Saturday, December 29, 2018

Special (review)

Spoilers ahoy!

For those of you who don't know, in the wake of the very first Star Wars movie back in the 1970s, a Thanksgiving special was produced and was aired exactly once.  It had problems, so many that George Lucas exerted a great deal of energy preventing it from ever being aired again.  He sought hard to prevent it ever from being seen.  Certainly no official VHS or DVD was or is forthcoming. 

Special by Andrew Osbourne is about the making of that special, about a train wreck of talent and skill and myopia as well as raw misunderstandings turned into a dark comedy, almost but not quite a farce.

The elements involved include about forty characters, all with different motives and viewpoints about the special, what it should have been, what they were trying to do. whether anyone should and/or who should be blamed and why.  Frankly George Lucas did not want to do this special, but when he came up with a framework for it, i.e. the Wookies celebrating a holiday called Life Day, the studio execs and others were baffled.  Lucas, deep in the heart of preparations for The Empire Strikes Back. wanted next to nothing to do with television and felt overwhelmed, especially since he was/is a control freak now in charge of a gigantic process/franchise of whom all his film director friends disapproved. 

Credit: Kerr Seth Lordygan
So the execs try to push on with a director who'd never worked with American television before and organized everything for a one camera film shoot, a diverse team of writers brought in who prepared things for Harvey Korman and Bea Arthur, over twenty minutes between the Wookies in which not a single word of English was spoken, Harrison Ford not wanting to appear in the thing at all, Carrie Fisher willing if she got to sing (and was high as a kite when she did), the director quitting halfway after they were seriously behind schedule and way over budget, so a new director was brought in from Disney (ironic huh?) only to learn there was no money left to build a major set...

And so on.

Credit: Andrew Osborne
The roller coaster ride involved uses six very talented actors to perform the forty roles, come of them commenting to the audience about what really happened, others playing everything from extras to nerds eagerly awaiting the special, to many of the execs and actors directly involved.  Paris Benjamin for example, plays Carrie Fisher (among others--this goes for EVERYONE in the cast), giving her quite a complex little internal story going on.  Other standouts include Lance Guest who is Harrison Ford as well as one of the directors, Rich Lehmann who is George Lucas, Marty Yu as Harvey Korman as well as two of the execs who are always together on stage--imagine the logistics of that!  Then there's Jennifer Hugus, whose largest role seems to be that of George Lucas' wife, as well as Alex Elliott-Funk, who plays a whole host of different characters--honestly, the sheer number is dizzying. I literally cannot recall all their names, even with the program in front of me.

Which is really a testament to the fact I knew who these people were during the show itself, even if I didn't catch their names.  Each performer walked on and after a while we know who they were by them simply walking on!  You can call this skill, you can call it good directing (by Kerr Seth Lordygan), or natural talent, stage presence, the result of practice.  Hardly matters.  Some combination of "all of the above" seems pretty clearly the answer.

Credit: Andrew Osborne
Honestly, I'm not going to go overboard with praise.  Comedies notoriously prove tricky, and to be honest while I laughed more than once during the show, more often I was just smiling.  Having said that, let me know that smile was a pretty huge grin.  I did not know a lot of this story before, and that in and of itself kept my attention.  The cast achieved a real tour-de-force by creating a huge number of characters vividly.  An achievement worthy of praise!

But neither I nor the audience ever broke up with laughter.  But--more importantly--the show lost not one audience member at intermission, and never once was I bored or less than entertained.

Special by Ol'Bait Productions plays Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 8pm, Sundays at 5pm until January 13, 2019.  It will also have a special New Year's Eve performance on Monday, December 31 at 8pm.  All performances are that Theatre of Note, 1517 N. Cahuenga Blvd. (just north of Sunset), Hollywood CA 90028.

Space Opera for Theatre

I have a special place in my child's heart for space opera.  By that I mean two things.  One, maybe the easiest for most to quickly "get," is that of an epic fantasy in space, a la Star Wars or Babylon 5.  Another flavor of the genre involves more than anything else scale.  Look at Star Trek, at Farscape, at Blake's 7 or for that matter literary works such as David Brin's Earthclan novels, Alastair Reynolds' Revelation Space, Elizabeth Bujold's Vorkosigan Saga.  Yeah, space ships and alien worlds, but also stories that touch upon multiple civilizations, about history in some sense both past and future--especially the future as seen by the characters themselves.

