06 November 2008

"... a poignant reflection on relationships pulled apart by time and circumstance ..."


This is the second review I've received in the Los Angeles Times, and the second time I felt the reviewer got what I was doing. This is the fairest, most clear-headed review so far. It's not entirely congratulatory, nor should it be. The reviewer does an outstanding job of pointing out what actually needs work, rather than offering up a smug "I didn't like it" in purple prose.

He's right about the subplots. I was going for something more than a mere love triangle, and I do feel that I weave things together nicely in the end. But as I've mentioned before (on Mad Theatrics, if not here) I'm struggling to maintain a certain economy of writing, and it's a struggle that I haven't fully won. To be soberly honest, there are still cuts to be made, and they reside exclusively with the subplots.

I have learn much about this show, watching it every night since it opened. There is definitely another draft in me. But please forgive me for being elated about this review; as a writer, I have a blurb. A blurb! From the Times!

(The Times reviewer also caught the line of dialogue early in the play that firmly sets the location as San Francisco, a minor point that escaped the LA Weekly reviewer. I do so appreciate it when critics reviewing my work bother to listen to what the actors are saying.)
Romance on the home front

Amid the backstage antics of the World War II-era burlesque hall depicted in writer-director Andrew Moore's "Pin-Up Girls," there's a tight little tenderhearted romance percolating somewhere. But coaxing it from this new play's ambitious but often muddled initial outing at NoHo's Avery Schreiber Theatre will take some doing.

Moore's nostalgic affection for the tough-talking gals of the 1940s is obvious. With so many men shipped off to fight overseas, the six well-delineated strippers of San Francisco's Hi Jinks club have no one but themselves to rely on. As Helen, the most fiercely independent of the bunch, Pamela Moore parlays experience in both theater and burlesque choreography into a thoroughly convincing portrait of hardhearted survival. Having recently contracted a venereal disease, Helen finds her past innocence colliding with her jaded present when her onetime lover, a disabled vet named Scotty (Seth Caskey), unexpectedly returns from the war, bent on rekindling their romance.

Their awkward reunion is a poignant reflection on relationships pulled apart by time and circumstance, further complicated by the fact that Helen's roommate and fellow dancer, Ruby (Sarah Cook), has long carried a secret torch for Scotty.

These sympathetic lead performances notwithstanding, the triangle at the core of the piece is overrun by too many subplots involving the other eight characters, some of which lapse into caricature.

The antique prop-laden set by Starlet Jacobs and Christine Guilmette's eye-catching costumes add a period feel, though it clashes with occasional anachronistic dialogue that begs for careful scrubbing.

-- Philip Brandes "Pin-Up Girls," Avery Schreiber Theatre, 11050 Magnolia Blvd., North Hollywood. 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 7 p.m. Sundays. Ends Nov. 23. $20. (818) 849-4039. Running time: 2 hours.
Click here to see the review on the LA Times website.