By Pat Launer , SDNN
Thursday, November 26, 2009
READ REVIEWS OF: “Bonnie and Clyde,” “The Seafarer,” “The Foreigner,” “ Holiday Memories”
MINI-REVIEWS OF: “Sexual Selection,” “The House of Bernarda Alba,” “Beatrice the Butterfly”
THE SHOW: “Bonnie and Clyde ,” a world premiere musical at the La Jolla Playhouse
They were young, they were restless, they just wanted to get out of Texas . By the time he was 20, he’d already spent plenty of time behind bars. Suspicious and probably paranoid by nature, he always felt that the law was out to get him. After awhile, it was. Across several states. She was an honor roll student in high school, a writer of poetry who wound up as a waitress. When they met, it was instant connection. A classic Good Girl/Bad Boy story. But oh boy, was he bad. B-b-b-b-bad to the bone, as the old song goes . Well, not a song in this musical. But it captures the essence of a guy who’d steal a car as quickly as he could drive one, and shoot down anyone who got in his way.
Their generally good looks (though not half as good as those who’ve played them on stage or screen), rebellious nature, their hellbent desire to get back at the banks in the middle of the Great Depression, captured the public’s attention. The fascination continued even after the bodies piled up, and long after the couple was dead, mercilessly gunned down in a Louisiana ambush in 1934. When they died, they were only 24, and their whole, hell-raising spree had lasted just four years.
Now, Bonnie and Clyde are back. And singing. There’s a heady pedigree to the creators of this new musical: Frank Wildhorn , best known for “Jekyll and Hyde” and “The Scarlet Pimpernel,” composed the score. Oscar-winner Don Black (“Sunset Boulevard”) penned the lyrics. Former Fulbright scholar Ivan Menchell (“The Cemetery Club”) wrote the book. The director is Jeff Calhoun (Tony award-winner for the spectacular Deaf West-to-Broadway production of “ Big River ”). Emmy and Grammy-winner John McDaniel helmed the music direction, orchestrations and arrangements.
There’s plenty to like, including engaging performances, evocative set and costumes (Tobin Obst ), sepia-toned lighting (Michael Gilliam) and evocative projections (Aaron Rhyne ), which keep the focus on the original B&C, who appear repeatedly in mug-shots and newspaper clippings.
All the elements are there for a winner. And yet… The piece feels somehow empty. There’s a vacuum at the core, with no suggestion of why this tale should be told yet again, why it should be sung about, what we should learn or take away from this incarnation. The relevance is there: our Great Recession, their Great Depression. And the never-ending obsession with celebrity which, in this version, is as much what drove Clyde as anything. But that’s not enough. The book needs to be both condensed and fleshed out. We don’t learn enough about the motivations of the characters. And Clyde ’s little ‘problem’ (not being able to rise to the occasion, so to speak, in his first amorous encounter with Bonnie) is dropped after one reference. Was that a deep-rooted, ongoing problem? No clue. What drove him, or what made her stay with him, isn’t really made clear. And that’s the most important ingredient of a new concoction like this, the one crucial element that’s missing.
In feature and interview, the creators repeatedly said they didn’t want to glamorize or romanticize these desperadoes. But they did. They even threw in a love triangle (part of “The Long Arm of the Law,” an upright Texas deputy who’s been sweet on Bonnie since high school) for extra spice. The Sheriff who spends most of his time tracking the duo’s whereabouts (and pays with his life) is a fun, if stereotypical, character (wonderfully portrayed by Wayne Duvall), a big-bellied, foul-mouthed redneck who’ll do or say anything to get his man. This lawman and his minions can’t hold a candle to those sexy, passionate, fun-loving felons. We’re with them all the way to the end, a dramatic shoot-‘ em -up confrontation that falls a little flat in this telling.
