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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

K. (The Hypocrites GUEST REVIEWER JOHN TAFLAN)

This play was closed before the review came out.

Greg Allen’s (not Sean Graney’s) K.—presented by The Hypocrites, and directed by The Neo Futurists’ Greg Allen for The Hypocrites (not the Neo Futurists)—is an adaptation by Greg Allen of Franz Kafka’s The Trial by Franz Kafka written by Greg Allen (not Sean Graney).

Our protagonist, Josef K. (Brennan Buhl), is an Undergrad at Amherst who wakes up several mornings at once one morning to discover that he has been arrested for unquestionably committing a crime that may or may not have happened, which he may or may not have committed (although, he probably didn’t…maybe).

Through no fault of his own (except that it might be), K. is thrust down a path of surreal, nightmarish, door-slamming hilarity that brazenly confronts the constructs set up by bloated institutional bureaucracies which control our lives but also define us and without whom we are lost in a sea of black water like fish swimming across decaying coral reefs in the wake of an oil spill—desperately searching for nourishing particulates and telling ourselves that someday these necessary molecules might add up to a full meal, so you had better keep on flapping your fins because if you stop for even a second you’ll get swept up in a net, filleted, and served at some $40 a plate fusion bistro in an up-and-coming neighborhood although, that may not be so bad; you are just a fish, after all.

I guess what I’m saying is Europe has been around for a long time.

A


-John Taflan



Monday, November 29, 2010

The Iliad (A Red Orchid Theatre)


Have you ever been to a dog show?
Maybe you saw the big one on Thanksgiving. An Irish Setter named Clooney won the trophy for doing what the man told him to do. He walked over here, and ran over here. He stood up on this thing and crawled through that hole. Then he shook his beautifully manicured head and sang "Oh Susanna".
I'm not gonna lie, it was pretty fucking cool.
So you can imagine what I was thinking when I went to review "The Iliad" at A Red Orchid Theatre Company. The play is performed by the youth ensemble (13 8 year old girls). I don't know if they were all 8, but there were 13 of them. I think some were a little older and some were younger. Whatever, it doesn't matter. All that matters is that they are young. I will spare using their names in this review because no 8 year old should ever see their name on this blog unless they are Ada Grey (one of our new critics) or one of our daughters or someone who is dead already.

Anyway, I went in there thinking that this was gonna sorta be like a dog show.

Look at these children walking over to this platform and saying their lines as they were told to do.


This was not the case. All the performers had made their own choices and understood what was happening in the play. My favorite was King Priam. The old king that was regretful for some of his decisions.
Achilles was great too and so was Paris. THEY WERE ALL SO GOOD (and as cute as can be)!!

Do you know what is frightening? When a 5 year old girl is holding a sword and telling everyone that she wants blood. It immediately makes you think of her as a 40 year old woman that ran out of ice cream and is holding a sword.

Does everyone know what "The Iliad" is? It is an ancient Greek play written by Homer that was meant to torture college kids. In fact, that is what it is still used for today. For some reason, college professors seem really interested in Greek plays. They tell you things like, Greek plays are when dialogue first came to the stage, and the power struggle between men and women is very clear so it's a great learning tool. I think that is bullshit, because Greek plays are boring as fuck and Neil Simon and Neil LaBute plays tell women what we think of them.

The Iliad is the story of 2 armies fighting for land and money. Agamemnon wants to fight a lot and his army doesn't want to, because the other army is blah blah blah blah.

Do you know where Agamemnon put his armies?
In his SLEEVIES!!!

Anyway, despite all the negative connotation that comes with this play because it is boring and stupid, the director Steve Wilson has outdone himself.

This is a little stage with a lot of kids running around, and Steve Wilson with his assistant director, Erin Barlow have clearly communicated their ideas to the kids and given the story one hell of a cool treatment. The fight director, Sarah Fornace, got these kids to do an actual fight that most theatre companies would be glad to get out of their 30 year olds.
Sean Mallary, the world's greatest lighting designer does some cool tricks but I think what is really the best thing about this play is the length.

It is 70 minutes long, which is exactly the length it should be.
The story gets told, we learn about the horrors of war, the kids are awesome, and we all go our separate ways.

I loved it and will try to see it again. Go see it before it closes and then the only kids you will see perform will be on "That's So Raven"!


A+


-Anderson Lawfer, Eric Roach

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Redeemers (New Leaf Theatre Guest Review by John Taflan)




Jessica Hutchinson’s Bilal Dardai’s Redeemers (currently playing at New Leaf Theatre…oh wait, no it’s not…it’s in a bar) is certainly a festive slice of holiday cake. The play follows the travails of a rag-tag group of middle-class folks just trying to make their way through Barack Obama’s America. It also serves as a cautionary tale for our hardest working citizens. Billionaires beware: If your Fortune 500 comes into a little extra holiday cheer this year, don’t pass it along to your skilled and eager employees. They’ll take your embossed check and shove it up your Christmas stocking.

Ok ok ok…I need to stop the review for a second...ok… There was this little show over the summer called Hideous Progeny produced by LiveWire Chicago Theatre and directed by the aforementioned Jessica Hutchinson. Some of you may have heard about it. I know I sure did. You don’t forget a part like Lord FREAKING Byron all that easily. Nor do you forget a write-up like this:

“Do you know who John Taflan is? He is an actor in town in general and the guy who plays Lord Byron in this play in particular. He usually plays young men on "the edge". He is the third pole in my ‘Axis of Beauty.’”

