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Off-Broadway

O, Earth

February 7, 2016

Nevertheless, Wills’ production is continually taking us by surprise both by his casting and his choices. His transgendered characters are played by transgendered actors. Moran’s Wilder and Angelos’ Ellen look a great deal like their counterparts, while Blankson-Wood and Heleringer as Spencer and Duncan, respectively, are a hoot as young entitled gay men who have totally bought into the capitalist system. “Mizz June” and Gentili, who are themselves transgendered icons, bring an air of authenticity to their roles as the colorful and outspoken Marsha and Sylvia. [more]

Chatting with the Tea Party

February 6, 2016

Cast as the curious playwright Rich, actor Jeffrey C. Wolf is the central focus of the evening. Wolf narrates the play by way of a series of monologues, which preface interviews with various members of the Tea Party or other pertinent political figures. Carrying the show on his back, Wolf is an agreeable narrator with an infectious curiosity. At times the play navigates deeply into American History, and when he dives into a fact or number heavy-preamble, his pace is cognizant of the fact that the audience is best assumed unfamiliar with it. Thanks to this, exposition regarding past political events is well-received and easily digestible. [more]

I and You

February 4, 2016

So begins a remarkable comedy-drama of two very opposite teenagers who shouldn’t have met and wouldn’t have if Anthony had not chosen the reclusive, mysterious Caroline for his partner. The play makes use of opposites, beginning with the theme of the poem, love and death, and in Whitman’s typical fashion, everything in between. But Caroline and Anthony are also opposites in every possible way: pessimistic/optimistic, sedentary/athletic, closed minded/open minded, white/black, friendless/popular, careless student/straight A student. They appear to have nothing in common, but by the end of the play they are drawn to each other through the magical words of Whitman and Leaves of Grass. Ultimately, Caroline and Anthony have revealed their dreams, fears and true selves to each other and to us. [more]

Sojourners

February 3, 2016

Ms. Udofia’s dialogue is richly expressive and she renders the four characters with depth and detail. The relationships between the characters are fully explored and their interactions where they voice their hopes and desires are often poignant. This is most particularly felt in the growing camaraderie between Abasiama and Moxie. [more]

The Burial at Thebes

February 1, 2016

Robert Langdon Lloyd’s eloquent performance as the blind prophet Tiresias energizes what had been a stilted presentation of this small-scale production of "The Burial at Thebes." Before Mr. Lloyd’s commanding midway appearance there had been a good deal of static expositional recitation and declaiming with only slight dramatic sparks. [more]

Tonight/Jungle: Two Plays by Philip Ridley

January 31, 2016

Both teenagers are desperate for our approval and understanding of their lives and what they did, unlike the tabloids which have apparently had headlines branding them as monsters. Listening to their sides of their stories, we are initially conned into a false sense of security – always a dangerous thing to do in a Philip Ridley play. By the end, we discover these are damaged youth we would not want to know personally, but we understand their motives entirely from their point of view. [more]

A Dream of Red Pavilions

January 29, 2016

A Dream of Red Pavilions is set in 18th century China during the reign of Emperor Qianlong. The framing story which gives the plot its mythic quality involves a stone and a flower that are reborn as cousins, the rich scion Baoyu and sickly Daiyu, who fall in eternal love. Like" The Forsyte Saga" or "Downton Abbey," the social context depicted is the rise and fall of an aristocratic family. Beginning with the birth of Baoyu, the oldest son on whom the Jia family’s future fortunes rest, the play which takes place in 30 short scenes follows the affairs of these nobles and their servants over 20 years until Baoyu’s young adulthood. [more]

The Gambler

January 27, 2016

Director Lordi-Kirkham has unaccountable staged the play as though it were a radio play or a reading, making it more talky and static than it needs to be. While the text is faithful to the Russian novella with some trimming to reduce the number of characters, the use of both a narrator and much of the narration from the novel makes this seem like an interior monologue rather than a play. Unfortunately, the actors playing the twenty somethings who are given the most stage time do not have the technique necessary to bring off this psychological drama. At two hours and 10 minutes with no intermission, this is a long evening in the theater. [more]

