Monthly Archives: March 2014

Shtick on a stick – Accidental Death of an Anarchist at Berkeley Rep

There is a lot of handwringing about the dire state of American regional theatres. If Berkeley Rep‘s cheesy staging of Fo‘s Accidental Death of an Anarchist is typical, it’s time for the breed to go extinct.

I’m no Fo expert but ostensibly this is a politically driven farce based on a real outrage and the author’s reaction against it. This is what The Actor’s Gang can do well and even then they’re careful about applying their Style to it. There’s no such thinking behind Accidental. It’s an excuse to let a 1970s Levitz regional theatre walnut-veneer-over-particle-board entertainment station (he sings! he dances! he clowns!) camp it up as he sees fit. A director is credited, perhaps he worked on the synching the shtick with the two-man band. The casting is multi-ethnic and every stereotype is front-and-center in what used to be Berkeley. The supporting cast may be talented in their own right or maybe they are just desperate for work.

Could it have gotten better in the second half? Perhaps but better to salvage the evening rather than try to stay for the sake of the larcenous ticket price.

Los Angeles theatre coverage

At one time, I attended a lot of theatre productions in the greater Los Angeles area. I checked in to see what was on stage recently and learned that the landscape for coverage and listings has shrunk dramatically over the past few years. The LA Weekly, LA Stage Alliance, Variety, and Backstage West have scaled back or discontinued their offerings. The LA Times continues to view theatre as something for the old-at-heart in NYC and occasionally in Orange County and San Diego. This is all old news for many but then again not for those out of the loop.

For those unsatisfied with Two-Buck Chuck McNulty’s emasculated sniveling at the Times, a couple of websites have come up to try to fill the coverage gap. contains theatre, dance, and other performance reviews and listings. Longtime critics Dany Margolies, Travis Michael Holder, Julio Martinez, and Neal Weaver appear among the contributors.

The cutback at the Weekly was most surprising given its historical support for the form. Steven Leigh Morris, the Chekhov-loving theatre lead, has launched with many of his Weekly colleagues on the reviewing staff. They’re starting with theatre and planning to expand as resources permit.

So, it has come to this – Steel-cage death match for space science?

SpaceflightNow reports that NASA’s space science programs are going to have to choose which planetary missions currently underway live or die:

Tough choices ahead for NASA’s planetary program

NASA’s unparalleled fleet of planetary science missions are exploring Mars and Saturn, speeding toward Jupiter and Pluto, mapping the moon and Mercury, and dashing through the asteroid belt.

But the longevity of many of the missions will force difficult decisions for a review committee this spring tasked with deciding which projects NASA should keep funding.

If the report is to be believed, these missions, masterpieces of engineering, and productive well beyond their expected lives are victims of their own success. The pittance it costs to keep them going and their science teams funded are being weighed against current porkbesotted budgets.