So, let me ask you this: If you’re an “Axis of Beauty,” if you’re a young man “on the edge,” if you’re the non-Equity Joe Dempsey, then why the hell wouldn’t you have been asked to be in a show directed by the SAME PERSON, starring an actor you’ve ALREADY WORKED WITH, another actor who PRODUCED your beautiful performance, marketed by ANOTHER actor you’ve already worked with, and photographed by the consumptive hippie whose ass you just kicked and whose play-wife you just almost-banged?

Do you have an answer to that?

No, I didn’t think so. Neither do I.

I am a good actor! Why didn’t I get cast in this play? What is wrong with me?! I was in another play with these people and I did good in it! Someone on the internet thought I was beautiful!

All right. Well, you know what, all my used-to-be friends? I don’t need you. I don’t need you, Jess Hutchinson. I don’t need you and your AFFAIR WITH PAT KING, which is the only thing that could possibly explain this egregious miscarriage of character realization. Turns out, all you have to do is BONE a director in this town to get your moment in the Christmas lights. So line up with your dicks out, Chicago. She’s taking headshots!

Seeing as this is a review (in name, at least): Joel Ewing and Marsha Harman both turn in complex, stunning performances…which would have been EVEN BETTER if they weren’t playing off Hutchinson’s skin flute. Seriously, Pat and I are good friends and I love the guy. But that dude crossed the line that dare not be crossed. You signed your cock on her dotted line, man. You filled her inbox with your spam mail, douche-nozzle. Remember your Viewpoints training, dude, because the next time I’m at callbacks with you, there’s gonna be some serious kinesthetic response all up in your face.

We’re still on for dinner this week, right?

Show as is: B+

Show with JOHN TAFLAN: A-

An Open Letter To All You People Who Come to Work Sick (Guest Letter by Anthony Tournis)


Hey. My name is Anthony Tournis. I am a guest reviewer on Reviews you can Iews. When I write a post, there is a certain amount of satire and humor behind what I say. It’s just good fun. However, this post is serious as a goddamn heart attack. This is an open letter to all you people who think it’s cool to come to the office when you are sick as hell. Knock it the fuck off!

First of all, you aren’t impressing anyone. We all think you are a dumbass. Your constant hacking up of phlegm, sneezing, coughing, and running to the bathroom isn’t going to earn you a medal. It will earn you scorn and contempt from people who don’t really respect you in the first place. It’s not like you are the most hygienic people to begin with. Yeah, you have Purell, but you are constantly coughing and sneezing so damn much that there is a mist of you bodily fluids surrounding you at all times. I would stand a better chance of not getting sick by licking the toilet seat in a men’s room of a bullfighting arena in the poor section of Mexico City than by having a thirty second conversation with your disease-riddled ass.

Oh, and thanks for taking my well being into consideration when you dragged yourself into work today. I’m sure you didn’t want to risk me getting sick, but that shipment of dildos just had to get to Cleveland on time, and you were the only one to make sure that it happened. Way to go, Ace! Now I’m sick…AND EVERYONE ELSE I COME INTO CONTACT WITH!!!!! You are worse than that fucking monkey from the movie “Outbreak”. At least he was cute. You look like someone slapped you in the face with a wet burrito, and a not very well constructed burrito at that. You look tired, you have dried vomit on your shirt, and in about two days 8-10 of us are going to feel and look just as horrible as you do. THANK YOU!!! What the hell do you think “sick days” are for, anyway? Listen. If there is one thing corporate America should have taught you is that no one is special. Stay home. You won’t be missed. Really. No one will miss you. Get some rest and get better. Think twice before releasing your plague upon us. Finally, if you take public transportation to work in the state you are in I hope you lose control of your bowels half way through your commute. Then you have to sit in your filth while everyone laughs and moves away from you. That is what you deserve for infecting us.

Love Always,

Anthony Tournis

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The War Plays (Strange Tree Theatre Group GUEST REVIEWER JOHN TAFLAN)


Man, oh man… War makes people cuh-razy. And not just in the usual trench-digging-in-a-French-field, blowing-up-Death-Stars, eating-your-enemy’s-heart-to-gain-his courage sort of way. The war-crazies find their way into every emotional coffer.

In Emily Schwartz’s new war-themed plays, The War Plays, everyone affected by 1944’s war-torn England has a serious case of the I-wanna-make-babies-with-you-even-though-I-just-met-you-or-paid-for-you-or-loved-your-brother crazies (also known as the emotion, “love”).

Taking her cue from Tom Brokaw’s sweeping volume of honor and sacrifice, The Greatest Generation, Schwartz cleverly (and painfully) shows us what it must have been like to watch our grandparents discover they had sexual feelings for each other (also known as the emotion, “love”). Hey, we all got here somehow (although, I’m never drinking gin again).

You may be asking yourself with a grimace, “Isn’t it a little unrealistic for people to fall in ‘love’ under these sorts of conditions? How could you ‘love’ someone with all the violence, shouting, and terrible odors swirling about?” Well, some day when you tell your grandkids you fell in “love” at the Bull & Bear over on Wells, watch the expressions on their faces and you’ll understand.

