SHOCKTOBERFEST - SANDRA BERNARD - WILL DURST
LEE HARTGRAVE REVIEWS
October 16, 2009
Schocktoberfest’s -‘Phantom Limb’
Oliver; Will Durst, Sandra Bernhard;
Goldfish at Magic
THE TORTURE GARDEN AND THE PHANTOM LIMB THE PHANTOM LIMB IS SET IN A NEW ORLEANS BROTHEL following the American Civil War. A rag-tag parade of wounded and mutilated Confederate and union soldiers have come to this place with the promise that the madam will offer to ‘heal’ them. Keep in mind the Soldiers have lost a Leg or an Arm. The Madam Massages the jacket of an armless man and convinces him that she has restored the lost feeling in his missing arm.
This money hungry-madam is making quite a good living at taking advantage of these poor souls. Is this Torture and deception? Of course it is – and her cruelty gets her a payback that she would never, ever suspect. Perhaps you heard the scream from home. This play packs a wallop that orchestrates a stirring crescendo! Just sit back relax – Madam will see you next. Chilling thought for you my dear.
ACT ll -- THE TORTURE GARDEN, is based on the famous or infamous novel by Octave Mirbeau. The book was described as ‘the most sickening work of art of the 19th century.” This sensual and kinky story follows a young man’s journey as he seeks desire and depravity where torture is enjoyed in a grand Chinese Palace garden. And does he get it? Does he ever. Torture that is.
A mysterious woman the exciting Andeola Role, leads her prey to a cruise where her fine arts (her degree is from the Kink and Suffer Scientific College) comes in handy as she turns over her victims to the torturer T-Mao (Lanny Baugniet) who is so frightening that he doesn’t even have to touch you to make you shiver and shake. It’s those eyes, those Bette Davis Eyes – that can burn holes right through your brain. Think -- “Whatever happened to Baby Jane.” Russell Blackwood plays the Captain of the ship with his usual fascinating stalwart stanch. The Actors play parts in both plays – and they are sensational in these tongue-in-cheek horror stories. It’s stunning, what ‘The Thrillpeddlers’ do with the sets and costumes is just amazing.
Can torture and sex be so beautiful and provocative? The answer is yes! Oh, and if that is not enough – during the intermission they give audience members a chance to partake in a macabre demonstration of their full-size replica of an 18th Century guillotine. Do you dare to put your head in there? I didn’t – but many did -- and as far as I could see, they still had their heads on their shoulders.
AT THE HIPPNODROME THEATER ON 10th STREET.
RATING: FOUR GLASSES OF CHAMPAGNE!!!! (highest rating) –trademarked-
AT THE RRAZZ ROOM – SANDRA BERNHARD AND WILL DURST
SANDRA – SANDRA – SANDRA – YEA, YEA, YEA!
Bernhard has an Album called “Bad Girl ” and that is exactly what she is – A BAD GIRL. But, here is the big surprise – she is a fantastic singer also. She has a beautiful voice that goes easily from pop to opera soprano. She starts out with a fabulous version of “Beautiful People” and then zips into “It Is True” in Spanish.
Bernhard gives you the whole package during her show at the Rrazz Room. She has the goods on the politicians and rakes them over the coals – she also being an icon herself, tells delicious stories about show biz people, pop icons and celebrities. T.V. programs can’t even escape her sly and tricky venom.
You get misty when she sings – and you bend over with laughter when she talks. Bernard has more insight into what is going on the World than all the Politicians in D.C. Her choice of songs, are Rocket Fueled. The power, the emotion blew me out of the chair.
She has what it takes to make going out ‘so much fun’. Her routine is rich, scabrous and politically pertinent! Her new C.D. is called “Whatever It Takes” – and in the show she lets us know. “It’s all on the C.D.” But, what could be better than to see and hear her live with a band.
Her great gift to us is her extraordinary perception of life. Extremely funny is: “Angelina Jolie – she still carries her son, even though he’s seventeen.” There is something else about Bernhard – and this might sound like a stretch – but at times there are flickers of movie star “Rita Hayworth”. I don’t know what it is – but there is something visual about her stance. Maybe it’s the hair, and maybe she doesn’t even realize it herself. But whatever it is, it’s engaging and enticing. Bernhard is backed up with Mitch Kaplan, her musical Director, Miles Kennedy on the Drums and Dan Fabricant, Guitar/Bass. They helped make this a big-hearted celebration.
THIS IS AN IRRISTABLE SHOW. I say you should see it
RATING: FOUR GLASSES OF CHAMPAGNE!!!! (highest rating) –trademarked-
GONE NOW FROM THE RRAZZ ROOM – BUT HE WILL BE BACK
WILL DURST WAS AT THE RRAZZ ROOM, AND THE PLACE WAS PACKED. He looks a little like W.C. Fields now-a-days – but not as old of course. He knocks those tin idols in D.C. right out of the ballpark. He doesn’t need to make up jokes – they ARE the jokes.
