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Do You Feel Anger @ Circle X

Mugged by misogyny

You need to go see "Do You Feel Anger?" at Circle X.

Mara Nelson-Greenberg's viciously dark comedy is built around Sofia, Paula Rebelo, a corporate empathy coach. She's been called in to a collection agency to teach the staff, well really the men, how to feel things other than misogyny. She's a pro so this shouldn't be an issue, right?

Almost immediately Eva, played brilliantly by Tasha Ames, storms into the conference room and overshares everything. Seems like she's been getting mugged in the break room, her female co-worker Janie has been missing in the bathroom for weeks, and she advises a fake boyfriend immediately. This is all divulged at breakneck speed.

When the men arrive, it's worse than we thought. They think "empathy" is a bird. (The trio of men capture the toxic culture of the office and give what feel like they should be little more than caricatures real toxic life.)

You probably have a sense where this is going ... but here's the magic of "Do You Feel Anger?" It keeps surprising you and keeps making you painfully laugh. The setup is strong but the play develops and deepens the satire by expertly skewering office culture, professional trainings, our culture's fear of women, and that devilish reversal where the language of the victim is performatively co-opted by the ones doing the harm.

This is a comedy, you will laugh (a lot) but you won't walk out of the theater with a smile on your face (especially if you're a woman). You will feel grateful for Mara Nelson-Greenberg's recognizing the awful absurdity of our culture and for this production that gets a really tricky tone just right.

"Do You Feel Anger?" plays at Circle X Theatre in Atwater Village through February 25th.

This is Anthony Byrnes Opening the Curtain on LA Theater for KCRW.

Kristina Wongs Sweatshop Overlord a co-pro between CTG and East West Players

Welcome to the golden age of the Co-Pro.

What is a co-pro? A co-production is when two or more theater companies team up to produce together. If you’ve looked at your theatre program or a calendar listing lately, you’ve probably noticed a lot of them.

Co-productions have long been a regular thing in the regional theater (many of the shows you see at the Taper these days are co-productions). It’s a way for two, or more, theaters to save money by using the same cast and usually the same physical production while traveling between those theaters.

Post-pandemic the co-production has made its way into the LA's smaller theaters with a vengeance. It’s no wonder with audiences down and costs up. It’s a great way for two theaters to pool their resources, and still produce. In the best case a co-production brings the talents of both theaters together and you get a product that’s better than either one of the theater companies could’ve produced individually. If the theaters are lucky it brings their regular audiences doubling the base and maybe even expanding the audience for future productions.

It’s too soon to tell if all these co-productions are going to lead to better theater and a healthier audience, but what's certain now is there’s going to be less theater.

Opening Weekend

Opening Weekend

Here's a piece I wrote in 2016 about this weekend that year. Sadly, LA theatre is still opening a ton of shows at the same time:

There are a ton of shows opening this weekend...

The trouble with this slew of openings at the same time is that you can't go to all of them. Neither can I. Neither can the rest of the theater critics in Los Angeles. So in addition to splitting their audience like some crazy GOP caucus, LA theater is splitting the critical attention and audience that exists. At least one of these shows is going to get passed up - simply because of their choice of opening weekend.

Lest you think this is only a front-end problem, the same thing will likely happen closing weekend. Given that most shows in Los Angeles run for six weeks, these shows will all close together. So for the last minute audience member scrambling to catch a show before it's gone -- the same choice.

So why would LA's small theaters choose so often to open on the same weekend?

There are two simple answers: lack of infrastructure and simple calendar math...

Read More
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