By Pat Launer
Southern Gothic Crimes of the Heart
Brooklyn and Four tear writers apart
Who’s the top dog, who’s the boss
In the vicious Glengarry, Glen Ross?
While I, on off-nights, without ceremony,
Took in Lettice and Lovage and that Angel, Tony.
THE SHOW: The Four of Us, a world premiere by 29 year-old New Yorker Itamar Moses, hailed as a wunderkind by his idol, Tom Stoppard
THE BACKSTORY: Like Stoppard, and prolific Brit Alan Ayckbourn, Moses likes to play with dramatic form. In his provocative Bach in Leipzig, which was seen here as a delightful staged reading in 2004 (also on the Carter stage, coincidentally), presented by the Actors Alliance with a local all-star (almost all-director!) cast, including Sean Murray, David Ellenstein and Robert May, Moses wrote a witty, intelligent, historical fugue for words. This time, he’s playing with Time and scene structure, though his subject matter is slighter.
THE STORY: The dramatic comedy leapfrogs back and forth in time, following two friends from their reunion as professional writers back to their meeting as post-high school wannabe-rock stars at young musicians’ camp. Over the years, they have changed (maybe into two different people? Hence, perhaps, the title of this two-hander). Their friendship waxes and wanes, through love relationships and writing challenges. In the first scene, as they meet for lunch after a long hiatus, David is still struggling to get his plays produced in the hinterlands. But first-time novelist Benjamin (formerly plain old, informal ‘Ben’) has just snagged a $2million publishing deal including movie rights. David has always been envious; now he’s positively green and professionally self-destructive. Benjamin, always distant and driven, winds up being resentful (but to say why will ruin the ‘twist’ ending, in which the play circles back on itself yet again, an audience head-jerk that feels a tad contrived). Moses has a terrific way with character and dialogue. We don’t really come to know these guys, but they’re captivating nonetheless; the unattainable key to the creation of art seems to be endlessly fascinating. The way these guys talk, in laconic, overlapping, real-life male/competitive conversation, is thrilling. The play isn’t totally satisfying, though; we don’t learn that much about what pulled these guys apart as adults, or why they were so uninvolved in each other’s lives, even at critical personal times. We don’t get a unique angle on the success/happiness ratio or the companionship/competition dilemma. But the production and the performances remain somehow irresistible.
THE PLAYERS /THE PRODUCTION: David is telling this story, recalling the relationship over time, commenting on the action, and revealing his plethora of neuroses. He’s the funnier of the two, and Sean Dugan plays him to the hilt; maybe it’s a meatier role. Benjamin is certainly more enigmatic and inscrutable. But Gideon Banner is adorable and delightful in the part, the perfectly blasé, self-absorbed and nonchalant complement to David’s antic insecurities. Director Pam McKinnon, who also helmed Moses’ Bach in Leipzig in New York , keeps the pace humming, even if there isn’t much action. The most that happens onstage is the two crouching stagehands, who periodically leap up from the cluttered set pieces below floor level and whisk them on and off the set (designed by Kris Stone). The costumes ( Markas Henry) mark the characters’ evolution, and the lighting (Russell Champa ) demarcates dream, reality, fantasy, past, present, whatever. We don’t necessarily learn anything new about friendship and fame, but we are entertained and challenged (a bit), and we get a strong sense that we’re listening to a talented dramatic voice at the start of a (hopefully) long career. Perhaps it, too, will double back on itself with surprising results.
THE LOCATION: On the Old Globe’s Cassius Carter Centre Stage, through March 11
THE SHOW: Brooklyn Boy , by Pulitzer Prize-winner Donald Margulies (who won the Big One for his least interesting play, Dinner with Friends).
