News Ticker

Off-Broadway

Babette’s Feast

April 2, 2018

aithful to the story and like the film, this stage adaptation uses narration from Dinesen’s story. However, not only are the actors used as storytellers, some of the characters also narrate themselves. Set in a small town in Berleväg, Norway, the most northern outpost of the continent of Europe, the story takes place in 1883 but flashes back to earlier days using hardly any props, much in the same way that Thornton Wilder’s "Our Town" tells its story. [more]

Leisure, Labor, Lust 

April 2, 2018

Besides depicting the upper crust, the lives of the servants are harshly detailed with inspiration from social documentarian Jacob Riis’ muckraking journalism. There are searing descriptions of the bleak existence in the Lower East Side tenements that include death from cholera.  Ms. Farrington ingeniously grafts the characteristics of Wharton and Riis with her own imaginative powers in her finely written and bold scenario that is set in 1907 and is structured in three acts. [more]

A Walk in the Woods

March 30, 2018

The two talented, delightfully understated actors have taken on these roles with energy and sincerity.  Manning makes Honeyman both simple and complex at the same time while Van Treuren mines Botvinnik’s uncanny ability to charm and frighten at the same time.  You root for them from beginning to end and hope against hope for them to actually produce a treaty. [more]

Dinner with Georgette

March 30, 2018

Michel Foucault and Walt Whitman are quoted offstage at the beginning of "Dinner With Georgette." It’s riddled with pretentious nonsense masquerading as profundity and this bit is a harbinger of what’s to come. The playwright, Obie award-winning theater artist and Brown University alumnus Rick Burkhardt piles on academic inanities for one hour and 40 minutes in this leaden saga.  The abrasive dialogue has the characters refer to themselves in the third person and comment on the actions, addressing the audience directly. [more]

Three Small Irish Masterpieces

March 30, 2018

It’s impossible to discuss the history of modern Irish drama without reference to William Butler Yeats, Lady Gregory, and John Millington Synge, who, at the beginning of the last century, helped to found the National Theatre of Ireland. With "Three Small Irish Masterpieces," this literary trinity receives a heartfelt, if somewhat exaggerated, nod from the Irish Repertory Theatre, which, over the last few decades, has proven its own indispensability, too. [more]

Admissions

March 27, 2018

"Admissions" is often very funny like when Sherri has to try to explain why Melville’s Moby Dick is not being taught anymore (a book about a white whale by a dead white guy) and when Charlie is annoyed that girls in his class object to reading Willa Cather, a woman and a lesbian rather than a person of  color. Although the play is intended to be unsettling to white liberals, it is too neat in its setup. It would have to be Sherri who has spent 15 years creating diversity at Hillcrest whose son may be affected by affirmative action and Charlie and Perry who have been best friends almost all their lives should be divided by Yale’s admission choices. Perry’s picture in the admissions catalogue is rejected as he photographs white and does not look like a person of color, but to find a group shot demonstrating diversity it ends up having to be staged. And Charlie’s 180 degree change of heart plunges his parents into a great dilemma: do they use their personal contacts to see what can be done, something Sherri and Bill have not been averse to in the admissions office at Hillcrest for others. [more]

Education

March 26, 2018

"Education," Brian Dykstra’s new play, is an incendiary investigation into censorship, free speech and responsibility in electric theater. It purports to be about Art as a Weapon but its themes go much further than that. The protagonist Mick, a biracial 17-year-old high school senior, has a rant that lists all the things wrong with American society at this time which is simply scorching. All high school students should be so articulate. In the astute hands of director Margarett Perry, the play moves like greased lightning. You may be dizzy from the provocative ideas but you will not be bored. [more]

Distant Observer: Tokyo/New York Correspondence

March 26, 2018

Noted theater artist John Jesurun wrote the opening sequence. From 2014 to 2017, Mr. Jesurun engaged in a collaboration with Japanese playwright and director Takeshi Kawamura. They each wrote alternating 10-minute sections with Aya Ogawa translating the Japanese portions into English.  This technique is an homage to the Japanese poetical form renga where different authors contribute to a poem. [more]