Which is cool, but tricky to do for live theatre.  That saddens me.  But methinks I've stumbled upon a way to make this genre work for stage. Not saying this is the only way (I know for a fact it is not).  But--bear with me for a moment.

Dramatic art needs to be entertaining.  In some way, anyway.  Better than nine times out of ten.  Rather that seek to re-create the big budget extravaganzas which Hollywood makes, why not make a virtue out of the necessity of tiny theatrical budgets?  Look back to the origins of the space opera genre, to the movie serials of the 1930s and 1940s, plus the t.v. shows with Rocky Jones, Space Ranger!  Nothing looks very "real" in any way.  A judicious use of Christmas tree lights and buttons or switches becomes the control for a starship.  Blend modern dress with some stuff from those Shakespeare plays you put on and there it is--the costume of some alien ambassador. 

More importantly, you need not do this as camp or farce at all.

Look at the original series of Star Trek or at least half a dozen episodes of the first Twilight Zone.  They could take a chair, throw a plain wall up, stick some container a lamp came in on the table and call it art.  Put a t.v. monitor in the wall and you can call it the personal quarters of the captain of a starship.  But both told serious stories, despite the pajama top uniforms and beeping lights.  Stories about courage and cowardice, about human prejudice and dealing with real tragedy. 

Even Flash Gordon (the black and white serial) was a sincere if melodramatic tale of a fight for liberty against a tyrant, about different peoples learning to work together against a common oppressor.

The main thing is to take this fictional world with its ray guns and unlikely gadgets seriously.  It makes when you think about it just as much sense as people bursting into song.  So treat it the same way you would Stephen Sondheim's A Little Night Music or Passion.  Apply such seriousness in the writing as well as the performance, allowing the audience to do the same.  Consider how much silliness abounds in many of Shakespeare's comedies--yet nearly all of them carry a melancholy thread.  Likewise most of his tragedies contain quite a bit of humor (Hamlet begins with a Viking warrior afraid of the dark).

Consider also the "Captain Proton" interludes in the series Star Trek: Voyager.  Mostly tiny little vignettes bringing a smile to the lips if not a full laugh.  But when in "Bride of Chaotica" the actions of these fictional beings began to have a real impact, when actual lives were at stake, we suddenly cared!  There was enough to sustain not half a scene but an entire story, and I don't think I was alone in wanting more of the same.  However, after that taste of real drama, Tom Paris' visits to the holodeck with a ray gun and jet pack seemed...lame.

I have already started my own "take" on this idea, even to the point of writing a first draft.  Am actually proud to have found a quasi-scientific justification why a humanoid species would have antennae, and want to make with women from Earth!  But as silly as that idea does sound, the story focuses on finding peace between enemies, on learning to understand each other thus finding a way not to hate, not to kill.

But that is on the back burner.  For now.  Have five other scripts that need priority.  Am letting that one simmer in my unconscious, turning into a hopefully rich stew of ideas and characters and story.  Wanted to share the idea, though, as well as encourage others to maybe use this sort of thing as well.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Clarissant (review)

Spoilers ahoy!

Much as I love the tales of King Arthur, truth to tell I've seen very nearly no dramatizations of it that gave me much joy.  Some novels, yes.  Movies?  No, except maybe Monty Python and the Holy Grail (which got a surprising amount right).  But theatre?  I cannot think of any.

Until now.

Little Candle Productions offers the world premiere of Clarissant by Hailey Bachrach, focusing on a little known figure in Arthur's family--his niece, daughter of Morgause and sister to the knights Gawain (Olivia Choate), Agrivaine (Dawn Alden), Gareth (Kym Allen) and Gaheris (Renee Torchio MaDonald).  She was also sister to Mordred (Whitton Frank), child of incest between Arthur and Morgause..

Now, the story feels compelling enough.  After the fall of Camelot and wars rack what was once a united England, Clarissant (Paula Deming) finds herself the Queen of the Orkney Isles.  In theory.  But something holds her back from even considering a desire to take that throne.  She grew up here, and firmly believes their mother cursed her brothers, dooming Camelot and Arthur's dream.  But did she curse her daughter?  If she did, then to claim that crown will doom this land beyond hope.

Of course her sisters-in-law, widows who have come here for surcease and haven, insist the foolish Orkney Lords will destroy it anyway if left to themselves.  To their surprise Lynette (Linzi Graham) and Lyonor  (Karissa McKinney) find themselves joining Clarissant on a quest back in time, to trace the skein of Morgause's mind and plans, the tragedy of what befell their family in painful detail.

