The Ghosts of Ma Barker - Theatre Review

Theatre Review by Harrison Held.

Diana Kyle and Grant Garrison. Photo credit: Ricky Ryba

I recently attended the exciting opening night of the new gangster/supernatural drama The Ghosts of Ma Barker written and directed by talented T.S. Devai at the cozy Ruby Theatre at The Complex in Hollywood.  The intriguing gritty play is based on the notorious Kate "Ma" Barker who was the evil matriarch of the real life infamous Barker-Karpis Gang. Diana Kyle does a great job in the starring role - she's one of the meanest female characters ever depicted on stage. Ma Barker was called the most vicious, dangerous and resourceful criminal brain by FBI head J. Edgar Hoover and this is examined very thoroughly in this very bold new two act production which is not for kids or the squeamish - lots of violence, gore and blood.

Linda McShan, Devix Szell. Photo credit: Ricky Ryba

The story unfolds in the last 24 hours of her life in central Florida in 1935 before she and her son Fred were gunned down and also features a clever second intertwined story of modern day media ghost hunters being confronted by Ma Barker's and family's ghosts.  T.S. Devai and Diana Kyle are real life neighbors and friends - which he compares to living next door to Bette Davis! T.S. created the play specifically for her after seeing her in a smaller role as a gangster with two henchman in A Hat Full of Rain.  The ambitious entertaining play is a great showcase for all involved but I think it would play better if it was a bit shorter.  Ms. Kyle makes the most of her  very demanding role chewing up the scenery and she's so mercurial you almost expect her to chew up her own offspring alive as well (pun intended).

(Left) Joan Apperson (l.), Diana Kyle, Ricky Ryba. Photo credit: Josh Mannen

The talented colorful cast also features Ricky Ryba as conflicted mamma's boy Freddie Barker, Richard-John Sekaly as gangster Alvin Karpis, Owen Virgin as bad ass Volney "Curley" Davis,  Linda McShan as psychic ghost hunter Muriel Evers , Devix Szell as skeptical ghost hunter Adam Jacobs, Joan Apperson as sexy gangster's mole Edna Murray, Grant Garrison as  resourceful Dock Barker, Michael Springthorpe double cast well as Cassady/Dunlop, Rain Barlow as pregnant pretty gangster's mole Dolores Delaney  who longs for a more wholesome lifestyle for her child and Daniel Gamez as the much abused Bailey. 

Kudos to acclaimed special effects wiz Michael Keating.  The Ghosts of Ma Barker plays til August 2 and I think it would be a great production well suited for a scary Halloween season run as well.

Playing Thru August 2, 2015; ages 13 and older

At the Ruby Theatre at The Complex

6476 Santa Monica Blvd.
Hollywood, CA 90038
United States

Diana Kyle and Grant Garrison. Photo credit: Ricky Ryba

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Posted By Harrison Held on July 17, 2015 12:03 pm | Permalink