Hal & Bee

March 23, 2018

Baker’s lines are spiky and colorful, often dark, sometimes banal, but his portrait of these two and the two lesser characters is always illuminating and full of real emotion.  The fade-out, a quiet revelatory moment, is simply lovely—and sad. [more]

My Brilliant Divorce

March 21, 2018

The lithe and silvery-haired Ms. Gilbert dazzles for 90 minutes as she addresses the audience directly with her warm and joyous presence. She tells jokes, sings, and dances, all while conveying pathos.  In addition to her vivid primary characterization, she portrays 16 other characters of various ages and nationalities with a commanding assortment of dialects and physical traits. [more]

The Low Road

March 20, 2018

Bruce Norris’ plays are so different from each other that you have to take his fingerprints to recognize his hand. His recent New York plays have dealt with racism and gentrification ("Clybourne Park"), politics ("Domesticated"), sexual mores ("The Qualms"), theories of time and space (A Parallelogram), and now in his latest production to reach NYC, "The Low Road" at The Public Theater, he offers a fascinating take on capitalism and the free market told as a picaresque and ribald 18th century tale of colonial America on the brink of statehood. Of course, its real target is today’s untenable global economic situation but his criticism is couched as an historical parable. [more]

Later Life

March 18, 2018

In an “Author’s Note” to his play "Later Life," A.R. Gurney explains that it was inspired by "The Beast in the Jungle," a famous novella by Henry James, about a man who leads a “guarded” life. The sweet but slight resulting play is now in revival by the Keen Company, in a production that does nothing to elevate the play above its overly modest ambitions. [more]

Shooter

March 17, 2018

Mr. Graber’s trite scenario is rendered as a superficial by-the-numbers treatment and the presentation is overwrought.  Near the end there is an exchange between Jim and Gavin as they sit on stools during an awkward party.  The writing and acting are intense and coupled with the simplicity of the situation, the reaction is, “Ah! THIS is the play!” Unfortunately, it’s only a tantalizing respite from the hollow machinations that have come before and the inevitable strobe-light and roaring finale. [more]

Is God Is

March 14, 2018

On the basis of “Is God Is,” Aleshea Harris is a new voice in the American theater whose work bears watching in the future. The play is the latest in a long line of revenge stories from the Bible to Quentin Tarantino. The nagging question becomes does Harris have an underlying theme other than the righting of past wrongs by violence. However, Magar’s riveting production never gives the viewer a chance to ponder on this dilemma while the tightly written drama is unfolding before you. While the play has a dark humor throughout, in a parody of the famous Louis Jordan song, it seems to ask the question, “Is God is or is God ain’t?” After witnessing the retribution of the sisters, only the viewer can decide for him or herself. [more]

An Ordinary Muslim

March 14, 2018

The trouble is that there is nothing new or daring or particularly interesting about the play despite its intriguing subject matter.  It is an old-fashioned play—think warmed over Clifford Odets with a touch of Chekhov and more than a few hints of Greek hubris—that deals with the treatment of Pakistani-British Muslims in Great Britain, specifically West London, 2011.  It is full of clichéd writing including having characters appear just as their name is brought up. [more]

Dogs of Rwanda

March 13, 2018

Dan Hodge commandingly plays the American narrator who has written a book about his youthful experiences in Rwanda during its 1994 civil war and genocide. Mr. Hodge created the role in the 2017 Philadelphia production of the play. The boyish yet mature, and personable Hodge perfectly portrays this young man traumatized by witnessing atrocities. His All-American presence, good looks and charisma energize the grim and familiar material. He enters through the theater and addresses the audience throughout with charm. [more]