The playwright crafted a wonderful set of characters, making many of these figures vividly alive and individual, rather than the cut-out figures one so often sees.  So thus the tragedy becomes personal rather than abstract.  It isn't about a battle or a dynasty or the failure even of a noble dream.  Rather, it is about guilt and personal loss.  About human beings who make choices which in hindsight seem so full of horror, yet at the time feel and felt totally justified, even maybe wise.

How such a story comes to be told, proves as important as events.

Using the magic of her family, of her mother and grandmothers, of her aunts and great grand mothers, Clarissant allows the past to come back and spill into the present.  The characters are many, with the five brothers taking on many roles, including Guenevere and Lancelot, King Arthur and even Morgause herself.  This means (in this production certainly, although it might easily be part of the script) an all female cast.  A nice emphasis on the idea of seeing the history through a different set of eyes.

And I cannot emphasize enough how director Allison Darby Gorjian and the whole cast so wonderfully meet their challenges.  Every single character displays a startling range of nuance, conveyed in an array of body languages, voices, sometimes costume but mostly via intention.  As a result even when one actor plays two knights we know which is which within seconds, sometimes less.

All of this in service to a story, a personal quest not for a grail or some magic sword, but for something less tangible, yet more obviously useful.  A young woman of great intelligence finds herself seated on her homeland's throne.  What she needs most is some clue what do there.

Well, do we not all desire as much?  Is that not what myth and legend is all about?

All performances of Clarissant are pay-what-you-can.

Performances are Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm, Sundays at 2pm, at the Atwater Village Theatre 3269 Casitas Avenue, Los Angeles 90039.

The Black Hole (review)

Spoilers ahoy!

Dark humor can be like threading a needle while tap-dancing.  Honestly I have seen many attempts which simply did not work.  More, this cannot help but prove personal, very personal.  Haven't we all had that experience of feeling not the slightest impulse to smile while other around us laughed their heads off?

So what follows is a personal reaction.  Read it carefully, to learn whether The Black Hole by Michael Sargent is your cup of tea.  Or cocaine-laced scotch.  Take your pick.

The title refers to a gay club in 1980s San Francisco, one dedicated to excess in many forms, complete with a dimly lit maze within which one can get lost (and see things that might shock).  Here a young man named Turk (Spencer Gilbard) comes looking for a job.  The owner, one Fred West (Barry Del Sherman) deadpan with an edgy melancholy, hires him and clearly this is because he finds the young man attractive.  His boyfriend/business partner Joey Aspen (Craig Robert Young) clearly recognizes this as well, but their relationship is...well, complex.  As becomes increasingly obvious.

Credit: Kari Van Meeteren
What follows is dark humor spiraling into ever greater darkness and hilarity.  Not only in terms of jokes or simply funny lines--although some of those almost shocked me!  My fave, equal parts camp and perversion while utterly revealing of more than one character, must be Joey's complain about Fred's drinking getting out of control  "When you pee on me, I want it to be with intent!" 

Very cleverly, the play doesn't begin there, but rather descends while cranking up not only the comedy but the drama!  Will the porn star show up at the club's grand re-opening?  Is someone stealing from the club and if so, who?  Who is Turk, anyway?  For that matter, who is Fred?  The good looking guy in the cowboy duds, we know who he is--Bill Dakota (Brad Lewis), Joey's drug dealer.

And I just kept laughing!  Even when my eyes popped or my jaw dropped at some casual mention of perversion, corruption, kinky gossip, or uber-jaded suggestion--I laughed.  Sometimes I squirmed, and there was even a moment near the end when my flesh crawled a little bit.  This involved Turk's wife Bambi (Jordyn Holt) whom up till now no one believed it, until she shows up looking for him with news.  But even that savage bit of darkness still felt funny!

Credit: Kari Van Meeteren
So let me praise the skills of cast and writer/director alike.  Even telling one joke requires a precise set of timing.  Milking one joke for nuance proves a whole 'nother level.  To live in a comedic world successfully for an hour or more, as an ensemble, that ups the game one more time--one reason so many full length comedies use such obvious, formulaic humor (and it can still fail all too easily).  But to do all that while straddling the often razor-sharp line between laughs and horror (or shock, or disgust, or even mere queasiness) takes precision plus skill.  That is what this cast manages, and another way you can tell how well they are managing it is the lack of frenzy.  You know that old joking piece of advice in theatre "Faster! Louder! Funnier!"?  Well, that has proven a way to make things funny!  More impressive is a slow burn, the pauses and silences not empty but waiting, pregnant with unease, first from uncertainty and then from anticipation.

