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Plays

The Indelible: The 11th Annual East Side Stories

April 26, 2015

Rodriguez, Brown and McNeill all go that extra mile to establish a connection - and make eye contact with every single audience member contained on the three sides of the theater. As they share their stories, the emotion and passion used to bring out the truth in each of these East Village residents is well translated from a period in time to the present day. While the historical elements are fascinating and provide context, the ultimate theme of acceptance, finding a guiding light to outshine the world's cruelty, and celebrating life creates a lasting impact. [more]

The Belle of Belfast

April 24, 2015

The ample set by John McDermott is an intelligent divide between interior and exterior life, the run down streets of Belfast and a humble, wooden and warm rectory. Contemplation goes on in both places, be it perils of war or morals. Famed film director Claudia Weill returning to the New York stage establishes this well. Each character has his or her place and is well defined. Weill has a clear vision of the conflict at hand. Impressive music, explosions and street noise punctuate the scenes artfully with sound design by Daniel Kluger. [more]

The Unexpected Guest

April 23, 2015

Set in South Wales in the 1950’s, "The Unexpected Guest" (first produced in London in 1958) is a mystery surrounding the events that led up to the death of Richard Warwick, patriarch to the Warwick fortune. In the opening minutes of the play, his lifeless corpse is discovered by Michael Starkwedder (Nicholas Viselli), a seemingly random stranger who—upon driving his car into a ditch—stumbled up to the Warwick Estate in search of assistance. Upon discovering the body, Michael is confronted by Laura Warwick (Pamela Sabaugh), now widow to Richard. [more]

39 Steps

April 23, 2015

Working from Simon Corble and Nobby Dimon’s 1995’s original concept, Patrick Barlow’s adaptation is a witty, tongue-in-cheek, homage that recreates the plot of the film, with comic flourishes. There are also verbal, musical and visual references to other Hitchcock films such as The Man Who Knew Too Much, North By Northwest, The Lady Vanishes, Vertigo, The Birds, Strangers On a Train, and Psycho. There’s an updated nod to Downton Abbey. [more]

Hamlet

April 17, 2015

The first problem is the attractive modern setting by Walt Spengler of the wedding breakfast of Claudius and Gertrude with a huge cake in the background. The issue is that the table and the cake remain on stage for the entire evening, a terrible distraction. Does this palace have only one public room? The next situation is that Pendleton has chosen to cut both ghost scenes so that the audience is never told that Gertrude had an affair with her brother-in-law or that Claudius poisoned his brother Old Hamlet. The problem that this creates is that young Hamlet has to be played as paranoid as we have no way of knowing what the off-stage ghost told him, nor do we know what is bothering him when he acts so badly to his mother and step-father. [more]

Hand to God

April 16, 2015

Though operating under the guise of a rather nonsensical comedy, Askins’ play is actually a sophisticated examination of how we handle grief. The text depicts two competing sides of a boy newly without a father and in the throes of puberty: while Jason appears too innocent to ever do anything wrong, the sock on his hand offers a convenient outlet for his bad behavior. Laced in this dichotomy are hints of schizophrenia, allusions to autoerotic stimulation, and a critique of the Christian notion that “unholy” behavior exists outside of the pure self and thus can be forgiven and eliminated. The question literally “at hand” is as follows: is the puppet actually possessed or is Jason mentally ill? If the latter, to what extent should the otherwise sweet boy be held responsible for the evil puppet’s actions? [more]

The Undeniable Sound of Right Now

April 15, 2015

Like Laura Eason’s "Sex with Strangers" seen at The Second Stage last summer, "The Undeniable Sound of Right Now," her new play having its world premiere in New York in a joint production of Rattlestick Playwrights Theater and Women’s Project Theater, has a pulsating urgency that pulls you into it from the moment the lights come up. Director Kirsten Kelly, another long time Chicago resident along with Eason, has obtained dynamic characterizations from her cast of six including Jeb Brown, Margo Seibert and Daniel Abeles. While the play has a rather abrupt and unsatisfying ending as well as its clunky though accurate title, it brims with the authority of real life rather than theatrical artifice. [more]

UNDERLAND

April 15, 2015

By: Courtney Marie Annie Golden and Daniel K. Isaac in a scene from “UNDERLAND” (Photo credit: [more]