The War Plays actually begins before the play, The War Plays, begins when a delightfully spirited band of five musicians (the attractive ‘Allied Orchestra’) enter the Athenaeum’s lobby to cheer us up with some songs. Lead by the vivacious Kitty Berlin (the vivacious Jennifer Marschand), our concerns about the bomb blasts we can’t quite hear are quickly assuaged as this depleted ensemble begins their concert (the rest of our musician friends, we find out, have been called to the front). I gotta say though, as much as I enjoyed this musical prelude, I would much rather have had Kitty and the rest of her folks lobbing grenades from foxholes at those stinking Nazis. Heck, I would have even joined them! That’s why I brought my M-16 to the show and hid it in the press packet. (Note: There must have been some problem with the seats directly surrounding me. Everyone seemed to huddle in the northwest corner or the space, probably under a heating vent. Thank you, Athenaeum.)

Back to the show: Well, shit gets real out in the lobby when a bomb blast nearly frightens us all to death, so our hosts guide us into the steel-reinforced, subterranean concrete theatre so we can see show before we die.

The play itself opens at night on a cramped, Blitz-addled platform in the London Underground. There we meet two teenagers, Minnie and Evan (deliciously played by Delia Baseman and Michael Mercier, respectively). Minnie is Evan’s social worker and “outside monitor” (though she pretends to be his sister). Evan is excited to be from Boston even though they’re in London, and you quickly get a sense that Minnie is just waiting for an excuse to leave him on the platform with a box of Graham crackers so she could go back to graduate school and get a real job. That excuse comes in the form of impetuous dreamboat, Evan (sexily played by Marty Scanlon).

Even though Evan could probably use an “outside monitor” himself (he’s getting turned on by bomb blasts, for goodness’ sake), he and Minnie hit it off in one of the most tender scenes I’ve ever seen. Minnie has been shocked into frigidity by the sudden death of her mother, and Evan’s warmth and passion set fire to her soul; they fall in “love.” Minnie and Evan agree to meet the next day on the corner where Minnie’s mother was killed by a bomb blast.

The scene and set shifts as we meet a wealthy soldier and a prostitute who is not really good at her job. Patrick Cannon is exquisitely moving as a young G.I. (Denny) who really wants to “dance” with Jenifer Henry’s nervous yet beguiling Jackie. Jackie’s brother (deliciously played by Michael Mercier), has been pimping he out of his London flat and seems pretty ok with her not kissing men who want to pay her vast sums of money to do so. I don’t know, maybe Denny is too rich and Jackie and her brother just can’t see the big picture? Ah well. Pimping ain’t easy, and extortion is damn near impossible. Jackie’s fiduciary shortsightedness is ultimately revealed when she falls in “love” with Denny and agrees to kiss him for free which makes both of them really happy. Times were different then.

The scene and set shift again as we move from the European theatre of war back to the home front. Elliot (an excellent Bob Kruse) is irritated that his foot has fallen asleep so he calls a car service to come pick him up. Elliot is also irritated that his imposing relative, Lewis (a fetching Weston Davis), has been playing tennis, drinking gin, and finding hidden keys. Elliot is also extremely irritated that his brother was killed. Elliot is the most irritated, however, with Caroline (a feisty and wet Elizabeth Bagby). Caroline loves Elliot but also loved his brother but since the brother is dead she loves Elliot and shows it by throwing gin in his face. Then he throws gin back in her face. See? War makes people crazy.

I was truly impressed with Strange Tree Group’s The War Plays. I certainly hope you’ve seen it because by the time this review is published it will have closed and you will probably have no idea what I’m talking about.

Did I mention The War Plays is actually three short plays? I’m fairly certain I did.

A-

Monday, November 22, 2010

House On The Rock, Wisconsin (Guest Reviewer ADA GREY)


Once a last summer ago I went to House on the Rock in Wisconsin. You should go there because it is very weird and you might laugh your heads off. Or scare your heads off. It was the weirdest house in the whole entire worlds. Worlds with an s because there are planets, and some things live on there like aliens. It was weirder than aliens--it was sooo weird.

There was this thing that was called (well, I am going to add one line) The Scary Mikado. Scary is the part I put in. The Mikado was this Chinese man who was playing the drums, and all these people were playing the horns. Not real people--wood or plastic robots. And the man who was playing the drums kept looking seriouser and pointing his eyebrows. You put in a coin, and then they will do music, and then they will move. I hated the Mikado because of its scary music. And it reminded me of someone dying. It was so stupid; I hated the man with the mustache. I HATED IT SO MUCH. (All in capitals, please.) I hated it more than a giant whale eating me.

Speaking of whales, there was a giant whale that was bigger than real size. And it was wrestling with a Squid! The squid was in the water, and it was wrapping around the whale, and the whale was screaming in terror! (I am laughing at my own review. It is so hilarious.) There was a boat in the whale’s mouth, and it was sticking on his tongue. And it was so scary!

There was a doll carousel with lots of dolls riding on ponies! And standing all around the carousel! And it went to the ceiling! And there was one beautiful bride doll at the top riding on a rainbow pony, and it had beautiful diamonds on it. It was less weird than the other carousel. That had animals on it that were weird. There was a bulldog. The bulldog had a little thing on the back you could ride in and his face was frowning. There was a mermaid and a camel that had seats too. You can’t on ride on them, so don’t disappoint kids. I am not going to talk about everything because there is so many stuff it might take two weeks to finish my review and I want to have some surprises for people that go.

