News Ticker

Off-Broadway

The New One

August 17, 2018

Comedian/monologist Mike Birbiglia, best known for "Sleepwalk with Me," has the remarkable knack of finding humor in autobiographical crises that shouldn’t be funny but in his hands are uproarious. His latest show, "The New One," is just as hilarious as the previous ones. When Mike and his wife, the poet Jennifer Hope Stein, got married he pointedly told her that he did not ever want to have children, and she agreed. Ten years later Jen has changed her mind and tells him, “A baby wouldn’t have to change the way we live our lives,” probably the understatement of the century. [more]

Less Than 50%

August 17, 2018

Though there are recurring references to Woody Allen and more specifically to "Annie Hall" during the 90-minute piece, "Less Than 50%" bears as much resemblance to that Oscar-winning film as Gianmarco does to a matinee idol. (According to Gianmarco, his play is not a “rip-off” of "Annie Hall," as Laura says it is, but an “homage.”) It’s telling that instead of the hysterical scene with lobsters in the kitchen in "Annie Hall," we have to contend with a mouse and a mousetrap in "Less than 50%." [more]

Pushkin

August 10, 2018

Gambling, palace intrigue and poetry abounds in playwright Jonathan Leaf’s imaginative and engrossing historical drama "Pushkin." In the course of two acts and numerous scenes, the eventful life of the great Russian author is skillfully dramatized during this lavish presentation that takes place from 1834 to 1837. [more]

Beloved

August 9, 2018

Translated into English from the Swedish by Charlotte Barslund, Ms. Langseth’s trite sexual obsession scenario is reminiscent of the novels of Patricia Highsmith and the French thriller films of Claude Chabrol. Langseth lays on sociological concerns to give the work more cultural heft. There are bromides about the class system and rebelling against the patriarchy. [more]

Summer Shorts 2018 – Festival of New American Plays: Series A

August 8, 2018

Along with its twists and turns, Bohjalian’s "Grounded" is so fully explored that it is hard to believe that it is a first play. On the long wait on the runway at Kennedy Airport for a flight bound for London, stewardess Karen discovers that her co-worker, 24-year-old Emily who has been in this line of work for two years, has a fear of flying and has never flown over the ocean. When Emily begins her story she reveals that her life coach thought she was too grounded and dared her to become a stewardess. [more]

Wars of the Roses: Henry VI & Richard III

August 7, 2018

That renowned man of the theater Austin Pendleton’s concept to adapt and combine portions of William Shakespeare’s "Henry VI, Part 3" with Richard III is intriguing and textually successful. The first 40 minutes give background of the English Civil War in the 1400’s, impart exposition, flesh out the motivations of Richard III, and depict his adoration of his father, the Duke of York. This mashup also gives a fresh spin to those only familiar with "Richard III" and there’s plenty of neat stabbings. [more]

The House That Will Not Stand

August 7, 2018

Gardley makes use of a little known piece of American history: while Louisiana was under Spanish and later French rule, it had a three-tiered racial system. Aside from white settlers and black slaves, there was a third class: free women of color (mostly Creoles) could enter into a relationship with white men as common-law wives. Their children could inherit part of their estates. Some of these so-called “colored” women became extremely rich. This system was called plaçage and such women were known as placeés. The lighter the woman’s skin color the higher her social caste. However, when Louisiana was sold to the new United States in 1803, this system was frowned upon and eventually went out of style around 1813 due to legal challenges. [more]

Summer Shorts 2018 – Festival of New American Short Plays: Series B

August 5, 2018

The plays in Summer Shorts 2018 - Festival of New American Short Plays have often had a theme running through all the offerings in one evening, however they were concealed or obscured. This year’s Series B is about two-character relationships at a tense moment in their developments, sort of sparring partners as one of the plays calls it. Unfortunately, the plays in this series by Neil LaBute, Claire Zajdel, and Eric Lane all need further work as they are premises rather than finished plays. [more]

This American Wife

August 2, 2018

Reveling in their grating vocal affectations, gesticulating at a fever pitch or moving catatonically and projecting snarky personas they hold forth on their revered subject in various permutations that are video broadcast without making any impact. This involves interviewing each other, acting out bits from "The Real Housewives" and mouthing the words to scenes from it. Periodically the clips are also on the back wall’s large screen with their images superimposed.  Personal asides include discussions of being single, a cold take on pornography and their fabulous lives.  At one point, Mr. Breslin sheds his hat to put on a blond wig and women’s clothing to furiously dance in what is supposed to be a tour de force. [more]

