Finale… Finish… Finis… FIN.

Posted: July 27th, 2011 | No Comments »

Here it is. The grand finale of the Fun Family Festival of Tragedy. It’s your last chance to come see any of the shows you may have missed. Some have said “O, I saw those shows years ago when you did them in the park.” That’s like saying “I’ve had chocolate cake, I don’t need to taste it ever again.” We stole our grandmother’s secret recipe, hired the best bakers, used only the highest quality ingredients, and want to share it with you this weekend. So come on down to the Bootleg for you’re last chance to taste the magic.

Saturday’s Penultimate Performances


Sunday’s Shakespearean Grand Slam Starting at 10 o’clock

They’ve Got Magic to Do

Posted: July 19th, 2011 | No Comments »

This story by Tony Frankel was originally posted at Stage and Cinema.

It simply cannot be avoided: with Fun Family Festival of Tragedy, L’Enfant Terrible, a startlingly brilliant new theatre company, is poised and ready to take over the theatre world. Founded by director Justin Zsebe, writer Angela Berliner and producer Seth Compton, this group is dedicated to the art of storytelling. On the surface, their four shows playing in repertory at the Bootleg are merely dazzling in design, festooned in frivolity, oozing with invention, and percolating with the most passionate performers in town. But, really, the goal here is compelling and unforgettable storytelling as a way to bring families and communities that much closer together. Just look at the expressions of the truly delighted adults and the children who cackle with laughter as Hamlet, Titus, Macbeth and King Lear grapple with family complications while teaching us important morals – each play does that in well under an hour. Every clown that played the Hollywood Fringe this year would do well to take a tip from L’Enfant: no matter your mastery of commedia technique, it is the way that stories are told which will win your audiences over and inspire the next generation of performing artists.

Hamlet, Prince of Puddles, already reviewed on Stage and Cinema, continues to delight as the very, very sad Hamlet (Brian Kimmet) comes to grips with a family that is falling apart. This play taught me to keep my anger in check.

Titus the Clownicus (Michael Dunn) is the boss of the Red Nose Army. But conquering the Green Noses in the Clown Wars wasn’t enough for him – no, he has to rub their noses in it, causing the demise of his children Titus Jr. (Josh Zeller) and Laughinia (Laura Castle). I couldn’t imagine how Ms. Berliner was going to handle the daughter’s vivisected tongue: a little peanut butter stuck in her mouth and speaking in Spanish renders her unintelligible to her family. The duplicitous leader of the Green Noses, Queen Tamoraclown (Jessica Hanna), weds the emperor Sillyninus (Brian Allman), even as she seeks revenge with the super-shoe-sized support of her sons, Cheeron (Robert Adler) and Dummytrius (Natasha Midgley), as well as her lover, Aaron the Bore (RJ Jones). How gloriously thrilling was it to see a slo-mo pie fight in lieu of mass murder? The costume design of Ann Closs-Farley seems to have more colors than a box of 64 crayons, and I really, really, really wish she were my friend so we could shop together. Her inventive designs simply make me happy. This play taught me to not be mean to somebody just ‘cause they’re mean to me.

Old King O’Leary (Robert Williams) is ready to divide his western Boomtown among his three daughters. All they have to do is say, “I love ya, Pa!” But young Cordelia-Mae (Angela Berliner) is banished when she cannot declare but a “peep.” She assumes the role of Mad Tom, which helps her conspire against her wicked sisters, who have taken over Boomtown, overworking the miners and being generally bad. Literally waiting in the wings is the cutest Buffalo of all time – every time Josh Zeller let out a “Ma-a-a-a-a,” the audience was ready to jump up on stage and embrace him.

What made L’Enfant’s Hamlet and Titus so wonderful was the incorporation of the tragedy with the comedy – with Lear, they went for a happy ending, which I’m not sure was necessary. Still, the design of King O’Leary is an eye-popping delight: set designer François-Pierre Couture has outdone himself with this mining town. But, really, Brian Kimmet (who plays Bastino, the sisters’ Spanish-style love interest): what the hell, man? Do you have to be so gol’ darned talented? Stop being so supremely off-the-chart watchable! You know, I’ve got a lot of amazing things to look at on that stage. Give a critic a break, wouldja? Oh, yeah, this play taught me that love is as love does. (Seriously, Kimmet, knock it off before you win an award or something.)

