Los Angeles Theater Review: BHUTAN (Rogue Machine)

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by Harvey Perr on November 3, 2011

in Theater-Los Angeles

THE TROUBLE WITH BHUTAN

I am not advocating that bad directors should face a firing squad in the town square in full view of the entire community. But I have seen three plays now that were directed by Elina de Santos and, in baseball parlance, three strikes and you’re out. In none of the plays – of which Daisy Foote’s Bhutan is the latest, having been preceded by David Hare’s anemic version of Schnitzler’s La Ronde called The Blue Room, and an inconsequential Yard Sale Signs – is there any sign that Ms. de Santos has the least notion of what a director‘s responsibility is. Attention to detail? None. Conveying a sense of truth? None. Creating a strong ensemble? Afraid not. Getting the play right? You guessed it.

Bhutan by Daisy Foote – directed by Elina de Santos – Rogue Machine – Los Angeles Theater Review by Harvey PerrI didn’t believe much of Bhutan, and it’s not that Ms. Foote hasn’t written a sensitive and touching little slice of life about a young girl who must move away from the horrors of her household, which includes a harridan of a mother, a brother in jail for murder, and an obsessional aunt who, like Mom, drinks a little. It is a quiet play, not unlike Carson McCullers’s The Member of the Wedding in feeling, that demands a kind of invisible acting, acting so real that you must feel you are watching real people going on an ordinary walk through this thing called life. Tara Windley as the young girl and Marco Naggar as the brother are up to the task, but neither Ann Colby Stocking as the mother nor Tracie Lockwood as the aunt have been guided to relax into their parts and, as a result, they do not inhabit their characters, they “act” them. In a play like Bhutan, it is the kiss of death.

Bhutan by Daisy Foote – directed by Elina de Santos – Rogue Machine – Los Angeles Theater Review by Harvey PerrThe actors cannot be blamed. Their director has avoided creating the reality of their world and has left them on their own, an uncomfortable place for any actor to be in. The Rogue Machine remains one of this reviewer’s favorite theater companies, but de Santos, an artistic director of the company, clearly assigns herself as the director of some of the plays, and – it must be said – they are invariably the ones that tarnish the company’s reputation.

photos by John Flynn

Bhutan
Rogue Machine at Theater/Theatre in Los Angeles
scheduled to end on November 21
for tickets, visit http://roguemachinetheatre.com/

{ 1 comment }

Rachel December 7, 2011 at 7:08 am

This sounds less like a review and more like a vendetta against de santos. Lockwood and Stocking were real and full in their performances. Surprised to hear anyone suggesting otherwise.

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