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REVIEW ROUNDUP: Culture Clash's Palestine, New Mexico Opens at the Mark Taper Forum

By Los Angeles
Kirsten Potter and Justin Rain in
Palestine, New Mexico
(© Craig Schwartz)
Kirsten Potter and Justin Rain in
Palestine, New Mexico
(© Craig Schwartz)
Culture Clash's Palestine, New Mexico officially opened on December 13. Lisa Peterson has directed the production, running though January 24 at the Mark Taper Forum.

The play, written by Culture Clash's Richard Montoya, follows the fate of an army captain who has returned from Afghanistan with a secret she just can't keep. In addition to playwright Montoya, the company features LaVonne Rae Andrews, Michelle Diaz, Julia Jones, Geraldine Keams, Russell Means, Brandon Oakes, Robert Owens-Greygrass, Kirsten Potter, Kalani Queypo, Justin Rain, Ric Salinas, and Herbert Siguenza.

The reviews for the piece are in, and most concentrate on the far-flung amalgam of styles that Montoya has used in his writing.

Among the reviews are:

Variety
Review: Palestine, New Mexico
"The campy moment sums up the show's ungainly amalgam of outrageous imagery and serious subtext. Yet, at only 80 minutes, it never wears out its welcome, and its very earnestness conveys a brotherhood message not inappropriate to this holiday season."

Hollywood Reporter
Review: Palestine, New Mexico
"There's no denying that Montoya, who wrote the piece, knows how to tap into the cultural zeitgeist. But mixing satire, farce, plain silliness, pathos and tragedy in one cloudy cocktail glass is tricky business. The question is whether Montoya's throw-it-up-and-see-what-sticks style can serve a story with serious and even tragic themes. At times, the play's wildly disparate elements appear to jell, but more often than not the drink is predictable and flat."

Los Angeles Times
Theater review: 'Palestine, New Mexico' at Mark Taper Forum
"Hard-core fans will be relieved to hear that the company's lunatic irreverence hasn't diminished as the subject matter has grown more serious. (Wait till you hear about the Native American tribes discovering their Jewish ancestry.) Unfortunately, this mix of antic comedy and tense drama hasn't yet gelled into an assured style."

Orange County Register
New Culture Clash play is an odd hybrid
"Montoya's desire to meld the narrative and character demands of a play with the ensemble's familiar brand of skit-based comedy and broad caricatures [...] will probably please neither Culture Clash's enthusiastic followers nor those expecting the pleasures of a well-made play. That's a pity, because "Palestine, New Mexico" tackles themes of the utmost seriousness: the human cost of war, the pain and unfinished business left behind by those who die too soon, and the complexities of cultural identity in places with murky histories populated by groups with competing agendas."

L.A. Weekly
New Review Palestine, New Mexico
"So in Richard Montoya's mess of a new play, which contains the germ of a beautiful idea, there are dreams, and then there are dreams. I tracked at least four plays, each in different styles, for a 90-minute experience without intermission."

For further information, visit www.centertheatregroup.org.

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