News Ticker

Jonathan Slaff

Spin Off

September 25, 2018

Considering the repetitiveness of the material and the fancifulness of the play, Megan McQueen as Rosie Ramirez and Kevin Rico Angulo as Det. Jimmy Marks make a great deal more of their characters than is in the writing, while the rest of the actors in underwritten roles do quite a bit less. Both attractive performers, they make us care about their characters though not much is happening. It is to be hoped that they find more substantial roles soon that will showcase their talents. [more]

Life Among the Aryans

June 8, 2018

"Life Among the Aryans" is the latest work from Ishmael Reed, the American poet, novelist, essayist, and Pulitzer-Prize nominee. Directed by Rome Neal, the play’s thematic nexus lies in disillusionment and exploitation. Two white nationalists, John Shaw (Frank Martin) and Michael Mulvaney (Tom Angelo), see an America that has left the ‘white working-class’ behind in favor of appeasing the rest of society. These developments are the embodiment of their discontent, and they yearn for a return to the America of old; they want to make America great again. [more]

Hercules Didn’t Wade in the Water

May 20, 2018

"Hercules Didn't Wade in the Water" is the winner of the Negro Ensemble Company, Inc.’s 2017 Emerging Playwrights Competition and this is its premiere. Michael A. Jones’ passionate eloquence and the strong performances compensate for the production’s limited presentational values.  [more]

Subway Story (A Shooting)

March 9, 2018

"Subway Story (A Shooting" is the fifth and final installment of William Electric Black’s Gunplay Series, a sequence of plays “dedicated to all who have lost their lives to the senseless gun violence plague.” In this concluding chapter, ongoing gun violence, particularly its link to urban youths, is the prevailing theme. Black is a seven-time Emmy award-winning writer. His work often broaches societal-conscious issues. [more]

Prague, 1912 (The Savoy Café Yiddish Theatre)

November 13, 2017

There is a fascinating story to be told in Franz Kafka’s involvement with the Yiddish theater in Prague during 1912 but Lu Hauser’s play isn’t it. "Prague, 1912 (The Savoy Café Yiddish Theatre)" is both episodic and repetitious without being clear as to the point that it is making. It simply seems to be a collection of scenes on the same themes that endlessly repeats itself. As Paula Vogel’s "Indecent" has demonstrated, there is a renewed interest in the Yiddish theater but "Prague, 1912" has not brought to life this world that is now gone with the wind. [more]

A Soldier’s Play

October 1, 2017

Director Charles Weldon acted in the 1983, Mark Taper Forum’s Los Angeles production, and besides his meticulous casting he has perfectly rendered this revival. Mr. Weldon’s physical staging inventively, precisely and aesthetically utilizes the large stage to faithfully realize the material. [more]

“Rosalee Pritchett” & “The Perry’s Mission”: Two one-act plays

April 12, 2017

"Rosalee Pritchett" and "The Perry's Mission" are in the provocative tradition of such works of the period as Amiri Baraka’s 1964 play Dutchman and Melvin Van Peebles’ 1970 film "Watermelon Man." This exemplary production brings attention to these neglected playwrights, and is a welcome opportunity to experience their unsettling power. [more]

Golgotha

January 27, 2017

Mr. Refael’s simple but well-crafted scenario takes place in a contemporary apartment in Israel, and has the elderly Salvado looking back at his past. This is theatrically achieved by having him directly addressing the audience. His best friend and fellow survivor is to be honored at the Holocaust memorial center Yad Vashem during a ceremony where he will light a torch. When he becomes incapacitated, that task falls to Salvado. This situation instigates a flood of painful reminiscences that explore his guilt at having survived. [more]

Allen Wilder 2.0

January 21, 2016

Joe Casey is a charming actor. He exudes a “playboy” vibe which goes hand-in-hand with the character of Michael whose vices range from women to booze and back again. Casey shows an understanding of a man who is largely misunderstood and actually well-intentioned. Steph Van Vlack plays the role of Donna. Nearing 50 and a divorcée with a child, Donna is conflicted in light of the fact that she—a woman of her age—is engaging in an apparent “one night stand.” Among other things, this is also a character deeply disturbed that she’s actually considering sleeping with the child she used to babysit for all those years ago. Van Vlack brings a necessary uncertainty to the character. Playing a woman of certain age, Van Vlack’s performance indicates that Donna still has deep insecurities and still has quite a bit to learn about relationships. [more]

Half Moon Bay

October 11, 2015

Under Margarett Perry’s careful direction, Half Moon Bay, challenges an audience to try and decipher Richie’s infatuation with Alicia and what type of relationship he wants with her. Her mysterious ways question if she even wants his help at all or if his obsession clouds his otherwise logical judgment. Dumeng is the perfect mix of purity and puzzlement when she doesn’t even recall where she grew up or who her family is. The only concern she has is her baby who was taken away from her as she worked hard at part-time job after part-time job to make ends meet. The audience is left to ponder what her motives are and if there is any rationale to Richie’s decision to invest in her life. The do-gooder in him is admirable but the price he pays to help this woman is heartbreaking, causing the audience to feel sympathy as well as concern for his condition. [more]

Six Passionate Women

October 15, 2014

Structurally, it is a collection of vignettes that all end in a blackout, punctuated with the sounds of composer Nino Rota’s lively music used in many of Fellini’s films. Here, it comes across as a bunch of connected, superficial comedy sketches, many of which fall flat. The actors, though all are talented, in some cases don't quite fit their roles but commendably do their best. The overall effect at times is of awkwardness and pacing that is less than comic. [more]