The Chairs

Bonjour City,

This week marks our 10th anniversary at Bergamot! In 2010 we packed up and moved out of our longtime space in an alley off the Third Street Promenade — which decades before really had served as a municipal garage for official City of Santa Monica vehicles. We then took up residence in a new neighborhood and started working in a completely new space. Some things definitely changed!

But what remained the same were so many of the things you love about City Garage — the challenging new texts; fun, invigorating takes on classic plays; and a relentless engagement with the biggest issues of the day.

We promise that as soon as we’re able to re-open, we’ll quickly return to producing the kind of work that only City Garage can create! Please enjoy this brief look back at some of our history:
History of City Garage (10 Years at Bergamot Station)-Happy Anniversary

For this week’s “City Garage Classic” we’re very happy to bring you one of our last productions in the alley space — “The Chairs” by Eugene Ionesco, which I adapted in 2009. Here is how we described the show then:

After a lifetime of preparation, Monsieur le Concierge will at last deliver his ‘message’ to a select audience. As he and Semiramis prepare for the event, the couple gets as lost in their memories of the past as they are consumed by their dreams of a future that seems increasingly unlikely to arrive. As so often in Ionesco, we laugh at the same time as we wince with pain, recognizing ourselves.

KCRW’s review said, “Michel delivers a vision of The Chairs that is clear and accessible… an absurdist play that remains both daring and timeless.” The review in Backstage lauded the actors, saying that thanks to their strong performances, “we are graced with the production’s surprising emotional impact—a rare treat in an increasingly absurd world.”

“The Chairs” will be showing on our City Garage YouTube channel from Friday through midnight Wednesday. Please share the link with your friends:
The Chairs-CG Classic Series

It is free to view, but if you enjoy it can you make a donation through our Chuffed page to support City Garage?

Merci to our kind contributors from this last week:

Roger Director
Ravi Narasimhan
Eva Peel from Spec Script Marketplace
Peggy Flood

Stay safe and wear a mask!

Love,

Frederique

“The Chairs”, by Eugène Ionesco (translated by Frédérique Michel), originally ran at City Garage in 2009. It was directed by Frédérique Michel and with Production Design by Charles Duncombe.

The cast was Cynthia Mance, Bo Roberts, and Garth Whitten.

What the Critics Said in 2009:

KCRW:
“Michel delivers a vision of The Chairs that is clear and accessible. The director needs no gimmicks since the two lead actors, Cynthia Mance and Bo Roberts, play Ionesco’s Husband and Wife (and their many guests, ranging five decades in age) with both focus and dedication….a sober presentation of an absurdist play that remains both daring and timeless.”

BACKSTAGE:
“As with the best of couples, Mance is the physical comedian—turning the wife into a lively, clowning companion—while Roberts makes the husband the true romantic, fully real in his quiet adoration of his wife and a former flame….we are graced with the production’s surprising emotional impact—a rare treat in an increasingly absurd world.”

From our original press release:
Welcome to the magical world of Semiramis and Monsieur le Concierge, Marchal of the building. They are preparing for an evening event at which, after a lifetime of preparation, Monsieur le Concierge will at last deliver his “message” to a select audience. As they fetch and carry, fuss and fight, the couple gets as lost in their memories of the past as they are consumed by their dreams of a future that seems increasingly unlikely to arrive.

The empty room slowly fills with a ballet of chairs and visitors while the couple get more and more nervous in anticipation of the “Orator”—the man they expect to actually speak on his behalf.

This absorbing fable hauntingly explores the ideas of love, loss, frustrated ambition, and the fear of death that so permeates the work of one of the great masters and innovators of 20th century drama. As so often in Ionesco, we laugh at the same time as we wince with pain, recognizing ourselves.

