Posts Tagged ‘Geffen Playhouse’

Gunpowder, Guy Fawkes, and the Geffen…

Contrary to what we all might think, political dramas and fabled truths didn’t start with George W. Bush.  Those in power have long controlled the versions of the truth that end up in our news reports or history books.  Back in the day, Shakespeare’s day to be precise, there was once a foiled plot against the established government, known as the Gunpowder Plot, in which the houses of Parliament would be blown up while King James and his largely Protestant cabinet were inside.  Brits now celebrate the day as Guy Fawkes Day because it was Guy Fawkes who was sent late at night on November 5, 1605 to light the fuse beneath the house of Parliament.  It was also he who was captured and killed on behalf of his team.  It seems that we can all relate to the events that followed…

King James told his emissary, Robert Cecil, to hire the best playwright around to tell the story of the Gunpowder Plot.  Shakespeare, who was currently rehearsing King Lear with his troupe, was approached and accepted the challenge of telling the world King James’ version of the truth.  As he and his troupe struggled with the difference between fact and fiction, they come to realize the real power of the establishment.  And so did playwright Bill Cain in his Equivocation opening this week at the Geffen Playhouse.

All about this storied event (in more ways than one), Equivocation touches on Shakespeare himself, his troupe, and his relationship with his daughter. We were recently lucky enough to sit down with the entire cast of the show.  Our video interview is chock full of the cast’s favorite scenes, how they feel about Guy Fawkes Day, and how they feel about yours truly…

We’re not the only lucky ones, though.  The Geffen Playhouse is offering Fine Arts LA readers an exclusive ticket offer!  In the interest of killing two birds with one stone (drinking wine, seeing the play) our readers can purchase tickets for $35 to see the play on one of the Geffen’s Wine Down Sundays – you get tickets to the show and a chance to enjoy complimentary wines beforehand.  Talk about enhancing your theatre-going experience!

The following Sundays are eligible for this sweet, wine-soaked deal: Nov 22, Nov 29, Dec 6, Dec 13, and Dec 20.  To enjoy this offer, call the Geffen box office and mention this code: FAE35 – enjoy!

Bill Cain’s Equivocation runs at the Geffen Playhouse from November 10 – December 20, 2009.  For more information, please click here or call (310) 208-5454.

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The Seafarer: Or if Samuel Beckett Wrote and Directed an Episode of Frasier

Connor McPherson’s Tony Award-nominated play, The Seafarer—which runs until May 24 at The Geffen Playhouse the way an amiable drunk runs into an old friend—starts off an awful lot like a good episode of Frasier (or a good reading of Samuel Beckett’s Endgame, depending on your point of reference).  It even stars John Mahoney, who famously played Martin Crane in the much beloved NBC series, and here, too, spends much of the show sitting in a comfortable-looking chair.

Mahoney assumes the role of Richard, the blind-but-buoyant older brother of Sharky, and for the first twenty minutes or so, he could easily be performing an Irish adaptation of his old sitcom self (or an updated version of Hamm, the central character of Endgame), as he whines and cracks jokes at the expense of his quiet and depressed work-horse of a relative.  Even Ivan, the brothers’ loveable old drinking-buddy, who stumbles in looking for his glasses, could pass for a plausible Niles Crane—if Niles were thirty years older, fifty pounds heavier, and 100-times more drunk.

What begins as a playful mix of Frasier-esque banter and Beckett-esque determinism, however, soon takes on the form of an old-school morality play, with the additions of Nicky, and his mysterious cohort, Mr. Lockhart.  Just like the old English poem from which the play takes its title, the main character—in this case, Sharky—meets with a deep and frightening crisis of faith mid-narrative, and spends the rest of the time coming to terms with it.  But of course, it wouldn’t be a true Irish play if those terms didn’t include whiskey, cards, and a lot of fun.

All five actors seem to revel within their respective parts, each finding their niche within the intimidating quintet of talent and running with it.  The mere fact that they don’t get dwarfed behind Takeshi Kata’s incredible, multi-layered set design says a lot for any actor.  Director as well; because under the unseen touch of Randall Arney, these characters seem to breathe with a joy and knowledge of not only Irish culture and drama, but contemporary TV culture as well.  And it’s this inter-weaving of subtexts, of the old and the new, the experienced and the fresh, the wilting and the hopeful, that so brilliantly serves McPherson’s original vision for The Seafarer.

- By Josh Morrison

The Seafarer runs at the Geffen Playhouse in Westwood until May 24. For more information regarding this show or others, please call (310) 208-5454 or visit

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