THE BACKSTORY: The playwright, like his main character, also a writer, was born in Brooklyn . Both are, in some ways, returning to their roots. As Margulies puts it, Brooklyn is a “metaphoric home…. It is innocence, childhood, family, community, a safe place… It is the precious thing we’ve lost.” His Brooklyn-Jewish background looms large in his plays, whether it’s the artist in Sight Unseen, the shiva-sitting family in What’s Wrong With this Picture?, the bar mitzvah tensions in The Loman Family Picnic or the older writer in Collected Stories, which shares with this play the issue of who owns a story, and what a writer may ‘owe’ those whose lives they ‘borrow from,’ whether it’s loyalty or honesty. The playwright admits that he’s fascinated by “the legacy that parents instill in their children, intentionally or otherwise.” All of these elements come together in Brooklyn Boy. Margulies has said that it was his friend/fellow playwright, Herb Gardner (author of I’m Not Rappaport and Conversations with My Father) who urged him, as a writer, “to go back to Brooklyn .” To which Margulies reports replying, “It took me years to get out of Brooklyn .” Still, just like his main character, Margulies asserts that, the play” reflects aspects of my life, but it is by no means a dramatization of my life.”
THE STORY: Eric Weiss is something of an escape artist, like the man whose name he shares – Harry Houdini (born Ehrich Weiss). He thinks he’s left everything he ever knew behind. He moved out of Brooklyn , became secular, married a shiksa and wrote two esoteric books that no one seemed to understand (or read). Now he’s hit the big time; his novel, “Brooklyn Boy,” is a huge success. He’s forced to return to the place of his birth to visit his dying father in the hospital, where he runs into a childhood friend, a nice, shleppy guy who stayed in the neighborhood and embraced his heritage; he took over his father’s business and married an orthodox woman. He’s followed Eric’s career, and he’s proud and envious and a little resentful. Especially since, upon reading the new novel, he realizes that a central character is patterned closely on his own life and personality. Eric insists it’s not, and he refuses to visit Ira and his family for Shabbat, or pray with him in the hospital chapel. Then follow scenes with Eric’s ex-wife, a disappointed, competitive and apparently barren woman and an unsuccessful writer. And one with the Jewish Hollywood agent who loves his book but wants to make it significantly “less ethnic,” choosing a very non-ethnic, pop star for the leading role in what she sees as a white bread, Everyman story. In the end, Eric is all alone with his success… unhappy, unconnected to anyone or anything. After a visitation from his dead father, he has a bit of a turnaround, the first faint inkling of accepting who he is and where he came from.
THE PRODUCTION: The initial moments of the play should set the tone, tenor and underpinnings of the piece. This is the third time I’ve seen the play and it works best when that opening father/son scene is played brutal and painful (“psychologically abusive,” as Eric later describes his paternal unit), which will give a good idea of why Eric is the way he is. A son has finally hit paydirt in his chosen career. His father was a shoe salesman; he’s a successful novelist who’s made the New York Times best seller list. He’s appearing on “The Today Show,” having his book optioned for a movie. He comes to show his father he’s done all right, and he gets nothing. Less than nothing. Disdain, disinterest. His father doesn’t even want to read the book. “If I have the time,” the old man barks from his hospital bed. This scene should be a stomach-punch, a heartless rejection of everything this middle-aged man has strived to achieve, just to please his disparaging, crusty curmudgeon of a father. But in this production, it’s played for Borscht Belt shtick. This father (Robert Levine) is a kibitzer; his jabs are weak, just a series of standup (lie-down, in his case) punchlines. And after his death, when he makes a ghostly return to have the (fantasy) conversation his son always wished for, there should be a seachange , a dramatic turnaround that allows for healing. But this father is exactly the same as he was before, so the power of that desired interaction falls completely flat. This production is too much about Jewishness and not enough about the ‘other things’ that have been lost.
