Saturday, January 23, 2010


Culture Clash is a production company that focus on new and inventive works that mash up different cultures in a way that gives a higher clarity about society. Their newest work is PALESTINE, NEW MEXICO playing at the Mark Taper Forum (presented by Center Theatre Group) in Los Angeles, CA.

The play follows a young female army captain who has traveled to a reservation in New Mexico to deliver a letter from a fallen soldier, Ray Little Sky. Ray's father (to which the letter was addressed) is the Chief of the Native American Reservation. The course of the play deals with such themes surrounding the cultures of Native Americans, Middle Eastern Indians, Chicanos, Jews, and Christians. This seems to be a lot to take in in an 80 minute play. And while each was definitely represented, it sometimes lacked focus. The plot furthers when we find that Ray was a soldier who had sympathies for the various religious backgrounds met in the war. He would allow prisoners to pray when the call to pray was heard. This behavior led some to believe that he was a traitor to the American people. But really, Ray was attempting to make peace. He calls on fellow Native American soldier, Swarez to help. Ray shows, in an act of peaceful diplomacy, that while Swarez and Ray are from warring tribes, they too can get along. This is probably the most interesting moment, but is somewhat overshadowed by the peyote scene that takes the audience into the captain's trippy trip (complete with a giant cactus). An interesting plot, but a bit unfocused at times.

The comedy between the three older vets was by far the best moment in the show. This slapstick scene really brought in a multi-generational aspects while making fun. But the overall best performance definitely goes to the captain, Kirsten Potter. She was strong, yet feminine which is difficult to do as an army officer. Then notably, the chief was played by Russell Means (from Disney's POCAHONTAS) who was fantastically regal. Overall the show was solid, but was a bit rushed in my opinion and took on a lot of issues for one short play. But definitely worth seeing.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER: A Trifecta of Funny.

In the HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER episode that aired Monday January 11th, 2010, entitled Girls Vs. The Suit, three new additions keep the episode fresh and funny. While the general premise (Ted Mosby is on his quest to find his wife, but tells the story from the future to his children, and we still don't know who he marries and it's season 5) remains the same, these new additions to this episode helped to keep the audience hooked. A major issue for this series is the fact that the general premise is constantly being teased out and the audience is constantly being teased, too. This can be frustrating and annoying as it constantly reminds the audience that something very important is being withheld. But, that said, the characters are fully fleshed out. So, these new additions that made January 11th's episode even more amazing? See below.

1) Rachel Bilson. Not only is she a fresh, funny face which adds to the cast, but her character is key. Her bubbly personality is perfect for the character which is...Ted's wife's roommate! This is one of the examples of the show teasing us with the final goal: meeting Ted's wife. Bilson really shows depth and maturity in this small role on the well-known sitcom. She clearly has grown up since her time as the ditz on THE O.C. So while Bilson's appearance was minor, she really brings the cast new freshness and her character is a key part of the premise of the show.

2) Tim Gunn. Anyone who knows anything about fashion knows Tim Gunn. So while I am pleasantly surprised by his appearance, it reminded me about how the business works. The fact that Gunn's show PROJET RUNWAY was beginning it's 7th season later that week, the coincidence is really more of a publicity ploy. He appeared as Neil Patrick Harris's personal tailor (this is particularly funny as the fact that Barney, NPH's character, is rarely seen out of a suit, and it is an on-going joke). So while Gunn's acting was nothing too impressive, his out-of-place-ness really worked to bring the scene to a new comedy high. Plus, the show made the conscious choice to acknowledge the real world. This means that the characters in the sitcom know who Tim Gunn is, and perhaps even watch PROJECT RUNWAY. (And on a personal note. I was thrilled as I have met Gunn and think he is just the sweetest person ever).

3) Musical Number. This may be the highlight of the entire episode (and arguably in the whole series). Barney (NPH) goes into a dream-like sequence where he is the star of a broadway show about suits. He sings about the importance of suits, even as though he is singing a triumphant love song to these suits. This is perfect for NPH as he has performed in CABARET and RENT on Broadway. So needless to say, he has every right to bust out a Broadway-style piece. The show-stopper number is a musical-lover's dream. It references SINGIN' IN THE RAIN with the iconic lightpost hang. It pays homage to FAME with his large bravado performance dancing on a cab. And mostly all of the musical number moments are in there: the jazz square, the jazz hands and yes, the kickline. This was an epic full-length number that needs to be re-watched on youtube.