co-authors have spoken at more than 60 schools and organizations, sharing their stories and helping to educate Americans about a story that has only been aggravated and rekindled in recent years. Now Alepho is going to school, studying acting, holding down a job and saving up to visit his mom. Pick up a copy of his book at Diversionary; proceeds benefit the authors as well as Mo’olelo. The narrative, told in short spurts from three different viewpoints, is truly hair-raising. Talking to Alepho and his brother and cousin on opening night was inspiring. They are open, honest, willing to share, and they speak about their shocking experiences with equanimity. But what they must keep inside! Boggles the mind.
THE SHOW: Bug, a surprising Off Broadway hit (an Obie Award-winner in 2004) written by Steppenwolf Theatre acting alumnus Tracy Letts; a coup for Cygnet Theatre to snag the rights so soon
THE STORY: The title is a double entendre. The psychological thriller is a creepy little piece about pesky insects and government surveillance. The film version is due out this fall (directed by William Friedkin, starring Ashley Judd, Harry Connick, Jr. and the Tony Award-winning Brian F. O’Byrne).
Set in a seedy Oklahoma motel room, the play introduces us to somewhat sleazy, lonely Agnes, a cocktail waitress and hard-drinking coke-head who’s hiding out from her ex-con ex-husband. For the first several scenes, underscored (George Yé) by thrumming, “Jaws”-like spooky/annoying bass tones, she lies around, snorts and drinks, ignores or is freaked by a ringing phone with no one answering on the other end. She curses her ex and hangs up. Jittery is an understatement (the coke doesn’t help). The tension is supposed to build, but it’s a very slow start. Soon, the action and interaction kick in. Agnes is joined by her sassy lesbian work-buddy, RC, accompanied by a quiet, unassuming drifter, Peter, who is invited to stay after RC leaves to help her girlfriend fight a child custody battle. Things get cozy with Peter and Agnes, and he moves in. He’s a little weird, though, even at the outset. He won’t snort cocaine, for instance, but will smoke it. He drinks Coke but not liquor. And in the middle of their lovemaking, he jumps up and starts searching for bugs. From then on, it’s a downhill slide. The macho, abusive ex, Jerry Goss, comes in repeatedly to terrorize everyone. Peter gets weirder, seeing bugs everywhere, turning himself into a human blood-sport (he even extracts his own tooth with a pliers). Aggie buys into his insect obsession, and she starts scratching and bleeding, too. Peter is convinced it’s the Feds who are out to get him, control him, take him back to the hospital he escaped from and do other nefarious things. A doctor finally does enter at the end, and all hell breaks loose. Spurting blood, paranoia, conspiracy theories, murder.
THE PRODUCTION/ THE PLAYERS: Artistic director/scenic designer Sean Murray has assembled a first-rate cast and design team. The production looks great: a marvelously detailed Middle American knotty pine motel room, overstuffed with the detritus of long-term living (props by Bonnie Durben, Lesley Fitzpatrick and Maggie Thompson). The sound of suspense, cars and helicopters (even felt under the seats) heightens over the course of the evening; the lighting (Eric Lotze) is heavy on headlights, shadows and eerie portents. The costumes (Veronica Murphy) aptly identify the characters. But the production is more about contagious delusional insanity than it is about the insidious control lurking in the government. When, in the second act, we see the putative bites and the zillion hanging bug-strips, we might believe there’s an infestation. But we are never drawn into the conspiratorial paranoia, and without that, the play fails. It’s just another look at the underbelly of society and a few of its more sinister wackos.
Robin Christ is excellent as Agnes, a desperate divorcée drowning her grief over her kidnapped child in all manner of addictive substances. It’s easy to see why she might be sucked into Peter’s reality; it’s something she can hang onto and believe in, given her loser past and dimmer future. Still, it’s painful to watch her say “Mine” when her bullying husband asks whose fault it is that he whacked her. Manny Fernandes puts in a powerful performance as the vicious and violent husband, and Monique Gaffney is tough-and-tender as the well-meaning RC. John DeCarlo is wonderful as Peter, who starts out just a little off-center and evasive, and ends up thoroughly crazed and maniacal. A very creepy journey indeed. In the small, late-second-act cameo of Dr. Sweet, Jim Chovick doesn’t really register. He seems too medical, too avuncular, a little like the ‘stranger’ at the end of Streetcar. There’s no sense of the menacing possibility that he might indeed come from the Feds, not from the hospital. And the whole dénouement turns on that possibility. In these ‘1984’ times of unsanctioned government surveillance, the play should totally creep you out, and not just about bugs. It should make you believe in the chilling potential for a mind-body-soul-destroying government plot. Instead of feeling distanced and voyeuristic, we should be motivated to take some sort of political action. Or to run out to buy some Raid. No go here, on either count.