Stark Sands and Laura Osnes sizzle as the title twosome. He was Tony-nominated for “Journey’s End” on Broadway, and she gained fame for winning the TV reality competition “Grease: You’re the One That I Want.” She managed to be good enough as Sandy to step in for Kelli O’Hara as Nellie Forbush in Lincoln Center ’s acclaimed revival of “South Pacific” (to which she returns in January). They have believable chemistry and enviable insouciance – and both have stellar voices. He’s an attractive, vocally powerful presence. She can wail and belt or sound sweet as pie on those country Western ballads. As her sister-in-law, Blanche (whose book was primary source material for the show, in addition to a collaboration by Bonnie’s mother and Clyde’s sister, as well as Bonnie’s own writings), Melissa van der Schyff is funny and rock-solid, with plenty of growl in her voice, too. Mare Winningham is winning as Bonnie’s mother, who’s happy at the end to have her daughter far away from “The Devil” and back at home, even if Bonnie will arrive bullet-ridden in a box.
The rest of the characters are fairly one-dimensional types, excellently assayed by a highly skilled ensemble (including locals Mike Sears and Courtney Corey). Amid all the heartfelt ballads, there’s even some comedy, particularly in the beauty salon scene, where Blanche and two other hardened gals try to keep their freedom, and their spouses out of their hair, in “You’re Goin ’ Back to Jail.” And there’s a rousing gospel number, “”God’s Arms Are Always Open.” But it and several others (including “The Long Arm of the Law” and “This World Will Remember Me/Us”) are reprised unnecessarily, so the result feels long and protracted. The final sequence of songs has obviously been changed since the program went to press, but the ending still needs re-thinking.
While you’re watching the show, Calhoun’s lively direction, the gun-snapping, blood-spurting special effects, the moving panels of the slatted wood set and the appealing performers keep you engaged. But when you leave, the questions start coming, and the lack of fulfillment.
We know all about their past, but the future of “Bonnie and Clyde ” remains uncertain. Should they make it to the Great White Way (which is entirely possible) , they will have to have undergone some change. As always, though, it’s exciting to be in on the ground floor of a new work that’s big and ambitious enough to aim for Broadway.
THE LOCATION: Mandell Weiss Theatre of La Jolla Playhouse, on the campus of UC San Diego. ( 858) 550-1010; www.lajollaplayhouse.org
THE DETAILS: Tickets: $43-78. Tuesday-Wednesday 1t 7:30 p.m., Thursday-Saturday at 8 p.m., Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m., Sunday at 7 p.m., through December 20
THE BOTTOM LINE: BEST BET
THE SHOW: “The Seafarer,” an amusing, suspenseful drama by Conor McPherson
It’s a dark and stormy night (of course), on the outskirts of Dublin . The Harkin brothers are battling away, and laying in plenty of booze for a little card- playin ’, hard- drinkin ’ evening with some buddies. One of them brings a stranger to the house, a dapper fellow, nicely dressed, well spoken, a bit diffident. Mr. Lockhart (Sam Woodhouse), who turns out not to be what he seems, is happy to indulge in some “highly illegal” poteen — if the Prince of Darkness can be happy about anything.
A good deal of the sauce is imbibed by the card-players who, except for Sharky (Ron Choularton) don’t know who Mr. Lockhart really is. It’s Sharky’s soul he’s after, anyway. Sharky , according to his brother, has “made a pig’s mickey out of everything.” He’s been in jail, lost his woman and a series of jobs, gotten in a( nother ) fight and committed a few rather unsavory acts. Abuse gets heaped on him relentlessly by his older sibling, whom he’s ostensibly come home to take care of, though his being down-and-out and out of work helped encourage his arrival, no doubt. Sharky is probably the furthest down on the food-chain (he fell for his boss’s wife… which ended his stint as a chauffeur), but none of these guys is living the high life.
Nicky (Robert J. Townsend) is a slick, upwardly mobile hustler, wearing shades and boasting a Versace jacket. He’s shacked up with Sharky’s former squeeze. Ivan (Paul James Kruse) was kicked out of his house for boozing, among other things. Irascible Richard, the inheritor of the ramshackle domicile where this pack of losers congregates, took a fall not long ago and is now blind. That hasn’t stopped him from being both cantankerous and tanked up whenever possible, while at the same time undermining his brother at every turn and wielding his cane like a weapon. Through it all, he insists on a little Christmas jollity. Even the Jesus picture on the wall is fractious; it turns on and off sporadically. Mr. Lockhart doesn’t like it, and by the way, in case you ever meet him (though he’s just borrowing an “insect body” for the evening), he loathes music, especially of the holiday variety.