Wide Awake Hearts

January 24, 2016

Brendan (NBC’s "Blindspot") Gall’s sexy and seductive new thriller, "Wide Awake Hearts," thrusts audiences into a challenging game of cat and mouse, as they are left to decipher the story of four friends in a case of art imitating life. An actor, director, writer and actress are faced with the intricacies of dealing with relationships, infused with passion and threats of infidelity, as they are in the process of creating a movie dealing with these very themes. [more]

What the Horse Saw

January 23, 2016

The collaborative script is by the One Idiot troupe’s writers that include Jon Bershad, Aaron Burdette, Allie Kokesh, Kristy Lopez-Bernal, Nathan Min and Katelyn Trela. It’s a smart mash-up of plot points and characters that those familiar with Williams’ play will recognize and those who aren’t would still find funny due to the franticly goofy presentation. The writing is also characterized by an abundance of vulgarity and scatological humor that is relatively tame rather then being offensive. [more]

Collaborators

January 22, 2016

Ross DeGraw as Joseph Stalin and Brian J. Carter as Mikhail Bulgakov in a scene from John Hodge’s [more]

Allen Wilder 2.0

January 21, 2016

Joe Casey is a charming actor. He exudes a “playboy” vibe which goes hand-in-hand with the character of Michael whose vices range from women to booze and back again. Casey shows an understanding of a man who is largely misunderstood and actually well-intentioned. Steph Van Vlack plays the role of Donna. Nearing 50 and a divorcée with a child, Donna is conflicted in light of the fact that she—a woman of her age—is engaging in an apparent “one night stand.” Among other things, this is also a character deeply disturbed that she’s actually considering sleeping with the child she used to babysit for all those years ago. Van Vlack brings a necessary uncertainty to the character. Playing a woman of certain age, Van Vlack’s performance indicates that Donna still has deep insecurities and still has quite a bit to learn about relationships. [more]

The Screwtape Letters

January 19, 2016

This Grand Guignol concept is sensationally realized by the striking physical production. John Gromada’s chilling sound design configures his spooky original score with its dominant organ along with bomb blasts and other sound effects for very effective results. Cameron Anderson’s scenic design is a dazzling haunted house affair with the stage wall covered in tiny bones and skulls, a ladder and ramp for the creature to scamper on, and manor-style furnishings. Hellish red hues are prominent features of Jesse Klug’s eerie lighting design. [more]

2016 LaBute New Theater Festival

January 19, 2016

The opening one is British author Lexi Wolfe’s delightfully wistful "Stand Up for Oneself."  It’s a Chekhovian romantic comedy with clipped Noel Coward-style dialogue taking place in the room of a house where a party is going on.  Lucas, a 42-year-old morose music professor sits alone drinking with his cane nearby when the free-spirited 26-year-old Lila enters. There is flirtation and revelations.  Sensitively directed by John Pierson, the play’s very fine writing is boosted by the wonderfully detailed and effecting performances of Alicia Smith and Mark Ryan Anderson.  [more]

A Man and His Prostate

January 16, 2016

Asner’s appearance in "A Man and His Prostate" is a delightfully thrilling opportunity to experience his considerable talents live. He vividly grouses, grimaces, and perfectly lands every joke with his monumental comic timing. The seriousness of the play is also conveyed when he skillfully tones his performance down to recite medical facts and to express the fears of the ramifications of the character’s condition and prognosis. Sitting raised above the audience at times he looks and sounds like a sage. [more]

In Quietness

January 16, 2016

Directed by Danya Taymor, 'In Quietness" excels in its exploration of intimacy. When dialogue is being spoken between two actors at a time, there are moments of silence that are loaded with implication. It is a credit to the director that more character development happens with nothing being said at all rather than when a character is speaking. Kristen Robinson’s set design is efficient enough—the whole stage is made to look like the inside of a chapel—though it is made much more effective by intelligent lighting design by Masha Tsimring and Caitlyn Rappaport. [more]

