Author Archives: Aram Kouyoumdjian

LOL: Love, Odian, And Laughter

“Ser Yev Dzidzagh” (Love and Laughter) is not a play that Yervant Odian – the Armenian satirist who forever dwells in Hagop Baronian’s shadow – ever wrote; rather, it is an amalgam of three of his works. Still, as staged by the Ardavazt Theatre Company, it proves to be a lively piece of entertainment that offers genuine laughs – and a welcome respite from the lackluster scripts that have hampered the troupe’s last few outings.

Critics Forum: The Year That Was (Not)

Hard to believe, but for the first nine months of the past year, Armenian theater in Southern California practically did not exist. It seemed as if all its key producers – aside from the Ardavazt Theater Company, which revived a pair of one-acts – had decided to stage … their own disappearance. Indeed, finding an Armenian play proved about as likely as encountering a unicorn.

Lunar Eclipse

Staging the ubiquitous Richard Kalinoski play “Beast on the Moon” is an inherently risky proposition. The script – about two Armenians orphaned during the Genocide who try to build a new life together in America – may be poignant, but it frequently overdoses on sentiment. Directors and actors must actually resist its saccharine tendencies in order to deliver a successful production, as a beautifully restrained and moving Off-Broadway rendition proved a few years ago. However, a current revival by Malabar Hill Films (at the Marilyn Monroe Theatre through October 17) not only exposes the flaws in Kalinoski’s writing, it exacerbates them with problematic performances and grievous directorial missteps.

Flawed French Farces

“If Satamian isn’t in them, they won’t be good.” So pronounced the elderly stranger sitting next to me as we prepared to watch a pair of one-acts – Armenian translations of French farces – staged by the Ardavazt Theater Company in Pasadena. She was referring to Krikor Satamian, the veteran actor who serves as the troupe’s artistic director.

Titizian Roars in ‘Bengal Tiger’

After a triumphant premiere at the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City last year, Rajiv Joseph’s mesmerizing play “Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo” has graduated to the Mark Taper Forum. All the original cast members, including Hrach Titizian, have returned for the new production, which opened on April 25 and plays through May 30.