Saturday, November 17

Curtain calls


Tuesday, October 20, 1998

Curtain calls

"Very Truly Yours "

Through Nov.15

Tiffany Theater

West Hollywood

Tickets: $20-25

(310) 289-2999

David Worby’s "Very Truly Yours " is a piercing, introspective
look into the life of the lead character, Daniel. Set in the 1990s,
Daniel is given a letter from his dead father’s ex-lover. Upon
reading the letter, Daniel is taken back through his sordid past,
and the audience witnesses the trials and tribulations of an
abusive father, a broken marriage, an estranged sister and a
delinquent brother.

The set design for this show is simple yet sufficient and makes
great use of the small space that the actors are given. With a
wooden table, a couch and a few small boxes to hold set and costume
changes, the audience feels closer to the characters without a lot
of clutter on the stage to pose as a barrier between actor and
audience.

With a sound script and a natural-feeling set design, it is up
to the actors to bring the script to life and make use of the
stage, and they are successful.

Cyril O’Reilly, who plays Daniel, gives a brilliant, strong
performance which brings the script to life and demands an
emotional response from the audience. O’Reilly’s passionate
performance in key scenes bring the crowd into the character’s
world.

Edward Albert, who plays William, the ex-lover of Daniel’s
father also delivers a brilliant and convincing performance. Acting
largely as the narrator of the play, Albert achieves a rapport with
the audience through his poignant dialogue and dramatic timing.

Another memorable performance comes from Daniel’s father, Paul,
played by Jeff Kober. He plays a World War II veteran who is
haunted by his war experience and abuses his children and alcohol
with the same intensity. The actor manages to stir up anger and
frustration within the audience and make the crowd feel as
emotionally torn and confused about his character as Paul (Kober)
feels about himself.

Joining the successful leading cast are the smaller characters
in the show, who deserve equal accolades. Carole Ita White plays
both Daniel’s marriage counselor and psychologist. Her ability to
switch from a character who provides major comic relief in the play
as the marriage counselor to the serious and heart-felt
psychologist is amazing.

Also carrying two small roles with powerful effects is Joseph
Fuqua, who plays Daniel’s delinquent brother and comedic yet
angst-ridden best friend Robbie. Fuqua’s energy, articulation and
natural ease in delivering humor in key scenes makes his
performance truly memorable.

With a brilliant cast, a simple yet efficient set design and a
moving script, "Very Truly Yours " is very truly amazing.

Danielle Myer

"The Merchant of Venice "

Through Nov. 8

Knightsbridge Theater

Old Town Pasadena

Tickets: $10-15

(626) 440-0821

Ninety-nine seats, a spiral staircase and a stage level with the
audience – these are the defining characteristics of the
Knightsbridge Theater, which is currently showing "The Merchant of
Venice " by William Shakespeare.

"Merchant " explores the anti-Semitism prevalent in early
seventeenth century London. It is a constant debate whether
Shakespeare himself was an anti-Semite, or if he presents this
point of view as a way to mock those that were anti-Semitic.
Regardless, this comedy contains a plethora of derogatory language
toward Jewish people, making it difficult to present while still
making the audience laugh.

The cast at the Knightsbridge Theater does not fully succeed at
this task. While some of the actors seem comfortable with their
roles, such as UCLA alumni Ursula Murdock, who plays Portia, and
Tiger Reel, who plays Bassanio, others overact, thus deferring from
the true comedy that simply lies within the lines of the play.

The one comic relief that truly does work is the character
Launcelot, played by David Reynolds, whose interaction with the
audience and comedic timing make him a pleasure to watch.

However, the overall aesthetic setting of the Knightsbridge
Theater almost overshadows the lukewarm performance given by the
actors.

The minimalist set and realistic costumes add to the feel of the
play. This, complied with the high level of interaction with the
audience, allows the viewer to feel more in tune with the
seventeenth century English experience that Shakespeare is
attempting to portray.

Kate Herold

"Sumthin’ Special "

Through Nov. 20

ACME Comedy Theatre

Hollywood

Tickets: $10

(323) 525-0202

There is nothing special happening in this two-man play. An
original idea from Josh Gilbert and Russell Bell, "Sumthin’ Special
" really identifies better as eight short skits than a full-fledged
theatrical production.

With no particular setting or real plot, "Special " stumbles
through 40-odd minutes of "comedy, " showcasing some very well-worn
character types and dialogue that has seen better days and has been
delivered by better people.

Gilbert and Bell presented their project on a bare stage with a
scattering of homemade props used for each sketch.

The evening started with a dance routine by the two stars who
tried painfully to exaggerate the fact white men can’t dance.

It only got worse.

It starts with "Letters " which turned two men against each
other, due to a few slipped secrets and fragile male egos. The
funny part comes in with the reconciliation between the two chums;
they tap into the rare sensitive side, giving each other cards and
playing the jilted lover. "Letters " steals cliches found in any
bad UPN sitcom. The delivery predictably limps by until one male
fellow has a pathetic epiphany, usually discovered while in the
bathroom, but they decide to put it on stage.

Leaning toward the dreadful for the bulk of the play, "Special "
offers little to look forward to besides the end. Some skits simply
fill time. "Rock " found the two man-children hopping up and down
wailing and ripping at the guitar. The sight gag failed to hit the
funny bone of the audience.

"Special’s " saving grace rested in the eagerness spilling over
in Gilbert and Bell. Their energy and juvenile approach to certain
skits managed a few laughs. Light-hearted "Nemesis " pitted Sunday
comics hero and villain in a heated contest of wit. A bumbling
protagonist squares off against his equally incompetent antagonist
in the only insightful piece of writing found in "Special. "

"Special " toils to rise above the theater floating around Los
Angeles, but it should first try just to be average.

Trinh BuiPhoto Courtesy Michael Lamont

Elyssa Davalos and Jeff Kober dance in the world premiere of
"Very Truly Yours, " a play by David Worby with Ron Marans, at the
Tiffany Theater in West Hollywood.

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© 1998 ASUCLA Communications Board[Home]

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