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A Masterful Performance Breathes New Life into Othello

By Patrick Hurley

One could call it an exercise in theatrical scaling-down, as if the piece were literally and figuratively constricting itself and its characters as it moves along, tightening its grip until at last, nearly out of breath, it culminates in a final claustrophobic moment. Shakespeare’s Othello, playing now at A Noise Within, is yet another example of the bard’s brilliance for metaphor and symbolism and is one of his more accessible tragedies.

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Matthew Bourne’s Cinderella is a Darkly Beautiful Fairy Tale

By Patrick Hurley

Nearly twenty years after its premiere, Matthew Bourne’s dazzling production of Cinderella once again graces the stage of the Ahmanson theatre. The piece, like the choreographer/director himself, is still going strong, and is a great testament to the power of storytelling.

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A Beautiful Inspector Discovers More Style Than Substance

The responsibility that we all have as human beings toward our fellow human beings is illuminated and exaggerated into the dark parable An Inspector Calls playing now at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts.

Written by J.B. Priestley in 1945, and set in a fictional British town in 1912, the story takes place in real time as the wealthy Birling family is visited by a mysterious inspector who informs them that a young woman has committed suicide and they all may have had a role to play in it.

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There’s Not Much Substance There For Hir.

By Patrick Hurley

There is a continuing theatrical narrative of patriarchal and hegemonic representation. A plethora of American stories that deal with the lower to middle class American family through a very traditional lens, highlighting struggle. For the last decade or so, the surge of identity politics, awareness of a need to be more inclusive and  over-correction of the aforementioned narrative, there has been a shift in the collective narrative from the white heteronormative expectancy of canonical works into one of many colors, shapes, sexual orientations, gender identities and cultural re-appropriations. (more…)

Grounded Come From Away Flies High on First National Tour

By Patrick Hurley

In today’s volatile and divisive political climate, where lines are being drawn separating ideology from humanity, it’s heartening to see a work of art that not only demonstrates how small the divide actually is between all of us, but also shows how kindness and benevolence, charity and goodwill are indeed still a thing to which we can all aspire.  Come From Away, on its first National Tour, playing now at the Ahmanson Theatre, is a high spirited, evocative and fascinating true story about the capacity of human kindness and the indelible spirit that we all long for in times of crisis. (more…)

Beckett Demonstrates Longevity In Double Bill With Weaker O’Neill

By Patrick Hurley

Hughie and Krapp’s Last Tape, playing now at the Geffen Playhouse, prove to be a contrasting but thematically compatible pair starring two time Tony Award Winning actor Brian Dennehy in a double bill that showcases not only his gravitas as an actor, but the disappointments and disillusionments of life as perceived by perhaps the two greatest dramatists of the twentieth century. (more…)

Game is Highly Charged and Relevant

By Patrick Hurley

Agitprop theatre is a highly politicized liberal leaning style that came out of Europe in the 1920s. The plays of Bertolt Brecht are still the most notable examples of this particular movement.  With his sudden shifts and lack of theatricality, Brecht wanted the audience to be witness to how theatre was made, to the artificiality of it so they could ignore everything but the message of the play. The Bitter Game, written and performed by Keith A. Wallace, playing for a limited engagement on the terrace of the Wallis Annenberg in Beverly Hills is an exciting reminder that highly charged political pieces of art have the ability to stir and surprise while inciting you to some kind of political action. (more…)

Dear Evan Hansen Flashes its Way into History

By Patrick Hurley

Stories of teenage turmoil have been being told for centuries. The misunderstood youth trope nearly always serves a narrative wherein a moral dilemma serves as edification to an ignorant, older audience. Shakespeare killed his young star-crossed lovers. The adults in their lives had driven them to suicide because of their inability to reconcile differences with each other, thus preaching the dictum of embracing each other’s differences. Dear Evan Hansen, the Broadway phenomenon, which is currently on its first national tour, playing at the Ahmanson Theatre, is the most recent iteration of the misunderstood youth narrative, and this time, as is the custom with today’s YA fiction, it wants to feel like an inside job. (more…)

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern is Dead on!

By Patrick Hurley

Free will and the sheer randomness of the universe as two men wander a theatrical wilderness in desperate search for understanding makes Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, playing now at A Noise Within, a thought-provoking modern masterpiece that is as deeply profound as it is hilarious. (more…)

Nikki Corona Proves Not Only Untranslatable, But Un-Developed and Nearly Un-Watchable.

By Patrick Hurley

There doesn’t seem to be a good place to start to discuss the inscrutable and confounding play that is Jose Rivera’s The Untranslatable Secrets of Nikki Corona, playing now at the Geffen playhouse.   (more…)