The first act, replete with colorful – and off-color — language and heavy dialect, introduces these vibrant characters, and establishes the reason for Mr. Lockhart’s presence; he ominously warns Sharky , “You’re comin ’ to the Old Hole in the wall with me tonight!” In Act Two, the boys settle into their card game, where the stakes are high, and so’s the suspense.
Delicia Turner Sonnenberg has assembled an outstanding ensemble, and mined the dark, mysterious play for all its comic and supernatural delights. Assistant director/dialect coach Grace Delaney has given all the players different accents from various areas of the Emerald Isle. There were rumblings from some theatergoers that they had trouble understanding the rich language. Careful listening was required at times, but the sum total of the evening is a delightfully spooky, eerie event. Some of those descriptions of the Devil’s hometown are downright chilling. “You’re buried alive in a cell the size of a coffin,” he explains, where you endure “deep, perpetual agony,” but “ ya never die. Ya never even sleep… Time is bigger and blacker and so much more boundless than you ever thought possible.” It’s enough to make Sharky start drinking again.
The play is spine-tingling, nail-biting fun, in the old Irish tradition (and a McPherson specialty) of ghost stories and otherworldly occurrences. Special lighting (Eric Lotze ) and sound (Tom Jones) effects heighten the intrigue. The set ( Robin Sanford Roberts ) is a ratty, shabby, dilapidated mess, with tattered furniture, broken knickknacks and dead soldiers (i.e., empty bottles) littered everywhere.
The cast makes great use of the space; one really funny moment is when Kruse who, as the doltish Ivan, provides comic relief, lifts up and flings down the ragged sofa like it was a piece of scrap paper. Same way he lifts Choularton, who’s frighteningly unemotional nearly throughout, in a creepily effective performance. Townsend, a musical theater whiz, is cute, credible and engagingly slimy in his first straight play performance. Woodhouse is comically excellent as Mr. Lockhart, suitably menacing, but barely concealing his internal sorrow and loneliness. Shimerman , a veteran of Shakespeare, “Buffy” and “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine,” shines luminously throughout, whether he’s maniacally laughing, threatening or booze-bingeing.
Despite all the dark undertones, there is a ray of light, and a hope of redemption, at the end. Left hanging in the air is the lingering question of what it means to be what Mr. Lockhart calls “a good person.” And you thought “A Christmas Carol” was unearthly and portentous! This one also offers you a little time to re-think — or you might get an unexpected visitor, too.
THE LOCATION: The San Diego Rep’s Lyceum Theatre in Horton Plaza . ( 619) 544-1000; www.sdrep.org
THE DETAILS: Tickets: $27-47. Wednesday at 7 p.m. (except 12/9), Thursday-Saturday at 8 p.m., Sunday 12/6 and 12/13 at 2 and 7 p.m., Saturday 11/28 at 2 p.m., Sunday 11/29 at 7 p.m. only, through December 13.
THE BOTTOM LINE: BEST BET
THE SHOW: “The Foreigner,” a wacky comedy, at Moonlight Stage Productions
Larry Shue had a brief but influential life and career. The actor/playwright died in a plane crash in 1985, at age 39, but his legacy is a pair of farces (“The Nerd,” “The Foreigner”) that continue to leave audiences aching from laughter. IF they’re done well. And “The Foreigner” certainly is, under the light, nimble direction of Moonlight’s founding artistic director, Kathy Brombacher.
The cast is nonpareil. Howard Bickle is a hoot as the ultra-shy British proofreader whose wayward wife is sick and dying back at home, while he accompanies his eccentric Army buddy, Froggy ( Charlie Riendeau , canny and clever), on a weekend getaway to a remote fishing lodge in backwater Georgia. Charlie is terrified of talking to anyone, so Froggy cooks up a cockamamie story that his companion is really an import from an exotic land, and he doesn’t speak or understand a word of English.
