News Ticker

Plays

The Karpovsky Variations

May 17, 2022

Adam Kraar’s new drama, "The Karpovsky Variations," is a memory play about a dysfunctional family of driven people and the music that inspired them. Unfortunately, in its current form it is both confused and confusing. Without a family tree, it is difficult to keep straight all of the names of characters both seen and mentioned. Director Tasha Gordon-Solmon has eliminated almost all of the scenic elements described in the script which does not make it any easier to follow. There is a fascinating story hidden in this material but it hasn’t been allowed to surface yet. [more]

André & Dorine

May 16, 2022

This charming show comes from the acclaimed Spanish troupe, Kulunka Teatro. The ensemble of Jose Dault, Garbiñe Insausti and Edu Cárcamo all offer awesome physically commanding silent portrayals of a variety of types while encased in Ms. Insausti’s stupendously created caricaturist masks. Their handling of props is majestic. During the exhilarating curtain call, the cast appears without masks, and their magnetism is even more visible. André & Dorine’s engaging wry scenario was devised by Insausti, Mr. Dault, Iñaki Rikarte, Mr. Cárcamo and Rolando San Martín. [more]

A Case for the Existence of God

May 10, 2022

Though there’s two well-delineated characters and a compelling plot, "A Case for the Existence of God" plays out like a 90-minute cerebral exercise, reaching an unsatisfying pseudo-fantastical conclusion. This is explained by Hunter’s stage directions which explicitly have the actors sitting for a good deal of the time. He has several dictates as to how his dialogue should be delivered, one example is “Dialogue written in italics is emphatic, deliberate; dialogue in ALL CAPS is impulsive, explosive. Dialogue in [brackets] is implied, not spoken.” [more]

Wedding Band

May 9, 2022

Alice Childress’ "Wedding Band," which is a difficult play to stage due to its shifts in tone, is a major rediscovery. However, it straddles a thin line between realism and romance and its poetry needs to be handled very carefully. Unlike the tamer "Trouble in Mind," "Wedding Band" has a very strong message and a good deal to say about racism in American in telling its sensitive interracial love story about a time when it was a love that dared not speak its name. While this production makes some problematic choices, the time has certainly arrived for this play to be returned to the American stage. [more]

American Buffalo

May 8, 2022

The 1975 play "American Buffalo," now onstage at the Circle in the Square Theatre in a crackling revival, remains the quintessential Mamet experience, the one that should be seen to fully appreciate what has been lost. Essentially a two-hander masquerading as a three-hander, it's a character study short on plot and long on self-delusion as a couple of small-time crooks imagine themselves as much more than they are while planning an ambitious heist. To say they're all talk gets to the satirical heart of Mamet's play. [more]

POTUS, Or Behind Every Great Dumbass Are Seven Women Trying to Keep Him Alive

May 8, 2022

In "POTUS," Selina Fillinger’s first Broadway comedy, all is revealed by its unwieldy subtitle (“Behind Every Great Dumbass Are Seven Women Trying to Keep Him Alive”) which leaves little room for development or surprise. The repeated statement “that’s the eternal question” in answer to why none of these women are President may be the real message behind this play. As staged by famed choreographer and director Susan Stroman, POTUS is frenzied rather than funny, a problem in farce. The seven famous actresses are undone by their one-note characters which give them little to play off of or expand on. A pity considering how few Broadway comedies there are these days and the quantity of talent on stage at the Shubert Theatre. [more]

Our Brother’s Son

May 6, 2022

Freshman playwright Charles Gluck, a retired gastroenterologist who has finally followed his dream to write a play, has turned out one terrific piece of theater. There is virtually no superfluous dialogue in this script; almost every line serves a specific purpose, whether it’s to provide key exposition, continue to build the play’s fully three-dimensional characters or to accelerate and intensify the dramatic through point. [more]

