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Plays

Rough Draft

September 28, 2015

Performed at The Wild Project, a stylish downtown venue with a raked stage, the set (John Lavigne), lighting (Robert M. Stevenson) and sound design (Jorge I. Sanchez) all compliment the production and enhance the overall experience. Co-written by Wittrock, Donovan and Custer, and conceived and developed by the members of Improbable Stage, "Rough Draft" is a piece of theater which remains in its own category; a challenging, creative, and unique work presented by a group of talented artists with a message. [more]

Fulfillment

September 24, 2015

"Fulfillment" by the always surprising Thomas Bradshaw is about anything but the contentment and success implied by its ironic title. The Flea Theater’s production, directed to emphasize its undercurrents of eroticism and anger by Ethan McSweeny, is both shocking and sad. The audience witnesses the almost classically Greek downfall of a man done in by his own weaknesses. Anger, lust, pride and greed does in the central character. [more]

Radio Mystery 1949

September 24, 2015

Could Dennis Richard’s new play "Radio Mystery 1949" be inspired by the Mad Bomber George Metesky who terrorized New York in the 1940’s and 1950’s? Otherwise, there is no explanation for why this mild recreation of a radio mystery show which is beset by a mysterious actor who may or may not be carrying a bomb is set in 1949. Aside from no references to the post-war period, there are also some anachronisms like speaker phones which came from a later era. [more]

Hamlet in Bed

September 22, 2015

The play is told mainly in monologues by both actors on microphones, alternating with rehearsal scenes from the Gertrude/Hamlet confrontation. This makes the evening more of a performance piece than a stage play. Once we are given the facts, the ending becomes very predictable though the actors are very intense throughout the play’s 90 minutes. Except for the battered white mattress, Rachel Hauck’s set is entirely black, as are most of the costumes by Jessica Pabst. Sometimes due to Scott Zielinski’s lighting, the actors fade into the dark walls of the set. [more]

The Christians

September 22, 2015

"The Christians," Lucas Hnath’s examination of the intricacies of religion currently playing at Playwrights Horizons, comes to us at a unique cultural moment: every day, scientific advances further challenge the existence of God; ostensibly in an attempt to stay palatable to his mainstream constituents, The Pope has issued a series of proclamations regarding the acceptability of homosexuality, the truth of evolution, and other topics; "The Book of Mormon"—a patronizing, tongue-in-cheek assessment of the Church of the Latter Day Saints—is still playing to sold-out houses after five years on Broadway. Indeed, the fact that "The Christians"’ opening line, “Brothers and Sisters, let us pray,” was met with a hearty laugh is telling: today, New York audiences are largely secular and conditioned to sharpen their daggers at the very mention of Christ. To Hnath, however, the subject of religion is no joke. [more]

Death of the Persian Prince

September 22, 2015

Playwright Dewey Moss has crafted a well structured, taut, and seemingly conventional romance among clashing cultures that shockingly switches gears. Inventively based on news stories about situations in Iran, Mr. Moss skillfully weaves political issues into the dialogue among the characters and creates a plot that is gripping and painful. [more]

How To Live on Earth

September 19, 2015

Audiences will receive a refreshing and meaningful gift in "How to Live on Earth." This production sparks several of the big overarching questions, regarding the meaning of life and will also keep you chuckling throughout the 90 minutes. The mix of personalities blends really nicely together and ultimately proves that underneath it all we are all the same: human beings trying to figure out what will make us happy in this world (or the next!). [more]

The Black Book

September 17, 2015

"The Black Book" follows the faculty of United University while they attempt to unravel the mystery surrounding a difficult student named Collin Archer and a suicide on campus. Drama instructor Axel Cooper works together with his co-workers Arthur Chase, Julie Edwards and Riley Andrews to decipher the boy's disturbing set of clues. As the action rises, motives are questioned, allegiances are challenged, and the lines between reality and delusion are blurred. Time and space spiral out of control in a climax beyond (or maybe just shy of) the point of coherence. [more]

