Archive for month: July, 2013

A House for Martha

28 Jul
July 28, 2013

Shem Bitterman’s new play Open House has some engaging moments. But not enough of them. In the beginning real estate agent Chuck (a consistently spectacular

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Robert Cicchini) sits alone in a folding chair in an empty living room waiting for a prospective buyer to show up. He twitches and fiddles for an entire day in what feels like real time. “This is like watching paint dry,” my friend remarked. But later he has a marvelous scene in which he practices offering upbeat encouragement to a potential customer, should one show up. And finally she does, in the person of Martha, an emotional basket-case who gets a “bad vibe” from the house. This turns out to be a red herring, since nothing horrendous actually happened there and her “bad vibe” is never pinned down. Martha is played by Eve Gordon, who matches Chuck twitch for twitch, and is alternately ice cold or partially deranged. She has a few engaging moments when she speaks of her divorce and the death of her child. Chuck is insistent and persistent and appears desperate to have her buy the house. You get the sense that his job is at stake, but that’s not his motivation. By the end you may have guessed where the play is going, but it’s not a satisfying ending. And the last line doesn’t make any logical sense. This two-person play is an ongoing collaboration between the actors, the playwright, and the director, Steve Zuckerman. Playwright Bitterman has worked with Zuckerman on his plays A Death in Colombia and Influence, which dealt with shenanigans at the World Bank. His plays are usually political and provocative. Open House is neither, and while it has its moments, it doesn’t quite work. To judge for yourself, call 702-582-8587 for reservations. Open House will continue at The Skylight Theater Company, 1816½ North Vermont Ave., in Los Angeles. It runs Fridays and Saturdays at 8 pm, and Sundays at 2 and 7 pm through August 25th.

Eve Gordon Opens Her Schedule

28 Jul
July 28, 2013

We’re sitting in the Skylight Theatre Complex in Los Feliz, and actress Eve Gordon is describing her schedule for the next few hours.

“…And then, after this interview I’ll be going over to the Antaeus Company to teach a four-hour class on ‘dream roles’. Then I’ll be teaching audition techniques at AMDA [the American Musical and Dramatic Academy]; that’s a two-hour class.

“I’ll go home happily wrung out,” she concludes, “but luckily my husband [Todd Waring] is an actor too, so he’s very empathetic.”

She’s opening Saturday at the smaller Skylight space in Open House, a new two-person play by Shem Bitterman. She plays the potential buyer of a house in LA’s Fairfax district.

Her co-star is Robert Cicchini, with whom she previously worked (alongside Bitterman and director Steve Zuckerman) on Skylight’s 2011 production of Influence.

“Working with Bob is like playing tennis at Wimbledon,” she says. “Wherever I hit the ball, I know he’s going to hit it back. He’s really alive on stage; he’ll try new things every time.”

She, on the other hand, describes herself as “accidentally Method. I become my character after a while. While I was doing [Antaeus Company’s double cast] Peace in Our Time in 2011 [she was one of the two women who played Nora, proprietor of the pub where the action took place], I was fretful, bewildered, and emotional.

“Then, when I played the ditzy artistic mother last fall in You Can’t Take It With You [also at Antaeus], I had a bursting, shining heart. I hugged everybody all the time. I was like a 13-year-old girl skipping down the lane.”

She also stars as a talk show hostess in an online three-minute comedy series called Versailles (pronounced Versales) with William H. Macy, Fred Willard, and Patricia Heaton. In sitcoms, she is perhaps best known for having pepper-sprayed Charlie Sheen on a 2008 episode of Two and a Half Men.

“In this current play, Open House, I’m going a little crazy because it’s full of damage and devastation,” she admits.

The play deals with real estate agent Chuck (Cicchini) and his efforts to sell a “difficult, emotional house” to Martha (Gordon) who suspects that something terrible has happened there. Even worse, the house has only one bathroom!

Gordon admits to an abundance of emotion. “I cry at Hallmark commercials,” she says, “and even though I’m considered a funny person, I’m terrified at the thought of doing stand-up. I need the mask of a character to act; I don’t like walking around like an actress. I’m an artist, not a model. Vanity isn’t one of my values.”

Gordon speaks with pride about a role she played with her husband in an episode of the TV series Scandal last year. “We played a strait-laced, church-going couple who are grieving over their missing daughter,” she says. “And because it was Todd I could act as real husbands and wives do. I could support him during the emotional scenes — reach out and touch him — which I wouldn’t have thought to do if I were acting with a stranger.”

