The Internet Theater Magazine of Reviews, Features, Annotated Listings










See links at top of our Main Page







Free Updates
A CurtainUp Los Angeles Review

"You know how people are when they find out you have money." mdash; Euclio
La Olla
Sal Lopez. (Photo: Grettel Cortes)
Here's a truism that applies equally to inhabitants of ancient Rome and performers in a 1950s era Mexican-run Los Angeles night club: it sucks to have bucks.

Didn't quite expect that one, did you? Oh sure, poverty is no day at the Four Seasons either, but when you have wealth, everybody wants a piece of it, and of you. People treat you differently. You've got to worry about where you're going to stash your loot (before the days of Swiss bank accounts, presumably) to keep equally greedy souls from stealing it out from under your nose. Honestly, how does a suddenly wealthy, two-bit actor get even a moment's rest?

Answer? He doesn't. Nightclub performer Euclio gets a lesson in these evils of cash-begotten angst in Evelina Fernandez's La Olla, a new version of Plautus's A Pot of Gold, and, alas, it's Euclio's joylessness that permeates this world premiere adaptation. Fashioned as a comedy but offering only a limited amount of farcical mad-cappery, Jose Luis Valenzuela's production for the Latino Theater Company at LATC is consistently off the mark.

Our setting is an L.A. music hall in the 1950s. We learn via a prologue spoken by Patron Saint Genesius (played by Fidel Gomez) that the semi-famous La Olla nightclub has passed out of the hands of Euclio's family and that Euclio's daughter, Phaedria (Esperanza America), has actual talent. Euclio (Sal Lopez), the joint's second banana and stage sweeper? Not so much.

As a parade of divas, ventriloquists and dancers move on and off the tombstone-shaped revolving stage designed by Yee Eun Nam, the plot unfolds. Euclio tries to figure out how to keep, and profit from, the stash of stolen money he has found. Phaedria needs to secure a husband before anyone gets wise to the fact that she's in the family way. Meanwhile, a trio of disguised gangsters are trying to get into the act as they search for the sack of cash they ditched backstage.

The sexually ambivalent club owner, Megadorus (Geoffrey Rivas), asks Euclio for Phaedria's hand. Lyconides (Sam Golzari), La Olla's male ingénue, would also like to marry her, which is fitting since he's the guy who knocked her up at the cherry festival nine months ago. Emcee Sobersides (Castulo Guerra) is greedier and more ambitious even than Euclio. And the tequila-swilling stagehand Staphyla (played by the playwright Fernandez) watches over all the proceedings with a world-weary expression on her pinched face. She has perhaps the production's best moment, dancing to a rumba beat while controlling a pair of puppets (designed by Camille Villanueva) fastened to her via a harness. The cigarette eternally dangling from her mouth never moves.

Valenzuela tries to meld the assorted variety acts with the Euclio/Phaedria/Megadorus plotlines, but it's not a particularly smooth mix. The performance bits are sporadically funny but they feel like they are interrupting the story or vice versa. Charismatic character actors though they both are, Lopez and Guerra spend a lot of time monologuing their way through dead space. When Lopez ultimately moves out into the house to demand information from the audience, the bit is labored rather than seamless farce.

America possesses no shortage of gusto playing both the spinster-turned-star Phaedria and the upstaged, opera-singing La Diva. Wearing a sparkly gold suit (designed by Naila Aladdin-Sanders) that Liberace might envy, Rivas's genial Megadorus gets a few yuks particularly when he's bantering with Fernandez's Staphyla and dutifully delivering the play's lessons about the danger of greed. Golzari, Gomez and Xavi Moreno work some capable buffoonery as the trio of gangsters.

La Olla was commissioned by the J Paul Getty Museum and a version of the tale was staged last year at the Getty Villa Theatre. Program notes from both Fernandez and Valenzuela suggest that the marriage of ancient Roman comedy and the Latino experience constitutes a bit of an experiment for Latino Theater Company audiences. The performers of Culture Clash have walked this very path several times before. La Olla could have used them.

La Olla by Evelina Fernandez
Adapted from the Roman comedy The Pot of Gold by Plautusand Directed by Jose Luis Valenzuela

Cast: Esperanza America, Evelina Fernandez, Sam Golzari, Fidel Gomez, Castulo Guerra, Sal Lopez, Xavi Moreno, Geoffrey Rivas
Choreographer and Movement Coordinator: Urbanie Lucero
Set and Projection Design: Yee Eun Nam
Light and Projection Design: Pablo Santiago
Sound Design: John Zalewski
Costume Design: Naila Aladdin-Sanders
Puppet Design: Camille Villanueva
Musical Director: Rosino Serrano
Stage Manager: Henry “Heno” Fernandez
Plays through April 24, 2016 at the Los Angeles Theatre Center, 514 S. Spring St. Los Angeles, (866) 811-4111,
Running time: One hours and thirty minutes, with no intermission
Reviewed by Evan Henerson
Highlight one of the responses below and click "copy" or"CTRL+C"
  • I agree with the review of La Olla
  • I disagree with the review of La Olla
  • The review made me eager to see La Olla
Click on the address link E-mail:
Paste the highlighted text into the subject line (CTRL+ V):

Feel free to add detailed comments in the body of the email. . .also the names and emails of any friends to whom you'd like us to forward a copy of this review.

For a feed to reviews and features as they are posted add to your reader
Curtainup at Facebook . . . Curtainup at Twitter
Subscribe to our FREE email updates: E-mail:
put SUBSCRIBE CURTAINUP EMAIL UPDATE in the subject line and your full name and email address in the body of the message. If you can spare a minute, tell us how you came to CurtainUp and from what part of the country.
The New Similes Dictionary
New Similes Dictionary

Slings & Arrows  cover of  new Blu-Ray cover
Slings & Arrows- view 1st episode free

Anything Goes Cast Recording Anything Goes Cast Recording
Our review of the show

Book Of Mormon MP4 Book of Mormon -CD
Our review of the show

©Copyright 2016, Elyse Sommer.
Information from this site may not be reproduced in print or online without specific permission from
La Olla
La Olla - Evelina Fernandez's new version of Plautus's A Pot of Gold is fashioned as a comedy but offes only a limited amount of farcical mad-cappery . . Read More