The Skin of Our Teeth

May 4, 2022

You would think that at the tail end of a pandemic Thornton Wilder’s 1943 Pulitzer Prize-winning "The Skin of Our Teeth" would be the perfect play for our moment. This experimental play which pays tribute to the resilience of the human race offers hope in time of adversity. The experimental nature of the play uses techniques promulgated by James Joyce, Luigi Pirandello and Bertolt Brecht, none of which are so new or unfamiliar anymore: actors addressing the audience directly and stepping out of character, anachronistic events or references, etc. There are allusions to the Old and New Testament, Greek Mythology and Shakespeare. Writing in the middle of World War II, Wilder presciently made use of such themes as the problems of climate change, refugees, dysfunctional marriages, nepotism and political corruption, which remain at the forefront today. Even after 80 years, Wilder’s play seems eternally forward-looking, eternally novel, and continues to be an important piece of American theater. [more]

Wish You Were Here

May 4, 2022

In the 13 years that span this earnest, thought-provoking play, three weddings, fear, war, and death all serve to test the strength and sanctity of these women’s bonds. Toossi’s script is intimate, and searching, both funny and heartbreaking; "Wish You Were Here" is a beautiful testament to the strengths and allegiances women find with each other in times of turmoil and oppression. [more]

Macbeth

May 2, 2022

This 2022 "Macbeth" appears to be entirely a director’s project, but Sam Gold has done his actors no service with the busy activity he has added to the play. Fine actors like Daniel Craig and Ruth Negga who have demonstrated their top-flight acting chops on stage elsewhere have not been aided by the bizarre direction. Ironically, Shakespeare’s name is nowhere to be seen in the ads for the production. If this was to rope in the fans of Craig’s James Bond, this production gives them no help in following the play, a story of ambition and revenge, which should have been the point of the updating. Even if you are well-versed in the play, you will find yourself adrift much of the time. [more]

for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf

April 30, 2022

This Broadway production, a godchild of a recent 2019 production at The Public Theater (directed by Leah C. Gardiner), is directed and choreographed by modern dance luminary Camille A. Brown (who choreographed The Public Theater version, hence the pedigree).  Her take on Shange’s work is more matter of fact and streetwise than previous productions, her choreographic vision adding depth to the playwright’s vernacular, profane expressions of the consciences of a community of hard-pressed women. [more]

Hangmen

April 29, 2022

Taking the law into your own hands can be a risky business as Harry Wade and friends find out in Martin McDonagh’s hilarious dark comedy "Hangmen" which finally made its Broadway debut after being delayed two years by the pandemic. The cast of this Royal Court Theatre/Atlantic Theater Company production is somewhat different from the one that debuted Off Broadway in 2018 with four members of the original 11 person company remaining. British film star David Threlfall who made his New York stage debut in 1980 in his Tony Award nominated performance as “Smike” in "Nicholas Nickleby" returns to Broadway for the first time since 1997 in the leading role as Harry, the second most famous hangman in the United Kingdom. [more]

Bloom

April 26, 2022

Direction by Victoria Pérez could have better negotiated the script transitions and emotional shaping of the piece; however, script, director and actors, as well as lighting design by Miguel Valderrama and sound design by Michael Hernandez all come together to create a moving ending which comes with no answers but does provide a sense of closure. "Bloom" hasn’t fully flowered in this incarnation, but perhaps more will be revealed in future productions. [more]

The Minutes

April 24, 2022

Tracy Letts’ "The Minutes" is both a fine political comedy as well as an indictment of how most Americans live today. It ultimately asks us to look at our values as well as our connection to the society around us. It will not make you so much as talk about it after you have seen it, but ask yourself if the indictment includes you. Continuing her connection to playwright Tracy Letts which began with "August: Osage County" in 2007, director Anna D. Shapiro adds another excellent contemporary play to her resumé. [more]

