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  • gilwilson 6:27 PM on October 28, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , theatre, theatrical   

    You Can’t Take it With You by Moss Hart, George S. Kaufman 

    40528730_10156744852433489_2277719417330597888_oYou Can’t Take it With You
    by Moss Hart, George S. Kaufman
    Paperback, 87 pages
    Published December 1st 1937 by Dramatists Play Service (first published 1936)

    Once again I returned to the stage, this time in a larger role.  I was extremely flattered when I was cast as Martin Vanderhof (Grandpa).  First off, someone else thought I was capable of pulling off the part, which by the way is a pivotal role in this play.  Second I began to wonder whether or not I could pull this off.  I didn’t realize that without the practice that memorizing that many lines for a man over 50 is a lot of work.  But I persevered and worked my arse off and we had a wonderful production.  I learned a lot about the play itself through the process, and I learned a thing or two about myself.  But as you know by now I will not be reviewing our production of the play (which was awesome, by the way) but I will summarize and give my opinion of the written work.

    So we begin this journey with an array of some interesting characters.  Paul and Penny Sycamore are the mom and dad of family.  Paul dabbles in making fireworks.  He doesn’t have a license for such but that doesn’t stop him.  He also likes to work with Meccano / Erector sets and build toys for himself.  Penny writes plays, or at least tries, because 8 years ago a typewriter was accidentally delivered to their house.  This same incident is what ended her painting endeavors.

    Their daughter Essie wants to be a ballet dancer but her hindrance is that she has no talent.  She does have a talent in making candy.  Essie’s husband Ed Carmichael, also has eclectic tastes.  He has a printing press so his hobby is printing anything he hears.  Ed also has a xylophone, so he dabbles in music.

    The other Daughter Alice is the sane one of the bunch (picture Marilyn from “The Munsters).  Alice works in an office where she has fallen in love with the owner’s son and vice president, Anthony Kirby, Jr.  Alice has been putting off letting Tony meet her family, but the time is coming soon.

    Paul Sycamore is assisted in his fireworks making business by Mr. DePinna.  DePinna delivered ice to the house 8 years ago and just stayed.  The Milkman did the same for five years before he died.  As you can tell  this family is accepting of everyone.  So why is Alice nervous for Tony to meet the family?

    To top off this family the patriarch is Grandpa, Martin Vanderhof.  Grandpa stopped working 35 years ago because he no longer was having fun.  Since then he’s practiced darts, collected snakes, attended commencements at nearby Columbia University, collected stamps and just had the time of his life.    He owns property which somehow he earns a living from.  Which leads to the IRS wanting to know why he hasn’t paid taxes for the last 24 years.

    The play builds when the two families meet and chaos ensues.  The Kirbys don’t want their son marrying into this riff-raff but Tony has his mind set.  It’s up to Grandpa to talk sense into the stuffy Kirby Sr.

    This play shows that a family that has fun together can pull together and get by without having to stress over money.  Just getting by is not a bad thing.

  • gilwilson 6:03 PM on July 30, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: don zolidis, grimm's fairy tales, , , theatre   

    The Brothers Grimm Spectaculathon (A Play)  by Don Zolidis 

    grimmlongThe Brothers Grimm Spectaculathon (Full-length) (A Play)
    by Don Zolidis (Author)
    Published by Playscripts; First Edition edition (2007)

    Before I get to the review, I have to talk about how I came to read this script.  Nearly 25 years ago I left Southern Illinois University-Carbondale with a degree in Radio/TV Broadcasting and one in Theatre.  After graduating I focused my life on the Radio side of things and never looked back.  However, the past few years I’ve had the pleasure of watching my son perform on stage through our local college & community theatre performances.  This show came around and he talked me into auditioning.  I did, I got cast in the show and had so much fun doing this show with an awesome director, Brennan Seth Tracy, and a great cast.   I beat my old body up doing this show, but it was worth it.  Every scene is fast paced and hilarious and not a moment to rest, in fact, we barely gave the audience time to catch their breath.