Key Change

January 14, 2016

Director Laura Lindow’s staging is a thrilling exhibition of pure stagecraft using very simple elements. The expressive actors are choreographed at times often in arresting tableaux especially a scene depicting drug addiction. There are powerful sequences visualizing violent clashes, flashbacks, fast-forwards and fantasies. A quite poignant one involves the complications of using the telephone in prison to keep in touch with loved ones. The pace is fast and vibrantly conveys the emotions of the characters’ situations. [more]

The Changeling

January 13, 2016

The interpretations are also open to question. Although she should be demure before her sexual awakening, Sara Topham plays Beatrice as experienced and sophisticated which allows her nowhere to take her character. While the beauty and the beast theme is much in evidence, Manoel Felciano’s make-up as the ugly De Flores fails to make him the monstrous embodiment of the play’s description. Christian Coulson’s Alsemero is described by his friend Jasperino as asexual and he seems to have taken this as the basis for his character. As a result he is extremely bland, as is John Skelley’s Alonzo, so that we never see what Beatrice is supposed to see in these men. [more]

Villain: DeBlanks

January 5, 2016

The personable Mr. Mitchell is the evening’s host and starts off the show by explaining the format. The six performers then go through the theater asking audience members for missing words that they then write in their scripts. After obtaining this material they then go onstage to sit in chairs with music stands on which they place their scripts and read from. For just over thirty minutes, they enact this silly and entertaining murder investigation with often funny results. [more]

2 Across

December 29, 2015

Jerry Mayer’s "2 Across" will remind of a great many other romantic comedies but in the hands of Andrea McArdle and Kip Gilman, it is a charming light-hearted evening in the theater. At least half way through the 90 minute encounter you will be rooting for this seemingly mismatched couple to get together – if not long before. Brought together by a love of the daily crossword puzzle, this warm and wise comedy covers a great many topics that engage couples to day. [more]

How Alfo Learned to Love

December 24, 2015

Directed by Daisy Walker, "How Alfo Learned to Love" is chock full of Italian-American stereotypes. The characters are just heightened enough that the gimmick works, but there is also a lot of heart behind this story. Walker has brought to life a group of characters who are quirky and lovable, and in the end it really feels like a family affair. All of this is contingent on Thom’s performance as Alfo whose character arc is fleshed out and brimming with variety. This redemption story about learning to love is a rollicking good time. Backed by strong performances and direction, a slick and consistent pace, and an entertaining script which sticks to a winning formula, nary a soul is likely to leave this theater without a smile. [more]

Marjorie Prime

December 16, 2015

Playwright Jordan Harrison is a graduate of the Brown University M.F.A. program and the recipient of several prestigious awards such as a Guggenheim Fellowship and the Kesselring Prize. On a technical level "Marjorie Prime" is expertly constructed and contains serviceable dialogue that propels the plot, but in totality it never rises above the level of an academic contrivance. The premise is a familiar but promising one, but in execution it is flat. The exposition and setup never really become emotionally involving and the closing revelations are consciously sensationalistic. [more]

Steve

December 14, 2015

Malcolm Gets, Jerry Dixon, Mario Cantone and Matt McGrath in as scene from “Steve” (Photo [more]

Our Friends the Enemy

December 14, 2015

Besides playing Boyce, Gwyther depicts other British soldiers as well as Germans. It is an exhilarating display of rapid vocal and physical transformations subtly giving each brief characterization a fleeting depth. With his angular features, intense eyes, expressive voice, and limber physicality, his performance is a superb display of riveting solo theater acting. [more]

A Wilder Christmas

December 13, 2015

The Peccadillo Theater Company’s "A Wilder Christmas" is a gentle and genteel evening of theater:  two early Thornton Wilder one-act plays, directed with an attention to detail and a leisurely sense of timing by Dan Wackerman, the company’s artistic director.  "The Long Christmas Dinner" (1931) and "Pullman Car Hiawatha" (1930) together make for a rich sampling of Wilder’s familiar themes of family and the unavoidable specter of death (which, in Wilder, is only the beginning of another journey).  These themes were perfected in his 1938 masterpiece, "Our Town," including the conceit of a godlike Greek chorus in the form of a Stage Manager who explains and even supervises the action. [more]

