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Plays

Uncle Vanya

September 26, 2014

Aside from his light touch which keeps the play from seeming gloomy, Brooks has an uneasy hold on the play's rhythms which seem erratic – we are never sure what kind of play we are watching. Schmidt's translation goes a long way to blowing off the cobwebs on Chekhov's 19th century Tsarist Russia but his occasional use of a contemporary word like "freak" draws attention to itself. While Simms' unit set suggests a summer retreat with its green walls covered with vegetation, he makes little distinction between indoors and outdoors and the claustrophobia which the characters are feeling is never real to the audience. [more]

A Sucker Emcee

September 24, 2014

  Craig ‘muMs’ Grant and DJ Rich Medina in a scene from A Sucker Emcee (Photo [more]

The Fatal Weakness

September 20, 2014

  Kristin Griffith and Victoria Mack in a scene from The Fatal Weakness (Photo credit: Richard [more]

Almost Home

September 20, 2014

Almost Home   Joe Lisi, Jonny Orsini and Karen Ziemba in a scene from Almost Home (Photo [more]

My Mañana Comes

September 13, 2014

  José Joaquín Pérez and Jason Bowen in a scene from My Mañana Comes (Photo credit: [more]

Culture Shock: 1911-1922

September 12, 2014

The framing device is that we are in a bunker or a trench, and the plays are being presented by five soldiers (De Mussa, Wes Hager, Will Hardyman, Wilton Yeung, Josh Wolonick) and a nurse (Joyce Laoagan), as if whiling away the time between barrages, and in a semi-improvised fashion. This is a good idea, and provides a nice unity to the evening. The scenic design (Joseph Kremer) and lighting design (Daniel B. Barbee) supported this well, too. There were also projections and pre-recorded music tracks, which I assume should be credited to multimedia programmer Aristides F. Li. [more]

Bootycandy

September 12, 2014

Throughout the play there are many visual and spoken references to Michael Jackson, showing how large the presence and influence of The King of Pop in his heyday loomed in the consciousness of many growing up and living in that era. This symbolism adds greatly to the detailed specificity of this passionate, suspenseful and bold work. [more]

Bauer

September 12, 2014

The relatively unfamiliar cast of this West Coast production could not be better. Howard is distinguished and forceful as the once-famous artist now reduced to nothing and aching for a fight with his greatest enemy; Ross is imperious and elegant as the once-powerful curator used to always having her way, now seeking out her greatest love. Their scenes together strike fireworks. [more]

Boys and Girls

September 10, 2014

Through a series of intertwining monologues, Boys and Girls follows four young Dubliners before, during and after their respective sexual encounters. Though the characters never interact, their stories weave through one another, forming fascinating juxtapositions. While one of the boys fails to seduce his love interest at a bar, the other laments his passionless, anonymous alley hookup. While one of the girls describes the thrill of a first-time experience, the other wonders if her committed relationship is physically fulfilling. The result is a comprehensive, truthful account of adolescents learning to understand male-female dynamics. [more]

Poor Behavior

September 8, 2014

  Katie Kreisler and Brian Avers in a scene from Poor Behavior (Photo credit: James Leynse) [more]

The Good and The True

September 4, 2014

Strands of barbed wire run across the stage and remain so throughout the performance. The stage is divided by a train track. The walls are bare brick. The lighting often shifts to varying shades of darkness. Luggage is strewn around. Smoke flows briefly at one point. Scenes are punctuated by the sound of Czechoslovakian singing. The actors wear basic black clothes. Director, scenic and costume designer Daniel Hrbek masterfully creates powerful images. Horrors are conveyed by imaginatively utilizing very simple elements. Mr. Hrbek also succeeds in staging and pacing the action arrestingly along with the actors. [more]

King Lear

August 9, 2014

While Sullivan does not seem to have turned his company into a coherent ensemble, the production is always easy to understand and unambiguous. The diction is always clear, though at times the sound design by Acme Sound Design seems to be at the wrong level. King Lear is a difficult play to bring off with its unrelieved outsized tragedy, and using actors not practiced in interpreting Shakespearean roles may not be the best casting. It is also possible that the production will achieve greater depth as the performers have more onstage time. This is a King Lear more than a little disappointing from such a talented group of theater artists. [more]

Sex with Strangers

August 7, 2014

The casting is superb. Gunn expresses Olivia's vulnerability and integrity with every line and moment of the play. Magnussen's Ethan, on the other hand, exudes arrogance and over-confidence having found easy success early in his life both with women and as a writer. it also takes perfect casting and acting to make such an evening both convincing and absorbing. This Gunn, Magnussen and Director David Schwimmer have accomplished in spades. Sex with Strangers is an evening not to be missed. [more]

The Opponent

August 7, 2014

Guy Van Swearingen and Kamal Angelo Bolden in a scene from The Opponent (Photo credit: Carol [more]

Summer Shorts: Series B

August 7, 2014

Jack Hofsiss, the Tony Award-winning director of The Elephant Man, keeps the acting reined in while the dialogue becomes more and more blasphemous. Veteran actress Brenda Currin makes the discontented Mother Superior a believable character but the other four performers seem to be asked to posture rather than put any faith in their roles. [more]

Strictly Dishonorable

August 4, 2014

Travis Chinick's costumes are period perfect for the tail end of the Jazz Age while Liz Scherrier's two sets suitably set the mood for both the main room of the speakeasy and the bachelor apartment above. Beth Lake's sound design includes snatches of tenor arias as well as pertinent outside noises. [more]

