Adults Only…

Posted: November 5th, 2010 | No Comments »

Founding Artistic Director and Playwright Angela Berliner is having a reading of her play MOSQUITO BITES this Saturday with the Ensemble Studio Theater new works festival fESTivity LA! While she is the imaginative force behind L’Enfant Terrible All Ages theater, this one is for Adults Only so leave the 12 and under folk at home.

MOSQUITO BITES is the story of Jack Lee whose 12-year-old daughter Adele was kidnapped from their home 10 years previously. The story takes place on the day he finds out what happened to her.

Mosquito Bites

A Play Reading Written and Directed by Angela Berliner

1 Day Only
Saturday November 6th at 3pm

For more information about Ensemble Studio Theater LA, The Atwater Village Theater, or fESTivity click here.
Click here for directions.
Or go to www.ensemblestudiotheatrela.org


A Princely Production

Posted: October 29th, 2010 | No Comments »

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

Once in a great while, a play will have me floating off the ground as if I had just been licked by God; a play that makes me feel better for having been alive; it encompasses great writing, acting, direction, and a triumphant technical team. Examples this past year are Cousin Bette at Antaeus, The Browning Version at Pacific Resident Theatre, and Four Places at Theatre/Theater.

Now comes along a 50-minute miracle, a L’Enfant Terrible Production of Hamlet, Prince of Puddles. What, you say? A children’s show? No. This is (gulp, how do I say this without sounding saccharine-y?) for the whole family. In fact, we were there sans kids and had a walloping-good time. This inventive, brilliant production is what we wish Disney would design when they promote family viewing (but they turn out Tinker Bell rip-offs for teenage girls instead).

Not only were the children present at the Bootleg Theater squealing with delight at the antics of Hamlet (who tended to cry a lot and even peed in his pants), but so were the adults. It’s basically a synopsis of Hamlet’s emotionally draining situation, focusing on girlfriend Ophelia, her dad Polonius, Hamlet’s mom Gertrude, uncle/dad Claudius, and real dad/ghost. I never remember feeling so empathetic to Hamlet’s plight.

The hilarious script is by L’Enfant Terrible founder Angela Berliner, who also plays Ophelia. Modern dialogue and rap are interspersed with the Bard’s famous lines, but Berliner is only interested in the meat of the story. Hamlet is just an awkward teenager who would rather play baseball and hang out with his TWILIGHT-loving girlfriend, Ophelia. Hamlet is so sad when his dad dies, and mom is so sad that she doesn’t realize the King’s brother is a bad man and a liar, so she marries him. This makes Hamlet even sadder. Hamlet knew that he must avenge his father’s death, but he was just a kid and didn’t know what to do. Long story short (literally), Hamlet takes vengeance, but at what cost? Who else gets hurt by his vengeance? And, according to the synopsis, was there anyone left to feed the cat?

The amazing thing is that everyone who dies in the original Hamlet falls down dead in this one, too! (Actually, they disappear through a trap in the floor). It’s a glorious achievement when Shakespeare can be introduced to kids in a way that makes them interested in theatre, magic, imagination, and maybe finding better ways to deal with their sadness.

Wait, who the hell am I kidding? I myself picked up Hamlet and started reading it again – AND [all caps] thought about the times in my life when I should have let my anger go.

But all of these things happened to me while I laughed! I was magnificently entertained. I wanted the show to go on all night. Could they make this an event that the world could see? Right now, the goal is theatre that everyone can afford (the top ticket price is $9.99!) and this troupe wants to take it to the schools.

For L’Enfant Terrible is interested in one thing: creating a group of future theatre lovers and artists. Their goal is to make children’s theatre just as subversive, intelligent and memorable as the best new work being produced today for the grown-ups. Check.

Director Justin Zsebe is wildly imaginative and original. It is impossible that this experience is a fluke. Major shrieks of delight go to set designer Francois-Pierre Couture (the moveable toy-box theatre used in this performance can be broken down in half an hour!), and to Ann Closs Farley for those adorable costumes.

