by Willard Manus
The bill of ten banned plays being performed by GuerriLA Theatre has been made doubly relevant by the bloody censorship battles which were triggered by the publication of those Danish cartoons poking fun at Islam. The company, which normally performs in living rooms and other non-conventional spaces, is working out of a refurbished art gallery this time, with a portion of the take going to Pen Center USA's Freedom To Write Committee, which advocates on behalf of writers who are imprisoned or at risk because of their writing.
Scenes from Oh! Calcutta!, Salome, Ghosts, The Captive, The Boys in the Band, Margaret Fleming, The Beard, A Patriot For Me, Waiting for Lefty and Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All For You are performed by a dozen-odd actors directed by Michael Donovan, produced by Jennifer Lamar. Some of the scenes are well-known, others were new to this reviewer, especially Margaret Fleming, written by James A. Herne in 1890 and considered shocking for its sympathetic treatment of an adulterous husband (Andrew MacBeth). and The Captive, Edouard Bourdet's 1926 drama about a lesbian relationship.
The high point of the evening was Jerry Weill and Kelly Ann Ford's crackling excerpt from the Odets play; the low point was a passage from Oscar Wilde's Salome. Condemned in 1896 as "blasphemous and pornographic," Salome is a florid, heavy-handed, ridiculous drama which should be returned to the banned list.
Area 101, 1051 N. Cole Ave Stage B, Hollywood. Call (323) 850-3240 or visit guerrilatheatre.com