The Great Divorce

December 11, 2015

While C.S. Lewis’ famous theological allegory, "The Great Divorce," is written as a series of conversations, you might not expect that it would be suitable for stage dramatization as a religious treatise. However, the Michael McLean and Brian Watkins adaptation for Fellowship of the Performing Arts turns this into a high provocative and theatrical evening. Under the assured direction of Bill Castellino, three extremely talented actors (Christa Scott-Reed, Joel Rainwater, and Michael Frederic) play 19 characters among them, making them distinct and fully dimensional. The remarkable projections by Jeffrey Cady and the evocative original music and sound design by John Gromada make this a treat for the ear and eye as well as the mind. [more]

Pylade

December 10, 2015

Marko Mandič is an award-winning acclaimed classical actor from Slovenia who has worked several times with Mr. Buljan. His talent, charisma, and physicality justify that acclaim as witnessed here by his performance in the title role. Vocally expressive and emotionally volatile, he is truly naked through most of the play’s second half and unselfconsciously performs heroically even through the most awkward sequences. These include the incident with the watermelon and later painting his genitals black to match those of the actor playing Orestes who doesn’t display his. [more]

Quantum Joy

December 7, 2015

Victor Morales enters and introduces himself and notes that we are at Dixon Place. Mr. Morales who created this piece is stocky, bald, bespectacled, and possessed of a quirky everyman presence. For just under an hour, he delivers an amusing lecture with serious overtones enhanced by the illustrative projections. [more]

The Bellagio Fountain Has Been Known to Make Me Cry

December 5, 2015

Every member of this trio has experienced love and loss, and this show explores what it truly means to be human. Moments of drama exemplify the character’s toughest challenges, and their individual approaches to solving them. The strength of a woman as the leader of a household is brought to the surface, as these women have been let down by the men in their lives. The bond they share ultimately proves that true happiness can be found whether you achieve your personal goals and dreams or find something beautiful within yourself. [more]

Rose, The Kennedy Story as Told by the Woman Who Lived It All

December 4, 2015

The legendary stage actress Kathleen Chalfant is appearing in her second one-woman show, a follow-up to her “Mrs. Dalloway” in The Party, from the Virginia Woolf stories in 1993. This time she plays Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy, the 79-year-old matriarch of the most famous political family in 20th century America. It is July 1969 and we meet her in the tasteful living room of her Hyannis Port, Massachusetts, home (designed by Anya Klepikov) one week after her youngest son Teddy’s tragic accident at Chappaquiddick. The premise of "Rose, The Kennedy Story as Told by the Woman Who Lived It All" is that we are members of the Ladies Auxiliary of the Knight of the Redeemer visiting from Dublin. We are invited to stay until Teddy comes back from sailing which he has been doing since the previous day. Her husband Joe, Sr., who has had a stroke eight years before is being cared for in an upstairs bedroom. [more]

H2O

December 2, 2015

Author Jane Martin has taken the familiar dramatic staple of a love story between two clashing opposites and rendered it compellingly here. There are plot twists, witty dialogue and violent incidents all with a tone-combining sweetness and melancholy. Jake is a depressive riddled with self-doubt and Deborah’s devoutness complicates her personal emotions. [more]

Nora

December 2, 2015

Pendleton has made some strange directorial choices. Characters appear on stage and stand silently long before their entrances. This is distracting as one wonders are they supposed to hear the conversations taking place. Many of the entrances and exits take place through the main aisle of the theater which breaks the fourth wall convention continually. He has also cast several actors as older than they are described so that this shifts the character relationships appreciably. The most famous scene in the play when Nora slams the door, possibly the most iconic moment in modern drama, is diluted considerably as there is no door for Nora to slam. Harry Feiner’s set design has the drawing room and bedroom visible side by side throughout the play which seems somewhat inappropriate for the 19th century setting. [more]

Night Is a Room

December 2, 2015

The pleasure of" Night Is a Room" is watching these three expert actors speak Wallace’s rich, insightful language which veers from wittily highfalutin to excitingly vulgar. Charting their emotional reactions which teem with hyperbolic outbursts, she has her finger on the pulse of these three self-deluders. Bill Rauch directed with total comprehension, walking a fine line between permitting the audience to observe the drama and also be mystified and appalled by these awful people. [more]
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