For a long time she played the femme fatale. “If you’re young and attractive you have to be sexy,” she says, “and you stand around and watch helplessly when something terrible happens. It’s the damsel in distress writ large.”

But being a femme fatale gave her an opportunity to play a part that was “my dream come true,” she admits. “I played Marilyn Monroe in [the 1991 mini-series] A Woman Named Jackie. I auditioned for the Jackie part, but they cast me as Marilyn. I always felt that if I didn’t get a chance to play Marilyn at least once, I would die unfulfilled. I had an enormous affinity with her.”

Gordon sang “Happy Birthday, Mr. President” (mimicry and singing are two of her additional skills), and she says she wrote Marilyn’s death scene for the production [the credited writers are C. David Heymann and Roger O. Hirson].

“The producers had a jumble of suicide, accident, and other factors thrown in,” she says, “but I wrote it as a suicide.

“Perhaps she didn’t intend to commit suicide — she was talking to Peter Lawford on the phone when she took the pills and she was saying things like ‘Say goodbye to Bobby,’ and ‘Say goodbye to Jack.’ Perhaps she thought he would get the message and send an ambulance to save her, but apparently he didn’t figure it out and he hung up and went back to bed.”

Now that Gordon has matured a bit (her own two daughters are 20 and 17), she is often cast as “either a clueless concerned mother or a bitch,” she notes.

In any event, it’s a long way from her undergraduate days at Brown, where she graduated with honors in history and was bent on being a lawyer or a historian. “I love doing research,” she says. “You pile it up and move on, but it’ll always be there waiting for you.”

She went on, however, to get an MFA in acting from the Yale School of Drama, where she played Ophelia in “a famously bad production of Hamlet. They wanted me to look wan and pale, I guess,” she explains, “so they covered me with flour and when I came out for the curtain call I was scattering giant puffs of flour all over the stage.”

She is excited about her current adventure in Open House. “Shem is not defensive and he listens to suggestions or questions — he’s an actor as well as a playwright and he sees no special preciousness about actors — but I’ve lost every argument I’ve had with him,” she says with a laugh.

“I would compare him to Pinter, whose characters don’t always say what they mean. They say what people say when they don’t want to say what they’re thinking.

“Bob Cicchini and I have to create tension and suspense every night. That’s paramount. There’s a lot that hangs in the air between us — need, grief, desperation, anguish — enormous emotion that leaves us shattered by the end.

“It has a big effect on both of us. We both are losing sleep, and both of us have driven miles out of our way without realizing that we’ve missed our exit to the theater.”

Let’s hope she makes it to the theater for opening night!

Open House, Skylight Theatre, 1816½ N. Vermont, LA 90027. Opens Saturday. Fri-Sat 8 pm, Sun 2 pm. Through August 25. Tickets: $29-34. skylighttheatrecompany.com. 702-582-8587.

Photo: Eve Gordon
By Cynthia Citron

Reprinted from the LA Stage Times, published July 26, 2013

Triangle in a Parallelogram

21 Jul
July 21, 2013

A Parallelogram is a brilliantly mind-boggling play by Bruce Norris that asks a bunch of existentially provocative questions. Among them: “If you knew in advance exactly what was going to happen In your life, and how everything was going to turn out, and if you knew you couldn’t do anything to change it, would you still want to go on with your life?” And, if you could effect change by being “nice” and telling everyone just what he wanted to hear, would you want to do it? And if you could effect change would it make any difference or would things simply turn out the way they were meant to in the first place? And finally, is our heroine really dealing with a crone from the future, or is she talking to herself? Would you believe this is a love story? Or rather, he is in love with her—he’s left his wife and two kids for her—but she is preoccupied with playing solitaire and listening to tales of the future from an older woman that nobody else can hear. A woman with a clicker that can recharge time so you can relive a moment over and over until you get it right. An ever more phantasmagorical Ground Hog’s Day. The man who loves her is delightfully played by Tom Irwin on the edge of apoplexy and the young woman is a cool Marin Ireland. The old crone is a hilarious Marylouise Burke, and there is a Spanish-speaking gardener played by Carlo Alban who participates in confusing everyone and falling in love with our heroine. The whole production is

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beautifully directed by Anna D. Shapiro, who has worked on many of Norris’ previous plays, many of which were premiered at the Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago. The production qualities are also wonderful: the rotating set by Todd Rosenthal, the sound design, most notably the sounds of the time clicker, by Rob Milburn and Michael Bodeen, and the lighting design by James F. Ingalls are all exceptionally effective. To tell you more would spoil the twists and turns of the plot, but there’s a possibly significant clue in the program’s list of characters. Look it up and do the math. A Parallelogram will continue Tuesdays through

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Fridays at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 2:30 and 8 p.m., and Sundays at 1 and 6:30 p.m. through August 18th at the Mark Taper Forum, 135 N. Grand Ave., at the Music Center in Los Angeles. Call 213-628-2772 for tickets.