How I Learned to Drive

April 22, 2022

A lure of this Broadway premiere revival is 25 years later experiencing the acclaimed performances of much of its original cast. Being a memory play, their current ages are irrelevant, especially when their talents are impeccable. With her renowned charismatic stage presence, Mary-Louise Parker is monumental as Lil’ Bit. Ms. Parker’s drawling vocal delivery and magnetism fully and poignantly realizes the character from the perspective of an older woman looking back on her dysfunctional adolescence. The soft-spoken and shattering David Morse soulfully embodies Uncle Peck, a delusional W.W. II veteran who has descended into alcoholism and pedophilia. [more]

Cyrano de Bergerac

April 19, 2022

Playwright Martin Crimp, an adherent of the ”in-yer-face” school of British playwriting, has taken Edmond Rostand’s turn-of-the-last century verse drama, Cyrano de Bergerac, and not only blown off the cobwebs but exploded it into an entirely new 21st century experience. Staged by innovative director Jamie Lloyd, it has become a showcase for titanic Scottish stage and screen actor James McAvoy making an unforgettable New York stage debut in the title role as the 17th century poet and soldier. [more]

The Little Prince

April 18, 2022

Essentially, Mouron boils the story down to a couple lines about love and beauty, while eliding any sense of the loss, isolation, and dread that the novella also poetically conveys. Her little prince is a man-child incapable of engaging with life's pain rather than Saint-Ex's courageously inquisitive child-man who can't help but look for happiness in sorrow and vice versa. In the absence of this existential heft, the production makes room for co-director Anne Tournié's, admittedly, often charming choreography. A pas de deux between Zalachas and Sulty is particularly lovely, thanks in part to the latter's stunning, and protean, red dress from costume designer Peggy Housset. [more]

Birthday Candles

April 15, 2022

"Birthday Candles" also has an unusual theatrical device: we follow Ernestine Ashford from 17 to 107 meeting her on her various birthdays that are depicted.  The other characters come and go (by death, moving away, or dropping out of her life). Inspired by Thornton Wilder’s 1931 "The Long Christmas Dinner" which like "Birthday Candles" covers 90 years in one family, Wilder’s landmark play has also inspired Paul Vogel’s "The Long Christmas Ride Home" and Dan LeFranc’s "The Big Meal," as well as the breakfast table scene in Orson Welles’ "Citizen Kane." While Vivienne Benesch’s production for the Roundabout Theatre Company at the American Airlines Theatre is beautifully done giving Debra Messing a bravura role as Ernestine Ashworth in which she is onstage throughout, the play is devoid of surprises in covering 90 years in 90 minutes in the life of one woman, too predictable to feel fresh. And once the characters are introduced, they pretty much stay the same throughout the rest of the play. [more]

To My Girls

April 15, 2022

Lee peppers his worn scenario with plenty of pop, cultural and political references, well-crafted zingers and familiar conflicts. Dating apps, "Dancer from the Dance," "Sex and the City" are among the totems cited and a Trump supporter is declared to be a “MAGA fag.” "To My Girls" succeeds as a rote genre-piece for a niche audience desiring a simplistic gay play where there’s laughter, tears and resolution in drag danced to The Pointer Sisters. Lee’s thinly drawn characters are highly playable. [more]

Confederates

April 12, 2022

Dominique Morisseau’s "Confederates," her second play of her Signature Theatre Residency 5, is a clever, but overly talky dissertation on race, power and family.  She offers the audience parallel stories alternating between the Civil War era and modern day academia. The contemporary plot involves Sandra (Michelle Wilson, solid), a Black political science professor who is the victim of a racist insult. A period photograph of a slave wet nurse, white infant attached to her breast, was altered to superimpose her head on the slave’s.  Finding the culprit spurs Sandra to think about the precariousness of being a Black woman in academia. [more]

The Patsy

April 12, 2022

Greenspan, a six-time Obie Award winner, whirls at breakneck speed through this three-act play in just over an hour, transforming from one character to the next with expert fluidity. He transitions between the highly dramatic and entitled Grace, the histrionic and prideful Mrs. Harrington, the simple but lovable Mr. Harrington, the gentle and sweet Patricia, and the gangly, dopey gentleman callers Tom Anderson and Billy Caldwell, drawing on every gender-bending limb, muscle, hand, voice, look or facial gesture he can muster. Even the brusque Tip Busty and party girl Sadie Buchanan get their own unique treatment. [more]