Macbeth and the Monster, the newest of the four, was the least successful in that the story of the Scottish tragedy was largely overlooked so that a scary bedtime story could be told to a naughty boy. Still, this outing outshines many theatrical endeavors, even as it seems better suited to the younger set than to adults. This play taught me to clean my room. (Here’s an idea: see all four shows and decide for yourself!)

Director Justin Zsebe does double duty in the back of the house; he is a one-man percussion band. My only concern is that he may be so busy helping the show that he has yet to notice how some music cues need working and some of his actors can vocally get lost within the cacophony of clowning around. We want to hear every juicy word of Berliner’s fabulously inventive scripts.

Enough praise. Get down to the Bootleg and support this company. The real tragedy would be just one empty seat at their performances.

To read the whole story click here or go to

Mining ‘King Lear,’ er, ‘King O’Leary,’ for Laughs

Posted: July 13th, 2011 | No Comments »

This story by Laura Clark was originally posted at LA Story.

You know you’re going to be in for a lively — and creative — treat when actors on stage start mixing Shakespeare with Kanye West.

That’s exactly what happened at L’Enfant Terrible’s performance of “King O’Leary” at the Bootleg Theater on Sunday. Part of the Fun Family Festival of Tragedy,

“King O’Leary” is one of four re-imagined plays based on Shakespearean tragedies, in this case, “King Lear.” This local theater troupe has turned the Bard on his head — which, I’m betting he would have loved — and offers a funny, family-friendly take on some of Will’s saddest tales.

And, you know what? It works!

Set in an Old West burg called Boomtown, which has thrived on gold mining, “King O’Leary” tells the story of an aging king (played by Robert Williams) who wants to divide his land among his three daughters. But first, he wants to hear just how much each one loves him.

His eldest daughters (Laura Castle, Brian Allman) — the equivalent of Cinderella’s wicked stepsisters — are eager to shower him with praise so they can get their hands on the gold. The youngest, cleverly named Cordelia-Mae (Angela Berliner), is too tongue-tied and can only utter “peep.”

Because of that, she’s banished to the outskirts of town, where there is only grass and …. buffalo! Insert a fun character here (Josh Zeller, above left) who utters noises that make him sound like a cousin of Chewbacca. (He was a definite CC fave. We cracked up every time he, uh, spoke.)

Angela Berliner and CC after the show.

Written by Berliner, who also plays Cordelia-Mae, “King O’Leary” is clever, funny, interactive and offers up colorful characters who get lots of laughs from the audience — particularly a gentleman from Mexico (Eddie Bastino, played by Brian Kimmet), who’s willing to marry any of the sisters for a stake in the fortune.

What’s great for kids — and parents — is that all ends well in this hour-long show, unlike the original “King Lear.” And anyone who can work Kanye’s “Gold Digger” into a re-thought Shakespearean play about a mining community gets two thumbs up from me.

For more information about the festival, which is offering four plays in repertory through July 31, click here. L’Enfant Terrible also gives audiences an inside peek at what goes on behind the scenes.

To read the whole story click here or go to

Shakespeare was a Patriot

Posted: July 2nd, 2011 | No Comments »

He loved his king he loved his queen
At many of his shows they could be seen
Cheering and boo-ing and having fun times
And rolling their eyes at the obvious end rhymes.

Fast forward four hundred years or so,
Are you looking for a place for friends and family to go?
We’ve taken Shakespeare’s plays and made them outrageous
For young, and old, and well… All Ages!Sleep chicken, goood chicken.

Do you want to stay cool and celebrate Fourth?
Then buy a pass to see all our shows henceforth.
Where you ask?! Shakespearean plays + AC ?!?!
Why it’s at the Fun Family Festival of Tragedy.

It’s happening at the Bootleg Theater (as always)
At noon and two on Saturdays and Sundays.

~L’Enfant Terrible

Fun Family Festival is a GO!

