Aerosmith and Shakespeare together at last
Over the past 10 years, LA's Troubadour Theatre Co. has married Shakespeare with pop rock in Twelfth Dog Night, Romeo Hall and Juliet Oates and Fleetwood Macbeth.
This year, they're taking one of Shakespeare's most popular, albeit insipid, comedies, The Comedy of Errors, and attacking it with one of the most popular, if insipid, hard-rock bands of the past 30 years. Meet The Comedy of Aerosmith, and listen up: it's quite possible neither Shakespeare nor Aerosmith has ever sounded better.
The Troubadour, led by artistic director Matt Walker, is a frenetically talented company that could pull off a straight production of Shakespeare as easily as any of Southern California's classically trained troupes. But no one produces shows as dynamic as these guys—for one big reason: they're not afraid to fuck up.
"We have the biggest safety net in the world," says Walker, "the yellow flag." Even though Walker's not onstage a great deal in their latest endeavor, he's always around, ready to throw a yellow flag at any actor who drops a line, breaks character, badly improvises a line—or any time he feels it. It's the commedia spirit.
"This is definitely bluer, more ribald and burlesque," Walker says of The Comedy of Aerosmith, which gets two weeks in Fullerton as a test run for a two-night stand at Hollywood's famous Roxy Theatre later this summer. "It's less family-oriented than some of our others. We've got simulated sex going on; we cast a lot of hot girls. The rehearsals have been really fun; especially for the guys."
Joe Perry and Steven Tyler were known as the Toxic Twins for their debauched lifestyle, and this show does its best to live down to it. "We really wanted to create a comedy of errors around the band," Walker said. "The first thing people are going to see when they show up at the theater is a tour bus. The band has arrived late, they're high, they're out of tune and quarreling with one another. There will be drunk hecklers and security guards who'll jump onstage if something goes wrong. It's rock & roll, and we're getting down and dirty."
But would the Bard approve?
Short answer: yes. "The only question [if he were alive] is would he be writing for Seinfeldor According to Jim?"
Probably whichever paid the most.
The Comedy of Aerosmith by the Troubadour Theater Co. at Muck Mansion, 1201 W. Malvern Ave., Fullerton, (310) 979-7196; www.troubie.com. Opens Fri. Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m. Through June 26. $20.
In exchange for the Troubadour's performances in OC, one of our most interesting companies opens its first show for LA. The Rude Guerrilla Theatre Co., which scored a coup when it was given the rights to produce notorious English playwright Sarah Kane's Blasted, stages the California premiere of the play at the Grove Theater Center's Burbank space on Friday.
Kane blazed a brief but unforgettable trail in the few years of her career (she killed herself at the height of her notoriety in England). She's a divider, not a uniter: people either love or loathe her brutally violent plays, which experimented with theatrical form while pushing her very left-of-center politics. Blasted takes place in a high-class hotel room in Leeds and begins with the line "I've shat in better places than this" and ends with a woman eating her former lover. In between, there's everything from fellatio and homosexual rape to a machine-gun-toting solider barging into the room and upending the lives of these two volatile lovers.
"After years of trying, I can't even begin to say how grateful I am to Sarah's brother and executor of her estate that they have allowed us to be only the second theater in the U.S. to ever produce this amazing play," says director Dave Barton, before noting that with the Abu Ghraib torture scandal, the murder of Nick Berg, the rising death toll of soldiers and civilians in Iraq, and multiplying incidents of terrorism around the world, "this extremely topical work couldn't be timelier."
Blasted at GTC Burbank, 1111-B W. Olive Ave., Burbank, (818) 257-4952; www.rudeguerrilla.org. Opens Fri. Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 6 p.m. (no show July 4). Through July 25. $15-$20.
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