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  • gilwilson 1:55 PM on May 27, 2019 Permalink | Reply  

    “Intelligence-Slave” by Kenneth Lin 

    By: Kenneth Lin
    Narrated by: Garret Dillahunt, Joe Spano, Josh Stamberg, Daniel Stewart, Nick Toren, Matthew Wolf
    Length: 1 hr and 9 mins
    Published June 2015 by L.A. Theatre Works

    No matter how hard I try, I don’t think in my lifetime I could ever get through all the productions of super high quality theatrical productions from LATW, but I’m giving it a good try.

    This story is one of triumph and sadness. The biggest sadness is that Curt Herzstark is being held captive by the Nazis during WWII in a salt mine (to avoid damage from bombings).  Herzstark is working on perfecting a hand calculator, but knowing what the Nazis are doing he doesn’t want to finish the project.  Could a hand calculator have meant victory for the Germans in the war?  Probably, maybe, but why take that chance.

    Herzstark is sent a German Soldier, who, after a head injury, is able to do high function math in his brain.  This will  be the test as to whether Herzstark’s invention will work or not.  The two live in the mine under deplorable conditions but much better than the concentration camp prisoners above ground are enduring.  The soldier soon helps develop the solution to get the calculator to fully function, but at the same time the soldier develops problems of his own.

    In a play where the atrocities of the Nazis is not greatly represented yet still touched on, the listener will still get that feeling of doom and gloom yet have those uplifting moments where humanity can shine.

    Publisher’s Summary
    The story of Curt Herzstark, an Austrian industrialist and concentration camp prisoner who was sent by the Nazis to an underground salt mine during the war. While in captivity he continued his experiments with a device that would eventually become the hand-held calculator.

    An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast recording, starring Garret Dillahunt, Joe Spano, Josh Stamberg, Daniel Stewart, Nick Toren, and Matthew Wolf. Directed by Matt August and recorded before a live audience by L.A. Theatre Works.

    Intelligence-Slave is part of L.A. Theatre Works’ Relativity Series featuring science-themed plays. Major funding for the Relativity Series is provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, to enhance public understanding of science and technology in the modern world.

    ©2015 Kenneth Lin (P)2015 L.A Theatre Works

  • gilwilson 3:50 PM on May 23, 2019 Permalink | Reply  

    “Fabulation or The Re-education of Undine” By Lynn Nottage 

    45284867Fabulation or The Re-education of Undine
    By: Lynn Nottage
    Narrated by: Charlayne Woodard, Full Cast
    Length: 1 hr and 50 mins
    Published December 22nd 2005 by L.A. Theatre Works

    Here it is, your typical Rags to Riches back to Rags again story.  Okay maybe not so typical but definitely an adventure in coming back down to Earth and reality from the maddening world of fame.

    Undine Barnes is a famous publicist that hangs with all the jet-setters (is that still a thing?) whose family died in a tragic fire.  Going to all the best parties, endless credit, and everyone is below here.  That is, until her con-man husband drains all her accounts and goes missing.  Soon the FBI is investigating him for global fraud and she is left penniless and shunned by the society which surrounded her and created her fame.

    We soon find out her family didn’t die, they just live in the projects and her grandmother is addicted to heroin, but the family just thinks she’s diabetic.  Undine moves back in with her family and soon learns she is pregnant.  She soon gets busted trying to buy heroin for her grandmother and is forced into a 12 step group and soon learns the power of humility.

    Once again this is another outstanding performance produced by L.A. Theatre works.


    Publisher’s Summary
    Knocked-up and seriously broke, a successful publicist is plunged into a topsy-turvy world of welfare mothers and drug addicts, and forced to confront the family she left behind. Fabulation is a darkly comic rags-to-riches-to-rags tale of falling down and reaching up to find the goodness within.
    Starring (in alphabetical order):

    Daniel Breaker as Flow, Dealer, Ensemble
    Saidah Arrika Ekulona as Allison, Mother, Ensemble
    Jon Matthews as Accountant, Addict #1, Ensemble
    Gary Perez as Herve, Guy, Ensemble
    Melle Powers as Stephie, Counselor, Rosa, Ensemble
    Myra Lucretia Taylor as Grandma/Ensemble
    John Wesley as Yoruba Priest, Father, Ensembe
    Charlayne Woodard as Undine

    (P)2005 L.A. Theatre Works. All Rights Reserved.

