Out West Arts: Performance at the end of the world

Opera, music, theater, and art in Los Angeles and beyond

All the young dudes

June 28, 2007


S. Epatha Merkerson and Alan Rosenberg
Photo: Myung J. Chun/LAT 2007
It has been much longer than I would like between this and my last post, but the realities of work and preparing for my upcoming European excursion have gotten in the way. But last week was not without its moments, which included the final production of the 06/07 season at Center Theater Group’s Kirk Douglas Theater, a revival of Inge’s Come Back, Little Sheba. I’m always surprised at how well Inge’s plays hold up, despite some of the obvious out-of-date content. But then maybe it has something to do with the particular productions I’ve seen. CTG recruited stage and (small) screen star S. Epatha Merkerson to portray Lola (and hopefully sell many tickets I suppose to a show that replaced the previously scheduled premiere of the new David Mamet musical A Waitress in Yellowstone, which has been delayed to next year). Merkerson is cast against type and is most remarkable in how well she handles what is rather a thorny role. Lola’s strength is buried under a whole lot of wistfulness, but Merkerson is no novice and her abundant skill was really great to watch.

Her co-star, Alan Rosenberg, has a different set of problems in that his character, Doc, is mired in a terribly outdated version of the ins and outs of dealing with alcoholism. He goes the stoic route and, while certainly not bad, sometimes is lost between Merkerson and all of the young beauties on stage doing what their supposed to – tempt everyone. Between the milkman and Marie's beau there is more than a little seething eroticism for virtually all parties to chew on.

Of course, Inge has created no shortage of psychoanalytic goodies to mull over, and I found the play rather refreshing for this. Psychological development and tension often seems so watered down or esoteric in current works. Little Sheba isn’t afraid of wearing it’s Freudian heart on its sleeve, and good for it. Not a bad way to spend an afternoon. It runs through July 15th.

Meanwhile, Out West Arts is headed to Europe this week so stay tuned for ongoing reports from Munich and London, the highlights of which can be perused for those interested to the right.

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