Amy and the Orphans

March 13, 2018

Casting of Brewer (best known for her several roles on "American Horror Story"), an individual with Down syndrome, is a real coup as she doesn’t have to be inventing a role she knows intimately. Her feistiness, timing and personality make Amy a three dimensional character from the time we first meet her. (A program note tells us that her understudy is another individual with Down syndrome, Edward Barbanell and when he plays the part the play is known as "Andy and the Orphans" in a rewritten version.) Another note reveals that Ferrentino’s heroine is based on her Aunt Amy who grew up with Down syndrome when the medical community had no idea how to deal with it except to institutionalize such people rather than to give them training and support. The play is a fitting tribute to Ferrentino’s aunt who the playwright never got to know as much as she would have liked. [more]

Good for Otto

March 12, 2018

Except for the frustration level of the characters, there does not seem to be a movement towards change or catharsis which may partly explain why the play seems so long. Harris and Madigan retain their cool as therapists throughout until almost the end when they can’t hold in their emotions any more. The most dramatic story is that of 12-year-old Frannie beautifully and realistically played by young Rileigh McDonald. However, as written the role of her foster mother played by Rhea Perlman is a one-note tale and doesn’t give her much wiggle room to make it her own. [more]

Three Wise Guys

March 12, 2018

Just in time for Easter, TACT/The Actors Company Theatre has adapted and combined  two Christmas-themed Damon Runyon short stories into the seasonally inappropriate, but nonetheless very charming, "Three Wise Guys." Gleefully peppered with Runyon’s distinctive demi-monde argot, or Runyonese, the comedic play depicts a Prohibition-era New York of principled crooks and hustlers who, in true Runyon style, end up having hearts much bigger than their ill-gotten bankrolls, which, of course, doesn’t mean they’re ready to commit to their matrimonially frustrated gal pals. Like another Runyon adaptation about some guys and dolls, the sparsely musical "Three Wise Guys" fancifully speaks to the, perhaps not so unreasonable, belief that those on the make are much more trustworthy than the ones who’ve already made it. [more]

Halcyon Days

March 11, 2018

One sits there for two hours numbed by the experience of watching the talented cast often vigorously playing for laughs that aren’t there. They are Rand Guerrero, Ralph Guzzo, William Laney, Chris McFarland, Hannah Jane McMurray, Sarah O’Sullivan, Tom Paolino and Gameela Wright. [more]

Subway Story (A Shooting)

March 9, 2018

"Subway Story (A Shooting" is the fifth and final installment of William Electric Black’s Gunplay Series, a sequence of plays “dedicated to all who have lost their lives to the senseless gun violence plague.” In this concluding chapter, ongoing gun violence, particularly its link to urban youths, is the prevailing theme. Black is a seven-time Emmy award-winning writer. His work often broaches societal-conscious issues. [more]

Kings

March 8, 2018

Despite some terrific acting, it’s hard to root for any of the four characters in Kings, even if the play is one long competition between all of them. This smart new work by Sarah Burgess ("Dry Powder") fails to introduce little that’s new about the present state of politicians and lobbyists--and their overly intimate relationships. But it’s also been put together with an admirable efficiency that spells it out clearly for those members of the audience who haven’t been paying enough attention to the daily headlines and all they entail. [more]

A Marriage Contract

March 7, 2018

Originally titled "A Test Case" when the play had its premiere in New York in 1892, it is one of Daly’s many adaptations of European successes, this one based on a German comedy of Blumenthal and Kadelburg. While "A Marriage Contract" is a charming evening and has much satire that is still relevant, its genre is that of drawing room comedy. While stylish and graceful, Alex Roe’s production is much too broad to be entirely successful. Several of the actors give over-the-top characterizations of recognizable types which somewhat unbalances the play. In the manner of the popular form of 19th century popular theater, the play is a bit too long for its content and could use a bit of trimming. Nevertheless, the production is entertaining though many of the surprises are telegraphed long in advance of their revelations on stage. [more]

