Brian’s reviews of shows playing at the 2014 Hollywood Fringe Festival – #HFF14 theater festival report Los Angeles
June 24, 2014
‘Four Tree Plays’ and ‘Million Dollar Hair’ – 2014 Hollywood Fringe Festival – #HFF14 theater festival reviews Los Angeles
June 25, 2014
Photo Credit: Zombie Joe’s Underground

Photo Credit: Zombie Joe’s Underground

Nightmaricomio

A guy named Kevin (musician Kevin Van Cott) pounds away at a drum kit while a writhing ball of cast members moan and gyrate manically like a nest of vipers. And that’s pretty much it for an excruciating 35 minutes that feels like an eternity. “Nightmaricomio” is a lazy mash-up of two previous ZJU shows, “Manicomio” and “Nightmares.”

As we enter a small theater with all its seats removed, we see the cast in action. The men are clad in shredded zombie-like rags while the women are wearing tight, stripy aerobics wear and bras. All have their faces painted with lightning bolts and geometric designs much like the Kiss Army fan club.

Striving to be an experimental theatrical labyrinth of interwoven lives, flashbacks, dreams and apparitions haunting a dark asylum, the production plays out like an exploratory acting class. At one point the knot of actors breaks apart and they all gambol about the space, shrieking, barking, howling and drooling. Dialogue is sparse. Three times Kevin loses his cool and wants to leave, but he is talked out of it by the others. One actor spouts lines from Shakespeare’s “Troilus and Cressida” while later another seems to be sharing notations from her private journal. One mesmerizing if headache-inducing segment is an extended drum solo in pitch darkness, illuminated by Kevin’s blue glowing drumsticks.

While Zombie Joe’s Underground Theatre Group has performed in New York and South Africa, they haven’t ventured anywhere else in Los Angeles besides their tiny black box digs in NoHo. By rights, this first Fringe show should serve as a showcase for their special brand of Grand Guignol live comedy/horror. Instead, it’s just random snippets of macabre nonsense. Rather than attracting a wider fan base, unfortunately this train-wreck of a show may ensure theater-goers stay away in droves.

Nightmaricomio
35 mins
One performance remains – Thursday June 26 2014, 8:30pm
Elephant Studio/Theatre Asylum,
6320 Santa Monica Blvd.
Through June 26, 2014 in the Hollywood Fringe Festival.
Check its official listing for reservations and information.

 

Rich Clark Photography

Rich Clark Photography

Riot Grrrl Saves the World

RECOMMENDED

Playwright Louisa Hill’s world-premiere play Riot Grrrl Saves The World (well directed by Scott Marden) tackles some significant issues with humor and vitality. The pervasive violence against women, the oppressive messages that permeate the media and pop culture, as well as restrictive attitudes at home and school are all given an airing by a group of teenage girls each finding their own voice through fresh, funny and authentic dialogue. While there is a justifiable undercurrent of anger and defiance beneath the way these heavy topics are addressed, Hill also ensures there is an abundance of joy, hilarity and positive energy in her political dramedy. The result is an exuberant entertainment that has plenty to say about the darker corners of life.

A feisty troupe of young actors – Zoë Lillian, Poonam Basu, Emma Servant and Tiffany Mo – convincingly and endearingly play teenagers who more or less share goals but have well-delineated personalities. The play’s parallel storylines are deftly handled with a satisfying degree of complexity. Additionally, Courtney Eaddy-Richardson plays Grrrl, a character who bookends the play.

Three revolutionary teenagers have started publishing a magazine, hoping to spread the word about feminism and positive attitudes. “It could save a girl’s life to know she’s not alone,” one opines. The trio meets on a regular basis and decides to form a punk band to gain more exposure for their cause. When a straight-laced Jehovah’s Witness girl stumbles into one of their Riot Grrrl meetings, a forbidden romance ensues. While the (now four) band members argue about just how much exposure to mainstream media they really want, they all find out just how damaging that can be.

Occasionally the scenes become didactic, such as a declamation by the central trio about how “living in a [female] body is an occupational hazard” thanks to the prevalence of sexual harassment and aggression on every level “just because you are a girl.” Another serious soliloquy vividly describes an appallingly violent assault and murder. These heavier scenes underpin the messages of the (somewhat) lighter storyline, to excellent effect. The story is poised on the cusp of an apocalypse, which not only serves as a metaphor but, curiously, also permits an uplifting note to the play’s conclusion. –Pauline Adamek

 

 
Riot Grrrl Saves The World
1 hour
Two performances remain:
Thursday June 26 2014, 8:30 PM
Saturday June 28 2014, 5:30 PM
Elephant Studio/Theatre Asylum,
6320 Santa Monica Blvd.
Through June 28, 2014 in the Hollywood Fringe Festival.
Check its official listing for reservations and information.

 

Previously reviewed Fringe shows:

 

 

Photo credit - Clarke Surrey.

Photo credit – Clarke Surrey.

Lost Moon Radio Presents Million Dollar Hair

The Lost Moon Radio kids have done it again, serving up a screamingly funny, pitch perfect musical parody entitled Million Dollar Hair. This new and hilarious musical spoof show purportedly celebrates the life and death of fictional music industry icon Bernie Schonfeld. We learn all about the dodgy career of this “legendary” record producer and music mogul as we attend a tribute concert hosted by his meek and somewhat neglected daughter January Schonfeld (Leslie Korein).