Jewish music blares after every scene (sound by Rachel Le Vine). The set (Giulio Perrone) begins promisingly in the entrance to the reconfigured theater: we walk between evocative, location-establishing brick walls. But then, the space opens into an arena arrangement, which rather than conveying the cramped, claustrophobic feel of lower middle-class Brooklyn , feels open, airy, distancing. It means that the rooms can’t be in any way cluttered, as described. They are sparsely furnished, which only works for the Hollywood scene, where a sleek, oversized glass desk drops down, suspended from above. Watching the onlookers on the other side, which in-the-round seating encourages, also serves to take us out of the action, not draw us into it. The walls behind the audience are decorated with elements that seem to represent the four central characters: shoeboxes on one side for the father; books on the other, for his son; packages (the mailed-back literary rejections, or the longed-for acceptances?) for the ex-wife, and Torah scriptures for Ira, the now-religious childhood friend. On the floor, dominating the scenic design (and causing many questions among theatergoers, Jewish and non-Jewish alike) is an astronomical Jewish calendar, taken from an arcane 18th century German book. It looks like a giant zodiac, actually akin to the Chinese calendar, with its Hebrew letters conveying the complex, lunisolar nature of the Jewish year. It’s more than (almost) anyone would know or figure out. And not exactly what the play needs.
THE PLAYERS: The two primary characters, the father and son, are the least satisfying in this production. Levine is too flip, not nasty enough in his derision of his insecure offspring. James Newcomb, a San Diegan who spent 13 seasons at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, doesn’t convey the corresponding angst of his character. Despite the fact that he cries several times during the play, he fails to engage us as a sympathetic character; he comes off as a fairly dour kvetch. Under the direction of Todd Salovey, the pace and timing are lively, and the rest of the cast commendably captures the other crucial conflicts in the play, each bringing a little something extra to elevate their characters above the level of caricature. Matthew Henerson perfectly conveys the Brooklyn Jewish mentality, as well as Ira’s disappointment and regrets about his choices and his life. His Ira would be even more compelling if he took a little more noticeable joy in his wife and children, the primary payoff he’s gotten for the path he’s taken. Deborah Van Valkenburgh, making a very welcome return to the Rep stage, where she’s done such wonderful work (most memorably in The Beauty Queen of Leenane), is excellent in two roles. As Eric’s ex-wife, Nina, she’s wonderful – wounded, dissatisfied, disillusioned, and put-upon; besides the envy and competition of having no success with her writing, she finally admits to her bitterness about Eric’s constant push for her to conceive. Their push-me/pull-you scene together, when she kisses him, then asks him to relinquish the key to their apartment, is heartbreaking. Van Valkenburgh is funny as the gum-chewing, phone-obsessed Hollywood agent. And rounding out that scene is Andrew Kennedy, buff and blond, as the seemingly brainless actor who actually manages to bring some heart to the screenplay, reducing Eric (who plays his father for the moment) to a puddle. It’s a potent moment. And another is near the end, when Eric throws down the yarmulke Ira offers him, to say the kaddish (mourner’s prayer) for his father; the audience is shocked into silence. The final stage picture is touching, with the yahrtzeit (memorial) candle glowing on a darkening stage, a beacon for new beginnings and reconnections.
THE LOCATION: San Diego Repertory Theatre, through March 4
SOUTHERN FRIED HUMOR
THE SHOW: Crimes of the Heart, the Pulitzer Prize-winning 1978 Southern gothic comic drama by Beth Henley
THE BACKSTORY: Henley initially submitted her play to several regional theaters without success. At the same time, and without her knowledge, a friend entered it into the Great American Play Contest at the Actors Theatre of Louisville. The piece was a co-winner, and was enthusiastically received at the theater’s Festival of new American Plays. In 1981, after a limited Off Broadway run, Crimes of the Heart opened on Broadway and continued for 535 performances. The 1986 film adaptation garnered three Academy Award nominations, including Best Adapted Screenplay for Henley .