Five Couples, One Bed

15 Jul
July 15, 2013

According to the dictionary, the verb boomerang is an action or statement that has the opposite effect from the one intended. In other words, something that turns into a well-intentioned disaster. Well, have no fear. Playwright Matthew Leavitt’s The Boomerang Effect is not a disaster, but a triumph. Hilarious, intelligent, and bordering on realism, the play follows five couples through the various loopholes and pitfalls of love. The five couples, who turn out to be loosely interrelated, pursue their individual relationships in a bed that is the center of the action. In the first scene, Stephanie (Kim Hamilton) delivers a sexual birthday present to her partner, Paul (Luke McClure), as he turns 25. A man-child who works bagging groceries at Trader Joe’s, he responds to her nagging by protesting that if he had college to do over again, he would never have majored in creative writing. In Pillow Talk, Renee (Tiffany Lonsdale) and Andrew (Malcolm Barrett) engage in a slapstick struggle as he tries to help her remove her boots, which seem to be cemented on. Finally, as they get ready to make love, she launches into a series of totally irrelevant small talk. Later we learn that this nonsensical chatter is meant to “slow him down” in his lovemaking. Words with Friends focuses on a gay couple whose relationship has soured. Nick (Emerson Collins) is the one who works, while David (Jonathan Slavin) plays Scrabble on his iPad with his nemesis, Ian Chang. David has “dreams”: he’d like to be an actor or a pastry chef. With no experience in either field, he justifies his desire to be a pastry chef with the explanation “I love cookies!” He moans that the two haven’t had sex in three weeks and declares with an accusatory whine, “We’re turning into a straight couple!” In Des Moines a 60-something executive (Charles Howerton) traveling with his eager blonde assistant (Katherine Bailess) turns her into an indignant termagant by blatantly propositioning her,

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telling her that if she doesn’t sleep with him he will fire her. She threatens to sue him and he flattens her with a diatribe about the legal wrangle that suing would ensue. And finally, in The Ignoble Fate of Timmy the Rabbit, a cheating husband (Joel Bryant) tries to talk his lady of the evening (Vanessa Celso) into not taking his drunken protestations seriously. And then the couples each appear again, this time to resolve or explain their earlier behavior. Does love win out? You bet it does—most of the time—in spite of misunderstandings, miscommunications, and a plethora of witty dialogue that often exacerbates the situation. If you saw The Boomerang Effect when it was presented at The Odyssey last year, you might want to laugh your way through it again. The cast is uniformly excellent and well directed by multi-award winner Damaso Rodriguez, the set by John Iacovelli is unassuming and well used, and the costuming by T. Ashanti Mozelle is appropriately low-key. The Boomerang Effect may not be Chekhovian drama, but it is a helluva lot of fun. It will be presented Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m. at the Zephyr Theatre, 7456 Melrose Avenue, West Hollywood, through July 27th. Call 800-595-4849 for tickets. Photo: Emerson Collins and Jonathan Slavin Photo by Ed Krieger

A Family of 6,000

08 Jul
July 8, 2013

The most inspiring and heartbreaking story since Schindler’s List is Nicky’s Family, another authentic Holocaust saga that will make you weep.

In my view, there is nothing so poignant as a film showing inhabitants of a long-ago city scurrying along in their huge hats and long skirts, the men in their long black overcoats, stepping over the trolley tracks and avoiding the slow-moving vintage automobiles as they go about their daily business.

They are all ghosts, long gone, their business done.

Except for one. Nicholas Winton is 104 now, a holdover from another time. It was he who, in 1938, at the age of 29, organized and ran a type of Kindertransport that removed mostly Jewish babies and young children from German-occupied Czechoslovakia to families he recruited in England to care for them. He personally sent some 669 children to loving foster families. The children were saved, but most of their original families were not.

For some 50 years Winton’s feat remained unknown. Even the children did not know their own stories, nor the name of the man who had saved them.

Until one day his wife Grete happened on a trunk in their attic that held a scrapbook of documents, ledgers, lists, and other evidence of the work that her husband had undertaken half a century before.

