Posts Tagged ‘Theatricum Botanicum’


The Topanga hills prove the ideal setting for Theatricum Botanicum’s gut-punchingly powerful revival of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, the first of the six Crucibles I’ve seen to get everything right.
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Theatricum Botanicum breathes new life into William DuBois’ swashbuckling historical soap opera Haiti, giving the long-forgotten look back at the Haitian Revolution its very first production—and a rip-roaring one at that—since the New Deal-funded melodrama made theatrical history in 1938 by featuring a black-and-white cast performing side by side on a Harlem stage.
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Real-life sisters Ellen Geer and Melora Marshall and Geer’s daughter Willow play characters with matching family ties in Theatricum Botanicum’s superb outdoor revival of Jon Robin Baitz’s Other Desert Cities.
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Theatricum Botanicum legend Ellen Geer follows her 2014 Queen Lear with another gender-bending star turn, this time as Molière’s Malade Imaginaire, aka The Imaginary Invalid, Constance Congdon’s 21st-century adaptation turning a three-and-a-half-century-old farce into a playfully raunchy laughfest that would do Mel Brooks proud.
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Theatricum Botanicum revives a Golden-Era theatrical gem in a production worth a whole heap of whoopin’ and hollerin’ … but before I go ahead and name it, here’s a question for all you theater lovers out there.

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It’s hard to imagine a more gorgeous setting for Tracy Letts’ sprawling August: Osage County than under the Topanga stars at Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum, just one reason why the Oklahoma family saga’s return to L.A. (for the first time since A:OC’s Broadway National Tour played the Ahmanson back in 2009) makes for news worth shouting to the heavens and beyond.
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Imagine that you, as the foremost writer of your time, have been ordered by your country’s leader upon pain of imprisonment, torture, and death to come up with a play that would dramatize a supposed plot against your government, solidify its legitimacy, and demonize many of your fellow citizens simply because of your words. What would you do?

This is the conundrum faced by Shag (aka William Shakespeare) in Bill Cain’s extraordinary Equivocation, back in L.A. for the first time since its 2009 pre-off-Broadway engagement at the Geffen in an absolutely superb production at Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum, one that tops its predecessor if only for the clarity that director Mike Peebler (doing outstanding work) and his all-around sensational cast bring to Cain’s labyrinthine tale.
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A Queen with three sons, two of them ungrateful jerks wed to a pair of domineering Duchesses. An Earl with two daughters, one of them illegitimate and a conniver to boot. Meet Shakespeare Through The Looking Glass as Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum debuts its uniquely intriguing, exquisitely acted, gender-bending take on Shakespeare’s King Lear, retitled simply Lear, directed by and starring Ellen Geer as Queen Lear and Melora Marshall as her Fool.
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