My Life on a Diet

August 2, 2018

Hence:  "My Life on a Diet," a comically rich stroll through her career in TV, theater and film.  Written by Taylor and her late husband, Joseph Bologna and originally directed by Bologna, Diet is currently at the Theatre at St. Clement’s where a contagiously comfortable Taylor, elegantly attired (gown by Pol’ Atteu) settles down in Harry Feiner’s kitschy, carpeted set to schmooze with her audience.  Taylor, now in her eighties, begins with some self-deprecating humor about aging, after showing herself at various stages in her life. [more]

Tevye Served Raw

July 30, 2018

Three actors—Yelena Shmulenson, Allen Lewis Rickman (Velvel in the Coen Brothers’ “A Serious Man”) and Shane Baker (“the best-loved Episcopalian on the Yiddish stage today”)—manage the feat of bringing five of Aleichem’s stories—adapted and translated by Baker and Rickman—to life under Rickman’s incisive and warm direction.  Sourcing the original, nitty-gritty shtetl-soaked tales, makes "Tevye Served Raw," if possible, more passionate and involving than the musical. [more]

Fire in Dreamland

July 27, 2018

Built in 1904, Dreamland was considered the most elegant and ambitious of Coney Island’s amusement parks--until it burnt to a crisp in 1911. A new play by Rinne Groff, "Fire in Dreamland" is ostensibly about the disaster, in which no humans but most of the animals perished. But to add that it’s set a little more than a century later--in 2013, or some months after Super Storm Sandy wreaked havoc on the east coast--should begin to suggest that there’s more going on here than, unfortunately, ever meets the eye. [more]

Le Blanc

July 26, 2018

A central concern of the play is detailing Wellington’s five love interests: a white guy he meets at a hilarious Brooklyn vegan party, an Indian young man, an 18-year-old Muslim food cart vendor, his older married agent and the drug dealer he’s known since his California days. Well into the show there’s a rapid bit where each of them enter as Wellington imparts factoids about them and it’s a neat theatrical device that swiftly informs us of the pertinent details. However, previously we’ve spent a lot of time repetitiously going back and forth between these figures.  This thread’s deficiency is compounded by the play’s incessant non-linear structure as we get the same basic information over and over in a different order. [more]

Brecht on Brecht

July 25, 2018

But when things slow down a bit, especially during the musical interludes and longer dramatic pieces, Petosa’s eight performers -- four lead (Christine Hamel; Jake Murphy; Harrison Bryan; and Carla Martinez) and four supporting (Miguel Castillo; Sebastian LaPointe; Olivia Christie; and Ashley Michelle) -- are an absolute wonder, gracefully tackling a head-spinning array of difficult subjects, including xenophobia, social inequality, and infanticide. And thanks to Hallie Zieselman’s bare set, Annie Ulrich’s modest costumes, and Joe Cabrera’s vibrant lighting, they accomplish it all in a decidedly Brechtian way. [more]

The Possibilities & The After-Dinner Joke

July 25, 2018

If "The After-Dinner Joke"’s 66 scenes seem cinematic, that is due to the fact that it originally was a teleplay commissioned by BBC for the series "Plays for Today" examining public issues. Churchill chose to deal with the politics of charitable institutions. Selby, personal secretary to the sales manager, decides that she gets no fulfillment from her work and tells her boss Mr. Price that she is resigning to be a do-gooder. Price offers her a job at the same salary working as a campaign organizer raising funds in towns throughout Britain for one of the charities that he has founded. [more]

Before We’re Gone

July 24, 2018

Its maddening structure, extraneous scenes and superfluous characters diminish but do not totally obliterate the potency of playwright Jerry Small’s romantic drama, "Before We’re Gone." What could have been a focused and poignant work in the manner of William Gibson’s duologue "Two for the Seesaw" is instead an erratic jumble. [more]

