Sunday, July 23, 2006

And the fourth wall crumbles:

What Los Angeles is not known for is audiences who shout at the stage in reaction to political content. But such has been the case at the Geffen Playhouse in recent weeks for Sam Shepard's left-leaning political farce "The God of Hell," running through next Sunday at the Westwood venue.

During the July 12 evening performance, according to theater staff reports, a gentleman leapt to his feet and, at the top of his lungs, began hurling epithets at the stage, including "communist bastards," "pigs" and "slimeballs," before being escorted out of the theater.

Other audience members responded to the outburst by standing or applauding. And when the show was over, a woman who was returning her listening device politely asked: "Was that part of the play?"

Representatives of downtown's Mark Taper Forum reported similarly extreme behavior last summer at some performances of David Hare's "Stuff Happens," a multicharacter drama that starred Keith Carradine as George W. Bush and dissected events leading to U.S. involvement in Iraq.

A monologue by an actor portraying a Palestinian scholar who criticizes U.S. support for Israel was one of the hot buttons. A theater spokesman reports that at one performance, four audience members ripped up their programs, stormed out of the auditorium and confronted an actor who was making an entrance through the house. At an earlier performance, two other patrons disrupted proceedings by shouting that the monologue was "all lies."

6:10 PM