THE STORY: At the center of this melodramatic black comedy are the three idiosyncratic Magrath sisters, who reunite at Old Granddaddy’s home in Hazlehurst , Mississippi when the youngest is arrested for shooting her husband. Not too surprising, given their dysfunctional family background; their father disappeared early and their mother hanged herself (and the cat). Granddad’s in the hospital, possibly nearing his end. Each Magrath is a survivor of her own personal brand of hardship and misery, and they all have a penchant for unsavory predicaments. Over the course of two days, which includes the eldest’s 30th birthday, conflicts erupt, past resentments bubble up and the underlying sibling blood-bond is revealed and strengthened.
THE PLAYERS /THE PRODUCTION: The play takes a deliciously black comic view of small-town Southern life. Each character is sharply etched, and in this production, superbly portrayed. Kristianne Kurner is the frumpy, anxious, insecure oldest sister, Lenny, on the way to becoming a spinster, largely because of her excessive concern about a “shrunken ovary.” Jessica John is the oversexed middle-sister, Meg, an erstwhile singer who escaped to California after her boyfriend, Doc (low-key, self-effacing Fran Gercke) got his leg crushed during Hurricane Camille, when Meg insisted on riding out the storm instead of seeking shelter. A few months ago, she went nuts and wound up in a loony bin. Which brings us to youngest sister Babe, adorably played by Amanda Sitton as a seemingly simple sugarholic who displays surprising smarts at times, but doesn’t want to reveal the real reasons she shot her husband in the stomach (she missed his heart). Then there’s Daren Scott (looking a lot like Garrison Keillor , with horn-rimmed glasses and slicked-down hair), as the budding lawyer with a sweet spot for Babe and a vendetta against her husband. He’s gentle and not half as nerdy or dim-witted as he looks. Each of these characters is carrying plenty of pain, which is palpable beneath the glib lines and easy laughs. All the accents and sensibilities are right, but Wendy Waddell hits the jackpot as the hilariously monstrous cousin Chick, the quintessentially hypocritical, busybody Southerner who’ll “bless your heart” while she stabs your back. Director Dana Case has managed to achieve a perfect balance: between pathos and poignancy; drama and melodrama; comedy and absurdity. There’s absolutely nothing not to like about this knockout production, where the multi-talented cast does double-duty: Kurner designed the down-home set and John put together the 1980s country costumes. It’s a marvelous ensemble, which I can’t wait to see in the Three Sisters (with the same actors playing those three sibs), opening this weekend.
THE LOCATION: New Village Arts at the Carlsbad Jazzercise, running in repertory with The Three Sisters, through March 18
THE SNAKE PIT
THE SHOW: Glengarry Glen Ross, the 1984 Tony and Pulitzer Prize-winning play by David Mamet, who adapted it into a screenplay for a 1992 all-star film (starring Al Pacino , Jack Lemmon, Alan Arkin, Kevin Spacey and Jonathan Pryce, with an extra role written specifically for Alec Baldwin). The play’s buzz and name recognition generated the best advance sales in the history of 6th @ Penn Theatre, and the most successful, sellout opening weekend ever
THE BACKSTORY: The play and film are notorious for the use of profanity. Someone actually sat down and made a wordcount : the word “fuck” is used a total of 138 times during the 100-minute movie; the word “shit” is used 50 times. The infamous language reportedly led the cast to jokingly refer to the film as “Death of a Fucking Salesman.”
THE STORY: Beware: rabid dogs are on the loose. Mamet unleashes a stage- ful of ruthless, desperate real estate agents, who will engage in any unethical or illegal act (from flattery to lies, coercion to bribery, threats and intimidation to burglary) to ‘close the deal’ – and win a Cadillac in a cutthroat intra-office sales competition. What they’re selling is undesirable land to unwitting and unwilling prospective buyers or “leads” (read: suckers). The title refers to two Florida properties, Glengarry Highlands and Glen Ross Farms. This is a society of animal predators who are desperate to make a kill and who will, under pressure, readily prey on one another. Among these men, where the law of the jungle prevails, Mamet provides an amalgam of bestiality, comedy, pathos, and even, in some warped sense, poetic justice.