THE LOCATION: Cygnet Theatre, through November 19
PHYSICS AND FRIENDSHIP
THE SHOW: Life X 3, a recent effort by Yasmina Reza, who created the wildly popular Art, also presented by Lamb’s Players Theatre (2004)
THE STORY: It’s all about macrocosm and microcosm: physics, metaphysics, uncertainty, allegiances, alliances and the vagaries of the human heart. On a more mundane level, it’s your worst nightmare realized: a husband and wife invite his superior over for a job-crucial dinner, but the visiting couple shows up on the wrong evening. There’s nothing in the house but Cheezits and cookies. Plenty of wine, though, which over-lubricates the participants in the brittle and brutal scene, played out, amid passing references to string theory and Dark Matter, three different times. The point, presumably, is that minor shifts in events can have major (or at least different) consequences. The emotional cruelty of the first scenario, with spouses demeaning and verbally abusing their mates, is strongly reminiscent of the ‘Get the Guest’ and ‘Hump the Hostess’ games of Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Awful truths are spoken or concealed. But there are fewer and far less significant secrets revealed here. The ‘dark matter’ that can’t be viewed isn’t really all that interesting. We certainly don’t like any of these characters, and how they interact is more ferocious than fascinating. In some ways, the 80-minute play feels like a dramatic exercise. One has to wonder if the playwright just couldn’t decide how to complete the scene, so she puts all her options out there.
THE PRODUCTION: The production is beautifully designed by Mike Buckley, who puts shimmering stars on the backdrop and on the floor. A projection of the Earth rotates, as does the stage, with its similarly blue-green base. As the cycles change, perspective shifts slightly, the lighting (Nathan Peirson) and sound (Deborah Gilmour Smyth) are altered, and nothing is precisely the same for the next go-round.
THE PLAYERS: Under the direction of Deborah Gilmour Smyth, the emotional stakes are high. There’s a surfeit of yelling. outburst and meltdown, but a dearth of humor, and this has often been described as a dark comedy. (George and Martha are a lot funnier). But the cast is excellent, even if the characters and their relationships aren’t as fully fleshed out as we might like. Robert Smyth plays the arrogant astrophysicist to the hilt. His Hubert is full of hubris: caustic, supercilious, sexually predatory and simultaneously misogynistic. As his wife, the frustrated, put-upon Inez, Glyn Bedington is a fussy, persnickety busybody (in two of the three scenes, she cleans the cocktail table before she uses it), freely dispensing rules and advice, even as she gets demeaned and slapped down by her husband. Her inebriation is convincing and revealing. As the former attorney Sonia, Colleen Kollar’s character changes drastically from the cold, heartless mother of the first scene to the warm confidante of the last, though she’s never a huge supporter of her generally spineless husband. She is flirtatious and seductive in one scenario, easily seduced in another. It’s Lance Smith, as Henry, who takes the wildest emotional roller coaster ride. He’s an anxious, over-solicitous father, a dismissive husband, an obsequious employee, an insecure researcher, a self-destructive manic-depressive. In every scene, Hubert finds a way to tell Henry, who’s bucking for a promotion, that the major paper he’s about to publish has been usurped by other researchers. Henry falls to pieces in various ways, wildly swinging from near insanity to deep despair. It’s a chilling performance. But in the end, what’s the point, and what have we learned? And how much do we care – about the disquisitions on physics or the maliciousness of the characters? Those may be the theatrically earth-shattering questions that remain elusively unanswered.
THE LOCATION: Lamb’s Players Theatre, through November 19
THE SHOW: The Golem, Man of Earth, is San Diegan Howard Rubenstein’s adaptation of the age-old Jewish myth
STORY/THE BACKSTORY: In Jewish folklore , a golem is a man of clay, an animated being created from inanimate matter. In modern times, golem has been used in Yiddish or Hebrew to mean “silly” or “stupid.” The legend has it that only a holy man, a man of God, could create and breathe life into a golem, but the being would always be less than a creation of God. The golem is usually mute, typically lacking in analytical intelligence. If commanded to perform a task, the instructions will be taken quite literally; this is both a blessing and a curse. The most famous golem narrative involves the 16th century rabbi, Judah Lowe, the Maharal of Prague, a scholar, mystic and philosopher (Maharal is a Hebrew acronym of the words “our teacher, the Rabbi Lowe”). The story goes that, using mystical, magical powers based on the esoteric knowledge of Kabbalah, he created a golem to defend the Prague ghetto from the anti-Semitic pogroms. Using as his source material the Encyclopedia Judaica and the 1921 Yiddish play by H. Leivick, Rubenstein set his play in 16th century Prague . His dim-witted, petulant and child-like golem becomes frustrated and violent; in this disturbing incarnation, the golem turns on and kills Jews. This unnerving turn gives credence to the notion that the golem was an inspiration to Mary Shelley in creating “Frankenstein.”