The cast includes Nathan Kornelis, Natasha Midgley, and Nicol Razon. You rock, dudes! And to the very wet Hamlet, Brian Kimmet: what divine god of the theatre transported you before me? Your performance shone with radiant love and light. Too corny? Well, you make me want to be a better theatregoer and a better artist. I’m throwing rose petals in your direction.

Thank you, everyone.

tonyfrankel @ stageandcinema.com

To see the original post click here or go to www.stageandcinema.com/


Knightly Animated Divergent Thinking

Posted: October 19th, 2010 | 1 Comment »

L’Enfant Terrible of the Week: Sir Ken Robinson, world-renowned education and creativity expert and recipient of the RSA‘s Benjamin Franklin award.

L’Enfant Terrible literary translates from French as the terrible child but is an expression used to describe “a child who embarrasses his elders by untimely remarks” as well as an “unusually successful person who is strikingly unorthodox, innovative, and/or avant-garde.”


LA Weekly “GO!”

Posted: October 14th, 2010 | 2 Comments »

GO!

Scholars have teased out new layers in Shakespeare’s tragedy for 400 years. A new company, L’Enfant Terrible, compresses it into a 45 minute matinee for the kiddies — a bold choice for a play with dead dads, rotten step-dads, treacherous wives, drowned girlfriends, accidental stabbings and a pile of corpses at the grand finale. Writer Angela Berliner has kept the traumas, but translated them into kid-speak. Here, Hamlet (Brian Kimmet) hisses to Gertrude (Natasha Midgley), “Frailty, thy name is mommy,” encourages the crowd to boo Claudius (Nathan Kornelis), and when he damns Ophelia (Berliner) to a nunnery, he adds the aside, “That’s where bad girls go when they need a time out.” Justin Zsebe’s high-octane direction and Ann Closs-Farley’s bright costumes turn the play into a circus and playful touches like having the murdered Polonius (Nicol Razon) curl up like a dead fly keeps the death from being too death-y. With these clowns bopping around and spouting out rapid-fire Shakespearese, the kids were transfixed at the performance I attended, even if they didn’t know why. Hamlet’s play with in a play — staged with finger puppets — tries to catch them up to speed, but when all else failed and a child in the second row called out, “Why?”, Hamlet patiently paused, turned, and explained, “I’m having a hard time.” Bootleg Theater, 2220 Beverly Blvd., L.A.; Sat., noon.; thru Oct. 30. (213) 389-3856. A L’Enfant Terrible production. (Amy Nicholson)

To see the original post click here or go to www.LAWeekly.com.


“Families can be confusing”

Posted: October 14th, 2010 | No Comments »

Originally posted by Thomas Hampton Reviews

“Families can be confusing.”  Polonius

Make no mistake; this is not your father’s Hamlet, nor your mother’s.  In fact, HAMLET, PRINCE OF PUDDLES is not even my Hamlet, but he did manage to strike a blow with poisoned sword and peed-in pants.

The entertainment value (and age of the clientele it is geared towards) of L’Enfant Terrible’s first production is self evident, beginning with the crayons scattered about the lobby to occupy one’s time waiting for the house to open, paired with coloring book images of our be-puddled hero that were distributed with programs.

A sense of eerie whimsy is engaged by slightly creepy calliope music accompanying the bubbles the audience walks through to their seats, but that is about as tragic as this show allows itself to be.  Angela Berliner (playwright and Ophelia) mines the depths of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, distilling the tragedy to a brisk tale shy of an hour.

HAMLET, PRINCE OF PUDDLES utilizes a highly stylized physicality with touches of ‘New Crime’ commedia; a quick read through the program reveals that over half of the cast has performed with The Actors’ Gang…  no surprise there.  Director Justin Zsebe incorporates finger puppets, crying jags, perpetually be-puddled pants, and a running gag reminiscent of a ‘paper cut’ to thwart our hero’s happily ever after.