The thing I am going to talk about is like a tunnel that looked like it was going to go on forever and ever and ever. It wasn’t through something, but you could see out, but you were so high that it was scary to look out. There was this big window on the floor, and you couldn’t get past it because there was this rope around it and you couldn’t get past the rope. If you kept walking past the rope then the walls would be too squished together, and then you would try to get through, and then you would be stuck and try to call the police. But you couldn’t reach your cell phone because your hands would be too squished.

There was the room that looked like the city. There was a beer bar (not a sushi bar). They made it to look like the city, and there were carriages and there were like fake people. I pretended that one of the fake people was my boyfriend. I said, “do you want to go somewhere tonight.” And that is all I remember.

It felt like two days but it was only one day. We went both times in one day: in the day and the afternoon. I recommend people see it in one day because then they won’t have to go back if they are leaving the next day to finish it. The man that built the house was crazy. He wanted to be like Frank Lloyd Wright, but he couldn’t. I had more fun at House on the Rock than at the tour of the Frank Lloyd Wright school because House on the Rock was weirder, and i love being weird. I like both architects; Frank Lloyd Wright is fun but not like hilarious. So Frank Lloyd Wright is like “Wow! I like this. It is an awesome tour.” But House on the Rock was like, “Wow! This is hilarious, and it is weird too. I love it.”

A+

Friday, November 19, 2010

I Saw Your Show So You Sure As Shit Better See Mine: Musings on the LA Theatre Scene (Guest Writer Kirk Pynchon)


There are a bevy of reasons to experience live theatre: Sharing a communal experience with like-minded people, relating those emotions and feelings on stage to what is going on in your own personal life, witnessing the baring of the human soul, even pure entertainment and fun.

None of the above applies to theatre in Los Angeles.

Don’t get me wrong. There is a lot of great theatre here. The Odyssey Theatre, A Noise Within, Circle X, East West Players, Open Fist Theater, Actor’s Co-Op – these companies put on plays that are so good that at the end of them you don’t want to applaud, rather you want to run up on stage and punch the performers in the face for being so goddamn good. There are plenty of talented artists and performers here in LA.

I mean, sure, there is definitely some crap theatre here. My friend Brooke and I once went to a sketch comedy show where we were the only two people in the audience. Instead of canceling, the performers decided to do the show anyway. It was the exact opposite of funny and our forced laughter bouncing of the echo-y theatre walls only made the evening more depressing. But hey, there is plenty of crap theatre in Chicago, too. When I lived there I once acted in an ill-advised, all-deaf version of “Our Town” which we fondly derided as “Deaf Town” (and for those of you getting all hippity scotchety about the un-PCness of the above title, let it be known that it was a deaf actor who came up with it – so bite me).

Here are the two reasons theatre exists in LA:

1) “I’m hoping to get noticed by someone important so I can get into TV or film, preferably film.”

Or –

3) “I am not currently doing any TV or film, so I might as well do theatre and bide my time until I can do more TV or film, preferably film.”

Any other reasons to do theatre are utterly superfluous.

And because the TV and film industry is so pervasive here, theatre becomes the ugly, awkward and neglected cousin of show business, that member of your family who you only see on holidays and even that’s too much. Theatre in LA came be summed up in these four words:

NO ONE FUCKING CARES.

Going to theatre in the city of Angels is more of an obligation than a pleasure. You go because you owe someone. It’s tit for tat. It is an unwritten rule of LA theatre that if I have a show and you have a show we both have to see each other’s, even if we hate each other. It’s all part of the forced politeness that makes Los Angeles so special. And if I bring two people to your show, then you goddamn better bring two people to my show. To quote the vastly underrated Helen Slater vehicle, The Legend of Billie Jean, “Fair is fair!”

If you are not getting something out of it than why the hell spend money on tickets, dinner and parking when you can just as well spend the evening inhaling whippets and Twittering as you wait in line to get into a club to drink absinthe? Going to theatre becomes a hassle. Not to mention traffic which, when it can take you two hours to drive 19 miles in rush hour, is reason enough not to go see theatre (Note: if your show is in the Valley, you are out of luck. No one will come see it. Not even if you offered a hand job and a Mounds Bar to follow would they come and see it - and you know a Mounds Bar is tasty).

The only way people will willingly come see your show is if Annette Benning or Neil Patrick Harris is in it, and even then it’s only to have the opportunity to suck at their celebrity teat. And those few people that do want to come see your show want industry comps. Never mind that they may not even be industry, they still want to see it for free. When I used to be a part of the LA theatre scene a good friend of mine insisted I comp him to any show I was in, and he worked in human resources!

“It doesn’t matter, bro.” He would say. “It’s human resources for Disney. It’s still industry.”

And yet, in the ironies of all ironies, there are more theatre companies and theatre productions in LA then there are Chicago or New York, which is both funny and sad at the exact same time. So for those of you in a play or planning to be in a play in Los Angeles I say to you good luck, break a leg and don’t fucking call me…

I’m not going to your show.


- Kirk Pynchon

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Seagull - Goodman Theatre (theatre review by guest blogger Mary Rose O'Connor)


Let me start off by saying that I was in no way solicited to review this play. In fact, I didn’t know I was seeing it until Facebook told me so around 4pm. But The Seagull is one of my fave plays because I have no life. And therefore the open invite from the internet, via my friend Claire Tuft, who’s really cool and everyone should know, seemed like an offer I couldn’t refuse.