Between Riverside and Crazy

August 1, 2014

This breakfast chat is in the opening of scene of Between Riverside and Crazy, by Stephen Adly Guirgis. In a series of plays that include Our Lady of 121st Street, Jesus Hopped the 'A' Train and The Motherf***er with the Hat, Mr. Guirgis has become known for affectionately dramatizing the lives of passionate, off beat, New York City characters with inimitably colorful dialogue. [more]

Gertrude: The Cry

August 1, 2014

The PTP/NYC company are directed to carry on adeptly, fervently, with considerable aplomb in Mark Evanchos' monumental setting, amid some of the best and lavish costume changes – by Danielle Nieves --ever seen Off-Broadway, including Gertrude's, most of the time, that is. [more]

Summer Shorts 2014: Series A

July 30, 2014

Warren Leight's "Sec. 310, Row D, Seats 5 and 6" is the most ambitious of the three plays as it attempts to cover 20 years in the lives of three friends who share a two-seats subscription at Madison Square Garden for the Knicks games. "Riverbed" deals with the loss of a child by married couple Adam and Megan in a freak drowning accident. The theme of men's friendships when they are away from their women is also evident in the curtain raiser, Roger Hedden's "The Sky and The Limit." [more]

Pentecost

July 28, 2014

Director Cheryl Faraone knows that to keep the ideas going it is vital to have her characters be seen as human as possible so that we are not confronted with stereotypes and agit-prop, so that we become invested, begin to put our own values on the line. I particularly liked Jonathan Tindle, Alex Draper, Nina Silver, Lawrence Nathanson and Matthew Ball. A unique, priceless artifact, a creation of the finest in the human psyche, precious to the world, versus a gypsy baby, a gypsy mother, a Bosnian, a Kurd, a Palestinian Kuwaiti, an Azeri, a Mozambican, an Afghan, a Ukrainian, a Russian, how can we decide? [more]

Enter at Forest Lawn

July 27, 2014

Author Roberts plays Jack, the megalomaniacal producer/writer of a TV hit about a charming, witty, womanizing uncle who runs off the rails regularly. [more]

The Qualification of Douglas Evans

July 25, 2014

Presenting himself thus, in the character of Douglas Evans, with such vigorous, non-stop awfulness, takes courage as well as rampant ego and a chilling comment on his, the actor/playwright's own life, which might well have been written and delivered with an ironic god-awful humor and given the audience something to care about but Ahonen sticks to his guns. [more]

Picture Ourselves in Latvia

July 17, 2014

Playwright Ross Howard gives us a locked-ward play. Set in a psychiatric hospital, we meet three long-term residents, their orderly, a nurse, and a doctor. The patients' maladies are not specified. Mostly they seem merely simple, with mental ages of between roughly five and eleven, so it's not clear why they're in hospital rather than some sort of group home. Martin (Christopher Daftsios) in particular seems an innocent; Anna (Dana Benningfield), a recent emigrant from Latvia, is a bit paranoid; Duncan (Andy Nogasky) is intelligent but awkward like an early adolescent, and struggles with hydrophobia. [more]

The Religion Thing

July 8, 2014

The Religion Thing is set in Washington, D.C., and explores the lives of two couples who are friends and the conflicting issues they discover about their relationships after getting married. [more]

The Muscles in Our Toes

July 7, 2014

Whoever said high school reunions are a good time was sorely mistaken. The food is lousy, the music is kitschy, hairlines are higher, waists are larger, and ancient resentments are suddenly relevant again. When you think about it, these milestones are hardly cause for celebration. [more]

Donogoo

June 30, 2014

What the production does have is a ravishing scenic design made up of colorful and witty projections (sometimes animated) by Roger Hanna & Price Johnston for the play's 23 tableaux, moving from Paris to Marseilles, Saigon, San Francisco, Rio de Janeiro, & mythical Brazilian city of Donogoo-Tonka. [more]

When We Were Young and Unafraid

June 30, 2014

Yes, it's TV soap trap. Yes, it's really good movie. And yes, it's some of the best theater, because it's the purest entertainment, storytelling, the hardest and the easiest thing to do, all in one. People are endlessly fascinating. All you need is Sarah Treem to let you in. [more]

Ayckbourn Ensemble

June 30, 2014

Part of the fun of the Brits Off Broadway Festival at 59E59 Theaters each June are the new plays that Sir Alan Ayckbourn sends us periodically with the original casts from his Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, England. This year he has sent us three running in repertory – two new plays in their world premiere productions (Arrivals &Departures and Farcicals: A Double Bill of Frivolous Comedies) and a revival of his 1992 Time of My Life, making its New York debut. [more]

The Village Bike

June 26, 2014

A very visceral play, The Village Bike is not for prudes; on the other hand, it should open a conversation that is long overdue in our theater concerning men and women's sexuality as it is understood today. [more]

These Troubled Times

June 23, 2014

Director Jennifer Ortega does a masterful job of staging all of the comedy and seriousness as well as getting sharp performances from the cast. Concept designer Moira Shaughnessy's work includes the stark slides above the playing area that depict the lush Florida scenery as well as grisly situations. [more]

Much Ado About Nothing

June 23, 2014

While Jack O'Brien's production of Much Ado About Nothing is in no way definitive, it is tremendous fun. His strength here as a director is that his 20 person ensemble has become a true community, one that lives and loves together, one we can believe gets involved in each other's problems and joys. [more]
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