    This play takes all of the Brothers Grimm 209 stories and weaves them together in a hilarious 2 hour (w/ intermission) parody.  Lots of pop culture references, as well as some theatre geek references.

    Many of the Grimm’s fairy tales are merely mentioned or joked about, but the majors are covered in more detail.  Rapunzel, Little Red Cap (just because you wear red doesn’t make you a hood),  Snow White, and Cinderella take the spotlight in hilarious ways.

    The Snow White section gets retold a few times with different characters wanting to tell their own version.  One of the dwarves gets to be Snow White and we get a bit of a feminist retelling of the story.   The Cinderella story is completely done by 2 actors, one of which is forced to play all the parts due to bad catering taking out the rest of the crew.

    This play is done best with a small ensemble playing multiple roles and creating a fast paced romp through the fairy tales.  If you like to read plays and love comedies, read this next.  If this show is ever performed in your area, check this out immediately.  Our run is over but my sore muscles and aching joints were worth it.

    Comedy LENGTH: Full-length, 100-110 minutes CAST: 1 female, 1 male, 3 either (5-43 actors possible: 1-41 females, 1-42 males)

  • gilwilson 2:11 AM on April 19, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: gender issues, , , , theatre   

    “Boy” By Anna Ziegler 

    By: Anna Ziegler
    Narrated by: Sarah Drew, John Getz, Travis Johns, Amy Pietz, Bobby Steggert
    Length: 1 hr and 21 mins
    Release date: 10-17-16
    Publisher: L.A. Theatre Works

    If you haven’t yet experienced a production from L.A. Theatre Works, you should. Their productions put you in the middle of the audience.

    This time around I listened to another play from the Relativity series, (science plays). The story of a boy who was born a boy but after a disfiguring accident was raised a son. Throughout his life he knew something was not quite right. The play goes back and forth through time from when the parents notified the doctor and the plan to raise him as a girl developed, to the late 80s when he finds a girl and falls in love, back to his therapy sessions during childhood.

    This one gets you thinking, but not about what you think.

    Publisher’s Summary

    Anna Ziegler’s Boy is a powerful statement about sexual identity and the mystery of what makes us who we are.

    After a baby boy is seriously injured in an accident, a doctor persuades his parents to raise the child as a girl. As the child grows up, the child – known as Samantha and Adam at different times – faces an extraordinary challenge to carve out a place in the world.

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

    Sarah Drew as Jenny

    John Getz as Dr. Wendell Barnes

    Travis Johns as Doug

    Amy Pietz as Trudy

    Bobby Steggert as Adam Turner

    Directed by Debbie Devine. Recorded in Los Angeles before a live audience at The James Bridges Theater, UCLA, in July of 2016. Boy 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.

    ©2016 Anna Ziegler (P)2016 L.A. Theatre Works

  • gilwilson 5:33 PM on April 10, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ibsen, , , theater, theatre   

    “An Enemy of the People” by Henrik Ibsen translated by Rebecca Lenkiewicz 

    An Enemy of the People61xR19ntQtL._SY498_BO1,204,203,200_
    by Henrik Ibsen translated by Rebecca Lenkiewicz
    An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast recording, featuring: Richard Kind, Gregory Harrison, Rosalind Ayres, Emily Swallow, Josh Stamberg, Tom Virtue, Alan Shearman, Alan Mandell, and Jon Matthews. Additional voices by Sam Boeck, William Hickman, Adam Mondschein, Julia Coulter, and Jeff Gardner. Directed by Martin Jarvis.
    Approx 2 hours
    Released: May 31, 2014
    Publisher: LA Theatre Works

    Once again it is time to visit an L.A. Theatre Works production. This time around we have a production of the play “An Enemy of the People” A small town relies on tourists coming to their town for the mineral water baths, but Dr. Stockmann has discovered that the new baths built in his town are infected with a deadly disease he tries to warn the town that they must repair or close the baths. The Mayor, who is Dr. Stockmann’s brother, does not believe the report and refuses to close the baths because it will cause the financial ruin of the town.

