Theater Reviews by Morna

Morna Martell


 This comic spy thriller is inspired by the true story of a botched attempt by the U.S. to overthrow Chile’s democratically elected leader back in early 1970. According to Gabriela Garcia Marquez, a plan was hatched by the Nixon Administration and the Chilean military for a coup that had to be aborted when “someone made a mistake in the Pentagon and requested 200 visas for a purported Navy chorus!” In this new political farce, by Mark Wilding, the CIA enlists an inexperienced, unsuspecting agent to follow up with a last-ditch effort to hasten the coup d’état.  As director Charlie Mount states: “It’s about consequentialism. In politics, do the ends justify the means?” Starring Steve Nevil as Richard Nixon and Michael Van Duzer as Henry Kissinger. Produced by Benjamin Scuglia at Theatre West, 3333 Cahuenga Blvd. Los Angeles. Tkts: (323) 851-7977 or

TAMING THE LION (Beverly Hills)

Here is another new play, based on a true story, this time set in Hollywood in the 1920’s silent film era. Actor William Haines, after 50 films was the number one box-office draw by 1934. However, he was openly gay, a fact that MGM attempted to conceal with Louis B. Mayer and Irving Thalberg trying to force him to marry a woman to please his fans. In the play, when Haines reveals his devotion to his male lover, Mayer sends Joan Crawford over to talk sense to him. Playwright Jack Rushen has twice won the Julie Harris Award from the Beverly Hills Theatre Guild. Director is Melanie MacQueen, familiar to audiences as she appears annually in “The Manor.”  Produced by David Hunt Stafford for Theatre 40. At Reuben Cordova Theatre, 241 S. Moreno Dr. Beverly Hills. Tkts: (310) 364-0535 or Free parking.

SHOW ME A HERO (North Hollywood)

 In 1974, Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci went to Greece to interview freedom fighter Alexander Panagoulis after the collapse of the military dictatorship there. Panagoulis had been imprisoned and tortured for his actions and, when he and Oriana met, they fell in love. Her book, “A Man” was inspired by his life. She was at his side when he once again risked his life to gather evidence against corrupt government leaders. Their dynamic love story is being dramatized by playwright and novelist Willard Manus who lived in Greece for many years as the Mediterranean Correspondent for the Canadian “Financial Post.” This new play is premiering in Los Angeles and is directed by Daniel E. Keough of Theatre West. Produced by Write Act Repertory’s Artistic Director John Lant with Anne Mesa. At Brickhouse Theatre, 10950 Peach Grove St. NoHo. Tkts: (800) 838-3006 Ext. 1 or

A BODY OF WATER (Hollywood)

In this lyrical drama, a couple in their fifties wake up in an isolated house above a picturesque body of water with no idea of where they are or why they are there. This situation is further complicated by the arrival of a mysterious young woman with a questionable explanation. According to playwright Lee Blessing, his play is about lost identity and rediscovering love and examines the wisdom of embracing a pure moment of joy even when nothing else is certain. Directed by Nan McNamara and produced by Crystal Jackson for Actors Co-op. Blessing has written a new ending to this often-seen play and will participate in talkbacks after the Sunday matinees. At the Crossley Theatre, 1760 N Gower St, on the campus of the First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood. Tkts: (323) 462-8460 or Free parking.



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