The Black Hole plays Wednesdays and Thursdays at 8:30pm through December 20, 2018 at Zombie Joe's Underground, 4850 Lankershim Blvd. (just south of the NoHo sign), North Hollywood CA 91601.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Richard III in 2019

As the year draws to a close, please indulge this announcement.  I am getting ready to direct my favorite Shakespeare play, Richard III.  More details will follow, but look for a premiere on Theatre Row in April 2019.

Been talking about his for ages, and lately a lot of folks have expressed plenty of interest.  Twice I've done versions of an edit of the script, with increasing excitement by those involved.

This will mark the first full stage production by a new company, THEATREanon!  

So much I could say--and will--but let me give this much of a hint.  Imagine a nation torn in half, families fighting within themselves, implacable hatred leading to one terrible act after another.

A nation at war with itself.

Now imagine a human monster who sees all this as nothing but an opportunity...


Wednesday, December 5, 2018

King Lear (review)

Spoilers ahoy!

Mentioned to a friend I was going to see ZJU's King Lear and referred to it as "Shakespeare's darkest play."  My friend disagreed, insisting that title goes to Titus Andronicus.  But as he listed the reasons why, I interrupted to clarify.  The one is easily the most brutal, the most violent, but that to my mind is not quite so dark. 

Here's what I mean.

King Lear (Robert A. Prior) is not an obvious tyrant.  Indeed he has inspired vast loyalty in those outside his family.  Those around him are not all habitually brutal or selfish.  Albany (Christopher Sonafelt), Gloucester (Paul Carpenter), and Kent (Tom Trudgeon) to name three are mighty, powerful Lords who are clearly honorable, ever striving to be fair and just.  While Regan (April Sigman-Marx) and her husband Cornwall (Anthony Feole) are evidently not the nicest people, they don't seem guilty of any great crimes when the play opens.

But--Lear did just one thing wrong.  One thing.  One very human mistake.  He banished his youngest and most honest daughter Cordelia (Carlita Penaherrera) because she wouldn't flatter him enough--and then to compound the error he gave all his power away.  Yes, he was tired and old.  He wanted to bestow upon younger hands the dreadful burden of office.  There's even a hint he realized his danger, at the start of the play.

Credit: Denise Devin
So human frailty leads to utter catastrophe.

Because Goneril (Sasha Ilford), the eldest of his daughters, proves to be one of those who obeys the law out of fear.  Once her father can do nothing to stop her, she finds reasons to strip him of protection, of status, self-respect or even the trappings of power.  Regan and Cornwall follow suit.  Once it starts, the floodgates open until Gloucester's eyes are put out for simply showing compassion to his King. 

Likewise Gloucester makes a mistake as well, believing the evidence presented to him about his legitimate son Edgar (Christian Sullivan) manufactured by the illegitmate Edmund (Saint Ranson). 

Civilization, honor, loyalty, compassion--crumbling into random cruelty and greed at what?  Just a few mistakes.  The kind of mistakes we all make sooner or later.  We get in a bad mood and misjudge someone.  Look upon evidence and come to the wrong conclusion.

Credit: Denise Devin
The world of King Lear has all the virtues and good things of life.  What makes the story so dark is how fragile all that proves.  Society dissolves into chaos.  Because an old man got cranky.  Peace became war.  Because another old man made a mistake.  Yet is it really all down to Lear and Gloucester?

What if Cordelia had swallowed her pride and given the old man what he wanted to hear?  Or if Edgar had insisted upon staying to defend himself?  Albany proves a strangely ineffectual figure, and his lack of ambition seems to prevent him from countering his wife's plans until his hand is forced.  He could have done much.  In fact, although in theory at the end he should sit on the throne he wants to give it away!

Still, is this all it takes to strip away the humane and reveal the human beast?

Credit: Denise Devin
In the play, the answer seems to be "Yes."  And given recent events, can we doubt this is true?  If you doubt it, think back three years.  Yeah.  That is all it takes.

Darkness.  That light and hope can prove so fragile.