Laugh It Up, Stare It Down

September 16, 2015

Romantic comedy was once the staple of Broadway. Today it turns up more often in the movies. When it appears on the stage it is fairly unusual today and something of a throwback to an earlier era. Alan Hruka’s "Laugh It Up, Stare It Down" is quite charming in its way. However, its whimsical style tends to undercut the serious topics it deals with on the subject of love, marriage and how to treat life’s problems. As a result, it seems more than vaguely inconsequential. However, it remains a diverting if innocuous evening of light entertainment. [more]

Desire: An Evening of Plays Based on Six Stories by Tennessee Williams 

September 15, 2015

Having commissioned evenings of one act plays by major American playwrights based on the short stories of Anton Chekhov and the sonnets of William Shakespeare, The Acting Company has now turned to the work of a native author. As directed by Michael Wilson, the result, "Desire: An Evening of Plays Based on Six Stories by Tennessee Williams," is a mesmerizing work of one acts in which each author handles the original material differently and the brilliant group of nine actors, mainly Acting Company alums, get to tackle two – four roles each. Many give such vivid and varied performances that it is necessary to examine the program to realize that you have seen the same performer in a contrasting role. [more]

Sex of the Baby

September 15, 2015

With the quirky poignancy of Lanford Wilson, the ferociousness of Edward Albee, and the farcical precision of Alan Ayckbourn, playwright Matthew-Lee Erlbach’s superb new comedic drama "Sex of the Baby" culminates literally in a shattering conclusion. [more]

Stoopdreamer

September 14, 2015

"Stoopdreamer," a new play by Pat Fenton, is an intimate commentary on the gentrification process in Brooklyn, specifically applying to the small neighborhood of Windsor Terrace. Located between Prospect Park and Greenwood Cemetery, Windsor Terrace is a nine-block wide residential neighborhood which for years was home to many immigrant families, a majority of which were Irish. Though the gentrification of Brooklyn continues today, for Windsor Terrace this has been an event 70 years in the making: in 1946, Robert Moses announced a brand new road building program that consequently destroyed an enormous amount of residences in the community, and as a result over 1,200 Windsor Terrace residents were left homeless. [more]

Isolde

September 14, 2015

Experimental playwright/director Maxwell has a uniquely personal vision of theater. He has said in interviews that he directs his actors to be “neutral,” in other words all emotions are drained from the performances. Only the subtext tells us what they are feeling. His characters never seem to finish their sentences. Questions are left dangling. Much information is withheld. The play pulsates with unspoken tensions. He makes use of traditional forms and archetypes but explodes them partly by avoiding our expectations. "Isolde," which uses the Arthurian legend of Tristan and Isolde for its underpinnings, is absorbing theater. However, you will either find it pretentious or brilliant depending on what you want from a theatrical experience. [more]

Couriers and Contrabands

September 11, 2015

Director Kareem Fahmy is also ambiguously credited as “Co-Developer.” Mr. Fahmy’s staging is purposeful when it grapples with the problematic first act and does achieve very fine work from the cast. In the second act, his direction of the action sequences are lively and the pace thankfully quickens. Scene transitions between the Montgomery house and Miss Gardner’s house are swiftly and cleverly executed. [more]

A Delicate Ship

September 7, 2015

Anna Ziegler’s "A Delicate Ship" is an intelligent, intensely absorbing play that treats its three thirty-something characters like chess pieces moving warily about Reid Thompson’s raised platform apartment set, floating amidst a rock garden which becomes a life-sized game board. [more]

In Bed with Roy Cohn

September 4, 2015

If "In Bed With Roy Cohn" were seen at a theater event such as The New York Fringe Festival, it could be viewed as a promising offbeat creation. But as a commercial Off-Broadway production it is quite deficient on a basic narrative level that undermines its other successful and outrageous qualities. [more]

Love & Money

September 4, 2015

"Love & Money" is light, literate entertainment, impeccably acted by its small cast led by the charismatic Ms. Anderman. Mr. Paulik amusingly projects his lack of experience while putting up a gruff front. Ms. Dunlap’s Agnes is priceless. Mr. Brown is a tad too much of a whirlwind as Walker, but as his façade cracks, he warms up nicely. Ms. Kim is onstage for less than four minutes, but made a good impression. [more]

