1984 (BROAD STAGE)

12525503_976259043290_327585136592894903_oI did not know what I was getting into when I went to see 1984 at the Broad Stage. Like most high school students, I read the Wikipedia page instead of the book. The play  was very ambitious (which I appreciated), but went a little too far at times. For example, the show starts with non-linear storytelling and ends with linear storytelling. The non-linear method works to show the effects of Big Brother, but loses some of the story. If you start something one way, I believe you should finish it the same way. I would have loved for the whole show to jump from point to point instead of going linear for the second half, because it would have been more powerful than the ending that was given.

SPOILER ALERT: The ending was pure torture, literally and figuratively. It was a torture scene for 20 minutes. The guy sitting next to me almost vomited. At one point the house lights came up, and the actor was begging (what felt like to the audience) to make Big Brother stop the torture….I think after 10 minutes we got the idea. Throughout the show,  an amazing level of multimedia was used, which really drove home the message that “Big Brother is watching you.” Cameras were hidden all over the set, and projected onto a screen what the actors were doing.  What if they used that multimedia at the end? Instead of seeing an actor spit blood and bleed out all over the stage, what if they had cameras on the audience the whole time and the end of the show cut to clips of the audience reaction? That would have given us the same feeling without the grotesque imagery. Also, if the show was non-linear we could have seen the torture in the middle of the show and maybe a different scene in the end, like one between the two lovers discussing how to stop Big Brother. That would have been more effective, inspiring, and thought-provoking for the audience.

Great theater can accomplish a lot, but it usually does one of two things. 1. It entertains you to a point where you are transported to a world that makes you forget about your own. 2. It makes you reflect. “What would you do?” is a question that I usually ask myself after a superb theater piece that challenges the audience. 1984 tried. It really did. It made the audience extremely uncomfortable with constant strobe light flashes in the eyes and captured the feeling of the book. It failed though in challenging us to ask ourselves if we would rebel against the government like Winston Smith and Julia did. In a world where the NSA is listening, drones are flying over and watching, and social media and phones let everyone know where we are/what we are doing, that question is a very important one to ask.

– Trevor

 

 

 

AN ACT OF GOD (AHMANSON)

12695011_980149910960_1322006335147190236_oAn Act of God at the Ahmanson (Center Theatre Group) is definitely the best thing we’ve seen so far this year.The premise is that God inhabits the body of Will & Grace star Sean Hayes, and tells the audience about his new 10 commandments. Originally played on Broadway by Big Bang Theory star Jim Parsons, this mostly one-man show (he does have two archangels who play minor roles as the narrator and audience interaction coordinator) is hilarious while managing to only be slightly offensive. An off-taste Holocaust joke was the worst joke of the night. Sean Hayes is brilliant – I can’t imagine God being played by anyone else. And the writers were great about including some bits about Los Angeles, as well as some very current political jokes.

SPOILER ALERT: While it was mostly funny and raucous, the show did have some more somber moments. After the show, Trevor pointed out one of these moments, that was sort of glazed over – I missed it completely. Along the way, you get the sense that God is apologizing for his f*ck-ups. And towards the end of the show, he says something along the lines of “I am your worst invention”. This is a very interesting idea no matter what your religious affiliation is. What is he saying about humanity? About religion? Something to think about….

P.S. Through our blogging, you’ll soon discover that I mostly like comedies and musicals, and that Trevor is actually the really insightful one. He always surprises me during our post-show discussions – clearly while I’ve been bopping along in my seat to the catchy tunes, he’s been analyzing the stories and the messages. He’s a smart one, that guy!

– Jerusha

 

EMPIRE (LA MIRADA)

12698325_981691830940_3272987343748730001_oOkay, I lied. Since it’s fresh on our minds, we’ll cover Empire: The Musical first. We just came home from La Mirada, where we saw this world premiere musical (with Broadway aspirations), about the building of the Empire State Building.

Jerusha: Loved it! A throwback to old Broadway musicals.

Trevor: It will have its “Heyday” on Broadway eventually, but they still need to tweak a few nuts and bolts.

Thanks for the pun, Trevor…

The songs were catchy, the staging was pretty cool (lots of great projections and expertly staged interactions with those projections), and the choreography was amazing! Director and Choreographer Marcia Milgrom Dodge’s work includes the new production of Ragtime, and you can tell -very similar clean lines and moves. Main character Frankie Peterson will surely go to Sutton Foster, if the show moves to Broadway. La Mirada never fails to deliver. Overall, a fun pre-Valentine’s date night out!

– Jerusha

 

PLACES PLEASE!

blog banner

In the little over 2 years since we started dating, Trevor and I have seen 60 plays and musicals together…separately, we’ve seen even more. Seeing theatre is something we love to do together, and thanks to Trevor’s work perks and my network, we get to do it a lot! Our post-date conversations are always interesting and insightful (we think), so we thought we’d start to document our feelings and opinions of the shows we see in LA (and beyond!) – both the good and the bad. For a little history, see the sidebar where we’ve listed out all the shows we saw together before this blog came into existence. We’ll kick off the blog posts (next time) with a short review of our first show of 2016 – Spelling Bee at the Hillcrest Center for the Arts. Enjoy!

– Jerusha