Friday, November 07, 2008

LA Weekly Review is up:

Originally posted on 27 October 2008 at In The Extreme:

(l to r) Lauren Burns as "Tillie" and Sarah Cook as "Ruby." Photo by Chris Cortez.

The reviewer seems to have had a good time, but largely missed the point.

For instance, Helen's definition of idependance is not "the right to leave her guy dangling emotionally." Scotty places a demand on Helen, that she continue to be the girl who wrote to him, "Suddenly this big city seems so very daunting and sinister. I wish I could have you here to guide my way." She tries to accommodate this wish, to the detriment of her own freedom, and the whole thing blows up in her face.

It is only when Helen is honest and truthful with Scotty that the situation resolves for both of them. If there is any cruelty on Helen's part, it is self-inflicted. Freedom is not a "get out of jail free" card; there are consequences to calling your own tune. In the end, Helen, Ruby and Scotty make the personal sacrifices necessary to win their freedom.

I'm sure he didn't mean it as such, but I take "cutesy" and "sometimes romantic" as compliments. They say the same things about Capra and Hawks, and that's what I was going for. It's a helluva lot better than "heavy-handed" and "depressing" at any rate.

NEW REVIEW PIN-UP GIRLS Set designer Starlet Jacobs sets the stage with '40s memorabilia -- racks of vintage costumes adorn the playing area and a model of a USAF bomber hangs suspended from the proscenium arch. With waves of overlapping dialogue punctuated with sporadic moments of farce, playwright-director Andrew Moore varyingly hits his mark of hyper-realism in his depiction of burlesque performers in the midst of WWII. Though the locale isn't specified in the program, snippets of dialogue suggest a West Coast setting. While the burlesque act mostly remains off-stage, what we see are the backstage comings and goings of the proprietress (April Adams); the dancers (Sylvia Anderson, Lauren Burns, Sarah Cook, Alana Dietze, Pamela Moore and Lauren Mutascio); the pianist (Jovial Kemp), who taps on a non-functioning spinet to recorded piano sounds; and a cartoon of a self-appointed guardian of decency (Judith Goldstein), who's like a Salvation Army officer out of Guys & Dolls. Moore's story spins on the homecoming of wounded Marine, Scotty (Seth Caskey), to his unfaithful STD-infected heartthrob, Helen (Moore, in a robust and sassy performance). Helen defines her independence as the right to leave her guy dangling emotionally, while dancer Ruby (Cook, in a gentle portrayal brimming with hidden desires) eventually makes her move on her colleague's man, while accepting a post with the WASP corps. It's unclear how the two women catfighting over a guy is an examination of women's freedom, however demurely their fighting may be. That idea is best captured by Helen's insistence of being her own person while stringing along her wounded suitor: Is this cruelty part of a burgeoning women's movement, or a subtle condemnation of it? There's also a subplot of the puppy love between a semi-blind youth (Bryan Gaston) and a teen apprentice (Mustascio), who replaces Ruby when the older dancer enlists in the military. The principals offer lovely performances, but this new play is a sometimes cutesy, sometimes romantic construction. Its larger insight into who we are, and where we've come from, has yet to be chiseled. Avery Shreiber Theatre, 11050 Magnolia Blvd., N. Hlywd.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; thru Nov. 23. (818) 849-4039. A Theatre Unleashed production. (Steven Leigh Morris)
You can find the review in context here.

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