Sooner than you can say “unplanned pregnancy” or “Ku Klux Klan,” the denizens of the lodge are sharing their most private secrets with or in front of the silent guest. As the story evolves, he manages to acquire a personality (sorely lacking before) and to have a profound effect on everyone, making the “dumb” kid seem smart for teaching Charlie how to speak and read, making the aging proprietress feel young again, endearing himself to the forgotten fiancée and exposing her smarmy boyfriend for what he really is. Charlie reserves his coup de grâce for the resident redneck, whom he terrorizes with great glee.
It’s excellent fun watching a skillful cast navigate the comic turns with exquisite timing and finesse. Bickle is a sad-eyed, straight-faced riot, and when he’s asked to tell a story in his native tongue (though it doesn’t quite resemble a well-known fairy tale, as it should) his antics are side-splitting. The scene where simpleton Ellard (Ryan Hunter Lee, very good) teaches Charlie English is gut-busting. Paul A. Canaletti , Jr. is spot-on as the rough, beer-bellied Klansman, Aimee Nelson offsets her giant smile and a sad demeanor as the neglected fiancée; Dagmar K. Fields is solid as ever, as the credulous innkeeper; and Paul Morgavo is affably smarmy as the preacher with a decidedly dark side.
There’s no message, no moral, no particular meaning. This one’s just for sheer, unadulterated fun. The set (R. Dixon Fish), lighting ( Canaletti ), sound (Peter Hashagen ) and character-defining costumes (Roslyn Lehman) underscore the rustic locale and help make for a delicious, family-forgetting outing this holiday season.
THE LOCATION: Moonlight Stage Productions at the Avo Theatre, 303 Main Street , Vista . ( 760) 724-2110; www.moonlightstage.com
THE DETAILS: Tickets: $21-29. Thursday-Saturday at 7:30 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m., Sunday at 2 and 7 p.m., through November 29
THE BOTTOM LINE: BEST BET
Forsooth, For Sook
THE SHOW: “ Holiday Memories,” a remembrance by Truman Capote, at Scripps Ranch Theatre
As he says in his story, he was a sissy, a forgotten child, abandoned by both his parents and left to live with his older adult cousins – three sisters and a brother — in Monroeville , Alabama . He was barely six, and remained there, infrequently seeing his parents, until they got a divorce four years later and he was sent to military school. While in Alabama (he was born in 1924 in New Orleans ), he became best friends with his cousin Sook , the oldest but most childlike of the sisters. She was near 60 when he moved in, and by all accounts, she was shy and unworldly, rather than dull-witted; she’d never read anything but the Bible and had never been to a movie, or traveled outside the county limits. But she knew the woods, and how to make a fruitcake, and how to engender compassion in a young boy.
These are the stories that comprise “Holiday Memories.” “A Christmas Memory” dates from 1956, ten years after Sook’s death; “The Thanksgiving Visitor” was published in 1967. Capote died in 1984, at age 60, and though he’s best known for “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and “In Cold Blood,” these stories reveal his more sentimental side, and showcase his extraordinary literary skill and his genius with language.
There isn’t much action in the play, adapted by Russell Vandenbroucke , who served as literary manager at Yale Repertory Theatre and the Mark Taper Forum. Borrowing from Capote’s dazzling descriptions, the playwright used mostly narration, with scenes briefly enacted behind a scrim or upstage of the older Truman, who’s looking back. At times, he interacts with his younger self, and the sharing of lines works especially well in this sweet, lovely production at Scripps Ranch Theatre, deftly directed by Katie Rodda .
Jonathan Sachs has an erudite air as Truman, bow-tied and bespectacled, talking directly to the audience with a bemused expression, sometimes seeming to be lost in reverie, tearing up at the end as he remembers those magical days. He recounts episodes from his adventures with Miss Sook , when he answered to ‘Buddy,’ the name of a late, lamented best friend from her youth. Sook and Buddy do everything together, and she introduces him to the beauty of nature and the poetry of everyday activities, making fruitcakes and flying kites and being satisfied with the way things are.