She told me to get there early, and after devouring a burger and potato leek soup at The Emerald Loop in less than 20 minutes, I got there fashionably 90 minutes early. That lobby is so pretty at Christmas. And they play a lot of Manheim Steamroller before the show. I’m not sure what that has to do with Russian actors, but I DO know what it has to do with the week after Halloween: CHRISTMAS IS COMING. By the way, you can buy A Muppet Christmas Carol in the lobby at The Goodman. (No one from The Goodman had anything to do creatively with that film.)

Claire got there and we enjoyed an enormous cookie and a lot of coffee. And then went in for the LONG HAUL. A lot of weird stuff happened during the show. Some woman, (unintentionally dressed as Mrs. Claus) got up during the climax of the play to go pee. In the first 10 minutes, someone dropped their ticket stub off the balcony, onto the middle of the stage, (where I’m pretty sure everyone wondered for the next 20 minutes how the actors were going to get rid of it). Somewhere in the middle of Act II, several sheets of looseleaf paper fell from the balcony/sky/phantom-of-the-opera/Tony-Kushner-stage-direction onto someone’s head in the orchestra. I think a lot of people were mad because those guys’ seats were better. But really, no one could complain because tickets were half price. This explains why there were so many local celebrities (actors) in the house. Geoff Button was there.

The play is about artists, what it means to have passion, drug addictions, unrequited love and young mistresses/gigolos. They sang some songs and drank a lot. Francis Guinan was in it. He’s my favorite actor. I’ve named him “the king of standing still” because he can do literally NOTHING with his body on stage and I will eat out of the palm of his hand. He was awesome. In the second act he had a lisp. I wasn’t sure why. I think that’s what happens to Russians when they get older. I guess he’s “method.”

Mary Beth Fisher was in it too. She’s what my “boyfriend” calls Fieeeerce. She was really pretty on stage, and her performance was fantastic. She moved all over the stage, taking really long steps, when she talked, and sometimes rolled around. In Act II she came out with this really weird purse that I think stole the show a little bit. I couldn’t decide if I wanted it for myself, or just wanted it off the stage. But SHE was great. She played an actress (I love when theatre does that-actors who play actors), with a supes hawt younger man (played by my other favorite Chicago male actor Cliff Chamberlain), and a tortured playwright son played by the brooding and ageless Stephen Grush. Stephen Grush has a lot of tattoos that, from the balcony, you can see through his American Apparel shirt. I can’t say I understood what time period this took place, or why some actors looked like they were from the 1930s, while other actors wore Jellies and cargo pants…

The set was cool. They put the actors on a raked dock-like boarded floor. Those kinds of floors always make me nervous that someone’s going to fall down. The only one who fell down a lot though was Francis Guinan. He was ok, until they put him in a modern wheelchair for Act II. I hope he can walk again. Otherwise I’m changing his title to “the king of sitting still.”

I read The Seagull in college, and remembered that Marcia Gay Harden played Masha once, which surprised me when Kelly O’Sullivan played her because she’s a lot younger and not nearly as bitchy looking. But she was still pretty aggressive in that Million Dollar Baby/Fried Green Tomatoes kind of way, and really brought a new element of naïveté and angst that I think really only works with younger actors. It was refreshing.

The lighting was weird, it never got dark; There were really no transitions. Actors would freeze in place and then move onto the next scene. I think that was deliberate. And I don’t know why it was. I think directors often make a choice that says “Isn’t it neat how I made the actors do weird stuff that actually ties into the story so that you’ll do the 'audience grunt of approval’ so that everyone around you knows that you ‘get it?’” Then there are the choices make sense. And then there are the choices where the audience starts laughing awkwardly and looking at each other with the “is this supposed to happen?” eyes. I think the transitions fell into the third category. As my Grandfather used to say “I just need the time. You don’t need to build me a clock.” Sorry Goodmen, the play was gorgeous except for the 10 times when it suddenly looked like a scene from Mannequin.

Overall the evening was fun. Who knew Chekhov did comedies? With suicide, and animal mutilation? Not me! I think it’s only playing this weekend, and I probably ruined it for you already, but the cookies are good, you can buy Christmas DVDs in the lobby (killing two birds with one stone—like in The Seagull—get it?) and the play is rull good. You’ll like it, and if you don’t, just throw shit on the people below or go walk around the orchestra aimlessly during a part where everyone’s trying to pay attention.

Cookies- A+
The Seagull B+

PS Someone’s ringtone went off and it was just someone’s voice repeating “I love you.” It’s really weird when that stuff happens and you’re NOT high.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Traces (Broadway in Chicago) John Taflan


Alright everyone, listen up: Put away your elephants and your clown cars. Turn off all that stupid Cirque de Soleil crap and pay attention. From now on, there’s only one kind of circus, and that circus is “Traces.” That’s it.

What’s that you’re saying? You’re gonna miss all that lion taming and organ music and shit? Well, shut the fuck up. You don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about. Unless you’ve seen “Traces,” you have no idea how great circus can be. “Traces” rocked my fucking face off. This thing’s like getting Kathy Ireland in the sack and finding out she’s got three tits. It’s that good. And the thing’s been around for like, TEN YEARS, too! Did you know that? Cause I didn’t know that. That’s right my friends, those other fucking circuses knew about it and they didn’t tell us. Can you believe that horseshit? Why the fuck were they hiding it?!