A la Carte: A Feast of New Plays

April 15, 2015

"A la Carte: A Feast of New Plays" is a presentation of The Workshop Theater’s leading playwrights that consists of six short plays, all with the theme of food. Most of the works are comic though some are very moving. The styles all vary but the level of writing of each is solid, and contains interesting situations and characters. Cumulatively it’s an entertaining program that gives a wonderful showcase to the excellent cast of actors that have been assembled to portray these often rich roles. [more]

Skylight

April 13, 2015

With its ravishing, precise dialogue, very fine structure, and expertly imparted exposition, Skylight, is a model of accomplished playwriting. Mr. Hare is known for his Leftist political beliefs with which he infuses his plays. Here, in early post-Thatcher Britain, he has his characters eloquently debate their clashing world views, along with differing personal takes on their relationship. [more]

Twelfth Night, or What You Will

April 8, 2015

Since Bedlam theatre company arrives on the radar in 2013, theatergoers have left their performances as devoted fans. Beginning with acclaimed productions of "Hamlet" and "Saint Joan" in the fall of 2013 and an extended run in the spring of 2014 with casts of only four actors, they returned last fall with a delightfully faithful and inventive stage adaptation of Jane Austen’s "Sense and Sensibility." The same four actors who appeared in Bedlam’s "Hamlet" and "Saint Joan" are back (along with Susannah Millonzi) in two alternate versions of the same Shakespeare comedy, one titled "Twelfth Night" and the other, "What You Will." Minimalist and clever to the nth degree, the "Twelfth Night" performance under review brought the audience to its feet at the end of the two (ingenious and intermission-less) hours. [more]

House of Tards

April 5, 2015

Director Paul Dobie’s staging gives the show a fast pace and well utilizes the small playing area, which is the upstairs cabaret theater of The Stonewall Inn, the historic gay bar on Christopher Street, where it is performed once a week on Thursday nights. It premiered there in October 2014 and ran through December 2014. It has returned to New York following engagements in Los Angeles and San Francisco. [more]

Martyrs Street

April 2, 2015

Shulman is a skilled story teller, creating characters that are real and complex: honorable people that make mistakes, some misguided, some well-intentioned or ruthless. People we all know, maybe even in our own families. Shulman makes the head of each household, two women, the focal point of the play. Noor, which means light in Arabic, is a widowed professor at the university with a 16-year-old daughter, Aisha, and a son, Nimer. She doesn’t wear a headscarf, and spends time alone with her late husband’s friend Salim (Alok Tewari), which is frowned upon in the community. Noor received an order from the Israeli government that her house is going to be taken down in 30 days. [more]

Five Times In One Night

April 2, 2015

Through a series of five two-character scenes, Atik’s play charts the evolution (or lack thereof) of sex in humanity. While one segment depicts Adam and Eve fumbling through their first discovery of intercourse, another shows a pair of apocalypse survivors struggling to repopulate earth. In between, Atik includes a medieval couple’s epistolary romance, another couple’s post-breakup fling from “last week,” and a third’s inept attempt at exploring fetishes “next week.” Each with their own unique angle, Atik’s five self-contained shorts add up to a heartfelt, whimsical look at the reasons we pursue sex and the means we employ in order to have it. [more]

The Book of Moron

March 31, 2015

“Who Are You,” recorded by The Who, starts off "The Book of Moron." It’s a well-crafted 80-minute theater piece of observational stand up comedy written and performed by Robert Dubac. The title is a pun on the musical, The Book of Mormon and is representative of Mr. Dubac’s comic sensibility. Those who find him funny will have a great time at this show, and those who don’t, will have a tough time. [more]

Posterity

March 30, 2015

In Doug Wright’s "Posterity" at the Atlantic Theater Company two monumental cultural figures of 19th century Norway lock horns in a battle of wits and sensibilities with tragic results. Wright, who seems to have a penchant for writing about real people (viz. "Quills," "I Am My Own Wife," and "Grey Gardens"), here, takes on Henrik Ibsen, monumental 19th century playwright, and sculptor Gustav Vigeland, forty years his junior. [more]