Breitwisch Farm

March 7, 2018

Esperance Theater Company’s artistic director Ryan Quinn directed the production. Mr. Quinn’s inventive staging is vigorous and aesthetic yielding in visually charged sequences that energize the uneven writing.  Watching the Super Bowl becomes a frenetic production number. [more]

Locked Up Bitches

March 6, 2018

All the good jokes get lost in the onslaught of cast members vying for their moments and looking for the audience’s approval, which admittedly was offered freely.   "Bitches" becomes chaotic, crude and in your face, not to mention clichéd, the clichés hiding behind dirty jokes and blatant shtick.  Raine clearly can’t rein in the cast’s enthusiasm even though they are portraying animals with animal passions. [more]

The Amateurs

March 3, 2018

Jordan Harrison’s "The Amateurs" is certainly an ambitious new play acted to the hilt by its cast of six. However, at times it bites off more than it can handle, at other times its anachronisms tear at the fabric of its story, and finally it goes out of its way to draw connections that the audience has already made. The play may need a stronger director than Oliver Butler has proved to be to pull this unwieldy drama into more satisfactory shape. [more]

The Loneliest Number

March 1, 2018

Author Lizzie Vieh’s brilliant play "The Loneliest Number" initially appears to be a slight off-beat comedy about a swinging couple’s encounters but after its first third evolves into a profound, suspenseful and searing exploration of relationships.  Ms. Vieh’s dialogue is sharp, filled with well-crafted jokes and painful depth. A wistful description of a children’s Halloween parade with them in their costumes becomes an insightful reverie of desires. [more]

Edward Albee’s At Home at the Zoo: Homelife & The Zoo Story

February 28, 2018

Lila Neugebauer has directed these two one-acts to bring out their naturalism. In the past, "The Zoo Story" was usually performed with an odd, surreal quality.  Neugebauer has given the conversations a flow that reveals this play to be about people, not walking symbols, a lesson Albee had thoroughly absorbed by the time he wrote "Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?"   [more]

Time No Line

February 27, 2018

In the moving and affirmative final sequence, journal entries from 1989 to 1990 are projected as text that details deaths of friends. Kelly is on the floor silently drawing shapes with white and then red chalk that becomes a configuration of human forms. One of the entries shown from that era reveals his HIV positive diagnosis. [more]

Terminus

February 27, 2018

In the semi-autobiographical "Terminus," part of a seven-play cycle set in the fictional town of Attapulgus, Georgia, playwright Gabriel Jason Dean unleashes this intriguing Southern Gothic setup which touches off a deeply felt personal story about racism in a place that is obviously more real to Dean than imagined. Unfortunately, as it goes along, Dean’s initially captivating ghost story exponentially loses steam, finally grinding to a halt well before Eller’s big, shameful secret is revealed at the play’s not-so-stunning conclusion. [more]

Relevance

February 27, 2018

But "Reference" is also about issues of gender, race, age, celebrity, politics, economics, and the inescapable impact of the Internet--and more specifically, social media--on the ways business is done today. That may sound like a lot to digest, or maybe even too ambitious by half--but what’s amazing about "Relevance" is how well it manages to fit all of that into a four-character play that speeds by in only 100 minutes. [more]

High Noon

February 25, 2018

Conceived by the Axis Company, this treatment oddly renames the characters which is just one of its many baffling qualities that perhaps seeks to comment on the present. It’s really "High Noon" in title only. Visually arresting it’s ultimately a showy exercise in mere stagecraft without resonance. [more]

A Walk With Mr. Heifetz

February 22, 2018

Although an interesting idea, James Inverne’s "A Walk With Mr. Heifetz" has lofty ambitions which it is unable to fulfill. While the advertisement proclaims that these two encounters “changed the world as we know it,” none of that comes through in the play. The thinness of the material and the two-dimensional characters fail to bring the story to life. Much more needs to be known or revealed to flesh out this intriguing but undramatized story. [more]
1 2 3 4 26