Theater Reviews

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Paul E. Richards Theatre Place, Los Angeles
Through Nov. 18

In her aptly titled solo show "Dance of the Lemons," Karen Kay Woods makes it clear why public education in the Los Angeles Unified School District is accused of failing miserably. Woods was a music teacher assigned to teach in the inner city. She paints a graphic picture of a crumbling, underfunded infrastructure but saves her deepest scorn for the school administrators whose incompetence, as she describes it, is staggering. Even worse is the indifferent don't-rock-the-boat attitude she detects lying just beneath the ignorance. The play title refers to the school district's interesting way of replacing an incompetent principal or administrator by reassigning that person to another school. The lemons just keep circulating, and there's no lemonade in sight.

Woods could use more help than she's getting from director Ann Starbuck to make the piece more effective. Her delivery tends to be perky, formless and unpunctuated; many good stories go begging for some dramatic shape or rhythm. At times, her naivete is hard to swallow and appears to be contrived to gain her further sympathy. Overall, the 70-minute piece accomplishes its goal, which is to tell us, yet again, that our worst fears about public education in this area are not nearly as bad as the reality.

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