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  • gilwilson 11:16 PM on November 21, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , culture, , , , live performance, paranoid, , psychiatry, schizophrenic   

    “Blue/Orange” by Joe Penhall produced by L.A. Theatre Works 

    “Blue/Orange”
    by Joe Penhall
    starring Daniel Davis, Matt Letscher and Teagle F. Bougere
    Produced by L.A. Theatre Works
    Approx 2 hours.

    Once again I’m magically transported to the world of live theatre through the expert production and performance of L.A. Theatre Works. L.A. Theatre Works has a huge library of performances which have been turned into audio. These plays range from the classics to modern plays and all with excellent casts. The beauty of the whole thing is that LATW takes the time to make sure the audio recording is perfect thus making the listener feel as though they are right in the middle of the audience for every performance.

    This time around I listened to the modern play “Blue/Orange” by Joe Penhall. This one intrigued me after I read the synopsis from L.A. Theatre Works; “Two psychiatrists—one new and inexperienced, the other his well-established mentor—battle over the diagnosis and treatment of Chris, a young black man who claims to be the son of African dictator Idi Amin.” I’m not sure what it was but it just sounded like it would be pretty thought-provoking, and it was.

    A young black man is about to be discharged from psychiatric supervision in a London hospital. His man doctor wants to keep him in for further observation due to some of his responses, for example a bowl of oranges sits on the table, and when asked what color the patient replies, “Blue.” Something is just not right, the patient also claims to be the son of Idi Amin, remember him from the 70s? He’s the dictator that ate his enemies. The problem is that the Doctor’s supervisor, sees all of the patient’s responses as merely products of his culture and that not everything is to be taken literally. The supervisor also sees in this a chance for another paper to be written to further his own career. With his clinicians disagreeing on the seriousness of his condition, his release becomes complicated by issues of race, class, and the definition of sanity itself.

    The play does a great job focusing on the complex issues of psychiatric treatment and throw into that the mix that the two white doctors are clueless when it comes to the black culture, it makes for a very intriguing story which goes back and forth as to who is really sane. The play does have some humorous moments which help the audience to digest some of the real hard-hitting issues covered.

     
  • gilwilson 10:33 PM on April 19, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , contemporary theatre, , everyman, , , , live performance, midwest, , ,   

    “The Man Who Had All the Luck” by Arthur Miller (produced by L.A. Theatre Works “The Arthur Miller Collection”) 


    “The Man Who Had All The Luck”
    by Arthur Miller
    Full Cast Performance Starring:
    Emily Bergl, Kevin Chamberlin, Tim DeKay, James Gammon, Lee Garlington, Graham Hamilton, Tom McGowan, Kurtwood Smith, Russell Soder and Tegan West
    Produced by L.A. Theatre Works
    Approx. 2 hours

    I have recently discovered the magic of theatrical productions from L.A. Theatre Works, and they are now among my list of top 3 audiobook producers.   L.A. Theatre Works records live theatre performances and releases them as audiobooks, making a huge selection of plays,  from classic to contemporary, available for consumption.  The nice thing about these is that the audio production quality put into these releases not only places you in the middle of the audience but the high caliber of acting makes it so the plays will keep you intrigued and wanting for more.  At least that is what has happened to me.

    This time around I listened to another Arthur Miller play (previously I had listened to the Arthur Miller play “Death of a Salesman” starring Stacy Keach).  Arthur Miller wrote many plays about the everyman and created plays that explored the struggles of man.  L.A. Theatre works has put together a collection of his plays called “The Arthur Miller Collection” which includes 10 plays which includes this one.  It also includes, “Death of a Salesman,” “The Crucible,” and more.  I recently got my hands on this collection after listening to “Death of a Salesman” so I could explore more about this American Classic that is Arthur Miller.

    What makes the productions from L.A. Theatre works so good is that through attention to detail recording and production, take a live performance and turn it into an audio medium.  Listening to these performances (and this one is no exception) I felt as if I were in the middle of the audience, with applause and sound effects from the performance pushing that feeling.  The one thing that totally surprised me is that I did not miss any of the visual aspect of the performances and was able to enjoy the full effect of the play(s).  I can’t wait to get on with the rest of this collection, with 2 down and 8 to go, I’m going to spread them out a bit, besides, they are only around two hours each so they are perfect to get in between other audiobooks and while doing all my daily functions.

    “The Man Who Had All the Luck,” is about a young Midwestern boy, David Beeves, who seems to have all his life handed to him, or rather lucks into whatever he gets.  He’s set up in a barn as a mechanic and everyone takes their cars in for repairs, yet he’s never had any training and admits he doesn’t know anything about fixing cars, but he seems to get the job done.  When he is having a problem with a particular car a stranger out of nowhere walks in and is able to fix the car.  When he can’t get married to his girlfriend until her father is out of the way, the father dies in an automobile accident.  When he builds a gas station, the state decides to put a highway right in front of it.  When Beeves gets older he begins to wonder what is going to happen when his luck runs out, is he due for a disaster to pay back for all the luck?

    This play fully explores the question whether fate or hard work decides a man’s future.  David’s brother, Amos, is trained by his father day in and day out to be an expert baseball pitcher, but how does all that hard work pay off?  Not in the way that it would for David and his “Midas Touch.”

    On a side-note here; Kurtwood Smith plays the part of David’s father and is constantly training Amos.  Kurtwood is the one who played Red Foreman in “That 70s Show,” and deep down inside (because I was a fan of the character he played on that show) I wanted him to say a line from the show (I won’t say the line here, but you probably know which one, if you ever watched the show).  But just knowing how great of an actor he was I was happy enough just to hear his voice.

    One of the 10 great plays by Arthur Miller, produced by L.A. Theatre Works and cram packed into this “Arthur Miller Collection.”

     
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