Posted: June 30th, 2011 | No Comments »


This review by Deborah Klugman was originally posted at LA Weekly.

Creating theater that can delight both preschoolers and seniors — and everyone in between — is tough to do, but this talented ensemble of artists manages just that with enormously funny Shakespeare parody Titus the Clownicus. One of four such under-an-hour pieces written by Angela Berliner, it’s a toss of character, theme and plot elements from Shakespeare’s second-tier gore fest Titus Andronicus, with song and dance, puppetry, soap bubbles, fabulously colorful costumes (by Ann Closs Farley) and imaginative props. Served up with sophistication and panache under Justin Zsebe’s direction, with a set designed by Francois-Pierre Couture, this suitable-for-children scenario begins when General Titus (Michael Dunn) of the Red Nose clowns defeats the Green Nose faction and captures their Queen Tamora (Jessica Hanna), a smoldering backstabber who charms the king Sillyninus (Brian Allman), then instigates dastardly plots against Titus and his family. Though Berliner transmutes the horrors of the original — Tamora’s sons attack Titus’ daughter Laughinia (Laura Castle) with gooey peanut butter — her burlesque preserves the moral of the story, that lust for power begets evil. (Also, unlike the original, the play ends on an up note.) The show plays in rep with the equally original Hamlet, Prince of Puddles (“Frailty, thy name is Mommie,” declares a weepy Hamlet, played by Brian Kimmet); King O’Leary, set in the Old West; and Macbeth and the Monster, in which Shakespeare’s tragedy about a Scottish king becomes a scary bedtime story spun out by a single mom (Berliner). Bootleg Theater, 2220 Beverly Blvd., L.A.; Sat.-Sun., noon and 2 p.m.; call for schedule; thru July 31. (Deborah Klugman)

To read the whole review click here or go to

Peek Behind the Poster

Posted: June 20th, 2011 | No Comments »


Find out the who the real monster is June 11 at 12 o'clock

Meet Andrew Leman, the artist behind the Fun Family Festival poster and logo. Above, you can see the evolution of Macbeth’s monster. Looks like what ends up being a gripping graphic started out as an action figure.

Posted below are some animals who auditioned for the buffalo and chicken jobs but didn’t get cast.

What’s your favorite cartoon of all time?

What’s Opera, Doc?

What do you read, watch, or look at every day?

Most days I read or at least skim the website Boing Boing. I find much of what’s posted there quite interesting.

What are you working on right now?

The Arkham Sanitarium sanity assessment and diagnostic kit. What started off as a goofy idea has become a fabulously complicated and comprehensive goofy product with elaborate calculating wheels, a board game, six decks of cards, inkblots, and custom-made pencils, among other things.

Popsicle, Fugicle, or Creamsicle?

Definitely Fudgsicle.

What are your favorite works of art?

Hommage by Leopoldo Maler

Paintings by Lyonel Feininger and Hugh Ferriss, sculptures by Paul Manship and Donald De Lue.

Graphics and lettering by Chris Ware.

What’s your favorite music of all time?

Possibly Aubade from Romeo and Juliet by Prokofiev or maybe Brahms’ Rhapsody 79 No. 2, but I’d love to hear it fully orchestrated. Also What the Thunder Said as played by Duke Ellington’s All Star Road Band is pretty great, as is Glenn Miller’s String of Pearls

What’s the most fun you have ever had in a theater?

Noises Off in London with Sean Branney in 1988.

Where can we see more of your designs/work? or or

Take a look at the full poster on our Fun Family Festival Event Page

The Play’s the Thing, Kids

Posted: June 1st, 2011 | No Comments »

This event description by Skylaire Alfvegren was originally posted at LA Weekly.

Children’s Theater The Play’s the Thing, Kids Do you believe that subversive theater should be available and comprehensible to people of all ages? Do you feel your 7-year-old is overdue an introduction to the works of the Bard? L’Enfant Terrible, a collection of theater people committed to introducing the wee ones to Shakespeare’s “hilarious tragedies,” presents Los Angeles’ first ever Fun Family Festival of Tragedy. “Whether you are young at heart or a hard-hearted youngster, say goodbye to your old expectations of children’s theater,” they say. With an emphasis on emotion and familial drama rather than death, four of Shakespeare’s masterworks are smooshed out in kiddie-friendly form, becoming MacBeth and the Monster, King O’Leary, Hamlet: Prince of Puddles, and Titus the Clownicus. Adults performing as kids, for kids are but miniature adults. Sunday audiences are invited to participate in a free theater workshop.