Take Me Out

April 11, 2022

As the most respected player in baseball, Williams has a quiet dignity and charm as a man of few words and few outward motions. While his wry remarks do not often come through as humor, he is very endearing as a man who has always had everything go his way but for the first time in his life must deal with events he cannot control. Ferguson in the role of Mason Marzac which won creator Denis O’Hare a Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Play in 2003 makes the role his own. His social awkwardness as well as his delight at being close to the superstar is patently palpable. He also has a handle on the volubility and articulateness of this clearly deep thinking man. As the narrator Kippy who is also a member of the team, Adams holds our interest as a compassionate man who uses big words and is known as an intellectual among his teammates. He has the task of doing a great deal of explaining both to his teammates and us and he does an excellent job without making it seem like exposition. [more]

Queens Girl in the World

April 11, 2022

Whether frenetically dancing, rhapsodizing over Nancy Drew, fretting about when she’ll wear a bra or reacting horrified upon learning about sex, Ms. Curry performs with the verve of Lily Tomlin in her prime. Curry’s rich portrayal of Jaqueline Marie Butler captures the wonderment of childhood amidst harsh realities and the physical and emotional upheavals of adolescence. A matter-of-fact confession that Jaqueline has been molested is a chilling highlight. With her wide-eyes, expressive facial features, limber physicality and vocal prowess, Curry often rapidly achieves distinctive characterizations of the dozen other figures in the play. The wizardry of Mika Eubanks’ costume, hair and makeup design all visually enhance Curry’s performance. [more]

Take Shape

April 5, 2022

An astronaut in a space station, a YouTube cooking show, evicted apartment residents and a romance on the rocks are a few of the dramatic and antic incidents depicted in "Take Shape," an entertaining full-length program of mime. It’s presented by the Broken Box Mime Theater (BKBX), which was founded in 2011, and whose mission is “to activate the imagination of our audiences, to contemporize the art of mime, and to remind us all of the simple power of storytelling.” "Take Shape" is a collaboration by the company’s members, many of whom appear in rotation at various performances. This creative troupe is comprised of Nick Abeel, Becky Baumwoll, Ismael Castillo, Julia Cavagna, Géraldine Dulex, Blake Habermann, David Jenkins, Marissa Molnar, Kristin McCarthy Parker, Tasha Milkman, Regan Sims, Jae Woo and Josh Wynter. [more]

Gong Lum’s Legacy

April 3, 2022

On one level, "Gong Lum’s Legacy" is revealing in that it demonstrates Southern racism against not only African Americans but also Chinese immigrants who were given the same treatment. On another hand, the script which moves rather slowly with its 18 scenes over a period of two years would be more effective if it was less like a screenplay and more stageworthy. The play would also be more powerful if the historic Gong Lum made appearances in the play to tell his own story rather than reporting it as radio news.  Playwright Charles L. White has a fine ear for dialogue but is weak in dramaturgy. [more]

Plaza Suite

April 2, 2022

Audience laughter abounds during Matthew Broderick and Sara Jessica Parker’s uproarious performances in this splendid first Broadway revival of Neil Simon’s 1968 hit comedy, "Plaza Suite." This married show business couple revel in their different roles during three one-acts all taking place in the same hotel room. They’re greeted with wild entrance applause each time they come on stage and though standing ovations at the end of shows have become obligatory, here it’s sincere and justified. Mr. Broderick and Ms. Parker’s enduring star quality is on display at the Hudson Theatre. [more]