    Dr. Stockmann tries to take his case to the people, but the mayor intercedes and explains to the people how much it will cost to repair the baths. The Mayor says that the Doctor has always been filled with wild, fanciful ideas and in a public meeting, he has his brother declared an enemy of the people. The doctor decides to leave the town, but at the last minute comes to the realization that he must stay and fight for the things he believes to be right. While Dr. Stockmann is an impulsive and naïve man he believes the issue could ruin the town more than being shut down for repairs would. He maintains that the truth cannot be killed by a “conspiracy of silence.” This leads to the conclusion of “the strongest man is he who stands alone.” While being written in the mid 18th century this play still holds true today.

    Being a production by L.A. Theatre Works once again listening to this production you are put in the center of the audience and listening to the show. The production is so well done that it is easy to have this theatre of the mind play out while you are just along for the ride. Great performances and great production.

    Publisher’s Summary

    When a small town relies on tourists flocking to its baths, will a report of dangerously polluted waters be enough to shut them down? Henrik Ibsen weighs the cost of public health versus a town’s livelihood in An Enemy of the People.

    An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast recording, featuring: Richard Kind, Gregory Harrison, Rosalind Ayres, Emily Swallow, Josh Stamberg, Tom Virtue, Alan Shearman, Alan Mandell, and Jon Matthews. Additional voices by Sam Boeck, William Hickman, Adam Mondschein, Julia Coulter, and Jeff Gardner. Directed by Martin Jarvis.

    Includes an interview with Joel K. Bourne, Jr., former senior environment editor for National Geographic, on man-made environmental disasters, climate change, and the state of the world’s water supply.

    An Enemy of the People 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.

  • gilwilson 8:24 PM on January 4, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , conservation, , galapagos, , , , theatre   

    “Tooth and Claw” by Michael Hollinger 

    toothclaw“Tooth and Claw”
    by Michael Hollinger
    Multi-cast performance
    Produced by L.A. Theatre Works
    Approx. 2 hours

    When it comes to audio entertainment I have four sources that I can go to to make sure I can find a good story. Countless times I’ve started an audiobook and just couldn’t stay interested and each time that happens I get frustrated and have to go to one of those sources so that I can be reminded that there are good audiobooks available. L.A. Theatre Works is one of those sources.

    L.A. Theatre Works produces live performances of plays that range from the classic to the modern and every time they feature a cast that is superb. With these live performances LATW also takes the time and effort to produce audio versions of these plays. The recordings are so expertly produced that while listening to the performance, as a reader, you are transported into the middle of the audience. All musical cues, sound effects and every dialogue are produced so that the attention to detail shows in that every single thing is heard clearly.

    This time around I picked out the play “Tooth and Claw,” not because I was interested in the subject matter, but simply because I knew, no matter what, I would get a great story from L.A. Theatre Works and yes I was right. This production was yet another performance where the acting and production kept me interested and entertained.
    “Tooth and Claw” is a contemporary drama based on actual events, biologist Schuyler Baines (portrayed by Cynthia Watros of “Lost”) arrives in the Galapagos Islands to run the Darwin Research Center. When she becomes aware of an exploding black market in sea cucumbers threatening to destroy the islands’ fragile ecosystem, Schuyler shuts the industry down, sparking a deadly, survival-of-the-fittest conflict with native fishermen.

    “Tooth and Claw” becomes a compelling exploration of evolution, extinction and the ever-present nature of Darwin’s “struggle for life.” In the 1990s, the indigenous fisherman (pepineros) of the Galapagos Islands were pitted against environmentalists over the issue of harvesting sea cucumbers, both the primary source of income for the pepineros and an essential part of the food chain for sea tortoises. The fisherman subsequently revolted and slaughtered the endangered tortoises in protest. Even now, the conflict continues with the fisherman in search of shark fins and sea cucumbers for Asian markets, unmindful of conservation efforts. “Tooth and Claw” looks not just at the survival of the fittest, whether human, animal or flora, but at the less obvious clash between science and conservation.

