Herbert Siguenza, of Culture Clash fame, has written a rousing, funny, and eloquent script based on Shakespeare’s history play, Henry IV, Part one. We’re at Aztlan City — i.e. post-apocalyptic San Diego in 2045. The bank crash of 2032 sent the gringos east of the Rockies. Now five cliques vie for control of the vast domain. El Hank has as many troubles as his original — King Henry IV — power, legitimacy, guilt (the play comes eerily close to Shakespeare’s; except the ending, which feels forced). El Henry (Prince Hal) frolics with “the ho’s and the bro’s” -the 2045 equivalent of Sir John Falstaff and cronies at the Boar’s Head Tavern. Sam Woodhouse staged the show on a vacant lot outdoors. It’s a masterful tapestry of physical movement and smart, funny, verbal equivalents to the original.
Laura Jacqmin’s play wants to be “a comedy about a tragedy.” So she applies techniques of “magic realism” to a piece about Alzheimer’s. Some of her choices try too hard to ingratiate, others — especially early on — just irk. But then the production, directed with acute sensitivity by Robert Barry Flemming (whose mother has Alzheimers), with design work by David F. Weiner (set) and Joseph Huppert’s background music, and a stellar performance by Linda Libby. She plays Molly, a docent who notices that she can’t remember facts. We see the world through Molly’s slowly declining point of view. Libby’s Molly becomes confused, fragile, resilient, and deeply moving.
Miss Firecracker Contest
Beth Henley’s comedies require artistic gumption. You don’t want to go over-the-top. But to make those whacko scenes work, you need to verge on it. Staid performances needn’t apply. Thanks to Darren Scott’s “damn the torpedoes” direction, Firecraker’s enjoying a “full speed ahead” mounting worthy of its needs. Carnelle has a reputation: “Miss Hot Tamale,” to be exact. And she’s determined — no, make that driven; no, make that hyper-obsessed — to change it. So she enters the region’s most prestigious contest: Miss Firecracker. But come on, she has snow-cone’s chance in Hades. Or, maybe (Beth Henley does wonderful things with hope), maybe if it’s a down year, and the competition becomes ill? Naw. Carnelle shouldn’t get her hopes up. She doesn’t sing or dance well, and her baton-twirling could qualify her as harboring a lethal weapon. Samantha Ginn heads an appropriately gonzo cast as Carnelle, the vulnerable dervish.
“In far off Fronce I heard yer call…” And here’s Moonlight to give their all. Local theaters sometimes announce they’re doing “Broadway quality work.” And sometimes it’s true. Some times. Case in point: for its outdoor, summer season opener, Moonlight Productions is using the original Broadway sets, costumes, choreography, videos, along with director/choreographer Brad Bradley, who was in the original cast (including tryouts). The experience shows in every scene. The cast — in particular Sean Murray (King Arthur), Christine Hewitt (Lady in the Lake), and Danny Gurwin (Sir Gallahad) — have vocal chops-plus. And all convey the joy of being Monty Python creations, at least until Saturday, June 28, when the show must close and disappear “far from day, far from night,” like Nimue.