November 9, 2007—March 2, 2008
Directed by Frédérique Michel Production
Design by Charles A. Duncombe
Cast: Jeff Atik David E. Frank Cynthia Mance Maximiliano Molina Alisha Nichols Bo Roberts Troy Dunn joined the cast for the second half of the run.
LA WEEKLY – GO!
GO! THE BALD SOPRANO by Eugene Ionesco
Monday, November 12, 2007
By Paul Birchall
Eugene Ionesco’s brilliant absurdist farce unfolds in a universe dislodged from logic and even common sense. Yet, even in this bizarre world, a good laugh is still a good laugh, thanks to director Frederique Michel’s assured staging that comes marbled in cool irony. A middle-aged couple, Mr. and Mrs. Smith (Jeff Atik and David E. Frank in drag), relaxes in a suburban living room not far from Paris, after having had a delicious dinner. Mrs. Smith rhapsodizes about the meal, while her genial hubby replies in incomprehensible grunts and gurgles.
Suddenly, the Smiths’ friends, Mrs. and Mr. Martin (Cynthia Mance and Bo Roberts), show up on the doorstep — and soon the characters are squawking, babbling and ejaculating random bits of nonsense. Are they a pair of typical suburban couples? Or barking animals at the zoo? It’s best to simply roll with Ionesco’s wonderfully random and playfully chaotic plot, which Michel sets with impeccable comic timing.
The performers rattle off the non sequiturs with glee and gusto — at times the piece resembles a long Monty Python sketch. Frank’s turn as Mrs. Smith is particularly droll — he plays the character as a frumpy suburban matron, but with buggy, lunatic eyes. Atik’s harrumphing hubby and Mance’s seriously deranged Mrs. Martin are vivid, multidimensional characters.
LA Times – Recommended
‘Bald Soprano’ Can Be So Surreal
Friday, November 16, 2007
By David Ng
Eugene Ionesco called his absurdist farce “The Bald Soprano” an “anti-play” — a succinct and accurate description for a comedy that breaks all the rules in the book and then gleefully incinerates the tome. Still provocative after more than 50 years, this theatrical Molotov receives a frequently hilarious if rather over-acted revival from City Garage in Santa Monica.
To summarize the anti-story: Mrs. Smith (David E. Frank) is prattling on about grocery shopping to her loutish husband, Mr. Smith (Jeff Atik), when a second couple, the Martins (Cynthia Mance and Bo Roberts), arrive at the door. It turns out Mr. and Mrs. Martin have never met before, even though they live together. Matters get weirder when a fireman (Maximiliano Molina) stops by to regale a few nonsensical stories. The play concludes with the main characters shouting gibberish at each other.
The actors display an infectious enthusiasm, but they tend to overstate the silliness of their lines as if they were unsure whether Ionesco’s humor is coming across. The performance that best channels the play’s surrealist vibe is Frank’s cross-dressing turn as Mrs. Smith. His robotic delivery and mildly deranged facial expressions seem a perfect match for Ionesco. The gender twist proves to be an inspired bit of non sequitur casting in a play filled with verbal non sequiturs.
Adapting Ionesco for the English-language stage usually requires taking numerous liberties with the play. This production uses a translation by Donald M. Allen that moves the action from England to France and sprinkles bits of français throughout. The direction by Frédérique Michel further annotates the text with a hilarious set of bodily paroxysms. Rather than compromise the play, these alterations only enhance its strange, anarchic power.