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Plays

King Charles III

November 19, 2015

Admittedly, many of the ideas in the play are hardly new or revolutionary: the first measures to limit the scope of the British monarchy’s power date back to the 1215 Magna Carta and subsequent arguments challenging the divine right of kings include the American Declaration of Independence, drafted in 1776. Rather, this production’s merit lies in the shocking immediacy it brings to the subject. Acutely aware of the fact that the nearly 90 year-old Queen will not live forever, Bartlett takes us into a not-too-distant future where the inevitable change of the empire’s figurehead sends the nation into a state of upheaval. His England is just melodramatic enough that to allow us to see it as fictional yet a shade too realistic to feel truly dystopian. [more]

Lost Girls

November 16, 2015

The title refers to three generations of women whose lives have been derailed by early pregnancies. When the play begins, we are in the modest home of embittered, single mom Maggie (Perabo) who is late for work at the Bloomingdale outlet during a nor’easter when she finds that her car has been stolen. When she also discovers that her daughter Erica hasn’t been to school that day, she realizes that her car hasn’t been stolen but taken by her daughter who it turns out has a boyfriend her mother knew nothing about. However, Maggie can’t afford to lose her job - or her mortgage - as her cushion this month is all of $23 and she is a “pizza an’ a six pack away from bouncing the electric bill.” This is life on the edge of subsistence for many Americans. [more]

Charles Francis Chan, Jr.’s Exotic Oriental Murder Mystery

November 16, 2015

The National Asian American Theater Company’s world premiere of Lloyd Suh’s "Charles Francis Chan, Jr.’s Exotic Oriental Murder Mystery" is best categorized as fiercely provocative satire. The play has two storylines. The first follows a 1960’s Frank who is developing and producing a murder mystery; the second being scenes from the aforementioned murder mystery, which is a stylized production featuring an Asian woman in white face as an elegant old debutant, and conversely an American Vietnam veteran in brown face as the Asian Detective Charles Chan, namesake to the production. [more]

Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus Live!

November 16, 2015

Handled as stand-up comedy, Story tells us that he did not at first accept Dr. Gray’s theories until he heard one of his lectures, and then he became a convert to the concept that men and women’s thinking and feeling is so different that they might as well be from separate planets. Story uses his own life as an endless source of comic anecdotes to illustrate Gray’s ideas: his own courtship, marriage and life with his wife Megan. Basically, the theory boils down to men needing trust and approval while women need attention and understanding. Initially, Story’s mirthful tales are of how he caused unnecessary conflicts with his wife by not following these rules. Eventually, he learns the hard way through trial and error, and ultimately improves his life and marriage. [more]

The Humans

November 12, 2015

For the first half of Stephen Karam’s “The Humans,” the Blake family Thanksgiving seems to be nothing but a banal seasonal gathering. And then suddenly the author’s message comes into focus and the play becomes a haunting drama and unnerving ghost story which is unlike anything you have seen lately. The superb cast headed by Reed Birney and Jayne Houdyshell under the direction of the always interesting Joe Mantello who has piloted many important new plays turns The Humans into a memorably unique experience. Karam, whose plays include Speech and Debate and Son of the Prophet, has been given a splendid Roundabout Theatre Company production for its third premiere of one of his plays. [more]

Shear Madness

November 12, 2015

The energizing conceit of the play is its reliance on audience participation that adds considerably to the entertainment. During the action, the audience gets to ask questions of all those involved and at the intermission a detective is in the theater’s lobby to confer with. It all means that the actors besides sticking to the script must also improvise a great deal. This breaking of the “fourth wall” is done very cleverly and believably. The audience also votes on who the killer is based on all of the facts that have been presented. Therefore, each performance varies based on those in attendance. [more]

Sylvia

November 9, 2015

Directed with comfortable assurance and a leisurely sense of timing, this "Sylvia" benefits from a (mostly) strong cast, including three Tony Award winners: Matthew Broderick (whose wife Sarah Jessica Parker played the title role in the original off-Broadway production), Julie White and Annaleigh Ashford. The brilliant, versatile Robert Sella who expertly and drolly plays three diverse roles, rounds out the cast. [more]