“My, how foolish I am,” Sook says. “I’ve always thought a body would have to be sick and dying before they saw the Lord… But I’ll wager … at the very end a body realizes the Lord has already shown Himself. That things as they are … was seeing Him. As for me, I could leave the world with today in my eyes.”
The Thanksgiving story has to do with the neighborhood bully, Odd Henderson, who badgers and mocks Truman mercilessly. Sook insists on inviting the rowdy, impoverished 12 year-old to the holiday feast. Interesting moral dilemmas are raised, from Truman’s hatred to Sook’s pity for the boy, to Odd’s bad behavior to Sook’s lying to protect him from humiliation. A number of lessons learned that day. The second-act remembrance is about Christmas preparations, and how Sook transformed every act into something glorious and meaningful.
Jill Drexler, aged in a tangled gray wig (from wigmaster Peter Herman ) gives a beatific glow to Sook , and an endearing, wide-eyed wonder. Sean Evans is just right as young Truman, smart and curious and thrilled to have a companion and friend. John Garcia and Cindy Lewis play everyone else, Garcia inhabiting all the “nasty” roles with relish. Adam Traub is the Piano Man who accompanies the proceedings, but the sound from the upright keyboard was so muffled and muted, it was hard to believe there was actually live music. The set (Tim Wallace, Darin Hibi ) is spare and suggestive; the scrim (lighting by Ginger Harris) works very well. The costumes (Shirley Pierson) are era-apt.
It’s a charming production and a sweet reminiscence, as well as an eye-opening reminder of how gifted a writer Capote was. Let it serve as an impetus for recalling your own holidays and relatives past.
THE LOCATION: Scripps Ranch Theatre, in the Legler Ben bough Theatre on the campus of Alliant University . ( 858) 578-7728; scrippsranchtheatre.org
THE DETAILS: Tickets: $18-20. Friday-Saturday at 8 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m., through December 12.
THE BOTTOM LINE: BEST BET
SEXUAL SELECTION: SHAKESPEARE AND DARWIN PONDER LOVE. ” The concept sounded great: Shakespeare meets Darwin in a contemplation of the mating rituals of the human species – that is to say, the crazy vagaries of love. The brief production of Sexual Selection had much to commend it, but it felt disjointed, as if it were created by committee. Conceived by two UC San Diego faculty members — director Kim Rubinstein and choreographer Yolande Snaith – it was billed as a dance-theater piece, apparently inspired by that 1966 song by Bob Lind, “Elusive Butterfly” (which is a tad less profound than Shakespeare and Darwin). The result of all these cross-pollinations was a pretty straight-ahead, trimmed-down production of Shakespeare’s “Love’s Labour’s Lost ,” punctuated by dance segments and peeping-Tom visits from Darwin , his first-cousin-turned-lover and a quintet of dancing Androgynous Anthropologists. Lots of great ideas that didn’t really gel. The additions were intriguing, but most didn’t work.
A long Darwin disquisition opened the evening, on the beautiful sailing-vessel set (designed by Samantha Rojales , a structural engineering major/theater minor), complete with a circular stairway to the top of the mast. After much evolutionary exposition, the self-proclaimed “beetle fancier” finally comes upon Navarre , the setting for Shakespeare’s play. Then, the action begins, with the young King and his rambunctious buddies swearing off wine, women and song, to devote themselves to three years of fasting, literature and art. Until the French princess and her entourage appear. Then all bets are off. Darwin can’t believe his scientific eyes as the species engages in all manner of mating mayhem, defying any theory of coupling he might have devised. The romantic machinations do inspire him to see his ever-ready cuz in a new light. But their observational intrusions aren’t really all that interesting. The costumes ( Jaymee Ngerwichit ), a mixed bag of eras and styles, were quite amusing. As an undergraduate presentation (except for assistant director Tom Dugdale , a third-year MFA student, who was funny as the bloviating Spaniard, Armado ), the level of performance was quite variable, both in the actors and the dancers. It wasn’t wholly successful, but it was a well-intentioned, inventive effort.
