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  • gilwilson 3:28 PM on January 27, 2021 Permalink | Reply  

    “This Is Our Youth” By Kenneth Lonergan 

    “This Is Our Youth”
    By Kenneth Lonergan
    Narrated by: Mark Ruffalo, Missy Yager, Josh Hamilton
    Length: 1 hr and 41 mins
    Published September 25th 2009 by LA Theatre Works

    This almost could have been me. I was a teen in the Reagan 80s, and well smoking pot was the thing to do. I didn’t live in a big city, my dad wasn’t rich and well, I guess maybe this couldn’t have been me. I never got the chance to steal $15k from my dad when he kicked me out, Instead I joined the Navy. It’s official, nope not me.

    However I do know these people in this play. But first let’s talk about the actors in this performance from L.A. Theatre Works. This is Mark Ruffalo before he was the Incredible Hulk in those Marvel movies. In fact, this production is a reunion of sorts. The original cast from the off broadway original production got back together with the original director to do this show for LATW. I’m sure that when originally performed back in 1996 the actors were closer to the age of the teenagers they portrayed than when getting back together for this performance, but I can tell you that they seemed to fit right back in with those characters.

    Warren (played by Ruffalo) is kicked out of his rich dad’s house. To get revenge he steals $15,000 from his dad and heads to his friend, Dennis’ apartment. The two potsmokers decide they need to get the money back, but Warren has already spent a sizable chunk of the cash. Now they need to get back the money so they can sneak the original amount back into Warren’s dads house. The plan is to buy some cocaine and sell enough to make back their money plus the missing amount and do the rest themselves.

    While Dennis is out getting the coke, Warren gets a visit from Jessica. Jessic and Warren take another chunk of the money and party on the town, even renting out a ritzy hotel room. This just makes it harder to make the money back so the scheming begins.

    I strongly feel this play could be performed even today and still be relevant. If you want a cool theatre audio experience this would be a great choice. If you want to perform a play touching out today’s youth, this play would still be a great choice.

    Once again LATW has brought to life a play to the audio audience that will put you in the middle of the performance.

    Publisher’s Summary
    Starring Mark Ruffalo, Josh Hamilton and Missy Yager, the original cast was reunited for this exclusive L.A. Theatre Works performance of This is Our Youth.
    In 1982, on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, three pot-smoking teenagers are resoundingly rejecting the 1960s ideals of their affluent parents. In hilarious and bittersweet detail, This is Our Youth follows 48 turbulent hours in the lives of three very lost souls at the dawn of the Reagan Era.
    ©2009 L.A. Theatre Works (P)2009 L.A. Theatre Works

     
  • gilwilson 4:05 PM on January 22, 2021 Permalink | Reply  

    “The Explorers Club” By Nell Benjamin 

    The Explorers Club
    By: Nell Benjamin
    Narrated by: Jennifer Westfeldt, David Furr, Lorenzo Pisoni, Carson Elrod, John Getz, Martin Jarvis, David Krumholtz, Matthew Wolf
    Length: 1 hr and 56 mins
    Published June 15th 2014 by LA Theatre Works

    I did not expect this to be funny, I was thinking it was some sort of historical play from L.A. Theatre Works. Maybe it was in a way, but I found myself laughing out loud several times and thoroughly enjoyed this performance.

    The gist of the play is that it is the late 1800s and a group of snooty explorers have their lodge to go and smoke cigars and drink brandy, oh, and brag about their adventures. (This play also had me craving cigars and brandy.) The traditions are rattled when Phyllida Spotte-Hume wants to join. A woman? A woman in the he-man women hater’s club? It is hilarious when they send her out of the room to have cigars and brandy (one of the many times) and to discuss whether she should be allowed. She keeps stepping in talking about how boring the hallway is. This section of the performance had a very Monty Python feel to it and I found some great belly laughs during this scene.

    Phyllida has discovered a lost tribe and has brought a male representative to meet the Queen and to back her findings to get into the club. Well the native is allowed to have cigars and brandy, not Phyllida because she is a woman.

    Soon the mayhem begins with the native striking the Queen as she offers her hand to help the bowing native. Can the Explorer’s club survive? Well one of the members is out to find the East and West poles, so there’s that.

    Do yourself a favor and at the very least listen to this audio performance of “The Explorer’s Club.” A really good live performance would be preferred, but as with all other LATW productions, this one is the next best thing to being in the audience.

    Publisher’s Summary

    It’s London, 1879, and the hapless members of the Explorers Club must confront their most lethal threat yet: the admission of a woman into their hermetically-sealed ranks. But the intrepid Phyllida Spotte-Hume turns out to be the least of their troubles, in this hilarious farce starring members of the original Broadway cast.

    An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring Jack Cutmore-Scott, Carson Elrod, David Furr, John Getz, Martin Jarvis, David Krumholtz, Lorenzo Pisoni, Jennifer Westfeldt, Matthew Wolf. Directed by Kate McAll. Music composed and orchestrated by Laurence O’Keefe. Recordings produced by Mike Croiter and Laurence O’Keefe at Yellow Sound Lab for L.A. Theatre Works. Includes a conversation with essayist, novelist, and cultural critic Eileen Pollack.

