Glendale will be a quieter and less enticing place to visit come fall, when A Noise Within pulls up stakes and brings its joyful noise to Pasadena. The impending move inspired me to check out the much acclaimed theatre company this past weekend, and their handsome production of Eugene Ionesco’s rarely staged tragicomedy, “The Chairs,” which runs through May 21.
The play, which helped establish Ionesco as the Father of the Theatre of the Absurd, debuted in 1952, shortly before “Waiting for Godot.” The focus is on an elderly couple withering away in their decaying mansion, cackling at ancient memories and telling stories to imaginary people. I was reminded of Beckett’s “Happy Days,” another theatergoer of Albee’s “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”
Geoff Elliott and Deborah Strang were well matched as the deliciously eccentric old couple, with director Julia Rodriguez-Elliott smoothly putting them through their paces. Stephen W. Gifford’s set design is the epitome of perfection. A free reading of Ionesco’s seldom-seen one-acts, “The Bald Soprano” and “The Lesson,” will be offered May 18. Call 818-240-0910 for tix.
Allan Manings’ “Goodbye Louie… Hello!,” which closes May 8 at Theatre West (near Universal Studios) is a more down to earth affair. The central figure in this seriocomedy is retired TV comedian Lou Berg, whose sudden decision to move from New York to Arizona comes as a shock to his grown son and daughter. The comic’s revelations about his real-life role in the blacklist era are a much bigger jolt (sitcom vet Manings was himself blacklisted).
The drama is far more potent than the play’s weak first-act attempts at humor, with Alan Freeman (as Berg) similarly more successful in conveying the character’s rollercoaster of emotions than making with the jokes. Steve Franken is a standout in support (as Berg’s lifelong friend and comic sidekick Benjie Gordon), suggesting he would’ve been better casting in the lead. John Gallogly directs. Call 323-851-7977 for tix.
More from Jordan:
‘God of Carnage’ at the Ahmanson
‘Silent Sky’ & play festival at SCR, film festival in Newport Beach
Itamar Moses’ latest play at SCR
Lisa Kron’s ‘Well,’ David Macaray’s ‘Revenge’
Asian art in Santa Ana, San Fran
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