Fifty Shades of Shrew
Reviewed by Deborah Klugman
Through June 27
Linda Muggeridge’s smart and sexy costumes are no small part of the entertainment quotient in this condensed all-female production of The Taming of the Shrew, which casts a benign and playful eye on BDSM. A fierce yet doleful Katharina (Jennifer Albert) makes her first appearance in slinky black leather while her supposedly doe-like sister Bianca (Tara Donovan) shows up in high heels, white stockings and a short frilly white skirt. When Petruchio (Dawn Alden), rolls in, the choleric Katharina is drawn to him, despite herself. And it turns out that the gentle Bianca also enjoys these games, playing dominant mistress with her lover, Lucentio (Dana DeRuyck), by spanking him lightly in the midst of their affectionate embraces.
Directed by Danielle Ozymandias, the overriding tone of the piece is tongue-in-cheek; it succeeds by virtue of the performers’ ability to zero in on some key aspect of their characters -– be it fractiousness or envy or curiosity -– and reflect it aptly and humorously.
The main drag on the evening is a lengthy pre-show discourse on the nature of BDSM. Read by “Mistress Kara” (the performer’s name is not in the program). It’s a sort of master’s thesis on the subject: lengthy, tedious and repetitive. I’d lose it.
Lounge Theatre, 6201 Santa Monica Blvd, Hlywd.; http://www.hollywoodfringe.org/projects/2190
Indians in a Box: Stories From the Indian Boarding School
Reviewed by Deborah Klugman
Native Voices at The Lounge Theatre
Through June 28
“Kill the Indian, save the man” was the pernicious slogan of a movement begun by reformers after the Civil War to indoctrinate Native American children into the ways of the dominant white culture. Developed by the Native Voices Artists Ensemble, this piece dramatizes the experience of those children who were torn from their home and family and shipped off to federally run boarding schools in what amounted to an attempt at cultural genocide. Some individuals adapted and later grew uncomfortable with their parents’ traditional ways. Others fiercely rebelled.
The show, a series of dramatizations from different decades and involving different tribes, is designed as an educational vehicle, and in that it succeeds utterly. In one particularly moving sequence, a young girl (understudy Olivia Espinoza) who’s been violated by a school employee kills her newborn out of shame for her sin. In another, we watch as the appalled and unhappy students are shorn of their hair. The quality of the performance varies, but the passion behind the story-telling is uniform.
Robert Vestal directs, with music by Jaraneh Nova and choreography by Duane Minard.
Native Voices at The Lounge Theatre, 6201 Santa Monica Blvd., Hlywd.; http://www.hollywoodfringe.org/projects/2415?tab=details