THE PLAYERS/THE PRODUCTION: There are 13 characters (played by eight actors), including the rabbi’s wife and granddaughter, a priest, the prophet Elijah and the Messiah, and various homeless Jews (the lame, blind, crazy and a couple of prostitutes). The primary relationship is between the Maharal and the Golem; everyone else is ancillary or unnecessary, and most of them are ill-defined. From the outset, this production was fraught with difficulties: two directors didn’t work out, and producer Dale Morris had to step in. For various reasons, he allowed Mikel Taxer, who plays the Rabbi, to stand at a podium, reading his script. This serves as a distancing device, and weakens the potent language and the powerful interactions between the Maharal and the Golem. Either everyone should be on book, or no one. Taxer speaks his lines quite well; he has the perfect accent and range of emotional tone, from hubris to anger to regret. But he rarely looks up from the text, and as written, he’s a crucial interactor, not a narrator. S. Michael Barron is wonderful as the Golem, capturing the innocence and unchecked passions, the loneliness, the self-pity and the unbridled lust and rage. The rest of the cast is variable at best. They don’t have much to work with: minimal characterizations, brief and often unmotivated interactions. The story is timeless and exciting. But despite its brevity, the play needs a lot more trimming and shaping – and a little magic — to bring the legend to life.
THE LOCATION: 6th @ Penn Theatre, through November 8
I just had to see the hilarious, multi-talented Nick and Rebecca Spear, SDSU alums, in Forbidden Broadway: SVU, before the show closes at the end of the month. And it certainly lived up to expectations (again). The Spears, both SDSU Musical Theatre MFA alums, bring warmth, powerhouse vocal chops and incredible comic to the piece, as do their fellow SDSU-ers, the knockout talents Matt Weeden and Kristen Mengelkoch, both of whom are headed for NYC next month. What a loss for the local theater community! Though, due to their much-lauded skill, they may even continue to hang with the FB crowd. Meanwhile, you still have two weekends to laugh your head off, whether you’ve seen all the lampooned shows or not. Nick is especially funny in the Avenue Q spoof, using three voices and working two puppets; he nails the deep, rich baritone and precise vocal timbre (not to mention the forgetful, off-key notes) of a tipsy Robert Goulet, and he’s a hoot as Harvey Fierstein, in the Hairspray and Fiddler numbers. Rebecca was made to play Kristen Chenoweth (Glinda in Wicked) which she does to absolute squeaky-voiced perfection. She’s also adorable and funny in her quirky, gorgeous-voiced way as Belle in the Beauty and the Beast parody. She’s just too funny as white-clad, shades-wearing Yoko Ono (on the monstrous flop, Lennon) and together the couple is terrific in the Spamalot knockoff. The whole cast consistently cracks me up with the Les Miz satire. You really have got to see this show! Soon!
NEWS AND VIEWS
ELECTION SEASON ONSTAGE : If you’re not politically active (and why not, especially this year!), maybe you’d like to be political interactive. Two audience-participation political comedies are coming to town… and not a moment too soon. As if the nationwide shenanigans aren’t laughable enough!
Not wanting the stage to get cold when Forbidden Broadway takes its leave, the Theatre in Old Town is continuing its satirical bent with Gross National Product, a Washington, D.C.-based comedy troupe that moves in for a two-week run of Son of a Bush, a reportedly ‘bipartisan’ spoof. In addition to the up-to-the-minute national themes (the show will change daily to accommodate breaking news) there will be plenty of local references, too, from Busby/Bilbray to “Duke” Cunningham, the border to the Governor’s race. Part of the show is a mock town-hall meeting with ‘W” and “Hillary” fielding questions from the audience. Get involved… at the theater and the ballot-box.
