Wednesday, March 28, 2018

THROUGH THE EYE OF A NEEDLE by Carol Kaufman Segal
            Through the Eye of the Needle takes place in the home of the Keen Family in Fort Lee, New Jersey, on Christmas Eve, 2011.  It will, undoubtedly, be a difficult Christmas this year for Barbara (Meeghan Holaway), her husband Larry (David Gianopoulos), and daughter Samantha (Kaitlin Huwe) due to the fact that their other family member will not be with them to celebrate the holiday.  Dana (Kara Hume), the older daughter in the Keen family, was killed while working in Afghanistan with the Navy and each of them is handling their grief in their own way.  (We see Dana wandering around the house as if  someone’s imagination.)   
            Barbara sets a place at the table for Dana at every meal despite the effect it has on Larry.  Larry has gotten in the habit of drinking in excess and doesn’t seem to be his usual self at all.  And Samantha, well she has gone a little bonkers, becoming a vegan, insisting on being called by the name of S (not Samantha), and has become involved in political agendas.
            It is obvious that the Keens are expecting guests for dinner. That is because their minister, Pastor Bill Towers, (Chet Grissom) has invited himself and his wife Shirley (Stephanie Erb) to dinner where he plans to offer the family a Christmas Tribute to honor Dana.  Pastor Bill is quite an overbearing man, and Shirley appears very ill at ease from over-medication.
            The dinner is interrupted by the arrival of a young stranger, Nasser Nouri (Erica Mathlin), who was a close friend of Dana’s. He has come on her behalf and with messages from her to the family.  Larry is suspicious of him and wants him to leave immediately, but Barbara will not allow it.  When Nassar reveals his story, it eventually brings everyone’s bottled-up problems to the surface, some of which are part of today’s controversial topics in our society.  How will this affect each of them?
            Through the Eye of a Needle is a well written play by Jami Brandli. Ann Hearn does an outstanding job directing a most talented cast.  A second talented cast alternates with the one written up in this review.  Knowing the work that is done at the Road Theatre Company, believe me, it will make no difference which cast you see.  Performances are Fridays at 8 PM, Saturdays at 8 PM, and Sundays at 2 PM, through May 13, at the Road Theatre on Lankershim, 5108 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood.  For tickets, call (818) 761-8838 or visit


Tuesday, March 27, 2018

THE CHOSEN has been extended at thee Fountain Theatre through June29, 2018.  See review dated January 29, 2018

BEAUTY AND THE DOGS by Carol Kaufman Segal
            Mariam (Mariam Al Ferjani) is a lovely 21-year old University student in Tunisia, excitedly preparing and looking forward to attending a dance with her school mates.  Once there, Mariam meets Youssef (Ghanem Zrelli), and they decide to leave the dance and take a walk on the beach.  In the next scene, Mariam is disheveled and frantically running, followed by Youssef.
            What follows is a very tense film about an innocent young woman who is raped by police in a repressive country that closes its eyes to corrupt police.  Accompanied by Youssef, she seeks help at a private clinic who turns her away, telling her she needs to go to a public hospital.  The place is chaotic, but she is finally told that she is fine, while making her feel that whatever happened to her, she asked for it.  She is rudely treated and refused an examination without showing her ID.  Unfortunately, Mariam’s purse was lost during the rape and she has nothing to show her identity.
            Youssef has convinced Mariam that she needs to file a complaint with the Police Department, for the handling of her case as well as for the rape itself.  But when they arrive at the Police Department, she encounters the police who raped her and also finds her purse in the back seat of their car in which they carried out their onerous attack.
            The tension throughout the film increases as both Youssef and Mariam are treated as criminals.  They police finally throw Youssef in jail, then try to force Mariam to sign a paper dropping her complaint.  The film is one in which the tension rises as Mariam is left alone to fight for her rights.  Throughout the ordeal of the night, Mariam gets stronger in her goal, leaving the police stunned by her strength.
            Beauty and the Dogs was written and directed by Kaouther Ben Hania.  It was based on a true story.  However, the film takes place in one night whereas the true story played out over a longer period of time.  Though it is sometimes very tense and difficult to watch, it is extremely well-done and gives insight into the suppression that people live through in other worlds.  The film is playing at the Nuart Theatre, 11272 Santa Monica Blvd. in Los Angeles.   It is unrated with a running time of 100 minutes, and performed in Arabic with English subtitles.          

