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  Finks Reviews

Electric Lodge
Thru - Dec 30, 2018

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Electric Lodge

  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Talkin Broadway- Recommended

"...Michael Pressman's direction is assured and his pacing swift, transitioning from songs to hearings to parties without a hitch. He uses the stage so effectively that each scene seems spatially distinctive, even though the performance "locations" are fairly close together. Gilford's writing is witty and powerful, providing a sobering example of what happens when "accusation has become final judgment." His dramatic structure, of Mickey and Natalie's story alternating with famous people (Elia Kazan, Lee J. Cobb) testifying before the committee, slowly ratchets up the tension as one realizes that the plot is moving inexorably toward our heroes' moral reckoning."
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Terry Morgan

Broadway World- Highly Recommended

"...Rogue Machine, known for its mission to present original and provocative programming, is now presenting the West Coast premiere production of FINKS, a New York Times Critic's Pick which was nominated for a Drama Desk Award. The play brings together writer Joe Gilford and director Michael Pressman, friends since childhood and both children of Blacklisted artists. In it, Gilford documents the struggle his parents, entertainers Jack Gilford and Madeline Lee Gilford, endured when they were called to testify, with actual testimony or published statements by those who appeared before the House Un-American Activities Committee used in the play."
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Shari Barrett

Stage and Cinema- Recommended

"...One of the great strengths of Joe Gilford’s play is that it takes us inside what it feels like as each person tries to decide what to do. They are not sure themselves sometimes what choice they will make. I have no doubt that Mr. Gilford and director Michael Pressman have very strong feelings about who was right and who was wrong. Gilford’s parents, Jack and Madeline Gilford, and Pressman’s father, David Pressman, were blacklisted. Yet the play gives a fictionalized version of Jerome Robbins that is sympathetic if unforgiving. Confronted by his friend, he says, “I’m evil because I finked, OK? Is that what you want to hear?” She replies acidly, “You’re not evil because you finked… You finked because you’re evil.”"
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Samuel Garza Bernstein

The Hollywood Reporter- Highly Recommended

"...First produced in New York in 2008, Finks is receiving its Los Angeles premiere in this Rogue Machine production, and is currently being developed as a TV series. At a time when most young audiences identify the blacklist as a show starring James Spader, the play might seem irrelevant. But with the muzzling of political dissent and rising authoritarian forces pitted against idealistic progressive voices, maybe there's no better time than the present for this historical reminder."
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Jordan Riefe

LA Splash- Highly Recommended

"...FINKS cleverly alternates between exuberant and humorous scenes and uber-serious House testimony to create a gripping tale of how youthfully innocent foibles may lead to folly later in life. And how our constitutional rights may be challenged at any moment by those who believe that they are acting for the greater good. FINKS ends on a powerful note as a "confessor" blandly reads his litany of names - most of whom may be targeted for devastation. Many of the people on the list are identified as Jewish, and a Jewish audience member remarked that the calm reading of names resembled Yiskor, a Jewish ritual of remembrance which occurs at Yom Kippur and ends with the reading of the names of those who died. A chilling thought indeed."
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Elaine Mura

Stage Scene LA- Highly Recommended

"...Joe McCarthy’s Communist witch hunts and the ensuing Hollywood blacklist may have seemed misty water-colored memories of sixty-year-old injustices when Joe Gilford’s Finks made its off-Broadway debut in the Obama-era early 2010s. Such is not the case a half dozen-years later, just one of many reasons not to miss its searing Los Angeles Premiere at Rogue Machine Theatre."
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Steven Stanley

Will Call- Recommended

"...Michael Pressman, the son of black-listed parents, directs with a firm and knowledgeable hand and moves the play seamlessly through various locations, utilizing every nook and cranny of the stage. Throughout, Richard Levinson, a successful composer in his own right, is at the keyboard and entertains with appropriate music. This is a thought provoking, ultra political piece of history about the Red Scare that should never be forgotten or ignored."
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Ingrid Wilmot

Total Theater- Highly Recommended

"...Finks may be a historical play but the history it deals with has come full circle on us. We are living in a similarly highly-charged political environment, one in which right-wing powers have mounted an attack on democratic values and beliefs. That makes the piece even more relevant than when it was first produced back East in 2008."
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Willard Manus

Cultural Weekly- Somewhat Recommended

"...Pressman's direction is at the mercy of the overdeveloped script and therefore struggles with the built-in problems of the first act that he can't entirely overcome. As usual, the acting at Rogue Machine is solid, and the unobtrusive but constant presence at the piano of music director Richard Levinson as The Piano Man Dickie Lewis, is a welcome thread. It relieves tensions, facilitates transitions, and keeps things relentlessly moving forward."
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Sylvie Drake

Stage Raw- Recommended

"...Directed by Michael Pressman, the play pivots between the hearing room, where cross-examinations are conducted by Representative Francis Walter (Matt Gottlieb), and alternate locales (a nightclub, a living room, an agent’s office) that serve as backdrop for events in the lives of a group of artists dabbling in left wing causes. At the center of the story is Mickey Dobbs (French Stewart) a talented standup with little native interest in politics. One evening, performing in a Manhattan club, he meets Natalie (Vanessa Stewart), an attractive young activist passionate in her beliefs. Natalie, while an actress, devotes much of her time to organizing benefits to raise money for injured mine workers and the like. Attracted by Mickey’s wit and charm, she invites him to meetings where he performs. One thing leads to another, and pretty soon Natalie’s ditched her Bolshie husband Arthur and hooked up with Mickey. The two marry and have a baby."
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Deborah Klugman

Haines His Way- Recommended

"...Gilford, along with director Michael Pressman, are both children of blacklisted parents so the material has a deeper resonance for them and it shows both in the clever and detailed writing and in the polished direction of the show. The two Stewarts (real life husband and wife) have great chemistry but also really plumb the depths of their characters to create flesh and blood victims of one of the darkest periods in America's history. The supporting players (Stephen Tyler Howell, Matt Gottlieb, Daniel Dorr, Thomas Fiscella) doing multiple roles create a true ensemble. Richard Levinson is The Piano Man, providing accompaniment to the few musical interludes."
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Rob Stevens

Peoples World- Recommended

"...The performance is true and on point. Especially effective are the scheming brothers Oscar (Rob Nagle) and Ben Hubbard (Mike McShane), Oscar and Birdie's dopey, wastrel son Leo (Calvin Picou), and the dipsomaniac Birdie herself (Jocelyn Towne). The daughter Alexandra is sprightly (and spritely) played by Kristin Couture. Timothy Adam Venable plays the Chicago businessman William Marshall with debonair grace. Judy Louise Johnson makes an upstanding Black house servant Addie, and William L. Warren acts well the smaller role of manservant Cal."
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Eric A Gordon