And Sledgehammer Theater is presenting Patriot Act: The Trial of George W. Bush – Charged with Violating the Constitution, War Crimes and Treason . Thanks to wacky/inspired creator/director Todd Blakesley, the 43rd President of the United States takes his case to The People. Attendees can join a jury, testify for or against the defendant or just observe the goings-on, which promise to be “the most electrifying trial of the century!” At the 10th Avenue Theatre, beginning previews Nov. 3, officially opening Nov. 7 (election returns will be announced throughout the evening, and there’s a party to follow), continuing through Nov. 26. 619-544-1484.
…Where there’s a Will….. The San Diego Shakespeare Society invites you to its annual evening of Celebrity Sonnets, during which local personalities from the arts, education, music, drama and media apply their creative energies to Shakespeare’s timeless verse – through song, dance or recitation. This year’s honored guests include: Karen Keltner, resident conductor of the San Diego Opera; Dalouge Smith, director of the San Diego Youth Orchestra; Claudia Russell of Jazz 88, with accompanist Mike Keneally, formerly of the Frank Zappa band; members of the California Ballet; arts advocate Merle Fischlowitz; actor Jason Heil and more. I’m happy to serve as host/emcee again. Admission is FREE (donations, gratefully accepted, will benefit the 2nd annual San Diego Student Shakespeare Festival, to be held April 28 in Balboa Park ). This Monday, October 23 (7:30pm) in the Old Globe Theatre. www.sandiegoshakespearesociety.org.
… There’s a local myth in the making, in the world premiere of The Myth Project, an hour-long, al fresco, site-specific performance event that takes place at dusk (6pm) this Friday, Saturday and Sunday at NTC. Talk about blurring boundaries: This collaboration between Sushi International Takeout and the Patricia Rincon Dance Collective features theater, dance, storytelling, stunts, live music, puppets… and planes! It’s an outdoor performance, so the presenters suggest you ‘dress for adventure.’ At NTC Promenade in Pt. Loma, behind Building 210. Tix: $10-20. 619-235-8466.
…Titillating titles: Nipples in the Wind, a new comedy about 14 women (played by two) who release their “explosively exhibitionist personalities, is coming to the Avo Playhouse (Jan. 18-20) and the California Center for the Farts (2/1-3), as part of a West coast tour. So be on the lookout; you won’t forget the name. www.nipplestothewind.com .
And, coming this weekend, there’s the fanciful/comical new tuner about being true to yourself , The Flight of the Lawnchair Man, playing at SDSU (Don Powell Theatre) this weekend and next. It asks the musical question, ‘What would happen if you attached 400 helium balloons to a lawn chair?” A modern-day Icarus story (the man just wants to fly!) about self-identity and following your bliss. Directed by Paula Kalustian. 619-594-6884.
.. Also opening this arts-intensive weekend: Poor Players’ Hedda Gabler (“the original Desperate Housewife!), directed by Tom Haine, at the Westminster Theatre in Pt. Loma; CCT’s My Fair Lady at ECPAC (through Oct. 29), starring Punit Auerbacher and Susan DeLeon, who should be great as the priggish Henry Higgins and his star pupil, Eliza Doolittle; Tuesdays with Morrie at North Coast Rep (through Nov. 19), based on the best-selling story by Mitch Albom, who co-wrote the play; Culture Shock’s 7th annual Choreographer’s Showcase, featuring hip hop and break dance Culture Shock troupes from across the U.S. (10/21 at 8pm, California Center for the Arts, Escondido); the *J* Company’s Oliver!, with a huge cast that includes sdtheatrescene’s own Alice Cash; Mojalet Dance Collective’s breathtaking Distant Nights/Joyful Days, about the invisible children of Uganda; (Oct. 20-22 in the SDSU Studio Theatre); and at UCSD, courtesy of ArtPower!, the innovative Random Dance presents Ataxia, an imaginative look at human physicality. John Malashock strongly recommends this world-class London company . There are some free tickets available @ 858-822-3199 or firstname.lastname@example.org (regular price: $30). Additional tix are available for $15 at 858-534-TIXS. Whoever said there’s nothing to do in San Diego ???
… More onstage drama than anyone would want: Old Globe regular and Tony Award-winner Richard Easton, currently starring at Lincoln Center in the new Tom Stoppard trilogy, The Coast of Utopia, directed by Jack O’Brien, collapsed onstage Wednesday night during a performance. Near the end of the first act, as his character, a Russian nobleman, addressed his son, played by Ethan Hawke, Easton started to leave the stage, staggered and fell flat on his face. Hawke came downstage and asked “Is there a doctor in the house?” Audience members thought it was part of the show, but when the question repeated over the theater P.A. system, about 20 people surged onstage to offer help and attempts to resuscitate Easton . The audience was sent out to the lobby and the performance was canceled. The hospitalized Easton , age 73, is in stable condition and is undergoing tests. His understudy has taken over the role for now.