    A very intriguing story and an excellent performance both combine to make this a great way to spend two hours.

  • gilwilson 10:51 PM on July 16, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Andy Taylor, , , , , , Charlie Matthes, Daniel Chacon, Emily Bergl, Floyd Knowles, Francis Guinan, Fredd Wayne, , Jeffrey Donovan, Joel Rafael, John Steinbeck, Kate Williamson, , Maurice Chasse, Michael Buie, Michael Weston, Nick Sadler, Richard Masur, Robert Pescovitz, Rod McLachlan, , Shirley, Skirball Cultural Center, Stephen Ramsey, The Grapes of Wrath, the Joel Rafael Band, theatre, Todd Waring, Trista Delamere   

    “The Grapes of Wrath” by John Steinbeck – Published by L.A. Theatre Works 

    “The Grapes of Wrath”
    by John Steinbeck
    Published by L.A. Theatre Works
    Full cast performance starring: Emily Bergl, Michael Buie, Daniel Chacon, Maurice Chasse, Shannon Cochran, Trista Delamere, Jeffrey Donovan, Francis Guinan, Shirley, Charlie Matthes, Rod McLachlan, Robert Pescovitz, Joel Rafael, Stephen Ramsey, Nick Sadler, Andy Taylor,
    Floyd Knowles, Todd Waring, Fredd Wayne, Michael Weston, and Kate Williamson
    Live music performed by the Joel Rafael Band
    Directed by Richard Masur
    Recorded before a live audience at the Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles in October, 2002.
    Approx 2 hours

    Once again I find myself listening to another fantastic production from L.A. Theatre Works, and once again the performance and production as a whole are enthralling that I can let the rest of the world go away and enjoy a classic story.  This time around I got the audiobook from the Audiobook Sync website (http://www.audiobooksync.com), from their SYNC YA summer audiobook program.  Every summer they offer a weekly coupling of Young Adult fiction.  The coupling exists between a new YA story and a classic story.  The week this audiobook was downloaded came with a book called the 11th Plague.  I’m saving that book for later.  I have already listened to several performances from L.A. Theatre Works, and knew that I would love this performance, So with a two hour plus car ride planned, I put this on my new mp3 player and hit the road.

    The cast all performed the parts perfectly, throw that in with the sound effects and music, and once again I was placed in the center of the audience enjoying this great performance.  The interesting thing i found in this production was the music performed by the Joel Rafael Band.  The music had a lot of Woody Guthrie sound to it and at times the lead vocalist sounded a lot like Bob Dylan in his younger years.  All the music pushed the story along and made for great transitions between scenes.

    I have always enjoyed every aspect of this story, from when I read the book (several times) to the movie starring Henry Fonda as Tom Joad.  I think mainly because it is a great description of a tough time in America and the tough stock of folks it took to keep moving on despite all the problems life throws.  Also I love the story because I was raised in Oklahoma and this story portrays Okies as a tough breed of folks.

    During the Great Depression one of the many things that affected the country was the Dust Bowl that affected Oklahoma.  Severe drought and bad farming techniques created several dust storms that decimated the agriculture of Oklahoma.  The Okies were forced off of their farms and many headed West to California where there were jobs promised, via handbills, working in the fields and orchards.  As the story tells the problem was that many of the California farmers used false pretenses to attract the workers.  Where a farm would need 500 workers they would print 5,000 hand bills and maybe 1,000 workers would show up.  Creating double the people needed and many of the migrants were forced to live in poverty and even die in work camps.

    This story tells of the Joad Family’s experiences as they made their way west and once arriving having to struggle for every scrap of food to feed the family, all the while Ma Joad trying to keep the family together. Eventually the workers get smart and band together to strike the poor working conditions and wages but are threatened with violence by the farmers and landowners of California.