THE PLAYERS /THE PRODUCTION: The play is an ensemble piece that requires a crackerjack cast and rat-a-tat timing. To assist with the latter, 6th @ Penn brought in Minneapolis-based Mamet maven Bryan Bevell, former artistic director of the Fritz Theatre . He definitely worked his magic. The halting, staccato, half-sentence, overlapping, musically composed lines tumble over each other in a thoroughly believable, if contentively unsavory pace. Under Jerry Pilato’s direction, the cast does a great job, with standout performances by Jonathan Sachs as the cold-blooded, high-performing hotshot, Ricky Roma; Dale Morris as the conniving, tough-talking hothead Dave Moss; and as Shelly Levine, the pathetic Willy Loman of the piece (a has-been formerly known as “Levine the Machine”), Jonathan Dunn-Rankin. With few lines and one potent outburst, Haig Koshkarian is just right as fragile/nervous/taciturn George Aaronow . The other roles are credibly played by Joey Georges (as Roma’s ‘mark’), Ash Fulk (as the nasty, put-upon office manager) and B.J. Person as the investigating cop, who takes residence in the ‘back office’ after the place is burglarized, apparently an ‘inside job.’ Morris created the set, which changes from a Chinese restaurant (this works for the first scene, but not the second, supposedly on a train) into a perfectly cluttered, chaotic office (after a brief intermission, though the entire evening runs only 80 minutes). This is Mamet at his finest: crude, rude, brutal, and deftly commenting on a bankrupt culture that produces, rewards and nurtures just this type of monster. Satisfy your curiosity, and your ‘fascination for the abomination.’ See Glengarry; it’s lethal fun.
THE LOCATION: 6th @ Penn Theatre, EXTENDED through March 25
BUSMAN’S HOLIDAY / OFF-NIGHT SCHEDULE
… At Moonlight Stage Productions, the Education Outreach program, headed up by Sandy Ellis-Troy, launched its second annual WordsWork playreading series at the Avo Playhouse. The season opener, Peter Shaffer’s Lettice and Lovage, was great fun, and even featured costumes, a few props and audience participation. For the first few quick scenes, where the ever-expansive tour guide, Lettice Duffet, is leading groups through the fusty old Fustian house (the Hay Fever set worked perfectly), pre-selected audience members oohed and ahhed onstage at her inflated faux history. Lettice was amusingly played by Moonlight producing artistic director, Kathy Brombacher (recent Patté winner of a Shiley Lifetime Achievement Award), and her tight-lipped, tight-assed sidekick, Lottie, was portrayed by Sandra Ellis-Troy. They were a hoot! Rounding out the cast, in various roles, also very funny, were Melissa Fernandes (queen of sound effects) and Jim Chovick (prince of supercilious sarcasm). Jim Caputo directed, and an excellent time was had by all.
..I was also very happy I went to the San Diego Jewish Film Festival’s showing of “Wrestling with Angels,” about Pulitzer and Tony-winning playwright Tony Kushner. The documentary underscores how brilliant and multi-faceted Kushner is, in his public and private life, and also what a mensch he is. He believes in young people and their potential as much as he believes in art-as-activism. He’s truly a visionary; he proved prescient when he wrote Homebody/ Kabul long before we went into Afghanistan . The film, structured like a play, in three ‘acts,’ talks about his childhood in Lake Charles, Louisiana, and his coming out, but mostly it follows him from 9/11 up to the 2004 election, including the making of the all-star, multi-award-winning HBO version of Angels in America. Academy and Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Freida Lee Mock (“Maya Lin”), who was present for a Q&A after the screening, revealed Kushner to be as stunningly intelligent and charismatic as you’d hope. If you get a chance to see this film, which debuted at Sundance last year, and won awards at the Munich and Cleveland International Film Festivals, do not miss it. It’s supposed to be out on DVD in a few months. Be on the lookout.