You know what? It doesn’t even matter, now. That’s the past. The future is “Traces” which is so fucking spectacular that I think I need to go see a goddamn specialist or something. Seriously. Get me some heavy shoes or a levitating sidewalk ‘cause I’m walking on air, here. Fuck.

Seriously, you’re still reading this? You haven’t even bought your ticket yet, have you? Alright asshole, why haven’t you done that shit? I just told you it was the best. What, you don’t fucking believe me? Why would I lie? I said its great, so the thing is fucking incredible, ok? Christ. Oh, I get it…you’re one of them. Fine.

So, there’s six dudes and a chick and they’re all built. They come out onto this kick-ass looking stage that’s got chairs and poles and a piano and shit. And they just start doing some of the craziest shit I have ever seen. There’s this one part, where these two guys are on the poles and they start BACK-FLIPPING back and forth between them. AT THE SAME TIME. Then, two other guys get in on this back-flipping thing. And then, all six of the dudes are flipping all over the poles like they’re on fire, or something. Then the chick gets up on that pole-flipping, and everyone is flipping and going nuts. And then, they all get skateboards and—I am not making this shit up—they start skateboarding like they’re in some old musical with tuxes and hilarious shaking and then they’re jumping from board to board and going under and over each other. What the fuck, man? I could barely stay in my seat! I smiled so hard I’m going to have to frown for three days straight just to even it out.

Oh, and get this: At the start of the show, there’s this microphone that comes down in the middle of the stage and these guys just start talking to us. Just like we’ve all known each other for years. Like, these are just your cool friends who do acrobatics and play music and shit.

“Oh hey, Florian. How’s it going?”

“Oh, pretty good. You mind if I just start balancing on a stack of chairs using only my head?”

“Yeah sure, man. Whatever you want to do. I’ll just chill out here until you’re done.” And then he does it.

And at the end, they get this huge stack of rings and they start diving through them at the same time and they’re this close to missing each other and then they’re diving through in different ways: Feet first, head first, sideways. You’d think I’d be worried about spoiling it for you by giving all this away, but you’re dead fucking wrong. This shit is so mind-blowing that nothing I could write here could even come close to describing how good it is.

Look, just go buy your ticket. Go fucking see “Traces.”

A+

Monday, November 15, 2010

A Raft Of Cool Amidst A Sea Of Crap (The good parts of shitty comic book movies) by Anthony Tournis


Bad comic book movies are everywhere (and odds are Nicolas Cage is in most of them). Some people don’t know how to bring the story of a comic book character to life, you go and see the piece of shit with high expectations, you watch your childhood being raped by Hollywood, and then you spend the rest of your night telling your childhood it wasn’t it’s fault. Nothing pisses me off more than a bad comic book movie (except Archie Comics (Son of a bitch must pay)). There are some comic book movies that are really shitty, however, they have some parts that are actually really fucking cool (except Ghost Rider, Cat Woman, Barb Wire, and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (nothing is good about those movies(NOTHING))). Here’s a little list of crappy comic book movies that have some kick ass parts to them (even though the movie is shitty):

SUPERMAN III – Man, that movie sucks. Richard Pryor? Really? I mean he is a fucking god, but not in that movie. It wasn’t his fault, it was a horrible movie…except for one part SUPERMAN VS.CLARK KENT!!!!! What a kick ass way of showing good versus evil…on a construction site…WITH OPEN POOLS OF ACID!!! This was done before CGI, so Christopher Reeve had to have a spot on body double. Which he did. Awesome fight.

PUNISHER (2004) – This isn’t my favorite movie, but I don’t completely hate it either. However, so many people hate this movie I will classify it as shitty (see what I do for you people?). No matter who hates this movie they all agree that Punisher’s fight with the Russian kicks all forms of ass! Kevin Nash and Thomas Jane beat the shit out of each other for three and a half hours. This fight goes on forever and it is brutal as hell. Guns, knives, fists, and grenades…HOW CAN YOU NOT LIKE THAT?!?!?!?

PUNISHER: WAR ZONE – This movie was almost irredeemable. It flat out sucks. The only saving grace is that it’s violent as hell. I mean really bloody. Tons of blood, guts and gore are the only thing good about this movie.

SPIDERMAN 3 – This piece of shit is a piece of shit. One of the most disappointing movies of all time. It ranks up there with Attack Of The Clones. I can’t even begin to describe where this movie went wrong. Venom = LAME. Hobgoblin/ New Green Goblin = Lame. Not using The Lizard even though he has shown up in the two previous movies = LAME! Sandman = Actually, he is pretty good. His back story is great, he’s the only character that has any depth, and his story asks the question: is it alright to do bad things if it’s for a good cause?

You see, good can come from bad…at least in these examples. Don’t try to look for redemption in ALL shitty comic book movies. The last thing I want on my conscience is you watching Superman IV: The Quest For Peace looking for meaning. No one should sit through that. Please promise me you won’t ever…EVER watch that movie.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Thank God It's Eric & Andy!!!


Hi faithful readers and people who found this blog searching for man on man porno!