    A great historical epic from John Steinbeck that depicts the struggles of humanity and how working together we can survive.  This performance from L.A. Theatre Works is one of the best performances of “Grapes of Wrath” I have ever heard.  Definitely a must have for anyone appreciating classic literature.

  • gilwilson 10:08 PM on July 4, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , broken glass, David Dukes, , Jane Brucker, , , John Vickery, , , , Linda Purl, , , paralysis, , theatre   

    “Broken Glass” by Arthur Miller from “The Arthur Miller Collection” published by L.A. Theatre Works 

    “Broken Glass”
    by Arthur Miller
    from “The Arthur Miller Collection”
    published by L.A. Theatre Works
    Performed by: Jane Brucker, David Dukes, Lawrence Pressman, Linda Purl, John Vickery and JoBeth Williams.
    Approx 2 hours

    This play marks a bittersweet moment for me, in that it is the last performance in “The Arthur Miller Collection” from L.A. Theatre works. Bitter, because it is the last one and sweet, because after listening to these ten plays I can pretty much consider myself a scholar of Arthur Miller.

    While getting my degree in Theatre, I had the opportunity to study Arthur Miller, but L.A. Theatre Works’ performances are all top-notch. These performances are produced for audio in such a way that puts the listener in the middle of the audience, aurally. While I know well that theatre is a visual art as well, the words make the difference and when they are performed so well the visuals are just icing on the cake. L.A. Theatre Works productions are all icing and cake with great acting, subtle, yet effective, sound effects and great music that fit the settings of the plays.

    “Broken Glass” is set in 1938, and this psychological mystery begins when Sylvia Gellburg suddenly loses her ability to walk. Her husband is worried about the woman he adores and seeks help from the neighborhood doctor. After consulting with another doctor, Dr. Hyman cannot find any physical reason for her paralysis. The only clue lies in Sylvia’s obsession with news accounts from Germany where old men are being forced to clean the sidewalks with toothbrushes. Though she is safe in Brooklyn, Sylvia is terrified by Nazi violence, or is it something closer to home? It is up to Dr. Hyman to find the solution.

    Mr. Gellburg, in a way, also becomes the patient of Dr. Hyman as Mrs. Gellburg’s diagnosis is revealed to be hysterical paralysis. Mr. Gellberg is appalled at the idea that it is all in her head.

    Dr. Hyman learns that Mr. Gellburg goes out of his way at times to deny he is a Jew and other times to use being a Jew in his favor. This has created a fear in Mrs. Gellburg that is comes out even more as she reads newspaper stories or hears radio reports about the torture of the Jews. What it all comes down to is that the choices made whether you accept what is given or you make a stand for what you believe is the turning point in life and what you do determines who you are.

    A nice play and a very nice performance, that is well worth the time, money and effort to put into your listening list.

  • gilwilson 9:44 PM on July 2, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , , Brian Cox, , , Jenny O’Hara, Kirsten Potter, , , , Saidah Arrika Ekulona, theatre   

    “The Ride Down Mt. Morgan” by Arthur Miller 

    “The Ride Down Mt. Morgan”
    by Arthur Miller
    from “The Arthur Miller Collection”
    published by L.A. Theatre Works
    Performed by: Brian Cox, Jenny O’Hara, Amy Pietz, Kirsten Potter, Gregory Itzin and Saidah Arrika Ekulona
    Approx 2 hours

    Once again it’s time to listen to another play from “The Arthur Miller” collection from L.A. Theatre Works. I’ve been listening to this collection interspersed with all my other audiobook listening so I can stretch it out. There are ten plays in this collection and this is next to the last, I’m gonna miss having these two hours between books.

    What I like most about these audio recordings is that with the superb production quality, I feel as though I’m right in the middle of the performance, and with the great casting, the actors really bring these plays to life.