This production isn't doing anything especially different in design or concept.  I love things like that and director Denise Devin has done that aplenty in the past (often to wonderful effect).  This time she went with a perfectly straightforward idea, with quasi-medieval costumes (and fantastic ones they were too!) and a simple edit of the text.  Everyone--even the actors in relatively small roles like Gilbert Roy DeLeon, Ryan Lisman, Luc Rosenthal--simply did their parts, allowing the power of the story to work.  In this one that is what happened.  And that story warned us of just how dark the shadows really are, and how foolish we are to suppose light has banished them away. 

King Lear plays Sundays at 7pm and Mondays at 8pm until December 17, 2018 at Zombie Joe's Underground, 4850 Lankershim Blvd (just south of the NoHo sign), North Hollywood CA 91601.

Plays I Want to See - Dec. 2018

Again, I was asked about what plays I'd like to see produced here in Los Angeles that I have not. Sooo...

The Duchess of Malfi, by John Webster, is probably the best-known Jacobean Tragedy (although one might make the argument Shakespeare's Hamlet deserves that title).  It has all the wonderfully macabre ingredients including extreme duplicity, sexual perversion, madness real and/or feigned, a huge body count at the end.  More to the point, it is a portrait of a world without either loyalty or compassion, where preening greedy cowards rule and corrupt all they touch.  One might well view this as especially topical at the moment.  The tale focuses on a young widow who has fallen in love with a gentleman who serves her--over the objections of her twin brother the Duke and their elder brother the (very) corrupt Cardinal.  At the center of the play lies Bosolo, a brilliant but cynical rogue who would in truth rather be honest and honorable.  Yet he is the one who actually commits the crimes commanded by the brothers.  Haven't seen a production of this play for years and years and years.

Let the Right One In, by Matt Thorne, based on the novel by Jan Alvide Linqvist.  Widely regarded as the best vampire tale since Anne Rice's first novel, LTROI has been adapted into two films and two stage plays.  The English language one premiered at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, then did a run in London before landing in New York.  It tells of Oscar, an unhappy (and very angry) bullied little boy who finds one night another twelve year old has moved next door--a girl name Eli.  But Eli is not a girl.  She's a vampire, lonely beyond words.  A strange, touching love story full of horror and hope in equal measure.  Would adore seeing this play in person.

Love's Labours Lost (review)

Spoilers ahoy!

After two earlier productions by Chase What Flies, I can safely say I was looking forward to their latest, Love's Labor's Lost.  Adding to the fun, never having seen this particular work (generally seen as one of Shakespeare's lightest comedies) my expectations were nill.


Essentially the story deals with the King of Navarre (Doug Harvey) and his three male companions who have vowed to eschew pleasure and the company of women for three years of intense study.  Dumain (Kelvin Morales) and Longaville (John Cody Fasano) feel at least as much enthusiasm as their monarch while Berowne (Jordon Klomp) hesitates hard.  In the end, he signs the vow with a confident prediction--he will be the last of the four to violate it.

He proves to be the first.  But the King is second, as news arrives of the Princess of France (Tiana Randall-Quant) coming to court on an important diplomatic mission.  One look is all it takes, as the King falls for the Princess--just as Berowne falls for Rosaline (Julie Lanctot) one of the Princess' companions who has in fact seen the young Lord prior.  The Princess of course has two more companions, Maria (Maia Luer) and Katherine (Megan Ruble).  Well, of course she does.  You saw that coming, didn't you?

Everyone else did.  They also have a sharp-tongued male courtier along, named Boyet (William Gray Schierholt).

Of course it wouldn't be a Shakespeare comedy without lots more supporting characters of all varieties:  Don Armado (Kristina Mueller), a silly foreign knight, plus his clever squire Moth (Ken Ivy), the winsome young local girl Jaquenetta (Talya Sindel) whom the knight has fallen for, plus of course the clever but not wise local lad Costard (Cameron Rose) who also longs for her.  Add to this two local pedants, Sir Nathaniel (Kaite Brandt) and Holofernes (Tippi Thomas).

But stealing much of the show is Dull, one of the King's rangers or groundskeepers (Alex Sheldon) who listens with such a marvelous combination of puzzlement and pathos I rarely could take my eyes off of him. Although to be fair, the entire cast did as much for pretty much every moment.