  • gilwilson 4:05 PM on May 22, 2019 Permalink | Reply  

    “Donny’s Brain” By Rona Munro 

    28413432Donny’s Brain
    By: Rona Munro
    Narrated by: Paul Fox, Jared Harris, Siobhán Hewlett, Moira Quirk, Sophie Winkleman
    Length: 1 hr and 27 mins
    Published January 15th 2016 by LA Theatre Works

    I’m pretty sure what I like most about these productions from LATW is that they are usually only about 1.5 to 2 hours in length and have as much entertainment and depth as any novel.

    This play pretty much asks the question of who we are, and attempts to let the listener decide whether our memories make up who we are.

    Donny wakes up from a car crash in the hospital with a portion of his brain gone.  This portion seems to be the memories from the last 3 years in his life.  During that time a lot has happened to Donny but he has no way of knowing for sure.  He doesn’t remember his wife but he thinks he is still living with his girlfriend and his daughter.  A doctor is using this case for research and invites the girlfriend in (which she wants no part of) and tries to help Donny rebuild those memories.

    Donny’s wife is determined to help him remember their life and is not sure whether the old girlfriend’s memories are helping Donny.  In fact, it seems that the pain of their breakup may actually be making Donny’s condition worse.

    Great performances and great unanswered mysteries of the human mind are what make this play a must listen.

    Publisher’s Summary
    The acclaimed Scottish playwright Rona Munro has created a remarkable story about a man who wakes up from a car crash with brain damage. Now he sees the world as the person he was three years ago, when his life and loves were in a very different place.

    This play is part of L.A. Theatre Works’ Relativity Series, featuring science-themed plays. Major funding for the Relativity Series is provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, to enhance public understanding of science and technology in the modern world.

    An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast production starring Paul Fox, Jared Harris, Siobhán Hewlett, Moira Quirk, and Sophie Winkleman. Directed by Martin Jarvis and recorded at The Invisible Studios, West Hollywood.

    ©2015 Rona Munro (P)2015 L.A. Theatre Works

  • gilwilson 3:53 PM on May 21, 2019 Permalink | Reply  

    “Divided We Fall” By Trent Reedy 

    30050130Divided We Fall
    By: Trent Reedy
    Narrated by: Andrew Eiden
    Series: Divided We Fall, Book 1
    Length: 10 hrs and 42 mins
    Published February 2014 by Scholastic

    When I first picked out this audiobook I was thinking; well, another YA dystopian fiction series, I’ll probably just read the first one and move on.   It seems all YA fiction these days are dystopian or supernatural so why do we need another?  Oh well let’s give it a chance.

    Well, for some reason Trent Reedy has me now looking out for the next 2 in the trilogy.  This book is written from the point of view of a 17 year old boy in his senior year in high school and with the opening lines being; “I am Private First Class Daniel Christopher Wright.  I am seventeen years old.  And I fired the shot that ended the United States of America.” you can’t help but be at least a little curious.  From that opening line forward this audiobook is addictive.  From the outstanding performance of the narrator, Andrew Eiden, to the clips of audio that are from tv and radio newscasts, this audiobook submerges you into Daniel’s world and how it all falls apart.

    This near future fiction could actually be happening now, many of the political statements seem as though we’re hearing them in the news in real life now.  The premis is that the President of the U.S. has declared that all citizens must carry a federal I.D. card.  This card not only keeps all your information, but, and here’s the catch, it also has a geotracker built in.  The president says that the tracker would only be used if the card is lost, but the Governor of Idaho sees the potential for misuse and declares his state immune.

    When protesters begin to surround the capital building in Boise, the governor calls out the national guard to keep everyone safe, the problem is some of the protesters are armed and some people die.  Unfortunately for Daniel Wright he is hit by a rock and accidentally discharges his weapon.  The president wants the National Guard Members arrested for murder, but the governor intends to keep the soldiers safe.

    This book ends with a super-surprise ending that leads to the rest of the books in the trilogy and leaves the reader/listener wanting more.

