Anticipation – Bulgakov/Molière at City Garage

Santa Monica’s City Garage has mounted overtly political, unabashedly Eurocentric work for over fifteen years. They have a strong commitment to ensemble, a flair for the physical, and a unique visual style. It is hard to describe a City Garage production but you know it when you see it. Spare yet layered, every light and shadow in its place, and always, always a trace of red.

Bulgakov has been “in” among LA’s artzsche-fartzsche types for the past several years. Michael Franco’s 2000 adaptation of the sprawling Master and Margarita was a highlight of the late lamented Zoo District Theatre. The Garage’s last production was yet-another take on this story. Charles Duncombe, responsible for the company’s hallmark production design, also creates

Photo: Paul Rubenstein via citygarage.org

work and on Friday we have the opening of his adaptation of Bulgakov/Molière or The Cabal of Hypocrites at Bergamot Station. According to the synopsis, M&M is woven throughout this exploration of politics, mass-culture, and subversion. My first experience with City Garage was an over-the-top Duncombe and it wasn’t a good one. It took a few years before I darkened their door again. But his subsequent work such as Patriot Act and Caged snuck up on me and have stuck in my mind. He does nuance very effectively. I’m curious to see whether he takes – or if he even can take – that tack with such in-yer-face themes and established, vivid characters.

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