Reviews

Natalie Sutherland in the Role of LISA in “Collected Stories”. The following are the Los Angeles reviews.

Collected Stories
by Julio Martinez, Pacifica Radio, Los Angeles.

Donald Margulies’ Collected Stories – a six-year pas de deux between Ruth, a well established but entrenched writer, and Lisa, her adoring but ever-evolving student protégé – requires April Lang’s Ruth and Natalie Sutherland’s Lisa to painstakingly insinuate themselves into and then out of each other’s psyches while only allowing one to emerge intact. Under helmer Terri Hanauer’s relentlessly intuitive guidance, Lang and Sutherland achieve an emotionally tangible final scene schism that sucks the air right off the stage.

– Julio Martinez, Pacifica Radio

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Collected Stories
Donald Margulies’ COLLECTED STORIES is a brain-full exhibition of intelligence, art and human nature!! By Harvey Sid Fisher

Los Angeles, CA(Hollywood Today 9/12/12)

COLLECTED STORIES by Donald Margulies.

It is a you-are-there insider’s view on the panoply of complications, victories and techniques that can prepare you for some of the best and worst experiences of the writing life.
A milepost collection from a tortuous emotional highway leading to an end destination you might not see coming or think possible.

COLLECTED STORIES gives us Lisa, a young, talented, ambitious student writer played by NATALIE SUTHERLAND who is mentored by Ruth, a storied and well published writing professor played by APRIL LANG. The smart construction of this two character play allows the character arcs clear sailing to their final restive place. An actor’s dream. An audience’s reward.

NATALIE SUTHERLAND never relaxes her fierce perseverance and primitive need to win as a successful writer. Her interpretation of an ambitious myrmidon is so naturally played out and called for that I cannot imagine anyone else playing this part.

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“Collected Stories: A Tale of Triumph and Betrayal

By Beverly Cohn – Editor-at-Large, SPLASH Magazine

Donald Margulies’ multiple award-winning “Collected Stories,” a Pulitzer Prize finalist, premiered at South Coast Repertory in 1996, and was later produced by the Manhattan Theatre Club in 1997. It was once again performed at London’s West End Royal Haymark Theatre starring Helen Mirren. Then in March 2010, opened in it’s first Broadway run starring Linda Lavin and Sarah Paulson.

This compelling “morality” play, with delicious language, can now be seen in yet another revival as a guest production presented by Langland Productions at The Odyssey Theatre.

The play features a most fascinating April Lang as Ruth Steiner, who as a young writer, was catapulted into the literary spotlight as a result of her collection of short stories. As with the elusiveness of fame, Ruth has faded into the literary background and fills her days teaching aspiring writers. One such writer is the very young Lisa Morrison, well played by Natalie Sutherland, who the older writer takes under her wing, making Lisa her protégé.

Directed by Terri Hanauer, the acting from both Lang and Sutherland is impeccable with each of them giving a fully actualized performance, developing the sub-textual aspects of their complex characters.

This is a very fulfilling evening of theatre!!!

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Collected Stories
By Thomas Hampton Arts Reviews, Los Angeles, CA.

Langland Productions brings Donald Margulies’ critically acclaimed Collected Stories (Pulitzer Prize finalist, Ovation Award winner) to the Odyssey Theatre for a limited run. Collected Stories had an extended sold-out run at Manhattan Theatre Club in New York.

A story of friendship, ambition, and betrayal between two writers…as “there is only room for one at the top.” A stimulating jaunt through an unexpected evolution of lessons, from writing to ethics and trust, to drawing boundaries.

A stunning piece of good theatre, if you’re looking for a little intellectual stimulation!

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Collected Stories
Langland Productions at Odyssey Theatre
Reviewed by Dany Margolies – ARTS IN LA

The quality of this production is undoubtable. Much thought and skill and time have gone into the onstage product.
Margulies’s craft is on display start-to-finish here, as he sculpts a mentoring relationship. His two intriguing characters help the story flow and build, and bits of clues are carefully inlaid within the dialogue. We meet Lisa (Natalie Sutherland), a young writer, when she first enters the Greenwich Village walkup of Ruth Steiner (April Lang), established short-story writer. Over six years, Ruth mentors Lisa in art and in life. While Ruth goes from prime to possibly past that prime and certainly ailing, Lisa goes from fumbling hero-worshiper to possibly worthy adversary.

From the actors’ first moments onstage, little glances, littler inhalations, all sorts of subtle behavior inform the audience of so much subtext. Meanwhile, a cup of tea spills expertly. A slap lands swiftly and accurately and almost goes unnoticed, but the result stuns the recipient and the audience. April Lang and Natalie Sutherland seem to have spent a very long time developing their characters and living honestly in those circumstances. Lang is thoroughly believable as Ruth: touchingly donnish, grudgingly maternal, easily secretive, and very humorous. Sutherland creates a rich, plausible portrait of Lisa, growing from callow, rawly talented young woman through ambitious author but never losing her desperation to please.

The costumes and makeup turn Lisa from a casually sloppy, tennie-clad student to published author in her little black dress. Heel heights increase across each of the five scenes, as Lisa grows in confidence. And makeup subtly ages her. Ruth seems to go from almost elderly in shrouding clothing to youthful casual as her status may be diminishing. Hanauer puts so much care into showing the passage of time that a plant in the bookcase “grows” over the play’s course.