The Originalist

July 23, 2018

n what easily could have become a one-man show, playwright Strand has cleverly created dramatic tension by first introducing us to a second character and later a third. Set during the 2012-2013 term of the Supreme Court, the play begins with a lecture by Scalia to a law class where he explains his philosophy of being an “originalist,” that is, someone who interprets the Constitution as it was originally written and understood by its drafters in 1789. This presupposes that it is not a living document that should reflect each era, but something carved in stone which does not change but may need interpretation. [more]

Stray

July 23, 2018

As the sleek and black-clad Tanya Marquardt vigorously wraps up her self-written 60-minute autobiographical show "Stray," with her giddy dancing and hurling her ponytail around, the aimless first half has been redeemed by the more cohesive second half. It’s been like traveling back in time to Club 57, The Pyramid Club or another of the East Village performance venues of the 1980’s. [more]

The Pattern at Pendarvis

July 21, 2018

Mr. Gray infuses his straightforward 70-minute interview treatment with tension, suspense and drama. A third character, Norm Hansen is a 60-year-old straight married board member of Pendarvis who is a close friend of Hellum’s. He provides skillful exposition and while present at the discussion stuffily keeps trying to steer it away from personal disclosures. The dialogue is smooth, efficient and dotted with references to figures of that time such as Frank Lloyd Wright, Syrie Maugham and Duncan Hines. [more]

The Saintliness of Margery Kempe

July 19, 2018

The cast list in the program reads more like a medieval phone-directory--even if there were no phones in the Middle Ages--than it does a dramatis personae. And then there’s what happens to the characters during the course of the play which is as hard to say as it is to remember all of their names, let alone pronounce them. [more]

Mary Page Marlowe

July 17, 2018

After establishing himself as one of our finest playwrights with such works as "Killer Joe" and "August: Osage County," Tracy Letts seems to have somewhat lost his way with his more recent "Mary Page Marlowe." Now playing at the Second Stage Theater in New York, "Mary Page Marlowe" premiered at Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theater two years ago. With six different actresses representing the title character at many different times in her life, it essentially relates a single, long life span, in only 90 long minutes. [more]

Innit

July 16, 2018

Structured as a series of confessional vignettes, Innit begins in the school psychologist’s office and alternates between there and Kelly’s home. Her 34-year-old mother works at a sandwich shop and is a part-time prostitute. Her absent ne'er-do-well father abandoned the family and went back to his native Ireland some time ago. Money is tight and so is hope. Kelly is combative and doesn’t really have friends. She gets free cigarettes for allowing boys in gym class to take manual liberties with her. The dialogue is earthy, conveying a youthful sensibility with “dick head” being a favored exclamation. [more]

Get the Boat

July 13, 2018

Though designed as an agitprop exploration with one woman as “Bad” and the other as “Good,” Ms. Brennan's simple yet effective writing elevates it into a quietly powerful work. The dialogue is a skillful blend of mundane details, biographical data and expressions of world views that all strongly delineate the characters. The structure is essentially two women in their 30’s in a room talking. Brennan’s command of plotting injects suspense, surprises and momentum, all combined with emotional resonance. [more]

whatdoesfreemean?

July 8, 2018

Filloux in collaboration with director Amy S. Green have distilled the raw data they gathered into a searing and poignant narrative containing absurdist flourishes that include a talking laboratory mouse. The play is structured as a series of short pungent scenes. Filloux’s dialogue poetically conveys the harsh realities the underprivileged face and their bleak worldview. [more]

Teenage Dick

July 8, 2018

Add to this list Mike Lew’s new witty and clever "Teenage Dick" (being given its world premiere by Ma-Yi Theater Company in association with the Public Theater), both an update and a parody of Richard III now set in Roseland High School. However, while most of these other adaptations just want to demonstrate the contemporary relevance of Shakespeare’s Elizabethan stories, "Teenage Dick" has an additional agenda: does society’s bullying lead to defining the personalities of those with disabilities? [more]

Cyprus Avenue

July 6, 2018

Sixtyish Eric Miller is an angry white man, hating Catholics, Blacks, homosexuals, women, and other groups. He has also become very nationalistic. He not only wants to tell the world, he thinks he should act on it. Middle America in the age of Trump? Actually, the same problem appears to be happening in Northern Ireland according to David Ireland’s dark play, "Cyprus Avenue," having its American premiere at the Public Theater courtesy of a co-production by The Abbey Theatre (Dublin) and Royal Court Theatre (London). Problem is for all the sound and fury, Cyprus Avenue, which is a brilliant character study, outlives its welcome long before it is over in this 100 minute play. [more]