Thérèse Raquin

November 9, 2015

Roundabout Theatre Company has commissioned yet another new stage adaptation from British playwright Helen Edmondson, whose previous plays also include stage versions of Tolstoy’s "Anna Karenina" and George Eliot’s "The Mill on the Floss." In the title role, Keira Knightley who has been associated with period drama in her distinguished film career ("Atonement," "Pride and Prejudice," "Anna Karenina," and, of course, the "Pirates of Caribbean" movies) has chosen to make her Broadway debut. She is supported by Tony Award-winner Gabriel Ebert ("Matilda"), British actor Matt Ryan, and two time Tony Award-winning actress Judith Light ("Lombardi," "Other Desert Cities," "The Assembled Parties.") Unfortunately, director Evan Cabnet has chosen to stage this most French of tales in a bloodless, refined English style which doesn’t serve with the material well. [more]

Hir

November 9, 2015

Ms. Nielsen has long been a treasured award-winning fixture of the New York stage with her quirky idiosyncratic comedic and dramatic talents. Here as the omnipotent matriarch Paige she is colossal. With her animated features, giddy voice, and frantic physicality, she delightfully mines every bit of the abundant dark comedy in the play. Alternately when slowing down to express fiercely serious sentiments she is chilling. This searing performance is yet another memorable turn from this incomparable actress. [more]

The Widow of Tom’s Hill

November 8, 2015

In Aleks Merilo’s play, "The Widow of Tom’s Hill," human nature is tested in the face of a life-threatening plague. Under Rachel Black Spaulding’s direction, this play takes place in a small town off the coast of Washington in 1918, with audiences first meeting a young widow named Aideen (Lucy Lavely) struggling to provide for her young child. She must fight for survival and take caution against anyone who crosses her path. From the beginning scene, audiences can surmise the rough past she’s encountered that’s forced her to become her own soldier against the cruel, harsh outside world. [more]

Professor Brenner

November 5, 2015

New Worlds Theatre Project’s mission is to present English language translations of Yiddish plays as comparable to their contemporaries Chekhov and Ibsen. Now they have turned to a first English translation by producing artistic director Ellen Perecman of David Pinski’s Yiddish classic, "Professor Brenner," which appears to have had no previous production. The reason may have been Pinski’s frankness about sexual relations and the controversial nature of the subject matter for the Yiddish–speaking community. [more]

Ripcord

November 3, 2015

Holland Taylor and Marylouise Burke in a scene from “Ripcord” (Photo credit: Joan Marcus) Joel [more]

Perfect Arrangement

November 1, 2015

"Perfect Arrangement," Topher Payne’s first play to reach New York, is a well-crafted and engrossing play with much to say and has been magnificently staged in its Off Broadway debut. Don’t let the initial sit-com style fool you: this play has several serious messages at its heart about our personal freedoms and how repression starts at home. [more]

Veritas

October 31, 2015

Continuing the trend of producing challenging new works of theater in interactive environments, The Representatives are back with a riveting production of Stan Richardson’s "Veritas." Founded by Richardson along with Matt Steiner, the duo behind The Representatives chose to have their newest project performed at The Cave @ St. George’s, the ornately decorated basement chamber of the 300 year old St. George’s Church. [more]

Travels with My Aunt

October 27, 2015

Havergal’s adaptation is unusual in that it uses four male actors to play 25 roles including the central role of Aunt Augusta, with all the actors taking turns narrating the story. Dressed exactly alike in each act, Thomas Jay Ryan, Jay Russell, Daniel Jenkins and Rory Kulz switch identities, nationalities, age, and genders in a madcap adventure told with decided British understatement. This is challenging for the audience as well as the actors: since the performers do not change costumes, it is necessary to follow the plot closely to follow who is who, with the actors sometimes changing characters in the same scene. Steven C. Kemp’s minimal but clever unit set is not much help either as it remains basically the same in each act throughout all of the outrageous adventures that unlikely hero Henry Pulling is taken on by his aunt. [more]

Empanada Loca

October 27, 2015

Rubin-Vega dazzles from her first moments on stage. She is sassy and witty while sharing her life story in a raspy tone to match the mood, and maintains this intense connection with the audience the entire time. All eyes are on her as we comprehend her past and are in suspense as we see her present life unfold after learning the secrets of this empanada shop. They are unexpected and gruesome and will make the hair stand up on your head. The lighting design by Bradley King adds to the haunting atmosphere as there are moments when the light shines just right on Rubin-Vega and all you see is her face in the dark. [more]