(Left to right): Cynthia Mance. Bo Roberts photo: Paul Rubenstein

(Left to right): Cynthia Mance. Bo Roberts photo: Paul Rubenstein
(Left to right): Bo Roberts, Cynthia Mance photo: Paul Rubenstein

Exit the King

Bonjour CityGaragistes,

We are excited to continue our “City Garage Classics” series this weekend with a production from 2019 “Exit the King” by Eugene Ionesco, translated by Frederique Michel and Charles Duncombe. Here is information from the original press release about it:

“A deluded king. A failing kingdom. Two squabbling queens vying for his attention. An obsequious doctor. A dim-witted but loyal guard and a mouthy servant. In Eugene Ionesco’s darkly comic masterpiece we witness the final hours of megalomaniac King Berenger the First. His monstrous ego has kept him alive for four centuries, but now, Queen Marguerite calmly informs him, the time has come to die. Berenger fights tooth and nail. He rages, pleads, denies, bargains, supported by the lovely and loyal Queen Marie. But Queen Marguerite, coolly efficient, aided by her henchman, the doctor, draws the king relentlessly closer to his final moment on earth. At once broadly comic and deeply unsettling, the play alternates between Monty Python-style slapstick and haunting echoes of Shakespearean tragedy. In this, the most Beckett-like of all Ionesco’s work, we follow an existential journey into the most terrifying landscape of all: our own mortality. In a new translation by City Garage founders Frederique Michel and Charles Duncombe.”

And here is what the critics had to say:

“A once powerful, now collapsing civilization in the grip of a deranged megalomaniac? Obviously, it’s a scenario so implausible today, so far beyond the imaginative capacity of contemporary American audiences that we must treat it as a historical curiosity rather than, say, an urgent and eerily relevant warning….Dunn is not only beautifully cast, with his aristocratic bearing and a gleam of madness in his eyes, but he displays an impressive emotional range. A remarkably natural performer, he really takes a journey here. The image of his horrified face, spotlighted by Duncombe in the phantasmagoric final tableau, kept my soul chilled all the way to the beach.”

Los Angeles Times

“City Garage impressively pulls off a metaphysical play without any special effects other than Michel’s staging. Her direction is simple yet stylized, with a sprinkling of heightened movement and gesture. And while Exit the King’s technical design is minimal throughout the show, its final image is arresting and haunting thanks to Duncombe’s lighting.”

Stage Raw

It will be showing on our City Garage YouTube channel from 8:00pm this Friday, September 18, through midnight on Wednesday, September 23rd
https://youtu.be/vf3_2b6Fjls

It’s free to view but we ask people to make a donation if they can through our Chuffed page:

https://chuffed.org/project/citygarage

Merci and enjoy! Stay safe (and wear a mask)

Frederique

(Left to right): Natasha St. Clair Johnson, Troy Dunn; photo: Paul Rubenstein
Left to right) Troy Dunn, Natasha St. Clair Johnson; photo: Paul Rubenstein

The Marriage of Figaro

Bonjour City Garagistes,

We are excited to continue our “City Garage Classics” series this weekend with a production from 2010, “The Marriage of Figaro” by Beaumarchais, translated by Frederique Michel and Charles Duncombe. It was a Critics Choice in the LA Times, a “Go” in the LA Weekly and it won the LA Weekly Award for Best Translation that year. Here is information from the original press release:

“Beaumarchais’s notorious comedy was the most scandalous play of the 18th century—and its most incredible theatrical success. When it was first read to Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI, the King declared in fury that he found the work “detestable” and forbade its production. Beaumarchais defied the royal edict, and was rewarded with the biggest hit of his career: the opening night was greeted with such thunderous and constant applause that the performance took five hours to complete. A wicked satire of the moral depravity of the aristocracy, Beaumarchais’s clever and determined servants outwit, manipulate, and ultimately humiliate their master, exposing the Count for the fraud he is. So subversive was the play considered in its depiction of the ruling class, that during World War II Vichy France would also not allow it to be performed. In this world premiere adaptation, City Garage brings it to new and vigorous life: a witty, sexy, outrageous, and a delightful attack on privilege, status, and hypocrisy.”

Here is what the critics had to say:

“A shrewd use of artifice as content distinguishes The Marriage of Figaro at City Garage, Frederíque Michel and Charles Duncombe’s new translation-adaptation of Pierre Beaumarchais’ 1784 assault on the aristocracy, the source, of Mozart’s deathless opera, hits its marks from the opening prologue and continues thus thereafter…Michel and Duncombe knowingly use the lunatic convolutions of farce to strike more profound cultural targets….adroitly articulate.”