Mercury Fur

September 1, 2015

In his 2005 "Mercury Fur," being given its belated Off Broadway premiere by The New Group under the direction of its intrepid artistic director Scott Elliott, there has been a complete breakdown of society: gangs roam the city and kill and destroy in supermarkets and museums, while the population is addicted to hallucinogenic butterflies. The one redeeming factor: people will still go to any lengths to save the ones they love. However, "Mercury Fur" is not for the squeamish or faint-hearted: Ridley’s original publisher refused to publish the text. [more]

John

August 31, 2015

Baker fills "John" with telling details, from the food (ever hear of Sailor’s Duff?) to hidden rooms to specifics of Gettysburg, that keep the play from floating away into total surrealism. She is helped by Mimi Lien’s extraordinarily detailed set which evokes worlds within worlds with its amazing array of tchotchkes, perfectly chosen furniture, a player piano that erupts at odd moments, ceiling fans lazily, but ineffectively whirring, and a multitude of doors. Mark Barton’s atmospheric lighting is perfection. Ásta Bennie Hostetter’s costumes are well thought-out and Bray Poor’s sound design gives eerie life to the show. [more]

Drop Dead Perfect

August 29, 2015

Everett Quinton has found the ideal vehicle in the hilarious "Drop Dead Perfect" to revive the style of the Ridiculous Theatrical Company for which he originally found fame. Like the plays of the late Charles Ludlam plays, Erasmus Fenn’s Drop Dead Perfect parodies a specific genre using movie and television quotes and characters, situations lifted from famous melodramas, and sexual puns placed in new contexts. Here the new play is a satire of 1940’s and 50’s Bette Davis and Joan Crawford melodramas, with dollops of I Love Lucy which allows Quinton do sparkle as a Southern heiress with many scores to settle. Director Joe Brancato manages to keep the melodrama believable at all times and none of the quartet of actors goes beyond the histrionics inherent in the plot. [more]

Whorl Inside a Loop

August 29, 2015

A titanic ensemble of six highly talented actors plays the prisoners as well as multiple roles including females with slight costume changes. Derrick Baskin, Nicholas Christopher, Chris Myers, Ryan Quinn, Daniel J. Watts, and Donald Webber, Jr. all superbly convey the pathos, comedy and humanity of these characters. [more]

Sense of an Ending

August 27, 2015

Mr. Urban does an excellent job of dramatizing and explaining a complex historical situation in this fictional treatment of a real case. In 1994, Rwandan President Juvénal Habyarimana died when his plane was shot down. This assassination instigated a brutal tribal conflict between the majority Hutus who blamed Tutsi extremists for the death of the Hutu president. Varying estimates of the death toll range from 500,000 to 1,000,000. [more]

Baba: the Show

August 26, 2015

Life comes with detours, but more important than any of that is the personal response. Instead of allowing the past to dictate the future, Mahgoub’s path is one filled with determination and perseverance. Hard work is ultimately more important than “luck,” [more]

Informed Consent

August 24, 2015

Deborah Zoe Laufer’s fascinating and engrossing "Informed Consent" tells three interlocking stories that eventually become one by the end. Under Liesl Tommy’s assured direction and with Tina Benko’s riveting central performance as a research scientist, the play, co-produced by Primary Stages and Ensemble Studio Theatre under the auspices of the Alfred P Sloan Foundation, deals with such issues as genetic testing, science versus religion, scientific ethics, and early onset Alzheimer’s. Inspired by a true story," Informed Consent" uses various theatrical devices to tell its compelling story and remind us of the necessary work needing to be done if we are to find cures for unsolved diseases like diabetes which involve a great many victims. [more]

Cymbeline

August 13, 2015

At The Public Theater’s Shakespeare in the Park venue, director Daniel Sullivan has proved himself a brilliant interpreter of the Bard’s comedies, both dark and light, from the evidence of his "Merchant of Venice," "The Comedy of Errors" and "Twelfth Night," to name only a few. Therefore it is a great disappointment to report that his "Cymbeline," the second and last 2015 Shakespeare in the Park offering, based on his 1999 Old Globe Theatre, San Diego, staging, is both confused and uneven, both visually and theatrically. Even more discouraging, the production wastes the talents of noted stage stars Kate Burton, Raúl Esparza, Patrick Page, and Lily Rabe and Hamish Linklater, the acting couple being reteamed on the New York stage for the fifth time. [more]