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Local Theater Company Offers Shakespeare for All Ages

Posted: June 1st, 2011 | No Comments »

This feature story by Muffy Marracco was originally posted at Echo Park Patch.

Shakespeare’s plays fall into two categories: comedies and tragedies. The former typically ends with a marriage – the latter ends with a death. So how then do you adapt the tragedies in a fun way for an all ages show? L’Enfant Terrible has the answer. This local theater company is staging their adaptations of four different Shakespeare classics during their Fun Family Festival.

The festival runs throughout June and offers enjoyable adaptations intended for everyone. Adapted by Angela Berliner, the plays “frame these stories as being about families and emotions,” as their web site says. Gone are the tragic endings and bloody outcomes. Hamlet is no longer the prince of Denmark – he is now the “prince of puddles.” King Lear is set in the California Gold Rush. Macbeth fears monsters under the bed. And Titus Andronicus now features dueling circus clowns. Justing Zsebe, the director of the pieces, wants the plays to be “as universal as possible.” They are intended for all ages to enjoy, and though there are references to the original Shakespeare, L’Enfant Terrible “take as many liberties as we want,” he says.

Producer Seth Compton says that L’Enfant Terrible wants “theater that connects with the neighborhood.” The company has found a performing home at the Bootleg Theater at 2220 Beverly Boulevard. The space offers live music and performance. The Fun Family Festival will run on weekend days in June. There are two shows on Saturday and one on Sunday. You can purchase a special Quarto four-pack to see all the shows for just $40 for adults and $20 for kids. L’Enfant Terrible supports itself through ticket sales, grants and donations, which are all important because this company makes sure to pay their players a union wage.

The Echo Park community, says Compton, has been supportive with ad buys and other donations. The neighborhood is also “very diverse,” notes Zsebe, which is something that the company values and hopes to honor with their work. L’Enfant Terrible hopes to inspire and connect with their audience. They offer free workshops on Sunday afternoons after the show. Saturday afternoon theatergoers can get a “peek behind the curtain,” says Compton. And those who show up for the early show on Saturday in their pajamas get a discount.

Zsebe says that the shows are intended for everyone – from “grandparents to parents to kids or yourself.” The company is “nimble” and “ready to tour,” says Compton, so get your fill of the Fun Family Festival while you can.  For more information, visit their web site at

What is your favorite Shakespeare play?

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Boomtown Was Built in a Day

Posted: May 31st, 2011 | No Comments »

Our set for King O’Leary is constructed with much more attention for design and craftsmanship than many of the actual buildings built during the California Gold Rush. Scenic designer François-Pierre Couture and set builder Brian Ludmer came to the theater today and brought us Boomtown!

In 1848 gold was discovered in California. Six years later the non-native population had exploded by 20 times! “Boom towns” popped up across the Golden State. This rapid growth resulted in poorly constructed houses, mob rule, vigilante justice and considerable squalor. Conditions for miners were hard. They lived in log cabins and tents and worked in all kinds of weather suffering incredible hardships.

In our story of King O’Leary, Boomtown is the name of the town where the miners mine and the streets are paved with gold. We based the character of King O’Leary on the highly eccentric and slightly loony Emperor Norton. He was a real person who lived in San Francisco and called himself the “Emperor of the United States and the Protector of Mexico.” Of course, he wasn’t actually an Emperor but some people would humor him and treat him with honor and reverence. He even issued money in his name and some shop owners would accept it as currency just to be nice.

It would be right-nice of you to bring your currency on down to the Bootleg Theater this Saturday, June 4th, at high noon (12 o’clock). Above you’ll see a sketch by François-Pierre of what it will look like when it’s all finished. Below you can see what we have so far. Click here for a full calendar of the Fun Family Festival (of Tragedy) running through July 31.

The scenic designer surveys his city.