7 Minutes

March 31, 2022

Given one hour to decide and vote, the union committee must come to a decision in real time. On one level the play is very much like Reginald Rose’s "12 Angry Men" in which a group of disparate people must also make a life or death decision. However, unlike that play, the characters in "7 Minutes" are not clearly delineated so that we do not know where many of them stand or who they are. While the production directed by Mei Ann Teo is absorbing for most of its running time placing us in the room where it happens, her staging having the actors move about a great deal makes it difficult to keep most of the 11 women separate from each other. Unlike "12 Angry Men," "7 Minutes" does not offer a great many arguments for and against to warrant its running time, mainly getting into personalities. [more]

The Chinese Lady

March 29, 2022

Presentational flourishes abound in director Ralph B. Peña’s gorgeous physical staging which combines small-scale spectacle with humanity. Scenic designer Junghyun Georgia Lee provides a large gold frame through which we observe Afong’s act and an assortment of stylized pieces which evokes the past through clever artifice. That’s complemented by the shimmering artistry of lighting designers Jiyoun Chang and Elizabeth Mak and projection designer Shawn Duan. Sound designer and composer Fabian Obispo’s  original music and composition, ranges from delightfully jaunty to purposefully moody. [more]

Help

March 28, 2022

Poet and Yale professor Rankine’s play makes use of a narrator/interviewer as her stand-in played by April Matthis. According to program notes by Rankine herself, “The text spoken by white people in the piece was primarily culled from responses to the Times article, public statements by men and women in the government and public life; and interviews conducted with white men by civil rights activists and theologian Ruby Sales; or documentary filmmaker Whitney Dow, or myself.” It also includes updates to the original script from “the January 6 insurrection and the global pandemic.” However, as the quotes are out of context they occasionally refer to entirely different issues as in former President Donald Trump’s saying “Such a nasty woman,” that was addressed to then candidate Hillary Clinton during one of the 2016 presidential debates. [more]

Heartland

March 27, 2022

While Gabriel Jason Dean’s "Heartland" is an enlightening play about Afghan culture mentioning the classic poet Rumi and the contemporary novelist Atiq Rahimi, some of it will still be opaque to American audiences. On the other hand, it also reveals how American involvement in other countries may have the opposite effect of that which is intended. The fine production, however, makes this a compelling though subtle story of an extended family in its understated way. The play was first produced as part of the National Play Network Rolling World Premiere with four simultaneous productions including the one at The Geva Theatre Center in Rochester, New York. [more]

Alex Edelman: Just for Us

March 26, 2022

Despite the familiar visual trappings--mic stand, performer-blinding stage lights, and a dull curtain backdrop--Edelman's deceptively free-flowing talents hew more towards the monologist Spalding Gray than those of Williams. Like Gray, Edelman is an entrancing storyteller capable of stitching together personal anecdotes into a rich thematic tapestry. In Just for Us his canvas includes mental pictures of growing up Orthodox Jewish in a Boston where white privilege is starkly stratified; his brother's 2018 Winter Olympics participation as a member of the Israeli team in possibly the least athletic competition; witnessing the actions of a predictably conceited Jared Kushner at synagogue; and the touching time his family celebrated Christmas in order to console a bereaved non-Jewish friend. [more]

The Medium

March 22, 2022

Who knew that Marshall McLuhan was such a nut?  "The Medium," a dance-theater work conceived and directed by Anne Bogart puts McLuhan through her particular way of combining dance and words and the outcome was silly and brilliant at the same time. First performed in 1993, "The Medium" was revived at the Brooklyn Academy of Music's BAM Fisher where five members of the experimental SITI Company were put through their manic paces attempting to explicate the McLuhan’s “medium is the message” philosophy in a series of pointed, surreal skits. Bogart updated the media references to include all the electronic/internet variations. [more]

what you are now

March 21, 2022

As a play about neuroscience, Sam Chanse’s "what you are now" needs a great deal more data and information. As a play about the plight of Cambodian refugees, what are you now needs to be clearer and less convoluted, although ultimately it is quite powerful and moving. Informative about the startling situation of these refugees, the play needs to be seen and heard, but in this form it defeats its own purposes by being confusing in chronology and not offering the drama behind the science of trauma and memory. [more]
1 2 3 49