In cinematic terms, the whole comes across as a blend of the most delightful farces and romcoms of all time.  The cast and director Taylor Jackson Ross clearly aim for this, and achieve it.  The sweetness of the silly love stories, the antic goings on, the misadventures--at one time involving a lot of wonderfully inventive masks and costumes--work all the better for a dashes here and there of the bittersweet.  A moment of casual cruelty by someone who isn't generally cruel.  A reminder of personal tragedy.  A human moment of humiliation.  But amid trap doors, wit, practical jokes on top of practical jokes, the wise and foolish as well as the high and low spouting what they think is wisdom and what they hope is true love.

On top of all that, as in the best of the Bard's comedies, come a melancholy event to bring everyone back to the real world.  Characters, no less than the audience, must leave the carefree hours of courtship and play.  Return to a world where consequences await--and lovers require more than verses to prove themselves.  The name of the play after all is Love's Labours Lost, not Won.  But there is a note of hope after all.  While the story ends with only one marriage--not among any of the highborn, not coincidentally--it offers the possibility of more.  Eventually.

That we feel that is part of what makes this such a fine and franky beautiful show.

Loves Labour's Lost plays Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm, Sundays at 3pm until December 16, 2018 at the Lounge Theatre, 6201 Santa Monica Blvd (one block east of Vine), Hollywood CA 90038.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

White Nights, Black Paradise (review)

Spoilers ahoy!

I was 18 years old when the news came out, about a community of Americans in the Guyana, what looked like a cult, who killed a US Congressman then committed mass suicide.  Don't think I was alone in feeling deep shock.  Still do.  Almost every depiction since then, at least the one's I've seen, focused on the Congressman, on Reverend Jim Jones, on maybe a few people trying to escape.  Never once have I seem much focus on what Sikivu Hutchinson's play does--the ordinary members of the People's Temple and why they joined.

White Nights, Black Paradise aims to accomplish much--recreating a bizarre and sprawling series of events that in truth stretched back decades, and thousands of individuals each with a personal history and story.  Not easy.  Not impossible, but a difficult challenge.  Honestly the success ends up mixed.

What works in the play usually works very well indeed.  More than anything it seems to capture a feel of rampant racism and despair, a desperate sense of being under attack which would be the African American communities in 1970s San Francisco (and likewise the United States, even what we like to call Western Civilization).  "There is a war going on" characters tell each other, and as events progress we see why they say that.  Nor are they wrong.  Such an atmosphere stayed with me when I left the theatre.

More, I really want to heap some praise on most of the cast, especially those involved in what ends up the personal core of the plot.  Taryn (Darnell Rhea Williams) and Hy Strayer (Charlotte Williams) are sisters fleeing Indiana (where, not coincidentally Jones had his start) for the relative comfort and hope of the Golden Gate.  They arrive as the establishment is cracking down on the advances made by African Americans, determined to take what they've achieved, making a profit by wrecking the lives of the non-whites.

Sound familiar?

Now Taryn and Hy come to the People's Temple simply to get some hot food for free.  There they meet Jess McPherson (Elvinet Piard) a fierce and strong advocate of the Temple, and sparks fly pretty soon with the elder sister.  In time Hy begins going out with Foster Sutcliffe (Scott T. Patrick Williams) a sometimes Temple member increasingly seen as an outside, an enemy of those loyal to Jones.

Unfortunately this personal story ends up out of balance with a more stylized, broad series of presentations which all too often do not work, with a kind of Greek Chorus commenting in ways that often  seem random.  In fact the whole production lacks a certain focus, mostly in terms of individual stories and characters.  The play was almost ended before I realized certain actors were playing more than one character, for example.  Events eventually rush to a conclusion that seems almost to come out of nowhere--although this might be at least a problem with the direction, because momentum often stumbled.  Likewise a sense of place was lacking, nearly throughout.  Likewise I must say most the Temple Leadership, espeically Jones, came across as essentially identical at the start of the play as they were at the end.

I cannot say this play is not worth seeing.  It continues to haunt me, which remains surely its most important purpose.  But it was very confusing a lot of the time, and I think could use some work-shopping to hone the text into a more focused whole.  Given its topicality, the way it opens one's eyes to what had been unseen, the potential, I hope this happens.  While moving, I believe this play could pack a very powerful punch indeed.  Right now it only a slap in the face, instead of hitting your chest so hard the heart stops for a second.

White Nights, Black Paradise plays Saturday at 8pm and Sunday at 3pm until December 3, 2018 at the Hudson Theatre. 6539 Santa Monica Blvd, Hollywood CA 90038.