The Singularity

August 6, 2015

Under the careful direction of Amy Fowkes, Lundy-Paine captures a woman’s painful journey when trying to have a baby and nothing is working. She finds the ever so delicate balance between finding the strength to keep it together and allowing her vulnerability and struggle to shine through. While she knows what she wants when it comes to selecting a donor, her choices become limited with time and she resorts to an option that is way ahead of her – or medicine’s – time. [more]

Summer Shorts 2015 – Festival of New American Short Plays – Series B

August 5, 2015

Series B of Summer Shorts 2015 is similar to Series A in that all three plays are also relationship dramas, here between a woman (or three women) and a man in which the men aren’t sure they want to give in to the women. Unlike Series A, all three have endings that are open ended and rather unsatisfying to varying degrees. Although two of the three authors have excellent credits (Lucy Thurber and Robert O’Hara), the plays may feel unfinished or early drafts. [more]

Delirium’s Daughters

August 4, 2015

"Delirium's Daughters" by Nicholas Korn is faithful to the form and figures of Commedia dell'arte. This theatrical genre is grounded in comedic improvisation and began in 16th century Italy with easily recognizable satirical stock characters. This middling production of Mr. Korn’s solid play is presented by Triumvirate Artists. Though unintended as such, it comes across as ideal children’s entertainment but is too slight for adults. [more]

Summer Shorts – Festival of New American Short Plays 2015 – Series A

August 1, 2015

Summer Shorts – Festival of New American Short Plays has returned to 59E59 Theaters for its 9th annual outing offering six world premieres by famous playwrights, as well as some who ought to be more well-known, along with different casts and directors for each. The three plays in Series A are a fascinating grouping of new one acts in which women attempt to manipulate their companions for various ends. Neil LaBute, Vickie Ramirez and Matthew Lopez take very different stories and handle them in distinctive ways. All of these new plays can use a bit of pruning, but they are all works that will get under your skin and stay with you. [more]

Off White

July 31, 2015

Bianca Soto, Mary Baynard, Natasa Warasch, Mark Kopas and Anthony Abdo in a scene from “Off [more]

the dreamer examines his pillow

July 31, 2015

Like most of the other of the author’s works, the three characters here are very colorful individuals who histrionically clash with each other while verbosely explaining their feelings and motivations. As entertaining, funny, and thoughtful as these often quite lengthy exchanges are, they’re unable to compensate for a lack real action or suspense over the course of the three scenes lasting 90 minutes and becomes wearying. Though similar in structure and themes to many of his successful other works, the dreamer examines his pillow is not as satisfying. [more]

Three Days to See

July 31, 2015

Using a versatile cast of seven (Ito Aghayere, Patrick Boll, Marc delaCruz, Theresa McCarthy, Chinaza Uche, Barbara Walsh, and Zoe Wilson) who all play both Helen Keller and her teacher Anne Sullivan at some point in the evening, "Three Days to See" will impress you with the courage of this remarkable woman and remind you how grateful you should be for having your five senses unimpaired. While Keller’s early life was brilliantly dramatized in William Gibson’s "The Miracle Worker," that play and movie only dealt with Keller at age seven. "Three Days to See" tells the rest of the story as well as gives us insight into her beliefs, ideas and causes to which she was passionately devoted. [more]

Butcher Holler Here We Come

July 29, 2015

"Butcher Holler Here We Come" begins like any other theatrical: a quick pre-show announcement to silence all electronic devices, a note about the run-time of the production, and then a black out. The difference is that once those house lights go completely dark, they never turn back on until the final bow. With the exception of the small mining headlamps strapped to the foreheads of the five actors in the production, from beginning to end, this entire show is performed in darkness. In fact, it is nearly fifteen minutes in complete darkness before even one of the actors turns on a headlamp. [more]
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