Review Roundup: Tracey Letts' LINDA VISTA At Mark Taper Forum

Review Roundup: Tracey Letts' LINDA VISTA At Mark Taper Forum

Center Theatre Group's "Linda Vista" by Tracy Letts is now on stage. The Steppenwolf Theatre Company production is on stage at the Mark Taper Forum now through February 17, 2019. The production is directed by Dexter Bullard.

The cast includes, in alphabetical order, Ian Barford, Tim Hopper, Sally Murphy, Caroline Neff, Chantal Thuy, Cora Vander Broek and Troy West.

The creative team features scenic design by Todd Rosenthal, costume design by Laura Bauer, lighting design by Marcus Doshi and sound design by Richard Woodbury. Edward Sobel is the Dramaturg and the production stage manager is David S. Franklin.

Letts' bitingly hilarious play "Linda Vista" tells of Wheeler, a 50-year-old man who is floating. His marriage is over, his job is mundane and the best years of his life appear to be behind him. A move from the cot in his ex-wife's garage to his own apartment opens up new possibilities for love, sex and maybe a taste of redemption.

"Linda Vista" was commissioned by and the world premiere presented at Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Chicago, IL in April 2017.

Center Theatre Group, one of the nation's preeminent arts and cultural organizations, is Los Angeles' leading nonprofit theatre company, which, under Artistic Director Michael Ritchie, programs seasons at the 736-seat Mark Taper Forum and 1600 to 2100-seat Ahmanson Theatre at The Music Center in Downtown Los Angeles, and the 317-seat Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City. In addition to presenting and producing the broadest range of theatrical entertainment in the country, Center Theatre Group is one of the nation's leading producers of ambitious new works through commissions and world premiere productions and a leader in interactive community engagement and education programs that reach across generations, demographics and circumstance to serve Los Angeles.

Tickets are available online at CenterTheatreGroup.org, by calling Audience Services at (213) 628-2772 or in person at the Center Theatre Group Box Office (at the Ahmanson Theatre at The Music Center in Downtown Los Angeles). Tickets range from $30 - $99 (ticket prices are subject to change). The Mark Taper Forum is located at The Music Center, 135 N. Grand Avenue in Downtown L.A. 90012.

Let's see what the critics have to say!

Charles McNulty, LA Times: "Linda Vista" doesn't always seem convinced that it wants to be a play. Letts clearly appreciates the freedom of theater to graphically tackle subjects, such as middle-aged sex, that might make TV producers squirm. But many of the scenes, italicized with pop music, play like a dark rom-com. The episodic nature of this nearly three-hour work turns playgoing into binge-watching. The dramatic writing has a kinetic kick. Letts' dialogue is potently funny and the psychological dynamics are often riveting in their accuracy. But the overall structure is saggy. The compulsive wit, as a consequence, can feel laborious in places.

Jordan Riefe, Hollywood Reporter: Just as Letts makes the process seem easy, Bullard makes the production flow, matching the naturalism in the text to his cast's mannerisms and delivery. Barford is a smooth blunt force of nature in his scenes, with Jules devotedly propping him up in the early going, creating a harmonious dynamic of opposites that resonates in his friendship with Paul. Wheeler's energy with Minnie is likewise concordant yet forced, portending the relationship's outcome. The casual digressions and disagreements over matters both significant and small make for fluid readings facilitated by set designer Todd Rosenthal's inventive rotating set, conveniently dialing up Wheeler's apartment, workspace and various bars and restaurants as needed.

Dany Margolies, LA Daily News: However, Bullard disappoints in his staging at the scallops restaurant, the locker room and Jules' workplace, where we get only the same sky-blue table on a scissor lifter near the stage's edge, making those scenes look under-budget. Still, the flawed Wheeler holds our attention and our hearts. He's basically a good person ill-equipped to deal with pretty much anything or anyone. And so he ends his protracted explanations and excuses with "...and he was humiliated." He speaks in the passive voice. We see it in the active voice: He humiliates himself.

Samuel Garza Bernstein, Stage and Cinema: Ian Barford gives one of the most unselfconscious performances I've ever seen. I'm not just referring to the nudity and sex. He never seems to worry if we like him, neither as an actor nor as a character. This is the fourth Tracy Letts role Barford has originated and it shows. He and the material are inseparable. Cora Vander Broek is endlessly surprising, wearing Jules' open vulnerability with fearless aplomb. Jules makes one of the most memorable observations of the evening, calling Wheeler a turtle who doesn't realize he has lost his shell. Ms. Vander Broek makes it a sublime tragicomic moment.

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