My Roommate the Cylon

a kate west recommendation in abbreviations

Ever hear of "My Roommate, the Cylon" (MRTC)? Even if you aren't a fan of BSG ("Battlestar Galactica", c'mon people, turn on your television once in a while, OMG) and I'm really not, though I've heard of it of course, this series parody will tickle you. Three normal guys in a normal apartment suddenly suspect that one of them isn't so normal after all. One of them might be ... a cylon. And if don't know what that is, stop right here, as you're obviously not a BSG fan. To find out which one is in the closet, tune in each week as we get closer and closer to the hilarious truth. Well edited, directed, acted and just generally put together in a perfectly seriously funny way, MRTC should not be missed. Especially by sci-fi die hards. But even the non-techies will get a boost. As the byline says ....

Three roommates.

One is a Cylon.

You do the math.


Catch the first episode:

My Roommate the Cylon 1.1 "The Test" from Space Shank Media on Vimeo. Read more!

Puppet Up

a kate west review

directed by Patrick Bristow
at Avalon Hollywood
1735 N Vine St., Hollywood , CA 90028
Next shows - April 18 & May 22, 2009
8:00 PM (doors open 7:00 PM)
contact (323) 462-8900

The Jim Henson Company continues to impress, decades after Kermit the Frog's gentle humor on "Sesame Street" led to the beloved "The Muppet Show". Henson's legacy lives on with his son Brian Henson, who has formed a delightful combination of puppets and improv in "Puppet Up" now playing at the hip Avalon in Hollywood.

Puppets, improv and alcohol? It is sure to be an enchanted evening. Be forewarned however; there's a reason it plays late at night. The adorable little furry creatures are capable of doing and saying almost anything. Innuendos and curse words fly as Director Patrick Bristow takes suggestions from the audience. After a delightful introductory "Puppet Up" song with a full cast of puppeteers, a la "Muppet Show", the improvisers do scene after scene, making up choice witticisms on the spot. One is often undecided what to focus on - the actors with their tireless hands up in the air holding puppets, or the side monitors showing the actual televised scene with full puppet characters. Try watching both if you can. You'll learn a lot.

The majority of the cast is strong and the characters they don even more impressive. You'll meet a bulldog in diapers, an intellectual orangutan, a trustworthy newscaster, one-eyed extraterrestrials and hot dogs on sticks, to name but a silly few. You'll be amazed at amount of characters these professionals can jump in and out of, even in the same scene. One highlight featured Drew Massey singing a Bond-like theme song while the rest of the cast floated in and out of the camera lenses, creating a very real and sexy 007 look. It's also fun to see Brian Henson in his element, leaping from one brainstorm to the next. Not everything works entirely well every single night, of course. Sometimes a scene or two can get off track at times, but there's plenty more zaniness where that came from. And every night is wildly different.

The audience doesn't get away scott-free either as often members are pulled up on stage and nurtured kindly into entertaining the rest of us. One such scene featured the puppets reenacting a couple's first date while the pair in question dinged or buzzed according to what the improvisers got right. Imagine the hilarity when the characters uncover different perceptions of the same evening. Some lucky "volunteer" might even get to try handling an actual puppet. You'll have to wait and see.

A clever idea indeed, "Puppet Up" is the logical next step for an innovative company that tries anything, without ever using malicious or mean-spirited humor. It's all good fun. Can't say clean exactly as this is the evening show and those puppets take over the actors at times. But as the puppet-less cast will tell you in the end - all those ideas came from you.

The cleverness behind "Puppet Up" - Cast and Production:

Brian Henson

Brian Clark

Julianne Buescher

Drew Massey

Allan Trautman

Victor Yerrid

Ted Michaels

Willie Etra - Musical Director

Patrick Bristow - Director and Host

["Puppet Up" Cast, Edinburgh Festival, Scotland]

Previous mention here:
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Now Playing at the Improvatorium

Noir Town
and No Place Like Rome
a kate west review
directed by Patrick Bristow
at Theatre Asylum
6320 Santa Monica Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90038
playing February 5, 19; March 5, 19; April 2, 16, 30
contact (323) 962-1632 or

The improv group Improvatorium is a group of former theater students from Hollywood's Theatre Asylum who just want to bring you a little improv fun in these heavy economic times. Headed by Patrick Bristow (from the famed Groundlings Theatre), the troupe presents two long form acts - one in a Film Noir genre and one in Roman Epic. They are professional actors who take suggestions from the audience and create murder, mystery, decadence and spoof, all in period clothing.