    The Explorers Club 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.

    ©2013 Nell Benjamin (P)2014 L.A. Theatre Works

     
  • gilwilson 3:27 PM on January 12, 2021 Permalink | Reply  

    “The Busy World Is Hushed” By Keith Bunin 

    “The Busy World Is Hushed”
    By Keith Bunin
    Narrated by: Jill Clayburgh, Hamish Linklater, Luke Macfarlane
    Length: 1 hr and 48 mins
    Published October 1st 2007 by LA Theatre Works (first published January 31st 2007)

    There is a lot unfolding in this play. Religion and relationships seem to be the biggest so I’m going to try to focus on those, however there are a few other topics/feelings/philosophy that I may touch on. Just keep in mind this is a very heady play. I’m probably going to revisit this one soon. Next time I may read the hard copy of the play rather than listen to a performance, but only because there is so much to absorb.

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with this audio production. Of course it is an L.A. Theatre Works production, and I don’t recall ever hearing a bad production from them. The actors are always top notch and the production places the listener right in the middle of the audience. This time around the performance features two of my new favorite actors, Hamish Linklater (I became a fan of his after watching the series “Legion”) and Luke Macfarlane (I bacame a fan of his after watching “Killjoys”). I don’t think I ever thought I would picture them doing a love scene together, but surprises are good. Okay it wasn’t a love scene but rather an intimacy scene.

    This play is full of ups and downs on the emotional rollercoaster and very smart conversations on religion. Jill Clayburgh plays Hannah a minister researching the gospels. She’s working on a translation when she hires an assistant, Brant (played by Linklater). Brant notices her work needs some organizing, she doesn’t even have bookshelves, and is pretty much hired on the spot. A relationship between Brant and Thomas, Hannah’s son (played by Macfarlane). In what in actuality is really a pretty short play, some intense conversations about life, love, religion and purpose are discussed.

    My only problem with this play is that it was too short. I was left with a feeling of “Is that all?” But at the same time I enjoyed the conversations and the level of intellect those conversations covered in the play. I would say that there were at least 30 plays that could be developed out of the many topics this one play covers, and I just wanted more.

    Publisher’s Summary

    With wisdom, humor and insight, The Busy World Is Hushed examines the contradictions we find in our faith, our families, and ourselves. Hannah, a widowed Episcopal minister, is hoping to translate a long-lost gospel when she is challenged by both her scholarly assistant and her wayward gay son. But when family secrets are revealed, only the intercession of a stranger can help Hannah find peace.

    (P)2007 L.A. Theater Works

     
  • gilwilson 4:17 PM on January 5, 2021 Permalink | Reply  

    “Stick Fly” By Lydia Diamond 

    Stick Fly

    By: Lydia Diamond

    Narrated by: Justine Bateman, Dule Hill, Michole Briana White, et. al.

    Length: 1 hr and 50 mins
    Published February 1st 2008 by LA Theatre Works

    In my latest trend of reading/listening to plays I’ve been trying to find some that are timely and have a theme that would reflect the current themes we’ve been forced too endure for the wreck of a year that was 2020. One of those themes is race relations. This play at first seemed to cover this but had a bit of a twist. The race relations are within a single upper-class African-American family. It wasn’t quite what I was looking for but it was entertaining none-the-less.

    One of the features of this performance that kept me going even though I soon discovered it wasn’t what I was looking for was that it was yet another example of the outstanding productions from L.A. Theatre Works. The actors are top notch and the production once again will place the listener in the middle of the audience in a great theatrical performance.

    I think one of the funniest parts is that one of the brothers (Flip) brings his girlfriend to the family home and before she arrives tells everyone she’s Italian. I got the feeling that Flip was a bit conscientious about the fact his girlfriend is white, so to prepare the family he keeps saying she is Italian when someone says she’s white. Flip’s family members are all highly education people and when the girlfriend arrives, they all speak to her in Italian. This makes for an awkward hilarious scene.

    As for the rest of the story, it finds that there is more to the family than the surface reveals. Strap in for the second half, that’s when all secrets are revealed and well I kinda wonder whether this family is strong enough to endure the devastating secrets. I won’t go into too much detail because of spoilers, and I really think this play needs to be experienced for one’s self not just a simple review/summary.

    Review: entertaining, funny, tragic and worth the two hours spent listening.

    Publisher’s Summary

    How well do you know your family? Your social class? Your race? Sensitive “Spoon” LeVay and his brother “Flip” see their weekend at the family home on Martha’s Vineyard as a perfect opportunity to introduce their girlfriends to their upper class African American parents. Instead they stumble into a domestic powder keg that exposes secrets of prejudice, hypocrisy, and adultery. This fantastic new play comes from the pen of one of the country’s most provocative new playwrights!

    ©2007 L.A. Theatre Works (P)2007 L.A. Theatre Works

     
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