I Want to Bury My Testimony
Through June 28
The title of writer-performer Scott Hislop’s amiable solo show refers to how, when he was a boy attending his Mormon church, he would mishear parishioners vow to speak the truths about their sinful natures. The appealingly boyish Hislop, with his mop of blonde hair, easy grin, and athletic dancer’s body may be too easily and wrongly dismissed as a “twink,” but his “testimony” is an incredibly worthy attempt to define and describe his hardly untroubled life journey.
From a childhood of being endlessly bullied for being effeminate, to his successful platonic relationships with women, to his wise commentary that the life of a gay man involves “coming out” again and again forever, Hislop crafts a narrative that he reveals with energy and charm – and director Kelleia Sheerin’s quick witted, delightfuly bubbly production conveys the performer’s tremendously likable personality. At the same time, even with Devin Jamieson’s vivid visual montages and with technical director Dominic Chaiduang’s fabulous, peppermint stripe-wallpapered closet set design, the content is a little lightweight. Hislop, of course, is under no requirement to reveal anything about himself that he doesn’t want to, but the lack of detail and the slightness of the incidents he describes make the piece less moving that it could and should be.—Paul Birchall
MyLipsis Productions at the Lounge Theatre, 6201 Santa Monica Blvd, https://www.hollywoodfringe.org/projects/1718
Scar Face: The Musical (An Unauthorized Workshop by the RSC)
Through June 21
In playwright-director Chris O’Neill’s imaginative comedy, The Royal Shakespeare “Corporation” is so desperate to raise money, they green-light a musical version of Scarface, the 1980s movie known for its violence, excess, and Al Pacino sneering “Say Hello to My Leeetle Friend.” Cast with some of the RSC’s greatest performers (well, not really), the play-within-a-play boasts “legendary” St. John Smythe (O’Neill) assaying the role of the leering Tony Montana (singing “I am Tony, Tony Montana” to the tune of Barry Manilow’s “Copacobana”), as well as glorious thespian Rafe Sebastian (Danny Menendez) portraying Sosa, everyone’s favorite bug-eyed wrathful Colombian drug kingpin.
O’Neill’s production certainly bristles with unusual ideas that are often genuinely hilarious, particularly the central “Noises Off” conceit in which these pompous Shakespearean actors shift into the downmarket sleaze of the Scarface characters. However, the disappointingly sloppy execution – weak blocking, clumsy dialogue, and misfiring shtick – doesn’t rise to the potential of the quirky premise. Menendez’s perfect tenor as he warbles Sosa’s showstopping melody (“Don’t Ever Try to Fuck Me, Tony” to the tune of “La Bomba”) is a delight – as is Bettina Brighton’s daffy turn as British starlet Imogen Dench (playing Tony’s nymphomaniac sister Gina). Still, the piece is very much of the style of a Saturday Night Live skit that has been awkwardly and uncomfortably expanded to an hour’s length. –Paul Birchall
Orbital Jigsaw Productions at Lillian Theatre, 6320 Santa Monica Blvd, https://www.hollywoodfringe.org/projects/1783
These reviews are offered via a partnership between L.A. Weekly and Stage Raw. To maximize coverage of the Hollywood Fringe Festival, the two publications are sharing reviews and funding responsibilities. Stage Raw is an Emerge Project of the Pasadena Arts Council, with other funding coming from a combination of advertising and individual donors. For the L.A. Weekly, please visit www.laweekly.com