And boy, does he have fun with that. I have listened to him on the Radio and seen him T.V. – but there is nothing like a live performance. Durst has some of the funniest, smartest and Laugh-Out-Loud material that I have heard in a long-long time. His material is fresh and up-to-date. And you know what? He doesn’t have a bevy of writers like Leno and Letterman – he writes all this great stuff himself. He’s an original wit genius. Who needs writers? Certainly -- not Durst.
You’ve got to see him the next time around. You’ll be glad you did.
(((Lee Hartgrave has contributed many articles to the San Francisco Chronicle Sunday Datebook Section and produced a long-running Arts Segment on PBS KQED)))
OLIVER AT THE LESHER THEATER CENTER IS THE BAY AREA THEATER GETTING BETTER? AND THE ANSWER IS YES.
Recently I have seen so many top-notch shows that are not ON Broadway, but in the Bay Area that are on a par with Broadway shows. There is ‘Call Me Madam’ at the Eureka Theatre – and “Goldfish” at the Magic Theatre – and now Oliver at the Contra Costa Musical Theatre. Oliver! Based on the novel ‘Oliver Twist’ is the story of a young orphan boy – who is starved and ill treated by so-called do-gooders.
The musical opens with great gusto in a London workhouse. All the young boys are about to eat the one bowl of disgusting gruel they are allotted. Oliver asks for more gruel. Because of his boldness, he is sold to work for an undertaker who is just as evil. He escapes and runs away to London. There he has a very colorful life based on stealing. He has no choice to take up the pick-pocketing trade by his “Employer’ Fagin.
With the great music and the wonderful endearing cast – what you see on the stage is a musical that will fill you up with a warm-heart. Who knows, you might even want to help someone who needs another bowl of gruel. Funny how Gruel, rhymes with Cruel. Along with the main actors – CCMT has partnered with the World Renowned Pacific Boychoir. They are totally amazing – and for being so young, their choreography was just perfect.
I was entranced and astounded. Your heart will break as Oliver sings (Ian Shoemaker). Cute as a button with a great voice. He’s bound to grow up to be a Heart-breaker on the stage.
Also outstanding are Patrick Michael Dukeman (Fagin), Jennifer Stark (Nancy) and Grant Lowenstein (The Artful Dodger). This is a huge cast and a big undertaking fpr CCMT. Thanks to all of the actors in the show who brought us this complex metamorphosis. It was thrilling to watch.
NOTE: ALSO INTEGRAL TO THE SHOW WAS THE OFF STAGE NARRATOR -- RICHARD LOUIS JAMES – HIS VOICE SPUN THE IMAGES THAT TIED THE SHOW TOGETHER. He should have been listed in the program.
AT THE LESHER THEATER CENTER IN WALNUT CREEK. RATING: FOUR GLASS OF CHAMPAGNE!!!! (highest rating) –trademarked-
GOLDFISH AT THE MAGIC THEATRE FISH GOTTA SWIM – BUT, SOMETIMES THE WATERS ARE TURBULENT.
IN GOLDFISH, A PLAY AT THE MAGIC THEATRE we have a 19-year old boy who wishes that things could be better between him and his father. Dad, like so many dads around the world – sometimes mean well – but many of them either have drinking problems or gambling problems.
This is the story of Goldfish. The young boy saves money to go to college. His Dad screws that up – by spending the tuition for the next semester on gambling. You like the Dad (Rod Knapp). You want to hug him and tell him that everything will be all right. But, like his son – even if you tell him that – he’ll still F—ck up! Some Dads will never change. They may love their children, but don’t know how to show it.
“Goldfish” does a tremendous job of fleshing all of this out. The play is high voltage. Sparks are constantly consistent. You and I in the audience are riveted to the two men on the stage – that are more than once ready to disintegrate. John Kolvenbach has written a play that brings to home a story that is played in households all over. Everyone probably has experienced some of the trials and tribulations.
Life is not easy – especially when you have dreams that are about to come true, but are grasped away from you. How many times can your heart take another break? It’s not easy to grow up. It never has been – and only a few are lucky to have it easy. This play is a psychological drama that is tightly constructed and beautifully acted. It’s one terrific play that mixes potent writing with images that will remain forever.
THE RIVITING ACTORS ARE: ANNA BULLARD, ROD GNAPP, PATRICIA HODGES AND ANDREW PASTIDES. ALL ARE DYNAMIC AND CAPTIVATING!
GOLDFISH IS UNMISSABLE! AT THE MAGIC THEATRE INFO:
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