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Off-Broadway

The Love Song of Alfred J Hitchcock

May 12, 2014

The trouble with British playwright David Rudkin's stage play, "The Love Song of Alfred J Hitchcock," is that it started life as a radio play and it hasn't escaped very far from the radio studio. Still a play for voices, Rudkin's script has a great many introspective monologues by the iconic director but not much action, a strange choice for a story of a director whose movies are loaded with incident. The play assumes a great in-depth knowledge of the director's work: such movies as "Marnie," "Vertigo," "Strangers on a Train," "Psycho," "The Birds" and "Frenzy" are referred to tangentially but remain unnamed. It would take a film historian to track down all the references but apparently the play is expected to stand on its own which will confuse many theatergoers. [more]

The Rivals

May 11, 2014

The Pearl Theatre Company's revival of Richard Brinsley Sheridan's 1777 comedy of manners "The Rivals" is both laugh-out-loud funny and intellectually stimulating. Hal Brooks' exemplary direction scores immediately in the first scene. It's a typical pre-modern opening, pages of dense exposition where a couple of minor characters discuss the major characters and their situations. Brooks avoids tedium and confusion by having the characters appear upstage when named, doing a bit of dumb show when appropriate. It's a perfect solution, introducing the actors and plot without fuss, without anachronism, and without wasting time. [more]

An Octoroon

May 10, 2014

Provocative playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins turns Boucicault’s 1859 classic inside out as he examines 2014 attitudes about race in U.S. [more]

Act One

May 5, 2014

James Lapine's stage adaptation of Moss Hart's celebrated autobiography of his early years, Act One, is a bit unwieldy at under three hours in length as it does contain so many characters and incidents. However, like an absorbing mini-series you have lived with over a period of time, you will be sorry when it is over. [more]

The Substance of Fire

May 5, 2014

Time has caught up with Jon Robin Baitz’s 1991 play and bankrupting one’s company over issues of integrity no longer seems quite admirable. Jon Robin Baitz writes literate, thoughtful plays like his 2012 Pulitzer Prize finalist, Other Desert Cities. However, like the revival last fall of his earliest play The Film Society showed, plays may date badly or their attitudes become artifacts of another generation. [more]

To Damascus, Part I

April 22, 2014

The director deserves high marks for keeping the actors' delivery quick and light; anything else would have put the audience to sleep. His cast comes across as sincere but mostly inexperienced, with the fine exceptions of James and Blankenship. [more]

A Respectable Widow Takes to Vulgarity & Clean

April 4, 2014

Clean, by playwright Sabrina Mahfouz, the other play on the double bill, is really not clean at all but director O'Loughlin isn't fazed a bit and whips her three, highly ornamental criminals through their paces with a stylish kind of nervy aplomb that sets off their rashers of charms while greatly adding to the fun – and by the way – wittily knocks off lots of bucks from production costs. No mean feat. [more]

I Remember Mama

March 30, 2014

Director Jack Cummings III has not only chosen a new environment for this realistic play, he has also chosen to perform it with ten veteran actresses (who would be classified as senior citizens) playing all 23 parts, including teenage girls and boys, and all the male characters. When the audience enters the Gym at Judson the entire space has been turned into the playing area with seats in two rows around all four walls. Ten dining room sets with displays on each occupy the space, the size of a basketball court. [more]

And Baby Makes Seven

March 29, 2014

There has been renewed interest lately in the early, pre-How I Learned To Drive plays by Paul Vogel, the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright. First there was The Baltimore Waltz (1992) at the Underground Theater last November. Now And Baby Makes Seven from 1984 is on view in a thoughtful, detailed production by the Purpleman Theater Company, directed by Marc Stuart Weitz, at the New Ohio Theatre in the West Village. Baby's tale of a same-sex couple having a child still resonates with particular clarity nowadays. Except for the fact that this lesbian couple, Ruth and Anna (the one who's bearing the child) couldn't be married back then, the play rings true as it explores all the anxieties, humor and fantasies straining the relationship of these two women with each other and with Peter, the biological father of the child. [more]

The Tribute Artist

February 22, 2014

A rich elderly lady is held captive in her posh townhouse by distant relatives and a former lover all out for her wealth. [more]
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