|Improbable Theatre´s Hanging Man|
LOS ANGELES REVIEW by Willard Manus
The Improbable Theatre company is still taking chances. The experimental troupe that hit it big a few years ago with its macabre adaptation of Shockheaded Peter, recently returned to UCLA's Freud Playhouse (from its British base) to mount its latest experiment in edgy improvised theatre, THE HANGING MAN.
Julian Crouch got the idea for the show right after he was sacked from
a children's tv show. He joined his notion of an architect (a 21st century
Everyman) who hangs himself inside his own unfinished Gothic cathedral
with a vision of aged Commedia characters huddled around a fire as they
contemplated their own death.
Developed in trial and error rehearsal sessions with input from the entire company, THE HANGING MAN has moments of brilliance and originality, but is a disappointment overall. Design and stage effects are the company's long suit, not the spoken word. THE HANGING MAN looks and feels exciting, but its ideas and dialogue are, like so much improvised theatre, banal and largely uninteresting. The group should have brought in a playwright for a final polish.
THE HANGING MAN was presented by UCLA Live as part of its second annual International Theatre Festival. "There is so much extraordinary work out there--in the rest of the US and around the world," said UCLA;s Artistic Director David Sefton, "and very little of it was ever getting seen in Los Angeles. I saw this as a great opportunity to expose the people of this city to a genuinely wide and original range of theatrical expression. Everything in the Festival represents the work that most blew me away during my travels over the last year."
Upcoming Festival events include THE INSULTED AND INJURED, the Volksbuhne's adaptation of the Dostoevsky novel, directed by Frank Castorf (Dec. 17-19 at Freud Playhouse), and starring the great German actor Martin Wuttke, who dazzled local audiences when he starred in the Berliner Ensemble's production of Brecht's ARTURO UI at UCLA in 1999. The play is spoken in German with English supertitles.
WINS LOTTO, a "musical mockery in the making" by Andy Prieboy,
follows Feb. 4-8, 2004. The cult musical began as an underground club
attraction and is now edging into the mainstream. Prieboy (formerly the
Wall of Voodoo vocalist) created, composed and narrates "this paean
to sex, drugs and musical theater."
Call UCLA Live at (310) 825-2101 or visit uclalive.org