Barbecue

October 25, 2015

Robert O’Hara’s "Barbecue" may seem like a series of sleights of hand, but as a satirist of American culture, the playwright has a good deal to say about how the media shapes and defines our culture by how it reports the evens of the day. Under the direction of Ken Gash, Barbecue will take your breath away at its invention and cleverness while holding up the mirror to our natures, exactly what theater is supposed to do. [more]

Romance Language

October 24, 2015

In Joe Godfrey’s new play, Romance Language, middle-aged Kay (Audrey Heffernan Meyer) is searching for joy again after experiencing a divorce and the death of her husband. Kay’s grown and smart-as-a-whip lawyer daughter Penny (Mairin Lee) is worried about her mother spending the rest of her life alone and insists that her mom find some kind of productive hobby or class to fill her time. With the help of her attractive and charming Italian tutor, Fiore (Jared Zirilli), Kay soon finds herself a lot less lonely. [more]

Cloud Nine

October 23, 2015

What is most remarkable about Caryl Churchill’s time traveling comedy "Cloud Nine" is that this prescient play about sexual politics and repression is now 36 years old, though it could have been written this year. Still a challenging gender-bending play, it asks us how far we think we have come from the Victorians in our attitudes about sex and identity. Set among the British in Africa during the repressed 1879 in Act I and back in England in liberated London in 1979 in Act II, the characters switch roles, genders and ages in the course of the evening. It isn’t obvious until the second half where the play is headed or how brilliant Churchill has been. Cloud Nine (which proves not to be a nirvana for the characters) challenges a great many of our strictly held beliefs about the way the world is or should be. [more]

Unseamly

October 20, 2015

Director Sarah C. Carlsen does an excellent job of utilizing minimalism to tell the story. "Unseamly" is told in a non-linear format, and relies heavily on flashbacks. Instead of having set pieces rolling in and out to change scenes, the play is presented in a bright white room which has secret doors and set pieces that pop out of the walls to change the environment and accommodate the next flashback. The set and costumes are both designed by Brian Dudkiewicz, and there is definitely a consistent style throughout. Minimalist with flashes of bright color, the clothing is sexy and trendy, and contributes to the overall theme of the play: costumed liberally, the whole production is steeped in sexuality. [more]

Sisters’ Follies: Between Two Worlds

October 20, 2015

With a cast led by downtown icons Joey Arias and Julie Atlas Muz, "Sisters’ Follies" includes life size puppets, flying ghosts, music and dance, topless performances, talking masks, and spectacular recreations of their most famous productions. When we first meet them, they are ghosts flying about the stage in long white diaphanous gowns glad to be back in their theater. They then sing a duet of Irving Berlin’s “Sisters” with appropriately new ribald lyrics. From their clever banter, we discover that Alice (Arias) was an actress and Irene (Muz) a dancer who were continually warring over everything from billing to which of them received more flowers to their legacies. Self-centered Alice, the older sister, is always cool and collected while Irene, who worships her even though she always seems to get the short end of the stick, is more passionate and temperamental. Today Irene is remembered as having founded the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, while the acting school they both founded, The Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre, is also very much alive. [more]

The Gin Game

October 20, 2015

Now the frail-seeming, but elegant Cicely Tyson and imposing, stout-voiced James Earl Jones have taken on "The Gin Game" and make it totally their own, finding nuances in every line, filling in the silences with the kinds of reactions that make live theater an electric experience. [more]

Death of a Salesman in Yiddish

October 19, 2015

Although Arthur Miller grew up in a Jewish family, none of his characters with the exception of the antique dealer in The Price are explicitly Jewish. Yiddish stage star Joseph Buloff sought to correct that when he adapted "Death of a Salesman" as "Toyt fun a Seylsman" and presented the play in Argentina in 1949. In 1951, Miller permitted Buloff to bring the translation to Brooklyn’s Parkway Theatre where it was deemed a great success. Not seen again in New York until now, New Yiddish Rep is giving the Yiddish adaptation its Manhattan premiere in a slightly revised version in which the non-Jewish characters speak in English and the text is projected with English supertitles for a contemporary audience that does not know Yiddish. [more]

