First time’s a charm, apparently: Oscar nominee Jesse Eisenberg’s stage-writing debut, Asuncion, earned a healthy B+ this week from writer Keith Staskiewicz. Our critics also saw two other productions — a premiere on the Main Stem and an I Love Lucy tribute in L.A — highlights below.
Asuncion: According to Staskiewicz, Eisenberg’s off-Broadway comedy about a liberal who discovers his hidden prejudices “is a solid playwriting debut.” “Even if the plot can be as shaggy and messy as the low-rent apartment in which it’s set,” he says, “Eisenberg has created something more ambitious than the sort of safe, colorless dramedy that a lot of first-time playwrights go for.”
Chinglish: “Playwright David Henry Hwang has built a consistently funny, surprisingly deep two-hour comedy,” writes critic Melissa Rose Bernardo about the tale of an American businessman who attempts to take his family’s sign-making business to China. She gives the Broadway comedy — which is performed in both English and Mandarin — an A-.
I Love Lucy: Live on Stage: “This fizzy production almost entirely turns on the cast,” says staff writer Tanner Stransky, about the Los Angeles show, which recreates a live taping of the classic sitcom. “Any true Lucy fan will understand that [star Sirena Irwin] has studied the late comedienne intensely,” he adds, rating the show a B+. “Bill Mendieta nails the more even-keeled rhythm of Ricky Ricardo. And don’t worry about the Mertzes. Bill Chott and Lisa Joffrey are both able to bring cantankerous neighbors Fred and Ethel to life.”