Stage Reviews


    Idioms delight

    There’s no easing into Stephanie Satie’s “Refugees.” From the instant the writer/actor appears onstage in her one-woman play, one is strapped in and bouncing along in her tour bus of stories.

    Directed by Anita Khanzadian, the action takes place primarily in the classroom at an English-as-a-second-language school. Satie’s characters are students from the former Soviet Union and environs. They speak enough English to know that the answer to “How are you?” is “Fine” only because no one in America wants to hear anything else. They can say “chill out” and “politically incorrect” but are still working on those darned prepositions and articles.

    Satie’s acting job might have been made easier because she lived the life of the teacher she portrays, but this can’t detract from her wicked portrayal of Iranians, Latvians and the chauvinistic Boris from Uzbekistan, from her nonstop delivery, from her charming dance and, most memorably, from the dignity she affords her students and, eventually, herself.

    Wisely, Satie and Khanzadian have chosen to use a single gesture or slight change of voice to delineate among the characters (and the delineation is always clear). After all, this is a play about similarities.

    “Refugees” runs Saturdays at 8 p.m., Sundays at 2 p.m., through July 19, at The Bitter Truth Theatre, 11050 Magnolia Blvd., North Hollywood. Telephone 818/755-7000.

    Feeling a little flush

    They’re foul-mouthed, cigar-smoking, crotch-scratching poker players. They’ve got sex, money, revenge, sex, liquor and sex on their minds. When Sam, Charlie, Jo and Tommi get together, it’s no tea party.

    “Never the Same Rhyme Twice,” by Rooster Mitchell in its West Coast premiere at Company of Angels, is an intriguing look at these four-of-a-kind women imbued with traditionally male attributes. These long-legged queens are wild. They’re proud to have pulled cons, even on one another.

    “Those in control are the ones dishing out the rhymes; the suckers of the world hear the same rhyme twice,” says the play. Ultimately, however, there’s not much poetic about these gals, including the justice they dole out. This is an actors’ play — watch it for the four chewy roles, not for any cathartic theater experience.

    The chewers are Jenny Buchanan (Sam), Kate Asner (Jo), Susan Mackin (Tommi) and Charmaine Barnes (Charlie). Each takes full advantage of the opportunities dealt them by Mitchell, with no false moments. Each is attractive enough to be shocking as “one of the boys,” and when they flash a soft side the contrast likewise startles.

    The play does flow like a well-balanced string quartet, with intermittent solos and duets — periodically, one or another of the characters leaves to make a phone call or escapes to the head for a flush. (Incidentally, the play has no intermission.)

    Allen H. Jones creates a visually exciting set with an intriguing palette and lighting.

    “Never the Same Rhyme Twice” plays Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., Sundays at 7 p.m. through July 19 at Company of Angels Theater, 2106 Hyperion Ave., Silver Lake. Tel. 213/660-8587.