Irreversible

March 23, 2015

Josh Doucette, Hugh Sinclair and Jordan Kaplan in a scene from “Irreversible” (Photo credit: [more]

The Mystery of Love & Sex

March 23, 2015

Bathsheba Doran’s new drama, "The Mystery of Love & Sex," now at Lincoln Center Theater’s Mitzi E. Newhouse, is yet another play whose title is a misnomer. The story is really about friendship and self-identity for a young college-age couple who grew up together in a Southern suburb. Along the way, the play brings in racism, sexism, homophobia and religious mania, as well as the confusions of youth, as the couple try to maintain their close relationship while falling in love with other people. Although director Sam Gold’s cast is made up of veteran actors Diane Lane and Tony Shalhoub and newcomers Mamoudou Athie and Gayle Rankin doing fine work, the play’s first act is entirely exposition and is basically used to set up the situation. This is a play that would do well to lose its intermission as it really doesn’t begin until its second act. [more]

The Heidi Chronicles

March 22, 2015

The maternal ending was considered problematical in 1988, but seems less of a copout in 2015. In fact, the feminist thrust of the play has also dulled in the ensuing decades, making Ms. Wasserstein’s play far less effective as an instructive tool. " The Heidi Chronicles" has always been weighed down by too much polemic passed off as drama. What keeps this production afloat now is the incredible filigreed and witty lines that so quickly delineate each character’s foibles and feelings. [more]

Fish in the Dark

March 22, 2015

Director Anna D. Shapiro, usually associated with heavier dramas from such authors as Kenneth Lonergan, Stephen Adly Guirgis, Tracy Letts, Bruce Norris and John Steinbeck, has surrounded David with an A-List of stage and screen stars (Jayne Houdyshell, Rita Wilson, Rosie Perez, Lewis J. Stadlen, Marylouise Burke, etc.), as well as some rising stars and performers to watch (Molly Ranson, Jonny Orsini, and Jake Cannavale). Part of her assignment is to direct the traffic of the very large cast (18 in all) of the Drexel clan on the four sets and keep out of the way of these pros doing what they do best. At this, Shapiro does a superb job. [more]

I Catch You Dreaming

March 19, 2015

Dream sequences, fantasies, and confessional monologues add to the play’s eclectic form. There’s a rapid montage portion with racing NYC denizens including business workers, homeless people, drunks, and cutthroat landlords. The plot turns are often typical for this genre, but there are enough new ones that make it all seem fresh. Playwright Albarrán, who is in his 20’s, also plays the leading part. [more]

Placebo

March 17, 2015

The play’s scenes alternate between the scientific research institute and the couple’s apartment.  The theatrical device of having one set representing both places is well rendered by scenic designer David Zinn’s realistic and well-appointed set.  Matt Frey’s lighting design and Ryan Rumery’s sound design contribute requisite razzle dazzle effects for the transitions from one setting to another.  Mr Zinn also designed the purposeful costumes. [more]

Fashions for Men

March 16, 2015

Though totally unknown to Americans, Ferenc Molnár’s "Fashions for Men" is another treasure newly unearthed by the reliable Mint Theater. Davis McCallum’s polished and period-perfect production is not only vastly entertaining and enlightening about the human condition, but it should go a long way to making this play more widely known to the theater-going public. While the play is set in a world that is long gone, its contemporary relevance is based on the fact that it dramatizes the human comedy which will always be in fashion. [more]

The World of Extreme Happiness

March 16, 2015

Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig’s eye-opening The World of Extreme Happiness reveals the urgent problems in contemporary China in which people from rural communities who move to the cities are second class citizens but where protest is quickly stifled, where the one-child policy causes girl children and women workers to be ignored, and the vast numbers of people in the factory cities have little access to education or money. Eric Ting’s powerful co-production for Manhattan Theatre Club and the Goodman Theatre of Chicago deserves to be seen for turning contemporary social science into the stuff of drama. [more]

The Audience

March 14, 2015

This play was originally produced in London’s West End in 2013. Ms. Mirren was awarded The Olivier and Evening Standard Award as best actress. She is repeating this acclaimed performance on Broadway with a cast made up of actors from the London production and newly selected Americans. With star quality, crisp authority and sheer talent, she compellingly portrays Elizabeth II from her ascension to the throne at the age of 25, to the very present with references to President Obama. [more]