–“Critic’s Choice,” Los Angeles Times

“The style is the substance. The idiocy of so abusing the limited energy we’re given in one lifetime is a statement on the way we feel so obliged, if not honored, to be tethered to puppet strings…[this] new translation transfers the subtleties of French idiom very smoothly into English.”

–“Go,” LA Weekly
It will be showing on our City Garage YouTube channel from 8:00pm this Friday, September 11th, through midnight on Wednesday, September 16th.

https://youtu.be/5R7eVtZmna8

It’s free to view but we ask people to make a donation if they can through our Chuffed page:

https://chuffed.org/project/citygarage

And merci to our donors from this last week:

Michele and Curt Wittig
Fred Manaster
Ruth Simon
Roger Director

Merci and stay safe. Wear a Mask!

Frederique

(Left to right: Janae Burris, Tory Dunn) photo: Paul Rubenstein
(Left to right) Cynthia Mance, David E. Frank; photo Paul Rubenstein
(Left to right) David E. Frank, Janae Burris; photo: Paul Rubenstein)

(Left to right) Cynthia Mance, David E. Frank, Brennan Crewe, Troy Dunn, Janae Burris; photo; Paul Rubenstein

The Mission (Accomplished)

Bonjour Citygaragistes

We apologize, but our planned weekend performance, The Mission (Accomplished), is not available.

Instead, we’re happy to bring you this weekend the next in our series of “City Garage Classics,” Eugene Ionesco’s absurdist masterpiece “The Bald Soprano” from 2007. It’s a lot of fun and the cast was nominated by the LA Weekly for “Best Comedy Ensemble Performance.” It was also “Recommended” by the LA Times. Here is information from the press release:

“Eugene Ionesco, one of the great innovators of the modern stage, invites you to a recital featuring “The Bald Soprano.” Dazzling in its linguistic acrobatics, the play is a comic masterpiece of joyful, irrational anti-logic and a loony parody of the stolid, thick-witted world of middleclass propriety. In an escalating battle of banalities, polite conversation turns to confusion, then mayhem, and finally explodes into cheerful, liberating chaos. Simultaneously comic and profound, it is a short, sharp ludicrous journey into a funhouse mirror version of the world we think we know—and the truth of what we do not.”
It will be showing on our City Garage YouTube channel from 8:00pm on Friday through midnight on Wednesday. Please share the link with your friends:

https://youtu.be/UnR926rLanw

It’s free to view but we ask people to make a donation if they can through our Chuffed page:

https://chuffed.org/project/citygarage

Merci to our most recent donors. We appreciate you support!

Ruth Simon
Fred Manaster

Merci and stay safe. Wear a mask!

Love,

Frederique

David E. Frank; photo: Paul Rubenstein

(Left to right) Jeff Atik, Cynthia Mance; photo: Paul Rubenstein
L-R David E. Frank, Cynthia Mance, Maximiliano Molina
Photo by Paul M. Rubenstein

The Gertrude Stein Project

Bonjour Citygaragistes,

We’re happy to bring to you this weekend as our “City Garage Classic” a show I really love from 2001,“The Gertrude Stein Project.” It’s based on short writings from her which I adapted for the stage working with a wonderful cast. This is not for those who love realistic, linear plays, but for those who delight in playful language and lovely images. Just sit and enjoy and not think! Here is information from the press release:

“City Garage presents the World Premiere of The Gertrude Stein Project, an evening celebrating the stories of Gertrude Stein, adapted by Frederique Michel. Modernist icon Gertrude Stein created some of the most innovative literary works of the last century, prefiguring the work of both Beckett and Ionesco. Perhaps best known for her memoir The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, Stein’s literary celebrity often eclipsed the genius of her actual writing. Rarely produced as playwright, seldom read as an author despite her status as a literary giant, Stein is a delight few audiences have had the chance to discover. She created landscapes of language that combine the simplicity and joy of Matisse with the analytical bravura of Picasso. Director Frederique Michel asembles plays and prose fragments from Stein’s oeuvre to explore the author’s sensuality, wit, playfulness and earthy sexuality in a work as original and daring as Stein herself.”