Choosing a ‘classic classic’ like Hamlet to skewer and truncate gives L’Enfant Terrible the gravitas often necessary to attract the attention of monied patrons (as well as a familiar plot and themes socially relevant to any audience.)  The entire show takes place in and around a ‘Medicine Wagon’ that allows the troupe to pack up and hit the road to bring their work to an audience at a school, community center, or private party.

The cast consistently creates moments of warm, infectiously self conscious hilarity, throwing out enough pop culture references to keep tweens’ and adults’ minds moving in time with the rapid pace of our Dane’s dilemma.  But the real purpose of L’Infant Terrible’s work is to introduce new (more youthful) audiences to the wonder of live performance.  They are off to a great start…

But who cares what an aging Bon-Vivant/ online critic way past the age of seven has to say about this show, regardless of his delusional attempts to keep adulthood firmly at bay?  What did the littlest audience members think?  Observing the target audience enraptured by the cast at the post-show meet ‘n greet and picture op, the kids… they like it.

The physicality of the performances, the way that Berliner’s adaptation distills each character’s motivations and emotional center in a way easily observed by the nine and under set, inspires a certain wonder.  The freedom the players have been given to break the fourth wall resonates more deeply within a live performance than a studio’s latest spectacle.  One cannot compare a 3-d film to real actors trampling across your row in the midst of a duel to the death.

In contrast to a line of kids at Disneyland seeking manufactured ‘autographs’ from cookie cutter animations, L’Enfant Terrible is wooing a new generation of theater patrons.  By engaging the audience after the show, the cast of HAMLET, PRINCE OF PUDDLES reinforces the magical suspension of disbelief that their target audience is slightly cognizant of.  And that is worthy of our applause.

To read the original post click here or go to www.thomashamptonreviews.com


Shakespeare for Small Fries

Posted: October 4th, 2010 | No Comments »

Originally posted by LA Story.

Mixing colorful costumes with slapstick humor and pop-culture references, L’Enfant Terrible theater company has turned Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” into a tragi-comedy (emphasis on the comedy) for the family-friendly set in its production of “Hamlet, Prince of Puddles.”

Young children (mostly under 6) and their parents, including CC and I, gathered at the downtown-adjacent Bootleg Theater on Saturday to catch the 45-minute play that had the titular Prince of Denmark bursting into tears (and other puddles) over the death of his father and the subsequent remarriage of his mother, Gertrude (Natasha Midgley), to his devious uncle Claudius (cue to boo’s).

The adaptation, written by playwright Angela Berliner (who is also the founder of L’Enfant Terrible and stars as Ophelia) and directed by Justin Zsebe, was clever and offered lots of opportunity for laughs (who knew?), making light of Hamlet’s indecision (cue to the puddle) and referencing the popular “Twilight” series and TV phenom “Glee.” However, the material often seemed better suited for tweens more than tots — what with all the death and stuff, as well as some references that I found a lot funnier than CC.

While CC wasn’t crazy about the fight scenes (“That’s for big kids,” she said), she did enjoy the awkward almost-kiss between Hamlet (Brian Kimmet) and Ophelia (Berliner), as well as a chase scene between Hamlet and Claudius (Nathan Kornelis) that included a bit of audience interaction.

The show is definitely a fun take on the Bard’s play, and I could see parents enjoying the show along with their kids. The actors were all talented, energetic and looked as if they were having a great time giving children a taste of serious literature with a lot of sugar on the way down.

And being a family-friendly company, L’Enfant Terrible made the atmosphere particularly child-friendly, offering tykes crayons and coloring-book programs to enjoy before the show. After the curtain, the actors made a point of mingling with the crowd in the lobby, happy to take pictures with their pint-sized fans.

“I want a picture with Hamlet,” CC said, as we were walking out of the theater.

I have to admit I was proud. Here was my 3-year-old talking about Hamlet and Ophelia — and we haven’t even made it to “Wizards of Waverly Place,” much less “Glee.”

To see the original post click here or go to LosAngelesStory.blogspot.com. LA Story is a great resource for parents who are “Exploring Los Angeles one baby step at a time.”