    Publisher’s Summary
    From the author of Words in the Dust: an action packed YA novel set in a frighteningly plausible near future, about what happens when the States are no longer United.

    Danny Wright never thought he’d be the man to bring down the United States of America. In fact, he enrolled in the National Guard because he wanted to serve his country the way his father did. When the Guard is called up on the governor’s orders to police a protest in Boise, it seems like a routine crowd control mission… but then Danny’s gun misfires, spooking the other soldiers and the already fractious crowd. By the time the smoke clears, 12 people are dead. The president wants the soldiers arrested. The governor swears to protect them. And as tensions build on both sides, the conflict slowly escalates toward the unthinkable: a second American civil war.

    With political questions that are popular in American culture yet rare in YA fiction, and a plot that’s both excitingly provocative and frighteningly plausible, Divided We Fall will be Trent Reedy’s very timely YA debut.

    ©2014 Trent Reedy (P)2014 Scholastic Inc.

  • gilwilson 3:23 PM on May 20, 2019 Permalink | Reply  

    “Copenhagen” By Michael Frayn 

    By: Michael Frayn
    Narrated by: Alfred Molina, David Krumholtz, Shannon Cochran
    Length: 2 hrs and 3 mins
    Published March 1st 2013 by LA Theatre Works

    First off, I have to send high praise to the folks at L.A. Theatre Works.  Every single performance I hear from them is just superb.  This is the second performance featuring one of my favorite actors, Alfred Molina.  Sure, he was Doc Ock in the Raimi Spider-man 2 movie, but I’m pretty sure I’d be a fan of his anyway.  He has a way of delivering subtlety and over the top characters any time he wishes and sometimes within the same role.  He isn’t the only reason for the quality of art created by L.A. Theatre works, they have a way of recording that puts the listener in the middle of the performance without a feeling of loss of “seeing” the action.

    This play covers the meeting shadowed by intrigue between Werner Heisenberg and Niels Bohr.  When it comes to atomic/nuclear weaponry those two names were important without them we would not have been able to drop the bombs which ended WWII.  But the world could have looked a lot different had Nazi Germany developed the bomb first.  Heisenberg was with Hitler at the time of this mystery meeting.  What was discussed, did that meeting affect the outcome?  Did Bohr help slow down Heisenberg’s progress because of this meeting?

    This play is perfect for the physics enthusiast or history enthusiast and the plain old humanitarian.  The underlying use of theories in relation to humanity was cleverly done and made the meaning a lot deeper.

    Publisher’s Summary
    How different would the world have looked had the Nazis been the first to build an atomic bomb? Werner Heisenberg, one of Hitler’s lead nuclear scientists, famously and mysteriously met in Copenhagen with his colleague and mentor, Niels Bohr, one of the founders of the Manhattan Project. Michael Frayn’s Tony Award-winning drama imagines their reunion. Joined by Niels’ wife, Margrethe, these three brilliant minds converge for an encounter of atomic proportions.

    An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring:

    Alfred Molina as Niels Bohr

    Shannon Cochran as Margrethe Bohr

    David Krumholtz as Werner Heisenberg

    Directed by Martin Jarvis. Recorded before a live audience at the James Bridges Theater at UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television in November, 2011.

    Copenhagen is part of L.A. Theatre Works’ Relativity Series featuring science-themed plays. Major funding for the Relativity Series is provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to enhance public understanding of science and technology in the modern world.

    ©2012 L.A. Theatre Works (P)2012 L.A. Theatre Works

  • gilwilson 4:18 PM on May 3, 2019 Permalink | Reply  

    “Captain Marvel: Higher, Further, Faster” By Liza Palmer 

    43659674“Captain Marvel: Higher, Further, Faster”
    By Liza Palmer
    Narrated by: Sarah Mollo-Christensen
    Length: 5 hrs and 48 mins
    Published March 5th 2019 by Listening Library

    So now that we have all seen “Captain Marvel” and “Avengers: Endgame” it’s time to visit those heroes.  Wait, you haven’t seen those movies?  What are you waiting for? They are meant to be seen on the big screen. Go!  Now!