Rabbit Hole

October 19, 2015

With its realistic and detailed dialogue, Mr. Lindsay-Abaire’s very well constructed script is a superior work of playwriting containing many humorous and moving dramatic exchanges. It is greatly realized by director Maria Riboli’s sensitive, accomplished, and subtle staging. That the racially diverse cast appears to be an actual family is a testament to her talents. [more]

Street Theater

October 19, 2015

The downstairs of the gay leather bar, The Eagle, has been configured into a runway-style performance space with rows of white folding chairs. This setup is for this giddy revival of the panoramic fantasia "Street Theater" by Doric Wilson. The play takes place on June 28, 1969, before, during and after the Stonewall riots on Christopher Street in Manhattan. [more]

Clever Little Lies

October 14, 2015

Before coming to the Westside Theatre, director David Saint helmed this production at the George Street Playhouse. No stranger to DiPietro’s style (he also premiered The Toxic Avenger at George Street), Saint does an excellent job of keeping the pace up when it matters most. The physical comedy is subtle and effective, but is over-the-top in just enough places to keep the laughter going continuously. Though one can hardly call the comedy of "Clever Little Lies" 'smart'—it is more vulgar than anything—Saint employs many different tactics to elicit laughs from his audience. [more]

Would You Still Love Me If …

October 14, 2015

Is it possible to love unconditionally? While we all say the words and make those promises, sometimes we may be faced with a condition that we never saw coming and may not be strong enough to accept. In John S. Anastasi’s "Would You Still Love Me If…," modern couple Dayna (Sofia Jean Gomez), a hard-working and ambitious lawyer, and Addison (Rebecca Brooksher), a beautiful and talented writer, seem to be well on their way to the perfect life as they are trying to adopt a child together and working to create the home of their dreams. [more]

Old Times

October 13, 2015

The production includes the Broadway debuts of British screen and television stars Clive Owen and Kelly Reilly, and a return of British stage star Eve Best after her Tony Award nominated performance in the 1908 revival of Pinter’s "The Homecoming." Unfortunately, to some extent they are appearing in three different plays so different are their acting styles. Even Constance Hoffman’s costumes take your mind away from the play before you. A pity actually as "Old Times" has not been seen in New York since the Roundabout’s Off Broadway revival which ran from 1983-84 but had an odd combination of American and British actors of film and stage. [more]

Fool for Love

October 13, 2015

This is the fault of director Daniel Aukin who also staged it at The Williamstown Theatre Festival. Besides obtaining just competent performances from his cast, he has chosen a shallow high-tech approach in staging this small-scale but profound masterpiece by a writer at the peak of his powers in a Broadway theater rather then creatively reimagining it with meaningful aesthetic simplicity. [more]

Hard Love

October 12, 2015

The revelation of the play is Mr. Lerner’s detailed knowledge of both the orthodox sect and its place in modern Israeli society. He manages to make the age-old arguments of secular versus religious fresh and human scaled, not judging either of the characters, but observing them. [more]

Believers

October 11, 2015

Donna and Chris, the couple under the microscope in this play, are portrayed by two sets of actors: the first pair represents the lovers while they are still in college (where they first meet), and a second set of actors play the couple twenty years later—married and expecting their first child. The way these two stories intersect is through rotation, as alternating scenes flip between the two timelines until both stories come together at the climax. [more]

Half Moon Bay

October 11, 2015

Under Margarett Perry’s careful direction, Half Moon Bay, challenges an audience to try and decipher Richie’s infatuation with Alicia and what type of relationship he wants with her. Her mysterious ways question if she even wants his help at all or if his obsession clouds his otherwise logical judgment. Dumeng is the perfect mix of purity and puzzlement when she doesn’t even recall where she grew up or who her family is. The only concern she has is her baby who was taken away from her as she worked hard at part-time job after part-time job to make ends meet. The audience is left to ponder what her motives are and if there is any rationale to Richie’s decision to invest in her life. The do-gooder in him is admirable but the price he pays to help this woman is heartbreaking, causing the audience to feel sympathy as well as concern for his condition. [more]

Be That Guy (A Cat and Two Men) 

October 7, 2015

Heavyset and with a sullen countenance, Mr. Marinelli plays Trey by ably conveying the character’s melancholy and witty expressiveness. The charming John Carhart as Keith is animated and gives a fully realized characterization of the contemporary middle-class gay man navigating through New York City’s difficult milieu. [more]
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