Chatter

July 5, 2018

Mr. Kahn’s dialogue is a witty amalgam of up to the minute lingo, well-observed lifestyle data, psychological insights and emotional depth that all realistically and artfully conveys the characters’ Millennial sensibility. Allusions to "Friends" and "Sex in the City" abound, apps are analyzed, real estate is obsessed over and salaries are disclosed. The passage of time is connoted by Claire’s birthdays that flow from one to the next. [more]

Little Rock

July 3, 2018

Using a tremendously talented and versatile cast of nine actors (three black male actors, three black female actors, as well as three white performers) playing from three roles to 12, the story of the year these heroic teenagers spent integrating the previously segregated high school becomes high drama. Rasean Davonte Johnson’s unit setting with its banks of stairs makes copious use of Wendall K. Harrington’s projection design for the many locations in the city of Little Rock, inside and outside of the school and the homes of the participants, as well as historical footage of the events and the people. "Little Rock" also includes snatches of 14 songs, some sung as choruses and others as solos including “Eyes on the Prize” and “We Shall Overcome,” which add a human dimension to the often startling events depicted. [more]

Conflict

June 30, 2018

With Miles Malleson’s 1925 "Conflict," being given its New York premiere, the Mint has uncovered a brilliant political and social drama which has tremendous relevance for today with its dissection of conservative and liberal points of view. It resembles Shaw and Tom Stoppard in its debate of ideas and Galsworthy and Arthur Miller in its moral integrity. Superbly directed by Jenn Thompson ("Women Without Men") with a crackerjack cast, this is not only one of the Mint’s best offerings, it is also the most satisfying play in town. Framed as both a thriller and a romantic comedy, Conflict is absorbing and exciting theater throughout, the sort of play that has you hanging on every word to see which way it will go. [more]

Skintight

June 29, 2018

Harmon’s new play resembles "Admissions," his last New York offering seen at Lincoln Center this March, in that it debates a topic from many sides but then fails to give us the author’s point of view on it at the end. Like all of his four plays so far it offers a strong character who has a very big gripe with the way things are and who attempts to change people accordingly. And like the others, "Skintight" is very funny while it deals with a serious topic but ultimately seems rather superficial, though here that maybe because of the extremely wealthy milieu in which money is no object and things magically appear via live-in servants. As is Harmon’s wont, the acerbic repartee is tossed about plentifully and as directed by Daniel Aukin, the six actors get the most out of their snappy lines. [more]

Coming Clean

June 29, 2018

For 85 minutes, we get a take on the gay male experience that includes a randy Midwestern adolescence, waitering and escorting in Manhattan, crystal meth and recovery.  The writing is well-constructed, contains flavorful descriptive passages and is forceful. The personable Mr. Strothmann delivers his monologue in a charming manner that realizes its dramatic and comedic qualities while taking his shirt off and dropping his pants along the way. [more]

Fairview

June 27, 2018

Jackie Sibblies Drury is a unique new voice in the American theater. Her use of metatheater is all her own. "Fairview" has a great deal to say about race in America and the angle you see things from and she is able to cleverly shift it from scene to scene. However, this new play is a bit too long for its content, with scenes overstaying their welcome. Nevertheless, Drury is a playwright well worth watching. [more]

Laura Bush Killed a Guy

June 26, 2018

With her honeyed and smoky Texan vocal inflections, wearing a short-haired lustrous brown wig and costume designer Rhonda Key’s gleaming trim white suit, actress Lisa Hodsoll is phenomenal as former First Lady Laura Bush in author Ian Allen’s kaleidoscopic solo play, "Laura Bush Killed a Guy." For 95 mesmerizing minutes, Ms. Hodsoll gives a smashing performance that transcends mere impersonation or campy replication. Looking and sounding like Mrs. Bush, with her twinkling eyes and beaming presence, Hodsoll’s characterization is a dazzling amalgam of comedy, emotion and depth. An only child, she and her parents went on a mission... [more]
1 2 3 4 5 30