Listen, Andy & I are so sorry for not updating for a while.  What with the election (Go Green Party!  Way to take the House!), the weather, our weirdo day jobs at the car wash (That's a whole blog waiting to happen!  We could be a sitcom over there!), and the release of the amazingly hilarious DUE DATE, we've been swamped!

But, we do have some updates and exciting news and gossip for you!  Keep reading!

First and foremost, how would you like to see Eric & Andy LIVE ON STAGE???  You can!  This Monday night at the Strawdog Theatre Company's PHONEBOOK!!!!  Tickets are only $100 and the show starts at 7pm!  We'll definitely be doing something, and there's so much more than just us...Nate Allen, Mike Nussbaum, the wonderful Seeking Wonderland band, J & M of the J & M Comedy Showplace, T.J. and Dave, Dennis Zacek, and so much more!!!  See you there!

Plus, our own Anderson Lawfer, actor and writer and sometime detective, will be closing State of the Union at Strawdog this weekend!  Don't miss out, because if you do, there's no way to go back in time and see it...yet!

Also, the lovable scamps at the Factory Theater Company open their next classic Jenny & Jenni tonight with a big fat opening night performance and party!  This show is about aerobics and feeling great!  Don't you want to feel great, America?  Oh...well, don't you want to watch other people pretending to feel great?  FANTASTIC!  Don't miss this thing!

And...will you take a look at these guys?


OMFG, right????

One last little thing:

Read about the Grove Players' production of the musical Oliver!

Please read all of the comments too, and feel free to leave your OWN comments on what you think of the review, the other comments, and the musical Oliver!  Be sure to remain anonymous, because there is nothing more awesome than leaving anonymous comments on someone's community theatre review blog!

We hope you are really reaching for the stars, America!  Don't worry...things are going GREAT!

America, Eric & Andy, Corgis, Oliver! - A PLUS!!!!!!!!!!!

-Eric Roach, Anderson Lawfer

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Timeline 2010-2060: The End Times

November 2, 2010 - Midterm elections.  Republicans and the Tea Party sweep the House and Senate, somehow installing Glenn Beck as Secretary of the Interior.  We check the by-laws, and it's legal.  Sean Penn cries on Olbermann.

2012 - Sarah Palin is elected President of America (Southern Territory).  Barack Obama is elected to his 2nd term as President of New Illinois (Northern Territory).  Jon Hamm is elected Prime Minister of Los Diego (Western Territory).  Dog The Bounty Hunter stages a coup and establishes himself as Warlord of the Great Desert (formerly Wyoming, North & South Dakota and Idaho).

2017 - A meteor crashes somewhere in Nevada and the zombie apocalypse is finally upon us.  A ragtag group of rebels led by Cyborg Rex Grossman leads an assault on the Castle of New Austin, and insane pirate leader George W. Bush strikes back with 50 warheads that he had stolen "just in case."  These warheads are lazed out of the sky by the Russian Mafia's satellites...except for 2.  One hits the San Andreas fault, sending the old West Coast into the sea (no one seems to mind this very much) and one hits Winnipeg.  Canada declares war on the entire North American continent.  Everyone in Europe just tells the New World to "blow it out your ass" and starts trading with Brazil.  Europe becomes totally awesome again.

2025 - The zombie apocalypse is still raging, but contained in the Great Desert.  Generalissimo Palin flies her invisible B2 bomber to China to ask for a few more weeks on the loan.  China gets really mad, and now they have like 4 billion people so this doesn't look good for anyone.  Justin Beiber has become pure energy and taken over the entire holoweb, Beiberizing it.  All news and information comes from the Great Bieber Intelligence.  Haircuts become really, really girly.

2041 - Smallpox is BACK, and it's bigger than ever.  So, people start calling it Bigpox.  Of course, not too many call it that, because it has a 96% fatality rate.  It even kills off what's left of the zombies, and no one figured they'd ever be gone.  There's only a few hundred thousand people left in North America now...and the Republicans are in power again in the House and Senate.  Sasha Obama (who looks awesome in her Tina Turner Thunderdome outfit, btw) runs Mexico now.  She calls herself "The Duke of the Yuke," which many people find pretty ridiculous on the Biebernet.  John F. Kennedy-81 Olbermann is the latest pundit calling for an end to her iron fisted rule.  He runs for Congress, but is murdered in the arena (as per the 64th Amendment) by his opponent Franklin Delano-62 O'Reilly.  The Republicans finally have 2/3 majority!!!

2060 - God finally puts us all out of our misery, cleansing North America with fire.  Commenters on the Beibernet find this "A typically LIEBERAL thing to do!  Way to go, Supreme HUSSEIN Being! LOLZ!!"

Monday, November 1, 2010

Company - Griffin Theatre (Theatre Review)


Listen up, America. I am a straight man. And while I am an actor, I learned as a youngster the differences between musical theatre "actors" and actual actors.
Actual actors in plays are interested in telling stories and will suffer for their art through many forms of hangovers but will still give you the true feelings with cracked voices and little to no makeup or interest in their appearance. Musical theatre "actors" are interested in wearing lots of foundation and furthering their "career" by singing as loud as they can and limping through the actual storytelling with their dead eyes and Fisherman's Friend breath. Just looking around to see who is in the audience that they can sing at and where to put their little microphones so we can see them but not too conspicuous, like if they were in "Rent".