At the start of the Act One, we see a black and white screen listing the actors and set to a film score to get you into a sober detecting mood. Someone dies and you get to choose the murderer. Is it the evil foreigner? The loyal secretary? Or perhaps someone in the shadows? This particular evening, it was the woman running a car wash, of course someone you would least suspect.

The actors have a ball creating droll 1940's dialogue, complete with dramatic pauses and meaningful glances. Act Two sets up a wild romp in Roman times, with full regalia (you know you want to see those Centurian feather headsets). We pick the plots points and the actors camp it up for us, delighting in the enfolding madness. And it is obvious they are having the time of their lives up on that stage.

The players are solid and while this relatively new company has a few minor rough edges to smooth out, they have a lot of entertaining nights ahead of them. Particular standouts this evening were Kevin Berntson, Gareth Berrow, Brian Clark, Peggy Etra and Jayne Entwistle.

Grant Baciocco
Kevin Berntson
Gareth Berrow
Brian Clark
Jayne Entwistle
Peggy Etra
Leslee Harman
Alison Monk
Carla Rudy
Chris Sheets
Matt Vlahakis
Vanessa Whitney

Do you think you can do what they do? Find out:

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novel by Alan Moore
artwork by Dave Gibbons
a kate west review

The long awaited newest superhero movie "Watchmen" finally arrives to Los Angeles after several false starts. Not only is there a controversial change in the ending, but also creator Alan Moore remains bitter about his work being Hollywoodized. The original 1980's D.C. comic series debuted to some skepticism itself, due to its dark nature and deeply flawed heroes. But it ultimately achieved cult status, becoming one of the most famous modern graphic novels.

Purists will of course take issue with the change of ending (you've been warned), and pure thrill-seekers will be baffled by the despairing bleakness of the film. Director Zack Snyder (actually a fan of Moore, in spite of the creator's animosity), creates a faithful adaptation, up until the finale and the casting is spot on. Those familiar with the series will appreciate the small character moments and personalities that make up the detailed universe of "Watchmen". It may help you to read the novel before seeing the film, although it is not vital to understanding the plot. The movie is quite thorough.

A group of 1940's superheroes (shown in flashbacks) help rid the world of crime while trying to tend to their own lives. Some of them make it, some don't. They are the Minutemen. A new generation comes along in the 80's, only to be forced into early retirement by a society hell bent against vigilantism. They are the Watchmen. One of the originals is murdered, however, prompting the new crew to get back into the fight.

Nite Owl, The Comedian, Ozymandias, Dr. Manhattan, Silk Spectre and Rorschach are some of the vibrantly different heroes and villains of the story. Aside from plenty of action, the movie is chock full of betrayal, sordid pasts, madness and fear. In this version of history, Richard Nixon takes on a third term and every man, woman and child hopes the Russians won't send nuclear warheads raining down on America. The Watchmen are rejected, yet the world still ends up needing them to save the planet. Isn't that always the way? No respect for hardworking masked saviors.

Jeffrey Dean Morgan is fantastic as the devilish Comedian and Jackie Earle Haley conveys the tortured Rorschach to perfection. So many of the scenes are exact storyboards lifted right out of the comic pages. Rorschach's expressions and violence match the novel panel for panel, as do Nite Owl's (Stephen McHattie) awkwardness at developing into a true hero. Billy Crudup is not outshone by the flawless special effects look of his character, but rather makes it his own, turning from mortal into god. And Matthew Goode's arrogant Ozymandias works quite well. To say more would deprive one of the gradual unfolding of each revelation. Suffice it to say, it is a well-executed rendition of a cult classic, despite Moore's petulance. One main complaint however - the soundtrack. Some of the songs choices are tired and often random. Sometimes they are too obvious a choice and sometimes don't fit the era. In a perfect world, the DVD would be released with a brand new musical score. Here's hoping.

Granted, 'tis a black world indeed, and one that asks for insight into our modern world and our own penchant for harming each other. The uncompromising Rorschach is even driven mad by it. So don't expect Superman or even Batman fare - this story is quite somber and kudos to Snyder for his meticulous adaptation. That was a brave undertaking.

Directed by:

Graphic Novel:

Blu Ray:
Watchmen [Blu-ray]

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