    Most of Arthur Miller’s plays are tragedies, but this one is kinda hard to categorize. The tragedy of this play takes place at the beginning and how the main character tries to weasel out of this tragedy almost turns this play into a comedy.

    Lyman Felt is an insurance agent/mogul. He’s made enough money to own two homes one in New York City and one in Elmira, New York. His money has also made it possible for him to support two families. Those two families are his own, you see, Lyman is a bigamist. He has two loving wives one child with each of those wives.

    The tragedy that begins this play is that Lyman, while driving down the icy road down Mt. Morgan goes off the road and ends up in the hospital. As he awakens in the hospital he is stuck in bed as the nurse tells him his wife is waiting to see him. As Lyman comes to full consciousness, he begins to realize it’s his wife of more than thirty years, Theo, is the first to visit. The problem is Mt. Morgan is near his Elmira home where his wife of only nine years, Leah, lives. Sure enough both wives end up meeting and the issue of Lyman’s bigamy is confronted head on.

    When confronted, Lyman states that the two options in life are to be true to others, which includes a hypocritical world, or to himself, and that he has chosen the himself. He justifies his actions by explaining he has given them good lives, has supported them financially and emotionally, and has been a good father. This is all presented in a series of flashbacks that are so well presented in this performance that I always knew a flashback was happening. Lyman goes on to say that the two women have been happier with this arrangement than they would have been if they had been the only wife. As reasons for this he cites domestic boredom, routine, and the angst of being trapped in the same relationship forever. The play uses flashbacks to take us to previous situations both families have lived.

    So this brings up the question; Which wife will take him back? Through the flashbacks and some rather humorous discussions between wives, attorneys, nurses and Lyman this performance will make you chuckle, and, at times, cringe at Lyman’s justifications.

  • gilwilson 12:51 PM on April 28, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , james farantino, julie harris, , , performance, , theatre, ,   

    “All My Sons” by Arthur Miller from the “Arthur Miller Collection” by L.A. Theatre Works 

    “All My Sons”
    by Arthur Miller
    included in the “Arthur Miller Collection” from L.A. Theatre Works
    Performed by: James Farentino, Arye Gross, Julie Harris, Mitchell Hebert, Naomi Jacobson, Barbara Klein, Paul Morella, Michaeleen O’Neil, Nathan Taylor and Jerry Whiddon.
    Produced by L.A. Theatre Works
    Approx. 2 Hours.

    I’m continuing my run through this collection of 10 plays by Arthur Miller that is “The Arthur Miller Collection” from L.A. Theatre works and this next play is “All My Sons.”  I’m going to include this in one of the depressing plays from Arthur Miller, the entire premise is sad, and in fact this one really reminded me of a classic Greek Tragedy, in that a character committed an act that haunts him until his tragic end.  This time around the act is to allow faulty aircraft parts to go out during war and end up killing pilots.

    Before we talk about the story I have to talk about the production itself.  L.A. Theatre Works produces plays in audio format and every one I have heard, so far, has been a joy to hear.  Not necessarily due to the subject matter, as this play proves, but in the production itself.   Each performance is recorded with a live cast and with all the elements combined the listener feels as though they are placed smack-dab in the middle of the audience.  Being a student of theatre I was leery at the idea of theatrical performances in audio format.  The reason being, theatre is a visual art.  But the excellent production in all of LATW’s releases have taken the visual part out of the equation and mad these fully enjoyable in audio only format.  In all my previous listenings, LATW has pulled this off perfectly.

    With that said there was one minor scene in this story that just didn’t work right for me.  I’m not sure if it was because I was missing something visually or what but it just didn’t feel right.  It’s the scene where Kate’s brother, George comes back to confront Joe about the criminal act that put George & Kate’s father in prison while Joe went free.  When he arrives he was very angry, then suddenly in the scene he was congenial and ready to go out to dinner, only to immediately go back to being angry and storming off.  The mood changes in this scene seemed forced and just didn’t make sense at the moment.  However the scene is needed and later on in the performance all goes back to being perfectly performed and produced that that scene is forgiven.   By no means let that keep you from listening to this otherwise stellar performance of “All My Sons.”