The world was apprised of this modest banker and stockbroker’s history on a BBC television program, That’s Life, similar to Ralph Edwards’ old This Is Your Life program. Winton had been lured there as a member of the audience, and so had more than two dozen adults who had been transported by him to England so many years earlier.

Winton’s story is told in a thrilling and moving documentary by Czech director Mataj Minac. The film includes interviews with the elderly survivors, and with the Dalai Lama, Elie Wiesel, and several survivors who grew up to be prominent in their own fields, such as physicist Ben Abeles, Canadian television journalist and author Joe Schlesinger, and Nicholas Winton himself.

There is also a scene in which he is knighted by Queen Elizabeth II, to become Sir Nicholas Winton.

There is none of the traditional horrific Holocaust footage. Just children being taken to the train station to be shipped to safety. No arrivals at concentration camps. No piles of dead bodies. No skeletal survivors in striped pajamas. Just elderly men and women telling their survival stories.

This is a simple documentary, different in many ways from the epic Schindler’s List. Nicky’s Family is an emotional visit with the actual survivors, while Schindler’s List uses recognizable actors to tell the story and is somewhat at a remove from the real people it introduces only at the end.

In 2009, to celebrate Winton’s 100th birthday, a special train with a locomotive and carriages from the 1930s reprised the trip to Britain that the Czech Kindertransport trains had undertaken some 70 years earlier. The train was filled with survivors and many of their descendants. It is estimated that there are more than 6,000 family members of the original transported children alive today.

The trip also commemorated the last transport of 250 children scheduled to travel to Britain who were unable to travel because of the outbreak of World War II two days before their trip. All of those children later died in the camps.

Ironically, Winton could not be included in Israel’s list of honored Righteous Gentiles because even though he had been baptized a Christian, his ancestry was originally Jewish and he was born a German Jew.

There are statues commemorating his work, however, at Maidenhead railway station and at a railway station in Prague. He is a member of the Order of the British Empire, and received the Pride of Britain Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2003. A minor planet was named for him by Czech astronomers, and in 2008 the Czech government nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize. (In 2013 some 200,000 signatures have been collected to nominate him again.)

Nicky’s Family was named Best Documentary of the 35th Montreal World Film Festival, was awarded the Forum for the Preservation of Audio-Visual Memory prize at the Jerusalem Film Festival, and the Audience Award at the 46th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival from among some 275 competing films. In all, the film has won 32 festival awards worldwide.

But the most striking image one is left with is of a smiling century-old gentleman happily sharing his motto: “If something isn’t blatantly impossible, there must be a way of doing it.”

Nicky’s Family will open in New York and Los Angeles on July 19th and around the country shortly thereafter.