A RAISIN IN THE SUN, at A Noise Within, has been extended to June 10, 2018  See review dated March 7, 2018

Sunday, March 18, 2018

ENGAGING SHAW by Carol Kaufman Segal
            I have seen many plays by George Bernard Shaw, but until I saw Engaging Shaw, a comedy written by John Morogiello, based on true events, I knew nothing of his personal life.  Shaw was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1856.  He moved to London in 1876, where he struggled to become a writer, eventually becoming the leading dramatist of his generation.  Engaging Shaw is making its Los Angeles Premiere at Theatre 40.
            The play takes place at the country home of Beatrice Webb (Susan Priver) and her husband Sidney (Warren Davis) in England, 1897 (beautiful set by Jeff G. Rack).  Their house guest is George Bernard Shaw (Grinnell Morris), playwright, critic, and political activist, who insists on being called Bernie.  During a conversation between the Webbs and Bernie, Beatrice tells him about the impending arrival of another house guest that he soon will be meeting.         
            When Charlotte Payne-Townsend (Jennifer Lynn Davis), a wealthy Irish heiress arrives, it appears that he had already “accidentally” met the lady.  It also appears that the Webbs had a motive in their plan of inviting them as house guests at the same time.
            When left alone in conversation, Bernie and Charlotte discover they each have their own individual and different views.  However, Shaw is very pleased and happy to meet another person from Ireland, and the one thing they both agree strongly about is the fact that neither of them wishes to ever get married.  (They are both in their 40’s.)  Shaw also finds Charlotte interesting and quite intelligent.  She realizes that he is a womanizer, but she still finds him interesting and they discover that they find themselves enjoying spending their time together. 
            Eventually conversations are not enough for Charlotte, and she changes her mind about not ever wanting to get married.  But not Bernie, even though he does not want to lose Charlotte, he remains dead set against marriage. She finally takes a step towards her goal by working as a secretary to Shaw.  How far will she have to go to win her man?
            Theatre 40, once again, has provided audiences with a charming and well-done production.  Morogiello has written a delightful play, and the four actors, under the direction of Melanie MacQueen, are superb.      
            Engaging Shaw plays Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 8 PM, Sundays at 2 PM through April 15, at Theatre 40, located in the Reuben Cordova Theatre on the campus of Beverly Hills High School, 241 S. Moreno Drive,, Beverly Hills.  Tickets are available online at, or call for reservations at (310) 364-0535.                                   