    Another aspect of all the productions of LATW is the casting.  Each time I hear one of these performances I love knowing the actors names.  In this performance Arye Gross portrays Chris the son who is the center of the play, and he owns the part.  His portrayal is spot on and superb.  Sure, he’s got the support of James Farantino and Julie Harris, but Gross just makes the character come to life in his performance.

    In August 1946 Joe Keller, a self-made businesmann,  who once manufactured parts for the war effort, is contemplating a tree that has been taken down by a recent storm.  The tree was planted in memory of his son, Larry, who died in the war.   His son, Chris, is visiting and has invited Larry’s girlfriend to the homestead to ask her to marry him.   The problem with all of this is that Kate, Joe’s wife and Chris’s mother, believes Larry is still alive and will coming back.

    Ann’s father is in prison for selling faulty engine blocks for p-40 aircraft that ended up killing the pilots that flew with them.  He claims that he alerted Joe to the problem but Joe had the parts sent out anyway so he wouldn’t lose the government contract.  Joe says he was sick the day that Steve, Ann’s father, called and did not know.  A neighbor reveals that everyone on the block thinks Joe is guilty.

    Kate says Joe cannot be guilty because that would mean he killed their son and all those other boys.   In a play where family secrets are kept tight and the final outcome could destroy everyone, Arthur Miller has written a depressing yet eye-opening play.  The idea of business matters over safety is a lesson that is apropos even today.

    • Tanya/ dog eared copy 1:37 PM on April 28, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      I just posted my own review of this same production on my own blog a couple of days ago and I find interesting that we both mentioned the scene with George as being problematic and; that we both referred to Greek Tragedy! However, whereas you saw that scene as an anomaly in an otherwise excellent production, I was less impressed with the overall performance. I found the unrelenting fervor a bit wearing.


      • gilwilson 2:40 PM on April 28, 2012 Permalink | Reply

        Just went over to your blog and read…yeah you weren’t too happy overall.
        I thought the play was very strong otherwise, Arye Gross seemed to carry this performance for me. And yes that scene….ugh…It just didn’t quite make sense as it happened, but later in the play I understood what happened, but (and this is coming from an audio professional) i think the problem with this may have been an editing problem. I think there should have been longer silences or bigger gaps between the emotional changes. I would love to see this performed live and try to figure out what is missing in that scene.

        While I don’t full agree, i do like your “ham-fisted” description of the scene…just the term ham-fisted, i guess.

        When I read this play in college my comparison back then was to a Greek Tragedy as are most of Arthur Miller’s plays. He definitely wrote some tragic plays…death of a salesman was also a good Greek Tragedy type play. (btw, since you have the same collection I have, you’ll be listening to that one soon, I’m guessing, Stacy Keach rules that performance.)

        I also see you are listening to “We’re Alive” I loved that series…how’s that one going for you?


  • gilwilson 2:56 PM on March 17, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , contemporary drama, contemporary play, Dane DeHaan, deborah zoe laufer, , Josh Clark, Kate Rylie. end days, Kenneth Houston, , , theatre   

    “End Days” by Deborah Zoe Laufer 

    “End Days”
    by Deborah Zoe Laufer
    Full-cast performance featuring: Josh Clark, Shannon Cochran, Dane DeHaan, Arye Gross, Kenneth Houston and Kate Rylie.
    Produced by L. A. Theatre Works
    2 Hours and 22 minutes

    Being a fan of theatre, I get a little anxious when I see coming up on my reading list something from L.A. Theatre works. I think even more so when it is a contemporary play such as this one. By the way, Yes, I make a list of books to read.

    The production quality behind L.A. Theatre Works’ releases is always high, which is why I look forward to these audio theatre performances. The casts of all their works are perfect, but what makes it even more entertaining, is that while these are plays for viewing L.A. Theatre Works takes the time to produce these into great audio drama. The sound effects, music, and acting all place the listener into the middle of the audience.