NEWS AND VIEWS
…VIVA VALDEZ !… “The Legacy of Luis Valdez, Father of Chicano Theater,” the documentary that I wrote and co-produced with City TV’s magic-maker, Rick Bollinger, was accepted into the San Diego Latino Film Festival. If you missed it on KPBS-TV or City TV, here’s your big chance… it’s only 21 minutes long, but it shows all the talented Valdez family, as well as those Luis has touched and influenced, from Edward James Olmos to locals Sam Woodhouse, Jorge Huerta, Bill Virchis and Todd Salovey. More than 500 Festival submissions came in from all over the world – from Spain to Brazil , Puerto Rico to Peru , Chile to Canada . Ours screens, along with other short films, on March 10 at 3:30pm (screen #6), at the Ultra-Star Cinemas, Hazard Center .
… Grammy Fever… Sure, you know all about the local connection with the win of Jersey Boys, which started in San Diego , and features Tony-winner Christian Hoff and an all-star local band that includes singer/guitarist Steve Gouveia, much missed on local stages. But did you know that ace bass guitarist Kevin Cooper, who just played for The Wiz at the La Jolla Playhouse, also played on Ike Turner’s Grammy-winning traditional blues album, “ Risin ’ with the Blues”? And of course, every year, he’s part of the Patté House Band. Kevin and his drum-buddy Danny King (fellow player for The Wiz and the Pattés), will also play together in the hot-flash tuner, Menopause, the Musical, coming to the Lyceum for an extended run, 3/9 to 8/26. www.menopausethemusical.com ; www.sandiegorep.com
… Actor/director/activist Tim Robbins is sending his L.A.-based company, the Actors’ Gang, to San Diego next weekend, to perform an adaptation of George Orwell’s chillingly relevant classic, 1984. Adapted by Michael Gene Sullivan, of the San Francisco Mime Troupe, directed by Robbins and s tarring Brett Hinkley ( “Ed Wood,” “Honeymoon in Vegas”) , the intense drama will feel eerily resonant. Big Brother is watching. At the Poway Center for the Performing Arts, Feb. 24 only, 8pm. www. poway arts.org
… In the wake of its stellar production of I Have Before Me… a Young Woman from Rwanda , and as an early kickoff to its “Resilience of the Sprit: Human Rights Festival 2007,” 6th @ Penn will screen “God Sleeps in Rwanda ,” the Academy Award nominee for Best Documentary Short. Made by Kimberlee Acquaro and Stacy Sherman, narrated by Rosario Dawson, the 28-minute film is an inspiring story of loss and redemption among five courageous women, after the 1994 Rwandan Genocide left the country nearly 70% female. Saturday, Feb. 24 at 4pm.
..Title, play and venue change ahead (aka convoluted news): Moxie Theatre had every intention of presenting, this spring, the San Diego premiere of Morbidity and Mortality, Courtney Baron’s play with the off-putting title, that premiered last year at San Francisco ’s Magic Theatre. But then the rights were pulled. And now we know why. Under the revised title of A Very Common Procedure, the comic drama that deals with a young woman’s grief over the death of her newborn child, opens this week at the MCC Theater in New York, directed by former La Jolla Playhouse artistic director (and Rent- meister ) Michael Greif. In another local connection, the play features Amir Arison , who appeared in New York in Beast on the Moon, which was associate produced by local actor Anahid Shahrik (who just closed in Diversionary’s Happy Endings are Extra ). Instead of the Baron play, Moxie will produce the West coast premiere of The Treatment, the latest work by Eve Ensler (The Vagina Monologues), about a traumatized soldier (Matt Scott) just returned from the war. April 6-29 at the Lyceum Theatre.
.. And speaking of Eve Ensler, she got some heat in Florida this V-Day. At the Atlantic Theater in Atlantic Beach , near Jacksonville , her internationally performed Vagina Monologues was about to be presented. But a passing driver was offended by the title displayed on the marquee, upset that her niece had seen the word “vagina” in large print, in public. So the theater actually changed the name of the play, on the marquee at least, to The Hoohaa Monologues. But two days later, in response to a demand from the organizers of the production (a group of students from the Florida Coastal School of Law), the original title was restored. The presenters asserted that they received the rights to the play only if they refused any censorship. “Vagina is the essence of a woman,” said organizer Elissa Saavedra ,” and if you’re going to suppress the name, then you’re suppressing us as women.” Do we really have to have this conversation in 2007? I guess we do. At least in Florida .