… Looking for something spooky to do for All Hallows’ Eve? How about some Tales of Terror, brought to you by TheatreSports at The Fun House (on El Cajon Blvd. , right near Cygnet Theatre). A fully improvised homage to slasher films, the funny/scary show is back for the third year. The presenters guarantee that you’ll die laughing. October 20, 21, 27, 28 & 31 at 9:45pm (no one under 16 admitted without an adult); www.improvise.net . And the National Comedy Theatre is also offering improvisational holiday fare: Halloween Spooktacular, Oct. 27-28, with a special midnight show on 10/28. Appropriate for all audiences. The troupe recently returned from their fourth Armed Forces Entertainment Tour of Southwest Asia, where they provided comic relief to troops serving in Iraq , Kuwait , Saudi Arabia , Qatar , Dubai and Bahrain . www.nationalcomedy.com
… There’s still time to get tix to see/hear the adorable, incomparable Brian Stokes Mitchell. The Broadway baritone heartthrob is doing a benefit performance for his alma mater, San Diego Junior Theatre. At Casa del Prado in Balboa Park, Nov. 18. For tix and info: 619-239-8355; www.juniortheatre.com .
…Honoring August: The next installment of the August Wilson Project, a San Diego Black Ensemble Theatre/Cygnet Theatre collaboration on staged readings of the master’s works, is Seven Guitars, directed by Rhys Green. At Cygnet, Oct 23-24 (7:30pm) and at Horace Mann Middle School on Oct. 30.
… Remembering Kurt… On October 30, the Chronos group (formerly Grassroots Greeks), now headed by Celeste Innocenti, presents a reading of Aeschylus ’ Agamemnon on the New World Stage as a memorial for the late, much-missed actor/social worker Kurt Reichert. Donations will go to the Alzheimer’s Research Center at Scripps. Linda Castro will be in town to reprise her role as Clytemnestra, and many of the original ‘Greek Geeks’ will be on hand too, including David Cohen, Walter Ritter, Trina Kaplan and Sally Stockton, along with many other friends and admirers of our beloved Kurt.
…And you won’t want to miss The Far Side of Fifty, words of wisdom and humor from 14 women, age 58-88 (my mother’s the 88; my sister’s the producer, and June Gottlieb and Trina Kaplan are in the cast, too!). November 12 at the La Jolla JCC. Tix at lfjcc.org.
‘NOT TO BE MISSED!’ (Critic’s Picks)
(For full text of all past reviews, use the Search engine at www.patteproductions.com)
Since Africa – thought-provoking story of one of the Lost Boys of Sudan, superbly performed by an outstanding ensemble that includes a Lost Boy of Sudan
Mo’olelo Performing Arts Company at Diversionary Theatre, through October 29; extra performance added on Thursday oct. 26 at 7:30pm.
The Merry Widow – gorgeously costumed, beautifully sung
At the Birch North Park Theatre, through October 21
George Gershwin Alone – a few bio-stories and rhapsody of melodies, fantastically played
At the Old Globe, through October 22.
Miss Witherspoon – screamy and silly at times, but very well acted and metaphysically magical and intriguing
At the San Diego Repertory Theatre, through October 29
Hemingway’s Rose – more a showcase than a fully fleshed-out play, but the comic, chameleon performance of Ted Reis is totally worth seeing
Late night Fridays (10:30) and mid-afternoons Saturdays (4pm) at 6th @ Penn Theatre, through October 28
Middle-Aged White Guys – fanciful and fantastical, but biting and satirical, too; very well acted and directed
Weekends at 6th @ Penn Theatre, through November 8
Culture Clash’s Zorro in Hell – they’re wild and wacky, but their crazy/antic/silly agit-prop theater has a lot to say
At the La Jolla Playhouse, through October 29
Forbidden Broadway: Special Victims Unit – LAST CHANCE! CLOSING October 29. DO NOT MISS THIS SHOW! Hilarious spoofs, featuring an amazing, multi-talented cast of alums of the SDSU MFA program in musical theatre. Catch ‘em before they head to New York .
At the Theatre in Old Town , through October 29
Mid-October: time to reap the harvest of local theater offerings.
© 2006 PATTÉ PRODUCTIONS, INC.