Archive for Marylouise Burke

“A Parallelogram” – at the Mark Taper Forum – Los Angeles theater review

Photo by Craig Schwartz.

Photo by Craig Schwartz.

An existential “comedy” in the bleakest sense, Bruce Norris’ new play A Parallelogram posits the question “What would you do if you knew your future but couldn’t do anything to change it?” and then explores the various facets of this conceit.

During the aftermath of a strange encounter with an old lady (played by Marylouise Burke), past, present and future collide for Bee, a young woman (played by Marin Ireland) who comes to believe she has the uncanny ability to see the future—and possibly even alter it. With the click of a television remote, we loop through time as we observe a woman determined to reshape her own destiny.

Masterful storyteller Norris follows up his monster hit Clybourne Park with a mind-scrambling and clever time-twisting comedy that gleefully distorts our perspective while posing profound questions about the choices we make. The CTG production unites Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning playwright Bruce Norris with director Anna D. Shapiro, the Tony Award-winning director of August: Osage County.

Shapiro’s direction is excellent, extracting pitch-perfect performances from her cast of four. I didn’t love Marylouise Burke’s performance—I found her tremulous vocal style a little irritating—but it’s important to note that Burke originated the role at Steppenwolf, as did her co-star Tom Irwin, who plays Jay (Bee’s boyfriend) the least likeable character in the play extremely well with a fine performance. A lot of Norris’ humor lies in presenting this character’s garrulous lack of self-awareness. As the central character of Bee, Marin Ireland is superb while Carlo Alban, in a smaller role, is also very good.

The play itself is open to a great deal of interpretation, if you choose to extrapolate and are willing to join the dots. While some critics have panned this play for not providing sufficient character motivation, I’ve found the vigorous discussions that have followed almost more entertaining than the play itself, and isn’t it great when an artist gets you to think about some big questions?  Questions, such as—is Bee going mad and imagining the discussions or has she gained a link to her future? If the latter, then why?!?

Comment or email me via this site if you wish to hear more!

The production also features an astounding and ingenious set designed by Todd Rosenthal that crucially assists with some of the surprises in this play.

A Parallelogram is well worth seeing.

Production photos by Craig Schwartz.

Photo by Craig Schwartz.

Photo by Craig Schwartz.

A Parallelogram

Mark Taper Forum, through Aug. 18, 2013

More info here.





There are no “Good People” at the Geffen Playhouse — theater review

Production photos by Michael Lamont.


In David Lindsay-Abaire’s Tony-award nominated play Good People, there are no good people. There are a handful of disgruntled working class women who are struggling to keep their heads above water, working menial, minimum-wage jobs and coping with a host of burdens. Then there’s the successful doctor, Mike, who managed to escape the old neighborhood and elude the poverty cycle…

Making its West Coast Premiere at the Geffen Playhouse, Jane Kaczmarek takes on the role of Margie, while Jon Tenney plays her old flame, Mike, who has moved on and married Kate, played by Cherise Boothe. Sara Botsford, Marylouise Burke and Brad Fleischer bring the South Boston working class community to life as Margie’s salt-of-the earth mates Jean and Dottie and her former boss, Stevie. (Good People was nominated in 2010 for the Tony Award for Best Play and won Best Actress for Frances McDormand, who originated the role of Margie.)

Stuck in Southie, an insular and impoverished South Boston neighborhood, and perpetually one paycheck away from destitution, Margie Walsh (Jane Kaczmarek) is bitter. She’s just lost her job as a cashier at the dollar store and doesn’t know how she will continue to take care of her mentally disabled adult daughter.

Margie becomes convinced by her friends to hit up Mike (Jon Tenney) her old high school boyfriend who has become a respectable middle-class doctor and left both her and the old neighborhood behind. Maybe he can help her? After all, in Margie’s mind he owes her. Mike doesn’t mind seeing her again, but he doesn’t have a job for her. Emboldened by desperation and grasping for a lifeline, in the play’s second act Margie intrudes on Mike’s life and things get ugly…

“Lace curtain Irish” is a barbed, below-the-belt accusation that stings when a resentful Margie levels it at Mike. “I’m still a Southie kid at heart,” he counters. Kaczmarek is good as Margie, but her garrulous, unsympathetic and spiteful character grates on our nerves as well as Mike’s.

Directed by Matt Shakman, the production and all performances are solid. Of note is the stunning and versatile series of sets, intricately designed by Craig Siebels. The first is a grimy loading dock of the Dollar store where Margie is fired. It trucks offstage during the blackout to be replaced by Margie’s kitchen. The third set is Mike’s pristine and light-flooded doctor’s office. The loading dock set doubles for a church hall bingo set. Act Two reveals a glamorous and impressive set that’s altogether miles away from the ‘Southie’ neighborhood.

All in all, the tired themes make Good People a decent production but not really a great play.


Production photos by Michael Lamont.


Production photos by Michael Lamont.

Good People

the Geffen Playhouse

10886 Le Conte Avenue

Los Angeles, California 90024


Runs until  Sunday, May 13, 2012


Monday – No performances

Tuesday – Friday 8:00pm

Saturday – 3:00pm; 8:00pm

Sunday – 2:00pm; 7:00pm

Running time:

Approximately 2 hours, one intermission.


$47 – $77.00

Box Office:

Purchase tickets here or call (310)-208-5454

You can contact the Geffen Playhouse box office in-person, via phone at 310-208-5454 or online for updated pricing and seating availability.


For more information on the current LA Season of Good People, visit the Geffen Playhouse’s official site.