September 10, 2012
The Odyssey Theatre.

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Collected Stories – Back Stage West, Reviewed by Neal Weaver.
By Neal Weaver | Posted Sept. 11, 2012, 6:40 p.m.

“Collected Stories,” a two-character drama by Pulitzer Prize winner Donald Margulies, takes a searching look at the lives of a pair of writers, focusing on their friendship, ambitions, conflicts, rivalries, and betrayals. Ruth Steiner (April Lang) is an older, established Jewish scribe, famous for her short stories, who also teaches and advises young authors. When she agrees to mentor eager Lisa Morrison (Natalie Sutherland), she gets more than she bargained for.

At their first meeting Lisa is a sycophantic, hero-worshipping chatterbox who can’t shut up about her admiration for Ruth. The tough, seasoned pro views Lisa’s starry-eyed adulation with a jaundiced eye—but it is gratifying. In the course of their work together, Lisa overcomes her initial humility and begins to reveal her own grit, daring to question Ruth’s advice and challenge her authority. She also pumps Ruth for details about herself and the high point of her life: her long-ago romance with Brooklyn poet Delmore Schwartz.

When Lisa sells her first story—to a publication Ruth advised her against—Ruth is startled to discover that her formerly too-dependent protégée can be disconcertingly independent. Things come to a head with the publication of Lisa’s first novel. Ruth discovers that the girl has appropriated her life story, her Jewish background, and her turbulent love affair with Schwartz—which Ruth always regarded as too personal to write about—as fodder for her book. Lisa claims it’s an act of homage, but for Ruth it amounts to exploitation and plunder.

The lives of writers are notoriously difficult to dramatize, but Margulies pulls it off persuasively, showing the two women at work, which leads to their growing intimacy. Director Terri Hanauer elicits fine performances from her cast and expertly calibrates the shifts in the women’s ever-changing relationship. Lang and Sutherland skillfully map their characters’ arcs and contrasting personalities. Lang artfully captures Ruth’s crusty, laconic style, offset by Sutherland’s bubbly girlish enthusiasm. As Sutherland’s Lisa grows in strength and confidence, Lang’s Ruth succumbs to illness and growing frailty. The two women play off one another beautifully, underlining the love and affection Ruth and Lisa share as well as a lurking, unacknowledged hostility.

The wonderfully cluttered set by Josh Shaw is clearly a writer’s workroom, crammed with folders, manuscripts, newspapers, and clippings and full of wonderful detail, including a stubborn window propped open with a book.

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· ‘Collected Stories’, a play by Pulitzer Prize winner Donald Marguilies.
By: Joan and John Schwartz, The Hollywood examiner.

Collected Stories’ written by Donald Marguilies, who won a Pultizer for his play ‘Dinner With Friends’ is a story about friendship, ambition and betrayal. In the end, it asks the question…Who really owns the rights to your life story? The play is about two women…Ruth Steiner (April Lang) an esteemed author/professor/mentor and her student, aspiring novelist, Lisa Morrison (Natalie Sutherland).
Ruth and Lisa start out their relationship as student and teacher. Eventually, they become very good friends and colleagues.
It’s obvious from the start that Lisa worships the ground Ruth walks on. She becomes her assistant, doing anything and everything to win over this crusty older woman.
Ruth, is a woman who likes things done her way, letting it be known every chance she gets that…her way is the right way. She freely gives Lisa her advice and her opinions, expecting her young student to obey her without question. And for a time, Lisa does.
Of course that soon changes, when Lisa gets a story published. Ruth of course is proud of her protégé, but it’s obvious, she’s also…slightly envious. Lisa on the other hand should be flying high…The literary world is expecting great things from this new writer and can’t wait for her next epic. Only problem is…Lisa is a blank. She announces to Ruth that she has no more stories inside of her. Don’t forget, Lisa is a grad student and really hasn’t done much living. Ruth, on the other hand has tons of stories, including…one that she shares with Lisa. It’s a story about the doomed love affair Ruth had when she was a student, with poet, Delmore Schwartz, who died from alcoholism in 1966. Ruth not only tells Lisa every detail about this painful time in her life, but makes it absolutely clear that she has no interest in ever writing about it. So what does Lisa, Ruth’s BFF do? She steals it and writes a novel. That’s right…Lisa takes Ruth’s story and makes it her own. For Ruth…this is the ultimate betrayal. To make matters worse, Lisa doesn’t think she’s done anything wrong.

‘Collected Stories’ written in 1999 was a Pulitzer finalist and won an Ovation award. The play had an extended sold-out run at the Manhattan Theatre Club in New York City.

This is a play about how human beings and how since the beginning of time, we’ve tried to engage with one another by…telling stories…

We do this to connect…We share our lives with friends, family or at times, with a group at strangers. We take a chance of getting hurt every time we let someone in….But what’s our alternative?….Live a life without trust?

‘Collected Stories’ is a two character play, but you’d never know it. The two talented actresses fill up every inch of the stage with their multi layered performances, making this a must see for anyone who loves…good writing, a good story, and fine acting!