Is this a generalization?
No.

Is this jealousy?
Probably.


Truth is, I don't know shit about musicals. I have done a few (including a rock opera based on Franz Kafka's The Trial) but have never been terribly interested in being a part of that scene.

In my experience, musicals are about situations that are bigger than you. They tell epic tales of Lion Kings and Spidermen. They introduce us to dragons and Puerto Ricans. They take us to lonely Pirate islands on big boats and into famous pieces of artwork.

The play I saw on Sunday is called "Company" by Steven Sondheim and here is what it is about:
This dude named Bobby has a lot of friends that are miserable and are married and he is single and handsome and has sex with hot weirdo (Dana Tretta, hot as usual. Elizabeth Lanza, hot. Samantha Dubina, hot.) girls all the time. He wears a suit everywhere and stays out drinking all night, then goes to his well paying job and then is every one's friend and everybody loves him and then he gets some more pussy and bourbon. But this doesn't make Bobby happy. Bobby wants to be in marriage. Not love, he doesn't care about love, he just wants the insurance of having a warm body around all the time.
Well, poor Bobby. It's SOOOOOOOO HARRRRRRRD to be YOOOOOOOOOOU.

That last line was sarcastic. Sometimes sarcasm is a great way to get your point across, but it can be hard when you write. For instance, how are people to know that when, for example, I say "fabulous" I am really saying "terrible"?

The show is at the fabulous Stage 773. Super comfortable chairs and great sound quality are just a couple of the amenities you will encounter on your visit.

I guess Stephen Sondheim is famous for writing musicals about regular stuff with regular people. Company is one of his more famous ones. There aren't any songs you leave humming or any real melodies, but I think that's part of the charm of his work. I have always wondered that about musicals. Why is it, when someone is so overcome with emotion that they have to sing an actual song? Why can't they just be overcome with emotion and then sing some wandering notes in no particular order? If you have wondered this also, then Company is the show for you to see.

Now this particular production is a different case than the points I have made earlier. Griffin Theatre Company is famous for picking out pieces that best reflect the ideas of the company, and I think Company is probably right in their wheelhouse. I think for the most part, they were more interested in casting actors than musical theatre monkeys. The talent on display is unspeakable.

Jonathan Berry directed this.

Is Jonathan Berry an unmarried man in his 30's? Is this play a cry for help? We will never know.


In the course of this musical, Bobby goes to see all of his friends who are married and are in different stages of their relationship. There is the couple that is about to get married (Danny Taylor at his best ever and Darci Nalepa at her best ever too, I guess, I've never seen her before). This couple is about to get married and the girl is freaking out because she will have to be with the same man for the rest of her life. The guy doesn't seem to mind though.

There is the couple going through mid-life (Trey Maclin and Mari Stratton, slumming it at the Griffin. They will both be very famous.). This couple is trying everything to keep their passions going. Not just passions for each other, but passions for life. Trying Not to Die Inside is a popular hobby for most people in their mid 30s/40s, and they are trying everything from not drinking to karate to dieting and nothing seems to be working. So we have that to look forward to.

There is the couple that got divorced but is staying together for the kids. He might be gay and she is southern. They are played by the wonderful Laura McClain and the unstoppable force known as Robert McLean.

Robert McLean never ceases to amaze me. He is never bad. His Aragorn in Lord of the Rings was a little fey, but that's to be expected and also that was years ago. In Company he plays a fella who loves the fellas, and is very convincing. His speaking voice is wonderful and he sings as if an angel was inside of him and maybe this angel has a good singing voice also. He is our generation's answer to the Rubik's Cube.

There is the couple that sort of hates each other and are on their 8th or 9th marriages. Played with strength and believability by the one and only Allison Cane beautiful in her drunken, belligerent anger. Larry Baldacci has outdone himself again as the sad sack husband that just loves her money. These guys are the most lost of all and seem to be holding on to each other and their work as buoys so they don't get swept off into the vacuous hole of their own lives.

There is the couple who is poor but has all the love. Nikki Klix, my favorite actress in town and Paul Fagen, my other favorite actress in town do a great job. They play a couple that is in love and on the up and up. They have decided to have Bobby over to smoke a little weed and talk talk talk. This was my favorite scene and Klix and Fagen nail it down. I have never used drugs, but they look like fun from this play.

Finding love can be tricky. You need to have faith in addition to love. Faith that the other person will love you back, faith that you are worthy of their love, and faith that this is the right person.
It seems harder than just being alone sometimes.
I think that's what all 4 of these couples were struggling with. There is always love, but faith is harder to come by.

Benjamin Sprunger sounds like the past tense version of Benjamin Springer, but he isn't. He is a real person and he plays Bobby. He is pretty great. That role seems hard to do. He is also very handsome and opens his mouth really wide when he sings so you can almost see into his throat. I like that in a singer.

The band is great too. They are lead by a woman named Allison Kane, and play all the "songs". The costumes are good too! Allison Siple knows that already, because she is the hottest costumer in town and doesn't need me talking about her.

Now I know what you are thinking.
"This play sounds expensive."

You are right.
It costs $32 for one ticket.
That's to keep out all the riff-raff and have fancy people in to see it.
If you can sneak in though, you should see this play and maybe you will have a change of heart about musicals too!


A


-Anderson Lawfer, Eric Roach