Saturday, April 23, 2011

"Disappeared" at Monkey Wrench Collective

It's hard to resist a theatregoing experience where you walk into a playing area transformed into a bar, they have a classic Wurlitzer jukebox churning out your personal favorite hits of the '60s, and they hand you a beer.

It's equally hard to resist a play with an eccentric and mysterious protagonist who may or may not be a murderer, and then you're still left to speculate at the end.

That's Phyllis Nagy's Disappeared, which runs through May 22 at Monkey Wrench Collective under artistic director Dave Barton's direction.

A few thoughts came to mind as I watched the play last night:

Our proclivity to jump to conclusions, and our endless pursuit of some ideal of objective truth, despite the fact that three different people can witness the same occurrence yet see three different things (a la the classic Rashomon).

The differences between writing for the live theatre and for film--evidenced in this play by a number of short scenes designed to advance the plot or provide some essential bit of information that make perfect sense in a movie, but tend to sell short the unique storytelling opportunities afforded by the stage.

Nevertheless, Nagy shows herself adept in both media as her meatier opening and closing scenes demonstrate and through a truly compelling second act opener.

Whether the disparate styles belong together has been an ongoing debate in the theatre world where more and more script submissions look like screenplays and fewer writers seem to have mastered the craft of live theatre.

Perhaps Nagy believes that a successful fusion of the two is achievable. Disappeared doesn't entirely convince me of that, but I'm open to being persuaded.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Triptych of Artists at OC Fine Art Storage in Anaheim

This art storage and restoration facility is attempting to carve out a name for itself as a place to view small exhibitions, like last month's "Aunt Doris" show. Its latest presentation is works by three respected local artists: Jane Bauman, David Michael Lee and Jay Sagen. Each artist has a distinctive abstract style but their works are complementary to each other's. I think you'll be able to tell that Lee is a longtime studio assistant to Tony DeLap from the semafore-like painting above, but that's really a departure from his oeuvre, which is actually rather eclectic (I know that because I've seen quite a bit of his work around). I'm less familiar with Bauman and Sagen, but think it noteworthy that Sagen has jumped on the Yupo bandwagon--that's a synthetic sheet material that watercolorists in particular have acquired a real fondness for of late. Anyway, OC Fine Art Storage is open Monday through Friday, 9 am to 5 pm, but David Aeppli there says don't hesitate to call if you want to see the exhibition outside of those hours.

How I Learned to Drive or The Unexpected Guest

Take your pick for the best title to STAGEStheatre's new drama--a car plowing into its storefront facility! Check out the photos on their Facebook page.

Friday, April 1, 2011

To review or not to review

I'm not a professional critic, and my approach in this blog has been to report more than to review arts experiences in our community. So, my reports have generally taken a "glass half full" approach to describing what I see, making any critical points in a gentle or subtle fashion. That has led me on occasion to skip writing about something I couldn't find enough positive things to say about, like last night's performance of An Evening With Mark Twain at the Coach House. There is room for artistic endeavor at all levels of talent in our community, and it's my job to encourage it. I will be writing on that subject in greater depth very soon when an Arts Orange County project is completed by two intrepid students in the Claremont Graduate University arts management program. Its findings are likely to be controversial.