    Anyway, the one thing I love about all my childhood heroes being on the big screen is that I get to tell people that I was a fan since way back when they were just a series of colored dots on a newsprint stock paper.  (That’s some old comics, right there.)  There are a few that I was familiar with but never really read their stories.  I mean realistically Spider-Man was all I really wanted, and when he’d appear in other comics I would read those.  So, when all the heroes come to life I get to go back and revisit those titles to see what I missed.  I remember a bit about Mar-Vell (who later gave Carol Danvers his power) but really that’s pretty much my extent of knowledge of Captain Marvel.  I will be going back to some of those comics soon to get educated in the ways of Captain Marvel, but in the meantime I ran across this audiobook which gives the Carol Danvers back story.

    This book covers the origin of Carol Danvers and how she became heroic before becoming a super-hero.  Danvers starts out at the US Air Force Academy and wants to become the first female fighter pilot.  Unfortunately women don’t fly combat in today’s military.  Danvers is out to change that.  This book tells of the struggles and realities of today’s misogynistic society especially in the military.  There are no Super heroes or Super villians, but heroes and villians are present.  Danvers soon learns there are ways around the system but not to beat the system, rather to do what you can when forces stand in your way.

    This makes for a great prequel to the movie and we learn what makes our soon to be Captain Marvel tick and how it becomes inevitable she saves the world.  This book would also make a great gift to the any young woman who will soon set out on her own to change the world.


    Publisher’s Summary
    Carol Danvers kicks off her US Air Force career with her first year at flight school, where she’ll be tested in ways she never thought possible – and make a lifelong friend, Maria Rambeau, in the process – in this atmospheric and exciting prelude to the upcoming Marvel Studios film Captain Marvel!

    Focusing on Carol Danvers and Maria Rambeau as they wend their way through a space that was still very much a “boys’ club” in the ’80s, the important sociocultural themes explored in this novel are sure to draw in not only fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but listeners of social-issue-focused YA who gravitate toward relatable protagonists learning to navigate the world around them and to succeed in the face of seemingly insurmountable adversity.

    ©2019 Liza Palmer (P)2019 Listening Library

  • gilwilson 5:36 PM on May 2, 2019 Permalink | Reply  

    “Completeness” By Itamar Moses 

    By Itamar Moses
    Narrated by: Mia Barron, Jason Ritter, Mandy Siegfried, Andre Sogliuzzo
    Length: 2 hrs and 3 mins
    Published January 15th 2012 by LA Theatre Works

    Once again I get fully immersed in a stage play that was produced for audio from L.A. Theatre Works.  This was a fun little play that pretty much is like every RomCom.  Boy meets girl, boy writes algorithm for girl, girl and boy are both insecure when it comes to relationships and science prevails.

    Well, it is a RomCom of sorts.  The fun in this play is that it part of the L.A. Theatre Works’ Relativity Series featuring science-themed plays.  The mixing of computer science and biology make for a great metaphor for human relationships that have to work with logic and emotion.  Elliot is a Computer Science grad student who meets Molly at the computer lab and he offers to write an algorithm for her to help with her graduate work.  They are both fresh out of a relationship that has left them vulnerable and defensive.  Through the play they develop a romance that seems doomed by their own emotions and experiences.  It doesn’t help that Molly’s old relationship is with her grad school sponsor and he threatens to have her funding removed.

    Once again the performance is produced to perfection in that it places you in the middle of the audience.  The quality of all the LATW plays I’ve heard is superb and this play is no exception.  Jason Ritter as Elliot is the main reason I picked this play to take in this time around and he plainly nails it as Elliot.

    Publisher’s Summary
    A play about love between gun-shy young scientists! Just how does a computer scientist romance a molecular biologist? Elliot offers to build a computer program to help Molly with her latest research project, but they discover that love just might be the winning formula – if they can only move beyond their fear and past heartbreak.

    An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring:

    Jason Ritter as Elliot;

    Mandy Siegfried as Molly;

    André Sogliuzzo as Don and Franklin;

    Mia Barron as Lauren and Nell.

    Directed by Stephen Sachs. Recorded before a live audience at the James Bridges Theater at UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television in October, 2011.

    Completeness is part of L.A. Theatre Works’ Relativity Series featuring science-themed plays. Major funding for the Relativity Series is provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to enhance public understanding of science and technology in the modern world.

    ©2012 L.A. Theatre Works (P)2012 L.A. Theatre Works


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