    This time around the play “End Days,” came up on my list and I wasn’t sure what to think. Reading the synopsis on the L.A. Theatre Works website (http://www.latw.org )gave me a good idea.

    “In Deborah Zoe Laufer s End Days, a suburban family is undergoing a spiritual crisis following the September 11th attacks. Sylvia Stein has turned to Christianity to save her disaffected husband Arthur and her rebellious teenage daughter Rachel. But as Sylvia races around preparing for the Rapture, Rachel is learning that there are more things in Heaven and Earth than are dreamt of in her philosophy.” The performance also includes an interview with physicist and theologian Robert John Russell (Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences).

    Science and Religion both represented in one play? I knew there was going to be some sort of clash and then a ripping apart of the very fabric of reality. But no, that wasn’t quite it. To look at this play you have to first examine the quirks of each of the main characters.

    First off we have Nelson Steinburg who lost both his parents. His mother was a big fan of Elvis and one year for halloween he dressed as Elvis and his mother loved it. At her funeral and ever since he has dressed as Elvis. This strange way of dressing gets him beat up a lot in school, but Nelson is so optimistic about life that it doesn’t bother him. With his new “Step-Parents” he is converting to Judaism and is getting ready for his Bar Mitzvah and memorizing sections of the Torah. He has also become infatuated with the new neighbor, Rachel Stein. He gives her a copy of the Stephen Hawking book “A Brief History of Time,” telling her it will changer her life. Nelson is not only uber optimistic, he is also eager to please everyone.

    Rachel Stein is the daughter of Sylvia and Arthur Stein. The Stein family has recently uprooted and fled Manhatten after the events of 9/11. The family has all been devastated by the tragedy and have coped with the devastation in their own way. Rachel has become a bit anti-social and Goth. But when she read’s the Hawking book, she soon starts getting spiritual guidance from an etherial Stephen Hawking.

    Sylvia Stein has decided to take Jesus into her life, maybe more than that, she seems to have conversations with Jesus every moment in her life. He even offers her sweetener when she’s having coffe, “yes, thank you, Jesus.” To which Jesus replies, “You’re welcome, I love you.” Sylvia has taken it upon herself to have everyone in the world know Jesus. She hands out pamphlets all day, and holds prayer vigils. When Jesus comes to her in a dream and let’s her know the Rapture is coming, she does everything she can to make sure her family is taken in the Rapture.

    Arthur Stein was in the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 and was the only person in his company to escape and survive. Since leaving Manhatten has never left the house, even worse he has never even gotten out of his pajamas. He lives life only to nap and suffer his own depression. And with all the family members coping in their own way he only sinks deeper.

    Nelson is the catalyst which stirs up the whole family and gets them on the path to healing and feeling. He confesses his love for Rachel to Arthur, even if he’s only known her a couple of days. Eventually he convinces Arthur to get dressed and go to the store when Rachel gets upset about never having any food in the house. Rachel wants cereal and only Nelson can save this crisis. Not knowing what kind of cereal his own daughter likes, Arthur is convinced by Nelson to buy one of each.

    Nelson also shows Rachel that Science is a great way to finding answers to everything and that even if you don’t find the answers it’s the questioning that will lead you to the right path.

    Sylvia is convinced the Rapture is Wednesday and insists that all the family stay together that day and pray. Nelson even offers to make the dip and the family, including Nelson, prepare for the Rapture.

    This play is one of the most uplifting performances I’ve heard in a long time. Everything from helping the depressed, finding truth, and even questioning life is included in this performance. While listening to this performance I ran the gamut of emotions, a bit of sadness, elation, pure joy. Each one of these included outbursts that I’m glad I was alone while listening, anyone seeing me go through these emotions in such a short period would have probably thought I was a bit unstable. But the writing and the performance in this kept me alert and at the end I was emotionally cleansed.

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