Monday, February 21, 2022

The Rage Fairy (review)


Spoilers ahoy!

Okay, let us  begin with the title.  The Rage Fairy (by Antonia Czinger, who also directed) suggests to me fantasy, and some dark themes.  It also sounds amusing in some way.

What is it like?  All that and more!  More than anything else, this show reminded me of a modern Alice in Wonderland written by a woman sans any dainty Victorian restraint!  Done, it must be said, with considerable skill by all involved!

Holly Anne Mitchell plays the title character, a swirling vortex of neuroses and unrealistic expectations--deeply lonely, prone to over-reacting, all-but-incapable of learning, vastly preferring her fantasy versions of reality to...well, reality.  She is on stage for nearly every one of the ninety minutes which make up the show--and a marathon that proves to be.  She dances, whines, suffers, weeps, laughs in joy and rage, covers the range from seductive to almost-infant which (no coincidence here) makes up the approved roles for women in our current type and style of patriarchy.  But she also has magical powers, as well as being virtually immortal.

This is not a good combination.  It turns out to be a weirdly funny one though, as she decides a Murderer (Isaac Tipton Snyder) she comes across one night is really her soul mate.  He in fact proves to be a serial killer of women who--no surprise--hates yet desires women for sex.  Our heroine believes his excuses about it is all because he never felt love growing up, deciding they are alike!  He agrees she's sexy, and is frightened upon realizing she has powers plus is invulnerable.  But then realizes he can walk all over her and talk her into blaming herself.

Because she is in love, and not even the vengeful ghosts of all his victims (an amazing physical and vocal ensemble performance by Madison Hubler, Lauren Antioch, Ayanda Dube) who wont let our Fairy get any sleep can convince her otherwise.  Tellingly, her Mom (Cassandra Stipes) and Pop (Max Zumstein) don't even try. They just want her to work better at their shop, seeing her as nothing more than an employee.  Once, Mom bewails the fact they didn't make a happy Worker Bee instead of this erratic Rage Fairy, but as Pop points ohut they "didn't have the ingredients."  Honestly lines like that continue to echo inside my head, hours and hours later.

Maybe you can see where this is going?  Amid a surreal dreamscape of the Rage Fairy's world, reflecting our own in perfect distorted clarity, an apocalypse is pretty inevitable.  A Fortune Teller (Megan Colburn) warns about the possibilities.  So too a True Friend (Morgan Lorraine).  To zero avail.

A hilarious feminist version of a Book of Revelations this story is and must be, with a compelling finale where Rage Will Have Its Way, no matter what.

The Rage Fairy plays Saturdays and Sundays 8:30pm until March 13, 2022 at The Sherry Theatre,11052 West Magnolia Blvd., North Hollywood, CA. 91601.

Saturday, February 19, 2022

My Audio Play!


As some of you may know, I am also both a director and a playwright.  Donning both hats, I have directed and produced my audio adaptation of a gothic classic which will premiere March 1, 2022 at 7pm.

Carmilla (the radio play) is not simply an edit of an earlier adaptation of this work.  Rather it is and remains totally new, re-shaped into what I hope is a layered and compelling story.

Today, Saturday, February 19 at 5pm PST myself and the play's leads, Stepy Kamei and Brittney De Leon, will be interviewed by Anthropomantic Fiend.  Link is below.  Hope you listen.  Hope you tune in for the actual show about teh first lesbian vampire in English literature.

Thursday, February 3, 2022

Singing Revolution (review)

Spoilers ahoy!

Estonia.  Odds seem good you don't know where it is, or even that it exists at all.  For the record, it is one of three "Baltic Republics" at the western border of Russia, conquered centuries ago and then re-conquered twice during WWII.  Today it is an independent nation.

I knew that much going into the theatre to see Singing Revolution, a brand new musical (hopefully) on its way (eventually) to Broadway.  The time is 1988, as the Soviet Union begins to crumble away, and Estonians want their freedom, to become an independent state once more, and celebrate/encourage that desire in song!  Central persons as this works its way out are two couples--Taavi Tamm (James Everts) and Sofia Solokov (Bella Hicks), as well as Leena Rebane (Krista Feallock) and Victor Kuznetsov (Lucas Alifano).  Plus Tavvi's mother Mia (Renee Wylder) and Sofia's father Nikolai (Michael Scott Harris).

Both these couples are mixed, i.e. Russian and Estonian.  Which helps make their stories very much a part of the grander, historical tale--and gives the international conflict a human set of faces.  

Everyone in the cast is doing a superb job.  They all act and sing and dance very well, all of them remain in character at 125% energy leves throughout.  All during the show--but especially during the second Act--I felt genuinely moved, so much so there were moments I wanted to look away out of discomfort for the pain these people were enduring.  Likewise many times I felt warmed in my heart, almost to the point of tears.

Clearly, I enjoyed myself.  A lot.

Yet let me issue a few critiques, which seem appropriate so you as an audience member have a full picture.  One may seem subtle but isn't really--I left the theatre knowing only thing about Estonian culture that I did not know going in, namely the colors of their flag.  For all the characters talk about Estonian culture, how much it means to them, how it is under threat, etc. I walked away with nothing about it.  Imagine seeing Evita and having no sense of Argentina.  Or Fiddler on the Roof sans any detail of what it was to be Jewish.  Yes there was some great stuff in the program and the press release, but who wants to do home work to "get" a musical?  Also, frankly, much of music sounds the same--not because the tune or lyrics are that much alike but because they all end up sung in a virtually identical style, i.e. belting every note.  No ballads (that sounded like ballads).  No simmering songs that build tension to set up a scene or conflict.  Instead every single song sounds like a pop anthem a la "We Are The World" or "Fireworks!"  

But I don't want to take away what is just lovely and enjoyable.  The songs are (mostly) very good and none of them are bad.  All the performances, from those mentioned above to the rest of the cast--Anthony Marciona, Peter Van Norden, Adam Wylie, Emily Abeles, Melanie Au-Yeung, Lacey Beegun, Mitchell Lam Hau, Thomas Hollow, Brandon Kallen, Marissa Ruth Mayer, Chet Norment, Brandon Keith Rogers, Kelsey Lee Smith, and Michael Swain-Smith--perform with gusto and authenticity.  There is never a dull moment.  The entwining of personal stories and world-shaking events is done skillfully, even movingly.  I just think the show needs some tinkering to be its best.

You may disagree.  Either way, I hope you'll give this show a chance.

Singing Revolution plays Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm, Sundays at 3pm until February 20, 2022 at the Broadwater Theatre, 6320 Santa Monica Blvd (one block west of Vine), Los Angeles CA 90038.