THE HOUSE OF BERNARDA ALBA . This production can be summed up in two words: scream-fest. The classic 1936 drama, by Federico García Lorca (adapted by Chay Yew), concerns a widow and her five daughters. The woman, obsessed with honor and appearance, is a martinet who thinks she can control her budding sexual offspring by locking them up in the house. Nonetheless, at least two of her daughters are in love with the wild stallion, Pepe (written as an offstage presence, here represented by white-clad, flamenco-clacking Abel Valdez). Bernarda’s cruel tyranny foreshadows Franco ‘s stifling fascist regime, which was to arrive just a few weeks after Lorca finished writing his play. The playwright was assassinated shortly afterward, as a result of his association with intellectuals who belonged to Spain ’s. The all-female play is a dark tragedy, but under the direction of second-year MFA student Jeffrey Wienckowski , it was nothing less than assaultive, noisily attractive but numbingly repetitive. In the small, black-box Weiss Forum Studio, the set (Colin MGurk ) was lovely, suspended lace hexagons that dropped down to form a kind of web, the suggestion of a silky cell for these captive young women. The costumes ( Sohhee Han) were striking, variations in mourning black and lacy white nightwear. Bernarda’s mother, locked in her room, was turned into a raving gypsy loon. The whole intent of the play was subverted at the end, with Bernarda as actually weeping for her lost daughter, rather than merely worrying about what the neighbors will think. This Bernarda actually seems soft and loving at the end. Nothing was soft (or subtle) about this cacophonous production, though — not the clanging bells, the clacking heels or the shrieking delivery.
BEATRICE THE BUTTERFLY. The North Coast Rep’s Theatre School presented a new adaptation (by Theatre School director Matt Thompson ) of a children’s story written by Linda Sherry (who happens to be his mother). It was described as “a beloved short story,” but I couldn’t get any info from the principals on where it had been published. The tale is an allegory about the sweet, titular insect whose wings are asymmetrical, so she can’t fly straight (though we don’t find that out till much later). Her atypical appearance makes Beatrice the recipient of all the other bugs’ ridicule. On the way to school one day, she’s abandoned by her brother, who goes off with the “cool Bees” – so cool they skip school. Beatrice gets lost and winds up in some other garden, where she meets an appealing assortment of insects who aren’t quite ‘right.’ She learns about acceptance of differences, and how your outer shell doesn’t matter ( “Everyone is different, but everyone’s the same”), and how in unity there’s strength, especially if you get a group “super bug hug.” Fair enough, though it’s geared for the very young. But there isn’t much trust in the audience here (a complaint I often have about adult theater, too). So the messages are hammered home innumerable times, to diminishing effect. The kids were cute, of course, earnest and committed. And the costumes (Jennifer Mah ) were colorful and highly imaginative (the tree, mantis and millipede were especially clever). The adult mentor who appeared with the youngsters onstage – a hallmark of NCRT’s Youth Theatre productions – was Tony Hamm , effective as towering Mr. Tree (before the show, he was dancing Mr. Tree, rooted in place but shaking his barky booty). Director Vanessa Dinning , artistic director of the San Diego Shakespeare Society, actively involved her cast of 20, and even elicited audience participation for a Limbo dance that came out of nowhere. Ditto the Macarena. But the children who walked over from nearby schools seemed to be sufficiently amused, even if this adult would’ve wanted more variety and continuity, and less reiteration.
