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Samuel D. Hunter’s ‘Rest’ at South Coast Rep, Newport Beach Film Fest returns

Hal Landon Jr. and Lynn Milgrim in REST
Hal Landon Jr. and Lynn Milgrim in REST
Photo by Debora Robinson/SCR

What would prompt South Coast Repertory to produce the world premiere of a strange, unpredictable but ultimately satisfying drama called “Rest” (running in Costa Mesa through Apr. 27) about the inhabitants and employees of a rest home? That the perpetrator is Samuel D. Hunter was likely the deciding factor, for without his star-on-the-rise status and track record (notably last year’s superb “The Whale”) one wonders if SCR would have taken the risk—yet I’m delighted they did, as opposed to staging the likes of Neil Simon’s latest. After all, that’s what keeps me coming back to SCR.

“Rest” is full of quirky humor but “seriocomedy” or “dramedy” doesn’t quite describe it. As for the plot, let’s just say it’s an original and leave it at that; it probably won’t remind you of anything you’ve seen on stage or screen. The cast—Lynn Milgrim, Hal Landon Jr. and Richard Doyle (the rest home’s remaining residents), Sue Cremin and Libby West (among the staff)—is first-rate. Director Martin Benson’s contribution is so skilled it’s almost invisible, but without his razor-sharp sense of timing and pacing this two-act play could easily fall apart. Call 714-708-5555.
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What’s bigger than a bread basket and much more fun? The 15th Annual Newport Beach Film Festival (, of course. Of special interest to me among the more than 350 films from 50 different countries are “Monica Z” (from Sweden) about jazz singer Monica Zetterlund, “Bends” (from Hong Kong) about a friendship between a wealthy housewife and her chauffeur, and “The Invisible Collection” (from Brazil) about a man trying to save his family’s antique business.

Most intriguing among the many documentaries is Kate Ryan’s award-winning “Welcome Nowhere,” about a community of Roma Gypsies and their struggle to survive after centuries of racism. Narrated by Oscar nominee Ethan Hawke, this film allows the Roma people to tell their side of the story for the first time. The festival opens April 24 and continues through May 1.

More from Jordan:

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New ebook, now available on Amazon — “Directing Lemmon and Matthau: On the Set with Billy Wilder”

Visit my Amazon Author Page: Young/e/B001K8E7NW
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