Here is some of what the LA Times had to say about it:

“Flamboyant though she may have been in life, 20th century arts icon Gertrude Stein is not the first author to whose writings one would typically turn for theatrical inspiration. Famous for her flowery tautology (“Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose”) and other circular, often ponderous conundrums, the fiercely anarchic Stein trod a different path even in her plays, relying on cerebral deconstructions of language rather than the traditional dramatists’ toolkit to render human experience on the stage.

The challenge of impenetrability hasn’t intimidated Aresis Ensemble’s Frederique Michel from tackling “The Gertrude Stein Project” at Santa Monica’s City Garage. Honoring what she calls Stein’s “Cubist” approach to theater, Michel has assembled passages from Stein’s writings into a fragmented, kaleidoscopic presentation.

The concept could easily succumb to heavy-handed treatment, but Michel opts for a light, whimsical approach to her staging that makes the piece more fun and lively than it sounds on paper. Deep philosophical musings alternate with puns and even recipes from the cookbook of Stein’s lifelong companion, Alice B. Toklas. Part recitation, part performance, this esoteric pastiche is framed with the company’s usual stylistic flair, juxtaposing heady conceptual dialogue with erotic imagery.”

It will be showing on our City Garage YouTube channel from 8:00pm on Friday through midnight on Wednesday.

https://youtu.be/ZuTqc0sLgg0

It’s free to view but we ask people to make a donation if they can through our Chuffed page:

https://chuffed.org/project/citygarage

Merci to our lovely and generous donors this last week,

Curt and Michele Wittig (again!)

Stay safe and wear a mask!

Love,

Frederique

(Left to right) Jed Low, David E. Frank, Kathryn Sheer, Ford Austin, Maureen Byrnes
Photo; Ray Mickshaw
(Left to right) Kathryn Sheer, Katarina Lejona, Ford Austin,
Photo; Ray Mickshaw
(Left to right) Jed Low, Maureen Byrnes
Photo; Ray Mickshaw

The Bald Soprano

Bonjour Citygaragistes,

We’re happy to bring you this weekend the next in our series of “City Garage Classics,” Eugene Ionesco’s absurdist masterpiece “The Bald Soprano” from 2007. It’s a lot of fun and the cast was nominated by the LA Weekly for “Best Comedy Ensemble Performance.” It was also “Recommended” by the LA Times. Here is information from the press release:

“Eugene Ionesco, one of the great innovators of the modern stage, invites you to a recital featuring “The Bald Soprano.” Dazzling in its linguistic acrobatics, the play is a comic masterpiece of joyful, irrational anti-logic and a loony parody of the stolid, thick-witted world of middleclass propriety. In an escalating battle of banalities, polite conversation turns to confusion, then mayhem, and finally explodes into cheerful, liberating chaos. Simultaneously comic and profound, it is a short, sharp ludicrous journey into a funhouse mirror version of the world we think we know—and the truth of what we do not.”
It will be showing on our City Garage YouTube channel from 8:00pm on Friday through midnight on Wednesday. Please share the link with your friends:

https://youtu.be/UnR926rLanw

It’s free to view but we ask people to make a donation if they can through our Chuffed page:

https://chuffed.org/project/citygarage

Merci to our generous donor for this week:

Gustav Vintas

Merci and stay safe, wear a mask,

Frederique

David E. Frank; photo: Paul Rubenstein

(Left to right) Jeff Atik, Cynthia Mance; photo: Paul Rubenstein
L-R David E. Frank, Cynthia Mance, Maximiliano Molina
Photo by Paul M. Rubenstein

The Break of Noon

Bonjour City Garagistes,

This weekend City Garage is excited to show Neil LaBute’s “The Break of Noon” from 2015 as our City Garage Classic. It got great great reviews from the Weekly, Stage Raw, and the LA Times, and George Villas, as Joe, was nominated for Best Performance by Stage Raw. Here is some info from the original press release:

What if God told you to be a better person but the world wouldn’t allow it? Such is the dilemma facing Joe Smith, a run-of-the-mill white-collar businessman who survives an office shooting and is subsequently touched by what he believes to be a divine vision. His journey toward personal enlightenment—past greed and lust and the other deadly sins—is, by turns, tense, hilarious, profane, and heartbreaking. Break of Noon explores the narrow path to spiritual fulfillment and how strewn it is with the funny, frantic failings of humankind while, in the process, showcasing Neil LaBute at his discomfiting best.