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

A RAISIN IN THE SUN  by Carol Kaufman Segal
            A Raisin In the Sun, by Lorraine Hansberry, is playing at A Noise Within in Pasadena, directed by Gregg T. Daniel. Hansberry was the first African American woman to write a play presented on Broadway.  The year it opened at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre was 1959.  Hansberry was 29 years old.  It has been performed many times in many theaters throughout the years.  In Director Daniel’s notes, “According to American Theatre magazine, Raisin was one of the 10 most produced plays of the 2017-2018 theatre season.”  Perhaps the relevancy of today’s climate makes it important today, withstanding the fact that it is a well-written play.                       
            A Raisin In the Sun is about the Youngers, a family that includes a widow, Lena Younger (Saundra McClain, referred to as Mama), her young daughter Beneatha (Sarah Hollis), her son Walter Lee (Ben Cain), Walter’s wife Ruth (Toya Turner), and Walter’s and Ruth’s son Travis (Sam Christian).  The Younger family lives in a cramped tenement apartment in an ill-kept building in South Chicago.
            Since the death of her husband, Lena is the matriarch of the family.  Beneatha is a college student who hopes to be able to continue her education to become a doctor.  Walter works as a chauffeur for a wealthy white family and dreams of a better life by owning a business of his own.  Lena has been anticipating a check from her husband’s life insurance policy which she hopes can be used to improve their lifestyle.  When the $10,000 finally arrives, Walter looks upon it as his chance to invest in a business to which Lena does not agree.  She refuses to give Walter the money, and, instead, puts a down payment on a house in Clybourne Park, an all-white neighborhood in South Chicago
            After putting the money down on the house, Lena still has $6500 left that she agrees to put in Walter’s hands with instructions on how he is to handle it for the family and to make sure there is money for Beneatha’s college tuition. But Walter sees this as his chance to invest the money for security and a better life for all of them.  Unfortunately, the money ends up in the hands of a scam artist and he loses it all, leaving Beneatha without money to continue her dream of becoming a doctor, and the rest of the family in shock.  As though the family has not been traumatized enough, Karl Lindner (Bert Emmert), a representative from the  Clybourne Park Welcome Committee, calls on the family, not to welcome them to the neighborhood but to let them know they are not welcome in their community. 
            How the Youngers stand up for their rights in a world of racial intolerance is the crucial point of this magnificent play, performed at A Noise Within by an equally magnificent cast that also includes Amir Abdullah (Joseph Asagal) and Rosney Mauger (Bobo).  This production is of the highest quality by everyone involved in it.  It is one not to be missed. 
            A Raisin In the Sun plays Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7:30 PM, Fridays at 8 PM, Saturdays at 2 PM and 8 PM, and Sunday at 2 PM and 7 PM, through April 8, at A Noise Within, 3352 E. Foothill Blvd., Pasadena.  Tickets are available online at, or by phone at (626) 356-3121. 


Friday, March 2, 2018

THE CAPE AND THE KLAN  by Carol Kaufman Segal
            The Klu Klux Klan began its first of three movements in the United States in the 1860s.  It thrived in the late 1860s, disintegrating in the 1970s.  The second group was founded in 1915, grew in the early and mid 1920s, but weakened rapidly in the later 1920s.  The third appearance emerged strong again in the 1950s with the rise of the Civil Rights Movement when African-American veterans from World War II began demanding equal rights.
            The Cape and the Klan, a play written by Tin Penavic and Ted Ryan is making its world premiere at the Lonny Chapman Theatre in North Hollywood.  The time is 1951 and Harry (Doug Haverty) is a reporter who goes undercover to infiltrate and expose the Ku Klux Klan.  He has been accepted as a member by Sam (Bix Barnaba) after a great deal of scrutiny.  After some time, Sam becomes suspicious of Harry, leaving him with his life in danger and no way to expose the organization. 
            But then Harry remembers his friend, Bob (Matthew Hoffman), producer of the radio thriller The Adventures of Superman, which has recently been losing its audience due to lack of interest in its recent series.  He explains his dilemma to Bob, but offers him an idea for a plot to save himself, as well as the radio production, in which Superman exposes the Klu Klux Klan. 
            Bob, in turn, along with Harry, brings the idea to those involved in the production, Station Manager Dan (Timothy Roscoe), and radio players Smitty (Bruce Nehlen), Joe (Scott Seiffert), Ben (Michael James Thatcher), and Lana (Kristen Towers-Rowles).  They all have been racking their brains trying to come up with a thrilling show that would bring back their audiences.  They all agree to accept the challenge, the script is written, it is performed over the national airwaves, and      once again, Superman’s ratings go sky high, the Klu Klux Klan is exposed, and Harry’s job is saved.
            The playwrights said, “The events depicted are based on true events and the work of Stetson Kennedy who did, in fact, infiltrate the Ku Klux Klan.  By bringing it to New York, the story became a seventeen part episode, The Clan of the fiery Cross.”  However, the characters in the play are not the actual people involved in the true story.
            Stan Mazin directs a brilliant cast that also includes Veronica (Natalia Santamaria), Harry’s wife, and Rita Walker (Shalonda Shaw-Reese) whose small, but crucial, role is especially emotional.
            The Cape and the Klan plays Saturday at 2 PM, and Sundays at 7 PM, through March 18, Upstairs at the Group Rep in the Lonny Chapman Theatre, 10900 Burbank Blvd, North Hollywood.  Tickets are available online at, or by calling (818) 763-5990.