Keeping Up Appearances

March 12, 2015

This hasn’t played London’s West End, and has not been performed in the United States until now. The Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church’s Theatre Fellowship has presented this premiere. The cast of this Actor’s Equity showcase production is made up of polished professional and engaging non-professional performers, many of who are Fellowship members. The overall results for this light-hearted fare are that of high-level community theater. [more]

The Man of the Hour

March 11, 2015

While Broadhurst is most famous today for the Shubert theater named after him on 44th Street, in his own time he was an expert at light comedy and the author of 48 Broadway plays between 1896 and 1924. While The Man of the Hour is in no way an historical play, it does expose the excesses of New York’s Tammany Hall, the Democratic Party’s political machine, and parallels the election of 1897 in which Tammany Boss Richard Croker engineered the accession of Robert A. Van Wyck to the mayoral chair. Proof that reform of politics is on Broadhurst’s mind is that he refers to progressive leaders Wisconsin Senator Robert La Follett, Missouri governor Joseph W. Folk, and President Theodore Roosevelt, all of whom ran on platforms to clean up corruption. The reading text of The Man of the Hour actually indicates where the play’s Boss Horigan reiterates the policies and dictums of the real life Boss Crocker. [more]

Diversions & Delights

March 11, 2015

The famous late-19th century author Oscar Wilde is a rather paradoxical historical figure. On the one hand, he was a proud Irishman quick to correct anyone who suggested otherwise; on the other, he spoke with the finest English accent. He was too pedantic to relate to the masses, and yet his work was widely revered by all social strata. Many people loved to hate him and others hated that they loved him. In "Diversions & Delights," the 1979 play that recently returned to Manhattan for a one-weekend run presented by The Ensemble Theatre Company of New York, writer John Gay distills these many facets of a complicated man into a solo performance piece that is appropriately pretentious and accessible. [more]

Lives of the Saints

March 9, 2015

The advantage of an evening of one acts is that you are bound to like one, while a single long play may disappoint you. After a series of very successful full-lengths that include Venus in Fur and School for Lies, David Ives has returned to Primary Stages and the one-act form with a new evening, "Lives of the Saints," for the first time since his 1997’s Mere Mortals. Unlike his masterpiece in this genre, "All in the Timing," (also seen in New York at Primary Stages in both 1993 and 2013), out of the six playlets (five of which are receiving their New York premieres), three are terrific ones and three fall flat. Don’t blame the game cast of expert comedians made up of Arnie Burton, Carson Elrod, Rick Holmes, Kelly Hutchinson and Liv Rooth or director John Rando, a longtime Ives collaborator on six New York shows. The best ones are clever premises brilliantly developed, while the minor ones are blackout sketches drawn out to inordinate length. [more]

Rocket to the Moon

March 8, 2015

The Peccadillo Theater Company has finely and faithfully revived this rarely seen Odets play, the 6th of his plays to be produced in the late thirties. They are, “dedicated to the rediscovery of classic American theater, particularly those works which, despite their obvious literary and theatrical value, are not regularly revived.” [more]

An Octoroon

March 3, 2015

In 2015, it’s a bold move to revive a century and a half-old play that bears a racially insensitive title, and it’s an even bolder move to refrain from apologizing for such source material. Nevertheless, playwright Branden JacobsJenkins does just that in" An Octoroon," his adaptation of Irish playwright Dion Boucicault’s 1859 melodrama "The Octoroon." Back by popular demand from its previous Soho Rep mounting and recently extended at the Theatre for a New Audience through March 29, the production makes the risky decision to embrace an uncomfortable facet of our history and transform it into a contemporary piece. Thankfully, it paid off big time: the result is an entertaining, touching and illuminating theatrical experience that speaks to today’s audience. [more]

The Nether

March 2, 2015

Playwright Jennifer Haley describes her work as delving “into ethics in virtual reality and the impact of technology on our human relationships, identity and desire.” On the basis of her New York debut with The Nether, we can expect some truly frightening dramas from her in the future. Even now, The Nether is such an extreme cautionary tale of the future of the Internet, that some may have difficulty sitting through it. [more]
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