Fantasia Goes for the Goldoni

04 Jul
July 4, 2013

Director Louis Fantasia detects elements of Romeo and Juliet and even the Hatfields and McCoys within the play he’s staging for Classical Theatre Lab‘s annual alfresco production in West Hollywood. But no, this play isn’t by Shakespeare, and it wasn’t influenced by the story of America’s most famous feuding families. It’s called Trouble in Chiozza, written by Carlo Goldoni and first performed at Teatro San Luca in Venice in 1762. Set in an Italian fishing village, its origins are in the commedia dell’arte tradition. Fantasia, who edited Robert Hoyem’s translation of Goldoni’s play, says “we’re doing this play as a change from the traditional summertime Shakespeare in the Parks program. I’ve done this particular play twice in the past 30 years — once in Kansas City and once here in L.A. with students at USC.” A Shakespeare maven, Fantasia has been a director of the Teaching Shakespeare Through Performance Institute at Shakespeare’s Globe Centre in London, and for the past eight years he has directed Shakespeare at the Huntington. On the grounds of the Huntington Library in San Marino, Fantasia teaches acting, directing, voice, and classroom pedagogy in two-week seminar sessions to gatherings of some two dozen English and drama teachers from around the country. The library, a collection-based educational and research institution, has first folios and quartos of Shakespeare’s works (it’s the only library in the world with the first two quartos of Hamlet), and “we get an international faculty to teach these critical studies courses,” he says. Simultaneously, he is dean of the faculty and chairman of the department of liberal arts and sciences at the Los Angeles campus of the New York Film Academy. “The Academy has campuses in such diverse locations as Burbank, Abu Dhabi, and Beijing,” he notes, “and it will soon be moving its campus in New York from Union Square to Battery Park.” Fantasia also has taught at Juilliard. And in 2007 he served briefly as president of Deep Springs College, a tiny all-male school on a 4500-acre cattle ranch in the Sierra Nevada Mountains near Mammoth. In 2005 Fantasia imported The Arab-Israeli Cookbook, a play that had opened at the Gate Theatre in London the previous year. He staged it at the Met Theatre in LA, introducing playwright Robin Soans’ concept that when people break bread together they can somehow engage in reasonable dialogue. Or, to put it another way, it’s hard to holler when your mouth is full. Interspersed with personal tales of terrorism and war in the Middle East, the players actually cooked dishes onstage from Arab and Israeli recipes. When I saw the production at the Met, I was disappointed that the players didn’t serve the food they cooked to the members of the audience. “Oh, we couldn’t do that,” Fantasia demurs in horror. “We threw it all away; it was only partially cooked. We would have given the whole audience salmonella if we’d served it!” In his own acting career, Fantasia is proud of his role in Peter Turrini’s one-man drama Enough, in which an Austrian journalist decides to blow his brains out. “I had to count back from 1000 in the course of the play and then shoot myself in the head with a .38 Smith and Wesson,” he says. “For the sake of authenticity, we used a real gun, and so they had to rig up a fake ear and other appurtenances that I could actually shoot into without deafening — or killing — myself. Meanwhile we’d kept the audience on tenterhooks wondering what I was going to do with the gun.” In another dramatic outing with an Austrian playwright, he translated and directed the American premiere of Felix Mitterer’s Siberia, a one-person play that explored what society does to the elderly, at the Complex in Hollywood in 1993. “Warehousing the elderly intensifies their rate of decline,” Fantasia notes. Fantasia, who studied double bass with Leslie Martin of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, has starred around the world in Patrick Suskind’s award-winning one-man play Double Bass. (As an undergraduate student and musician at Georgetown University in 1967, he founded and became the conductor of the Georgetown University Symphony Orchestra. In 2002 it was renamed the Capital City Symphony.) “Double Bass is about a man with a love-hate relationship with his instrument,” Fantasia continues, “and makes a statement about the emotional range of the double bass.” In 2010 Goethe Institut-Los Angeles presented the play as part of LA Opera’s Ring Cycle events — the play is set in a bassist’s apartment just before a performance of Das Rheingold. As an author, Fantasia wrote Instant Shakespeare, based on how he taught Shakespeare at the Globe in London and his own essays from 30 years of talks on the subject. “There’s a lot of nonsense and mythology about acting and directing Shakespeare,” he says. “It’s taught with all the baggage attached. Language is a function of impulse and the language is English, after all. If you burn your hand on a hot stove, you don’t say ‘ouch’ first and then act it out. The reaction and the language follow the event.” Another of his books is Tragedy in the Age of Oprah, which compares classical tragedy with tales in today’s popular culture, and how you come to them as a director and as the audience. For his examples he discusses five plays: Medea, King Lear, Phaedra, Schiller’s Mary Stuart, and Long Day’s Journey Into Night. “Each is about obsession and guilt,” he explains, ”but the contemporary playwrights want to make the plays relevant, to water them down, to eliminate responsibility, and turn the characters into victims. “They want to reconfigure the classics. Medea, for example, refuses to claim victim status, but Andrea Yates, who also murdered her children, becomes a victim. “The contemporary audience would say ‘Take a Prozac and get over it.’” So why is this Shakespeare scholar doing a commedia dell’arte in Kings Road Park this summer? “I don’t think Goldoni gets done enough,” he says. “There’s a lot of bad commedia being done, but Goldoni is more subtle. He’s like Chekhov — he loves his characters and he’s never mean-spirited. He

has compassion for the people he’s creating.” As for today’s actors, he says “they get used up, for a season, or a look. It’s hard to say who might have a lengthy career. An actor needs depth and breadth, to be curious and well-read, with a wide range of cultural background. That will sustain a career — and it will sustain an individual. You need something else going on in your life.” As for his own choice of actors he would like to work with, he says, “If it could be possible, I’d like to work with Liv Ullmann. That would be peachy. And with Brian Cox. He did King Lear 20 years ago, when he was a bit young for the part. I’d like him to do it again. That would be fun!” Trouble in Chiozza, Kings Road Park, 1000 North Kings Road, West Hollywood. Opens July 6. Sat- Sun 4 pm. Through July 28. Free. www.classicaltheatrelab.org. 323-960-5691. Photo: Louis Fantasia By Cynthia Citron Reprinted from the Los Angeles Stage Times, Published July 2, 2013

Say Yes to This Prime Minister

01 Jul
July 1, 2013

He’s obsequious, ruthless, condescending, shrewd, and self-aggrandizing. He is, in fact, the very model of a modern major bureaucrat. And nobody does that better than Dakin Matthews.