On the campuses:
..The buzz is very good on UCSD’s production of 12th Night. This weekend only, in the Weiss Forum Studio. The world premiere workshop production of Good Breeding, guest writer/director Robert O’Hara’s adaptation of the Oresteia, also opens at UCSD this weekend, and continues through 2/24.
…At SDSU, besides this weekend’s opening of the Maury Yeston musical, In the Beginning (through 2/25), there’s Eleven Heads, a “pre-premiere presentation” introducing the work of five choreographers: Joe Alter, Liam Clancy, Yolande Snaith , Patricia Sandback and Nina Martin. The evening will feature solos, duets and trios for three talented dancers: Elizabeth Swallow, Eric Geiger and Tonnie Sammartano . The audience will be asked for its opinions on the choreography, and this will help shape an evening-long work to premiere in April, in partial fulfillment of Sammartano’s graduate degree. Saturday, Feb. 17, in the Studio Theater (ENS-200). $5 admission at the door. 619-594-6824.
…More on dance: Jean Isaacs San Diego Dance Theater, in collaboration with the Grossmont College Orchestra Women’s Chorale and Afro-Cuban Ensemble, presents the world premiere, “Dances of Time,” a celebration of dance through the centuries, including “Rain Dance,” “Dawn Dancing,” the minuet, waltz, ragtime and swing. Veteran company members John Diaz and Liv Isaacs- Nollet will assist with choreography. Sunday, Feb. 25 at 3 and 7pm, at the East County Performing Arts Center ; 619-440-2277; www.sandiegodancetheater.org.
…Life imitates art (again) .. In an uncanny echo of the plot of the Tony Award-winning Richard Greenberg play, Take Me Out (which ran at the Old Globe in 2005), a National Basketball Association player has publicly announced that he’s gay. John Amaechi , a British center who played five seasons with various U.S. teams (including Orlando, Utah and Cleveland), and emerged from his 2003 retirement to help England to the bronze medal at last year’s Commonwealth Games, told all in his autobiography, “ Man in the Middle ,” which was released this week. Since he’s retired, he didn’t have to deal with the locker-room homophobia depicted in the play. But he didn’t get away unscathed. A fellow NBA player, Cavalier LeBron James , said he didn’t think an openly gay person could survive in the league. “With teammates you have to be trustworthy, and if you’re gay and you’re not admitting that you are, then you are not trustworthy,” James said. ” You’ve heard of the in-room, locker room code. What happens in the locker room stays in there. It’s a trust factor, honestly. A big trust factor.” Once again, fact and fiction collide, alas.
‘NOT TO BE MISSED!’ (Pat’s Picks)
Crimes of the Heart – a whole lotta humor and heart, outstandingly directed and performed
New Village Arts at Carlsbad Jazzercise, running in repertory with The Three Sisters, through March 18
The Four of Us – a smart, clever world premiere, extremely well presented
On the Cassius Carter Centre Stage, through March 11
Glengarry Glen Ross – perfect Mamet pacing by a crackerjack ensemble
6th @ Penn Theatre, EXTENDED through March 25
The Secret Garden – the singing trumps everything else; a vocally magical cast
At Lamb’s Players Theatre, through March 11
Hay Fever – deliciously snarky comedy, superbly acted and attired
Moonlight at the Avo, through February 18
Fiddler on the Roof – wonderful nostalgia, wonderfully sung
At the Welk Theatre, through April 1
(For full text of all past reviews, use the Search engine at www.patteproductions.com)
Do something dramatic for President’s Day: go to the theater!
© 2007 PATTÉ PRODUCTIONS, INC.