It will be showing on our City Garage YouTube channel from 8:00pm on Friday through midnight on Wednesday. Please share the link with your friends.

https://youtu.be/vBSQ-yg5xYY

It’s free to view but we ask people to make a donation if they can through our Chuffed page:

https://chuffed.org/project/citygarage

Merci, stay safe, and wear a mask!

Love,

Frederique

“There is no playwright on the planet these days who is writing better than Neil LaBute.”
— John Lahr, The New Yorker

“The bad boy of American theater….Dangerous and devastatingly funny.”
— Jumana Farouky, Time

Nudity, adult situatiions.

Visit the City Garage Virtual Cabaret! New videos daily!

“[A] smart and striking staging, and from the talents of an astute and talented ensemble, with George Villas rendering a terrific performance in the lead role….The [performers] deliver many incisive moments, especially Kristina Drager as the liberated ex-spouse who wants nothing more to do with John and Kat Johnson as his mercenary attorney. Courtney Clonch is also spot on as the smirking TV host who ridicules John on air…In the end, the production turns on Villas’ performance. Wild-eyed and weirded out, his storytelling mesmerizes. You’re right there with him as he discovers the body of a young assistant by the copy machine, her throat slit, and later, on the edge of your seat as the killer ominously approaches, gun in hand, with John having nowhere to run.”
—Deborah Klugman, L.A. Weekly

“Neil LaBute is a playwright who likes to get under your skin. Love him or hate him, he’s going to push your buttons, challenge your assumptions. City Garage is tackling his 2011 play The Break of Noon and it’s no exception.” —Anthony Byrnes, KCRW

In the aftermath of a mass shooting, the sole survivor narrating Neil LaBute’s The Break of Noon at City Garage resolves to mend his selfish ways, attributing his escape to divine intervention…Naturally, there’s another shoe to drop — it’s a LaBute play — and Villas’ excellent performance systematically exposes the cracks in Smith’s professed redemption. Bad habits reemerge in his serial encounters with a sleazy lawyer (Kat Johnston), his skeptical ex-wife (Kristina Drager), his tacky mistress (Katrina Nelson), a cynical talk show host (Courtney Clonch), a shooting victim’s daughter (Nicole Gerth) and a suspicious cop (Alex Pike) whose interrogation gives new meaning to “getting in your face” thanks to inventive video projections by Anthony M. Sannazaro….The ensemble provides impressively detailed characterizations…Director Frédérique Michel and designer Charles A. Duncombe attempt a bit of redemption of their own with a stylish visual deconstruction that amplifies the script’s artifice: During the successive encounters, the “on-deck” character perches motionless off to the side.”
—Phillip Brandes, L.A. Times

right left with heels

Bonjour Citygaragistes,

We are excited to bring you this weekend the next in our “City Garage Classics” series, “right left with heels” by Sebastian Majewski from 2016. The production was a “Go” in the LA Weekly, a “Top Ten” pick in Stage Raw, was nominated for “Best Two Person Performance” by Stage Raw, and was covered in feature articles in the LA Times, The Hollywood Reporter, and The Jewish Journal. It was also the subject of some political controversy when the Polish Consulate withdrew its promise of financial support due to a new, right-wing government coming into power, one that did not like what the play had to say. Majewski, thanks to a generous private sponsorship, was able to be with us for the opening weekend in Los Angeles and did a dual-language question and answer question with the audience, conducted by Polish scholar and journalist Eva Sobolevsky.

