August 25, 2010

LEE HARTGRAVE REVIEWS 'Don't Ask' - 'Jacqui Naylor at Rrazz Room'

Adrian Anchondo and Ryan Hough. Photo Lois Tema

Jacqui Naylor at Rrazz Room. Photo Pat Johnson


It is something much more than a feel-good play – it’s a feel-everything play. Two attractive soldiers (a commanding officer and a private) start a sexual relationship during the Iraq war. As if there were not enough fire works going on around them, they have begun a little war of their own.

The opening scene shows us the Commanding officer humping the young private over a storage box in the Warehouse. The “Straight” officer does not want a relationship – but always seems to want more.

Yes, there is danger to come. The younger one (Adrian Anchondo as Bobby) is obsessed with his commander. He takes the Commander (Ryan Hough as Charles) down a road that he would rather not travel. The younger one is determined to get what he wants. He says “Don’t Ask” – but he’s talking “I’ll Tell”. And then begins the danger and despair that comes along with violence and blackmail. Be prepared for some really touchy violent situations to watch. But, they are not unreal. It happens to lots of people. Gay or Straight. One just wants a fling – the other wants more. And the two just won’t click. Threats led to more angst that involve many violent moments, physical and verbally.

This play is different. I liked much of it. The actors, kept my interest, especially the plotting, clever, no holds barred Private. As the tension builds – it begins to get a little tiresome as some of the same plot lines begin to be repeated too many times. But, I thought -- well it seems to be building to a really horrible ending. Well, yes and no. That’s the way we are left. It was like a Chinese Dinner. You’re still hungry – and you don’t dare ask for more. Match Making in Iraq just doesn’t work. In the end – it’s like eating Meat Balls that are injected with explosives. Try it at you own risk. And no, you don’t get fries with that – but maybe a Gun.

RATING: THREE GLASSES OF CHAMPAGNE!!! (For the Acting) – trademarked-

(((Lee Hartgrave has contributed many articles to the San Francisco Chronicle Datebook and Hosted and Produced a long-running Arts Segment on PBS KQED)))


Right up there, with all the great Jazz Ladies is Jacqui Naylor. Her recent appearance at the Rrazz Room brings back those fabulous memories of the Smokey, dimly lit Night Spots where people would flock to hear the likes of Julie Christie singing “Something Cool” (Billy Barnes). Now, comes Naylor – who creates those wonderful days with her smoky, jazzy and innovative interpretations. Oh, and I should add Sexy.

Naylor glides through a terrific “If I Were A Bell” and “Losing My Religion”, a song that always gets many requests by Naylor’s audience. I was really wowed with the Teddy Pendergrass song “Close The Door” and relished the sublime rendition.

Not only are the musical selections captivating – there is an aura about Naylor that reminds of Lizbeth Scott (movie star) and Lauren Bacall (movie/stage star). If the music doesn’t get to you, then Naylor’s sultry look will do it. Talk about refined showmanship – this is it! The unusual phrasing, the look, the confidence add up to a totally different listening experience.

The Bands arrangements were just perfect. The fantastic Band are: Art Khu, Piano/Guitar (and song writer) – Jon Evans Bass – Josh Jones, drums – Matt Wong, A Naylor Discovery discovered a 12-year old musician genius (Piano/Guitar)

Even with a Jazzy lift on the song “There’s No Sunshine When He’s Gone” – is not the kind of music you would want to hear if you are stranded on a Desert Island. But—in the Rrazz Room – it was perfect. Everything was just right -- The right Music, the Right Talent, the Right Atmosphere, The Right Staff and the Excellent Lighting. Can’t beat that.  I’m looking forward to her return at


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