NEWS AND VIEWS
… Mélange of Artforms : The SDSU School of Music and Dance presents “A Soirée of Music and Dance,” which showcases performers from SDSU’s Symphony Orchestra, Wind Symphony, Jazz Ensemble, Opera Theater, 100-voice Aztec Concert Choir, Latin Ensemble and Dance Division. Proceeds will go to student scholarships. December 9 at 7:30 p.m. in the Don Powell Theatre on the campus. (619) 594-1017; www.music.sdsu.edu
… All You Need is Songs: The Beatles tribute band, Abbey Road, bring their custom-tailored costumes, vintage instruments, tight harmonies and Liverpudlian accents to the Welk Theatre for one night only. 7:30 p.m. on December 6. (760) 749-3448; www.welktheatresandiego.com
… Ha Ha !: Señor Phil (aka funnyman Phil Johnson ) presents his Casa del HaHa comedy night at Tango del Rey, this Monday, Nov. 30, at 7:45 p.m. The show features comic Travis Sentell of the “Travis & Phil Show,” which got its start at the 2006 San Diego Actors Festival (off-color adventures promised!), and stand-up comedy by Jacque Wilke and Christian Spicer, as well as a “mystery guest.” You can also see Johnson and Wilke in Diversionary Theatre’s “The New Century,” which begins previews 12/3. Tix for the comedy night at (858) 794-9044; www.tandodelrey.com
… Plan for Patté : Tickets are now available for The 13th Annual Patté Awards for Theater Excellence, a gala community celebration that honors the Best of the Best of strictly local stage talent. The high-energy evening includes a sit-down dinner and electrifying musical numbers from 2009 theater productions. If you’re a theatermaker, a theatergoer or a theaterlover, you’ll be there. Monday, January 18, 2010. Tickets are at www.thepattefoundation.org.
… Techno-Dreams: Chronos Theatre Group presents a staged reading of the 1921 Czech sci-fi classic, “R.U.R.,” (Rostrum’s Universal Robots), by Karel Capek. The play introduced the word “robot” to the world. Capek’s robots are different from modern robots; his were biological machines engineered like Frankenstein’s creature. They have skin mixed in a vat; their nerves and digestive tracts are spun on spindles and then they’re assembled like cars. These android-like ‘artificial people’ are at first seemingly happy to be subordinate to people, but soon, there’s a hostile robot rebellion that leads to the end of the human race and the beginning of a new breed. See it before you’re obliterated. Monday, Dec. 7 at 7:30 p.m., Swedenborg Hall, 1531 Tyler Ave. , University Heights .
… Will and Abe: The San Diego Shakespeare Society and Write Out Loud are presenting “Lincoln’s Shakespeare,” adapted from a scholarly essay, “Steeped in Shakespeare,” which examines The Bard’s influence on the President. Vanessa Dinning and Walter Ritter prepared the adaptation, which will be read aloud and enhanced by excerpts from the plays. Veronica Murphy directs. December 8 at Cygnet Theatre in Old Town . Info at www.writeoutloudsd.com or www.sandiegoshakespearesociety.org
… Will and John: The Intrepid Shakespeare Company’s “Free Will” series of FREE staged readings continues with “King John,” directed by Jonathan McMurtry , featuring Eric Poppick in the title role, with Glyn Bedington , Sean Cox , Austyn Myers, Christy Yael and Monique Gaffney and others. Monday, Nov. 30 at 8 p.m. The Theatre Inc., 899 C Street (9th & C) downtown. www.intrepidshakespeare.com
PAT’S PICKS: BEST BETS
“Bonnie and Clyde ” – an evolving new musical that has a good deal to offer (but still needs work)
La Jolla Playhouse, through 12/20
“The Seafarer” – spooky, eerie, funny and even thought-provoking; excellent ensemble
San Diego Repertory Theatre, through 12/13
“The Foreigner” – hilarious production of a crazy, goofball comedy
Moonlight Stage Productions at the Avo Theatre, through 11/29
“ Holiday Memories” – sweet and nostalgic
Scripps Ranch Theatre, through 12/12
“Picasso at the Lapin Agile” – marvelous production of a sprightly, funny, imaginative play
New Village Arts , through 12/6
Read Review here: http://www.sdnn.com/sandiego/2009-11-18/things-to-do/theater-things-to-do/picasso-into-the-woods-two-gentlemen-theater-reviews-and-news
Pat Launer is the SDNN theater critic.
To read any of her prior reviews, type ‘Pat Launer’ into the SDNN Search box.