Matthews, who has had a long, illustrious career as an actor in films, television, and theater, is also a playwright, director, scholar, and translator of 17th century Spanish plays. He is ubiquitous, having appeared just this past April in a key role in The Nether at Culver City’s Kirk Douglas Theatre and earlier as Colonel Stonehill in the Coen Brothers’ 2011 remake of True Grit.

Currently Matthews is starring, with Michael McKean, in the American premiere of the British farce Yes, Prime Minister at the Geffen Playhouse.

The genesis of this hilarious production was the British television series Yes, Minister, which ran from 1980 to 1984 and was succeeded by Yes, Prime Minister from 1986 to 1988. Created by Antony Jay and Jonathan Lynn, the series were massive hits and now, more than 30 years later, the two writers have transformed the latter into a full-blown two-hour play with Lynn directing.

McKean plays the rather clueless Prime Minister who responds with relief to the constant manipulation of Sir Humphrey Appleby, the Cabinet Secretary played by Matthews. McKean is given to such patriotic gibberish as “I am the people’s leader; I must follow them.”

But when it comes to gibberish nobody can match Matthews. In two seemingly endless soliloquies he manages to avoid answering a question with a mere yes or no and goes on to elaborate in perfectly delivered rhetoric that is so histrionic as to earn him two tumultuous rounds of applause from the audience.

McKean, who is no slouch himself as a comic actor (This is Spinal Tap, Best in Show, A Mighty Wind, et al), is a perfect foil for Matthews and the others as he struggles with the myriad problems of the day: oil, civil service benefits, illegal immigrants, the European Union, and his rather cynical take on government in general. (“The government stays free of the taint of professionalism,” he says.)

But the play devolves into semi-slapstick at the newest crisis: the demand by the Kumranistani Ambassador (Brian George) for three prostitutes for the evening: “one Asian, one European, and one black.” Or, as somebody says, “equal opportunity fornication.”

Can the prime minister be a party to pimping for the Ambassador?

From here there follows a riveting discussion between the Ambassador and the Prime Minister about their cultural differences, the moral and ethical values of their societies, and, most critically, the threat of the Ambassador to cancel a multi-trillion pound loan and access to Kumranistan’s oil.

This throws the British hosts into a mind-boggling quandary in which they contemplate solving the problem by having the Ambassador assassinated or “asking the White House to send a drone.”

“It isn’t a question of right or wrong,” the Prime Minister says. “It’s choosing the lesser evil.”

“It wouldn’t be the first incidence of prostitution at Chequers (the Prime Minister’s residence, where the play takes place),” according to Claire Sutton (Tara Summers), the Special Policy Advisor to the Prime Minister. “Except this time they’d be selling their bodies, not their souls.”

Sutton also ponders what diplomatic name they can give to the work that the prostitutes would perform. “Euro job,” she comes up with, “but what would we call the girl who performs it?” she wonders.

“A urologist?” chimes in Bernard Woolley (Jefferson Mays), the Principal Private Secretary to the Prime Minister, who is a laugh riot on his own. A humorless worrywart with a permanently furrowed brow, he is continually correcting other people’s metaphors or explaining their inconsistencies. It is he who provides the moral compass that everyone is trying to ignore and he more than holds his own with this formidable cast.

It’s notable that throughout this broad British comedy the principals are continually looking over their shoulders at “what the Americans do” and being cynical and snarky about American policies and activities. In the end, however, they come up with a snarky solution that would make the American Tea Partyers proud.

All of this long-winded, fascinating discussion takes place in the comfortably outfitted library of the Prime Minister and kudos must be given to Simon Higlett who designed this attractive set.

Kudos also to sound designers Andrea J. Cox and John Leonard who deliver thunderclaps to end all thunderclaps. Or can it be the voice of God?

Yes, Prime Minister will continue at the Geffen Playhouse, 10886 Le Conte Avenue, Los Angeles, Tuesdays- Fridays at 8 pm, Saturdays at 3 and 8 pm, and Sundays at 2 and 7 pm through July 14th. Call 310.208.5454 for tickets.

Photo: Dakin Matthews and Michael McKean
Photo by Michael Lamont

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