Hamlet, Prince of Puddles Is Coming Back!

Posted: September 3rd, 2010 | No Comments »


L’Enfant is in The Eastsider

Posted: May 6th, 2010 | No Comments »

The play’s the thing…

but cheap tickets are also important

What’s the key to a successful theater production? The acting and writing, of course, count for a lot. But, as producer and Echo Park resident Seth Compton knows, a cheap ticket also helps. That’s why Compton and the new L’Enfant Terrible theater company established adult admission to the family-friendly “Hamlet – Prince of Puddles” at $9.99 at the Bootleg Theater in Historic Filipinotown (children are $5). “I just turned thirty, and honestly it’s hard to get my friends to pay anything more than ten bucks,” said Compton, whose play closes this Sunday. “We have to keep our admission in check with other local artistic scenes. Small music shows rarely run more than ten, and, when they do, there are some friends who ‘don’t make it out.’” But how can Compton’s company cover its costs when most productions can’t come close to breaking even by charging $25 and more?

Keeping it simple and finding other sources of revenue is key, Compton has learned. Prince of Puddles is the first production for L’Enfant Terrible, which consists of Compton and two persons. They were able to cover most of the the costs for their first production through the support of the Bootleg Theater, individuals and businesses, ranging from bagel makers to flower shops. In addition, they lined up student groups to come see the show. “All of this revenue has gone into the production and kept us out of debt,” said Compton, who took a low-cost, hands-on approach to attract an audience.

“I did a lot of street marketing on my bike just handing flyers out to people on the street and in parks,” Compton said in an email. “Our price point allowed families to take a chance and see some Shakespeare.”

This summer, the company plans to take the show on the road to camps and schools, generating more revenue that will help subsidize another production later this year year. The tickets to that project will include “bleacher” like-seating for under $10, with higher prices for other seats. “We are committed to having affordable tickets,”Compton said.


Our First Review

Posted: April 22nd, 2010 | No Comments »

Hamlet, Prince of Puddles

Reviewed by Jennie Webb

April 22, 2010

“Hamlet” for children is kind of like “Medea” for Mother’s Day—not what you’d think of as a natural fit. But that doesn’t stop the troupe L’Enfant Terrible from knocking the prince down from his contemplative pedestal and allowing us to have a fabulous time playing in the sandbox with him.

Housed in a scrappy, sweet oversized puppet theater (super scenic design by François-Pierre Couture), the five-member cast does a fantastic job of zipping through basic Bard with a light and zany twist that’s kid-friendly without making enemies of the so-called adults in the audience. Here Hamlet (Brian Kimmet) is a hyperactive nerd with an appropriately big chip on his shoulder and real problems controlling his emotions. Playwright Angela Berliner’s adorably dorky Ophelia is a perfect match for him, despite her overprotective dad. Nicol Razon does Polonious proud; she’s also delightful as the Ghost of Hamlet’s father and the Gravedigger. Natasha Midgley is a lovely, tipsy Gertrude, and David Dastmalchian’s oily Claudius is a scene-stealer of wonderfully epic proportions. Director Justin Zsebe keeps us on track during the freewheeling proceedings; incidental music and live percussion add just the right touches. Very clever low-tech elements—how much do we love seeing Hamlet on a pirate ship?—along with colorful costumes by Ann Closs-Farley make for a nifty package. And forgiving some jokes for which she and the cast should be punished—or maybe that’s the point?—Berliner’s script, clocking in at well under an hour, manages to be funny, intelligent and even touching: Ophelia’s mad scene is quite poignant.

Sure, this Hamlet may fall into the condescending kiddie trap a few times, but, hey, moody princes are like that. And it’s worth it to share in his misery and witness the waterworks.


Presented by L’Enfant Terrible at the Bootleg Theater, 2220 Beverly Blvd., L.A. April 10–May 9. Sat.–Sun., 11 a.m. (213) 389-3856. www.lenfantterible.org.