Here is some information from the original press release:

right left with heels recounts the story of the holocaust and post-war Poland from the ironic perspective of a pair of high heel shoes that once belonged to Magda Goebbels wife of Nazi Germany’s minister of propaganda, Joseph Goebbels, with whom she committed suicide on May 1945, having first killed her six children. The shoes, having escaped being burnt along with their owner, but sentenced to exile by the Nuremberg Tribunal, tell their story: from their manufacture in Auschwitz to their final end on the feet of a transvestite murdered by young Polish “patriots” in the twenty-first century. They describe their successive owners: a female Red Army soldier whose spoils of war they become; the “Doctor’s Wife,” who denounced a Jewish woman; Teresa, a secret police interrogator; and Magda, a Solidarity activist who broke under questioning during martial law in Poland in the early 1980s.” The wandering of Magda Goebbels’s shoes—a micro-history of Poland’s impoverished, enslaved, and demoralized post-war—gives a poignant and provocative insight into individual guilt and wickedness and addresses individual, as opposed to collective, accountability in the face of history from the end of WW II to today’s frightening rise of the new right.

The production will be available on City Garage’s YouTube channel from Friday at 8:00pm through Wednesday at midnight. Please share the link!

https://youtu.be/GJh4PiKZ5qA

It’s free to view but we ask to please make a donation to support the company if you can through our Chuffed page:

https://chuffed.org/project/citygarage

Merci to our donors for this last week:

Lisa and Bill Gray

Merci and stay safe (wear a mask!)

Frederique

Visit the City Garage Virtual Cabaret! New videos daily!


The Trojan Women: LA/Darfur Dreamscape

Bonjour City Garagistes,

We are to share with you this weekend another of our City Garage classics from the old space in the alley, our 2009 Production of “The Trojan Women: LA/Darfur Dreamscape” by Charles Duncombe. It was a “Critic’s Choice” in the LA Times, and a “Go” in the LA Weekly. It was also nominated for Best Adaptation by The LA Weekly Theatre Awards. Here is a little bit about it.

“City Garage turns Euripides’s Greek tragedy inside out, creating a vivid collage that travels from LA to Darfur, tackling issues of violence, mass media, the obsession with youth and celebrity, and the hypnosis of pop culture. This iconoclastic new version, both serious, and comic, takes the familiar plot and characters of the fall of Troy and recasts them in a fluid, dreamlike landscape that combines past and present—a restless exploration of the destructive and the creative forces that drive a human history drenched in blood, yet animate a society obsessed with entertaining itself to death. Can men and women ever understand each other? Is it cruelty itself that moves humanity forward? Why are we bent on destroying our planet? Is Britney wearing any underwear? These, and other burning questions are what City Garage poses in this exploration of ancient themes and new dilemmas.”

Nudity; strong language.

It will be showing on our YouTube channel from 8:00pm Friday 7.31 through Wednesday, 8.5 at midnight. Here is the link:

https://youtu.be/15i7dWwhFHg

As always, it’s free but please make a donation on our Chuffed page if you can to help us keep going in this difficult time. (You can also see a collection of great short performances from our company members)

https://chuffed.org/project/citygarage

Merci to our donors of this last week:

Michele and Curt Wittig
KC Wright

Thank you all for watching and for supporting us during this difficult time. It means so much to us.

Merci and stay safe (wear a mask!)

Frederique

Visit the City Garage Virtual Cabaret! New videos daily!

Los Angeles Times

Critic’s Choice! ‘The Trojan Women’ at City Garage
A high level of invention suffuses “The Trojan Women” at City Garage. Deconstructing Euripides’ classic tragedy into a multi-farious current-day collage, adaptor-designer Charles Duncombe and director Frederíque Michel pull few punches in the wake of burning Illium.
The geopolitical realities in Duncombe’s freewheeling text range from harrowing statistics of recent genocides to sardonic swipes at our blog-infested society. Darfur, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, overpopulation, climate change and more punctuate the same gender positions that have driven this saga since its Peloponnesian War premiere.