Stumbling over big words such as “entrepreneurial” and “cacophony,” our sweet narrator haltingly outlines her father’s early life. (He was “the son of Czechoslovakian immigrants.”) A slide show of awkward family portraits and embarrassing (faux) album covers soon builds a picture of a music producer who had his finger on the pulse of the worst trends of the seventies, eighties and nineties. Through his label ‘Million Dollar Records,’ over the decades Bernie’s fortunes rose and fell.

The show unfolds as a parade of Bernie’s artists take to the stage — all of questionable talent. The remaining five cast members adopt different outfits and personae to portray various singers. We meet Terry Chivers (“Bernie’s first success story,”) who through a frozen grin sings his hit tune Living with Lockjaw.

The lyrics are riotous, beautifully building the central theme of each parody tune until you’re virtually rolling in the aisles. Dan Oster plays C. J. Throttle — a posturing rock star reminiscent of both David Lee Roth and Bret Michaels. In his rock hit Staycation lyrics include “I’m gonna pay all my bills with the cash I save, Gonna get my tan from the microwave…” It’s hilarious stuff.

All of the songs are clever sound-alikes of everyone from Bruce Springsteen to Alanis Morisette to prepubescent pop tarts. We hear tragic power ballads, rock tunes, a deliberately monotonous German techno dance track (a robotic tribute to ‘making love’), a percussive and carnivalesque Eastern European ditty, even a country rock song about – uh – self love entitled Beautiful Face in the Mirror. When January takes to the stage to regale us with the title track from her debut (and only) album It Isn’t Not Always This Way (sic) that she made her Dad release when she was 20, it’s actually a really fantastic tune despite it being a shrewd parody of those introspective and wistful girly solo guitar pop songs that you’ve heard people like Lisa Loeb release. The call and response participation that Leslie Korein as January elicits from the audience is a highlight of a super fun night.

A program note attributed to Bernie Schonfeld, “When I die, there better be a fuckin’ concert” kind of says it all…

Lost Moon Radio Presents Million Dollar Hair is a fantastic show where the humor and performances are perfectly pitched, so props to co-writer and director Lauren Ludwig and producer Monica Miklas. Book is by Frank Smith, Ryan Harrison and Lauren Ludwig. Music and lyrics are by Dylan Ris, Mikey Wells, Ryan Harrison, Lauren Flans with lyrics also contributed by Frank Smith and music also contributed by Brenton Kossak.

Live performance is from band members Dylan Ris, Brenton Kossak, Dan Wessels and Eric Kalver.

Do not miss this show!

Lost Moon Radio Presents Million Dollar Hair
65 mins
Four performances remain:
Saturday June 21 2014, 9:45 PM
Sunday June 22 2014, 5:30 PM
Friday June 27 2014, 8:00 PM
Saturday June 28 2014, 5:30 PM
Through June 28, 2014 in the Hollywood Fringe Festival.
Check its official listing for reservations and information.

Linden
Linden Arden Stole the Highlightspreviously reviewed here.
Elephant Studio/Theatre Asylum,
6320 Santa Monica Blvd.
Through June 28, 2014 in the Hollywood Fringe Festival.
Check its official listing for reservations and information.

 

 

 

 

 

 

sexlies

Sex, Lies and Social Mediapreviously reviewed here.
Elephant Studio/Theatre Asylum,
6320 Santa Monica Blvd.
Through June 28, 2014 in the Hollywood Fringe Festival.
Check its official listing for reservations and information.

Photo by Jenn Spain.

Photo by Jenn Spain.

Lysistrata by Aristophanes – previously reviewed here.
Adapted by Savage Players
Directed by Josephine Keefe.
Featuring Caleb Austin, Anne Elizabeth Butler, Lauren Dunagan, Julia Keefe, Cassandra E. Nwokah, Angelique Robinson, and Colin Simon
“The Other Space” at The Actors Company
916 A North Formosa Ave.,
Los Angeles, CA 90038
Through June 29, 2014 in the Hollywood Fringe Festival.
Check its official listing for reservations and information.

The Wake

The Wake written and performed by Ben Moroski – previously reviewed here.
Directed by Nick Massouh.
Elephant Studio Theatre
1076 Lillian Way
Los Angeles, CA 90038
Through June 28, 2014 in the Hollywood Fringe Festival.
Check its official listing for reservations and information.

MANSDOMINION-300x200

Man’s Dominion by David Castro – previously reviewed here.
Pachyderm Productions at Elephant Studio/Theatre Asylum,
6320 Santa Monica Blvd.
Through June 28, 2014 in the Hollywood Fringe Festival.
Check its official listing for reservations and information.

Rich Clark Photography.

Rich Clark Photography.

Friends Like These by Greg Crafts – previously reviewed here.
Theatre Unleashed at Theatre Asylum’s Elephant Space,
6320 Santa Monica Blvd.,
Through June 28, 2014 in the Hollywood Fringe Festival.
Check its official listing for reservations and information.

 

 

Rich Clark Photography.

Rich Clark Photography.

 

 

 

 

Pauline Adamek
Pauline Adamek
Pauline Adamek is a Los Angeles-based arts enthusiast with twenty-five years' experience covering International Film Festivals and reviewing new Theatre, Film and Restaurants.

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