Hecuba (June Carryl, magnificently composed) suggests a traditional African queen, clothed at the outset by title mourners whose burkas are but one of costumer Josephine Poinsot’s inspirations. Cassandra (Mariko Oka) devolves from culture vulture to a naked, feral creature of website contours. Andromache (the touching Amelia Rose) turns the society trophy wife into a figure of post-millennial pathos, rending against Troy Dunn’s quietly insidious Greek envoy.

And when an assured Alisha Nichols turns up as Helen of Troy, here a Britney Spears clone with nude dancing boys and hip attitude, her face-off with Michael Galvin’s intense, Billy Connolly-flavored Menelaus crystallizes the enterprise. Dave Mack’s empathetic diplomat, Crystal Sershen’s understated Hermione and Cynthia Mance’s enter- tainment reporter are among the other standouts in a marvelous ensemble effort.

Dividing focus between the keening women and the marauding men, Duncombe gets a slew of modern context in (Euripides is understandably absent from the credits). The approach risks overload, some things unnecessarily explained, and director Michel occasionally struggles to keep the tone consistent. Still, if the aim is to yank “Trojan Women” into our consciousness, this company benchmark, though overstuffed, is a triumph.
– David C. Nichols

L.A. Weekly, November 12, 2009
THE TROJAN WOMEN — In his adaptation of the ancient Greek tragedy (So freely swiped from the original that Euripides’ byline doesn’t appear on the program), Charles Duncombe takes a macroscopic, brutal and unrelenting look at the end of the world.

Genocide in Rwanda and Sierra Leone, unsustainable population growth and climate change carry the day, and the play, with excursions into a theme that’s punctuated Duncombe’s earlier adaptations of texts by Sophocles and Heiner Müller: the relationship between gender and power.
Scenes depicting physical mutilation and rape in war zones – choreographed by director Frederique Michel – contain an excruciating authenticity, even in the abstract. Michel undercuts this harrowing tone by incorporating elements of farce in other scenes. One is a gem of understatement and humor: The reunion of fluttery Helen of Troy (Alisha Nichols, attired like a dancer in a strip club, and employing all those powers of manipulation) with the Greek king Menelaus (stoic, furious Michael Galvin) from whom she fled and started this bloody mess (the Trojan War, that is).

This is where the adaptation and direction congeal and captivate. This is still very much a work-in-progress, conceived for all the right reasons. As is, the directorial tones wobble like a top, and the adaptation contains far too much explication. The evening also reveals why theater matters, and how this kind of work wouldn’t stand a chance in any other medium. It’s too smart and too passionate to dismiss.

Paradise Park

Bonjour City Garagistes,

For this weekend’s City Garage Classic, we’re very excited to share a production from 2010, our last show at the the old space in the alley, “Paradise Park,” by Charles Mee. The production is one of our favorites, and was a “Critic’s Choice” in the LA Times, and a “Pick of the Week” in the LA Weekly. It was also the year the Los Drama Critics Circle gave us their award for “Sustained Excellence in Theatre.”

We hope this production will make you smile and melt your heart. Welcome to Paradise Park. Pay your admission, get on the boat, and let your imagination take you into a unique, magic world of carnival. Or is it a Club Med for mad people? Is Ella really going to run away with an elephant? Does Benny have any chance of love with her? Why does Darling, a sixteen-year-old girl, have a crush on a man who wears a dress? And are Nancy and Morton, her parents, completely insane or just looking for the meaning of life? Why does Vikram dream of Edgar, the schizophrenic ventriloquist, and are his dummies, Mortimer and Charlie, real or not? Will anyone ever make it back to Londonland or Hamptonland, and is there a Civilization World anywhere close? Come take a ride with us and discover a secret you won’t forget. Beware of the crocodile!”

The production will be showing this weekend from 8:00pm Friday, July 24th, through Wednesday at midnight, July 29th on the City Garage YouTube channel.

https://youtu.be/L7e2zpJq7do

It’s free to view—and please share the link with your friends—but do make a donation on our Chuffed page if you can to help the work continue at City Garage once we can welcome you back to the theatre.

https://chuffed.org/project/citygarage

Merci, stay safe, and wear a mask!

Love,

Frederique

Visit the City Garage Virtual Cabaret! New videos daily!