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Plays

Red Speedo

March 18, 2016

The play is made up of a series of six confrontations in which the dialogue is delivered like bullets flying back and forth. While the story is engrossing, the individual conversations all go on a bit too long, and get tiresome before they are each over. Then the next one takes us by surprise all over again. However, what is unique about the play is that the athlete in question eventually is seen to be a monster. His sense of entitlement has been overwhelming: he has expected his lawyer brother to get him out of trouble each time he got himself into another mess, and his brother has been supporting him all these years, paying all of his bills but with a family of his own to provide for. But worst of all is Ray’s absence of a sense of morality in a culture where winning is everything. He is willing to kill for fame and fortune and whoever he destroys along the way does not concern him. [more]

Ideation

March 18, 2016

Taking place in real time, Aaron Loeb's entertaining play is in the mode of Paddy Chayefsky’s "Network" with shades of "The Blair Witch Project." It also echoes the explosive style and resonant themes of psychological moral complexities that Yasmina Reza theatrically explored in her plays "Art" and "God of Carnage." [more]

Boy

March 15, 2016

In his widely produced 1977 play," The Elephant Man," Bernard Pomerance employed the theatrical device of having the grotesque John Merrick portrayed by an actor (invariably a handsome one) without makeup. "Boy" is similar in that the magnetic Bobby Steggert plays Samantha and later Adam without any external differentiation. Acclaimed for his New York City appearances in such musicals as "Yank" and the 2009 Broadway revival of "Ragtime," as well as the Terence McNally play "Mothers and Sons," Mr. Steggert here delivers a powerful performance. Low-key yet animated, he commandingly conveys all of the anguish and endurance of the character with heartbreaking effect. His characterization is particularly outstanding considering he alternates between being a child, an adolescent and an adult throughout the play. Each permutation is depicted with absolute focus. [more]

Women Without Men

March 15, 2016

Thompson’s direction is taut, nuanced and compelling and she found the ensemble to not only make their characters entirely distinct but to make us feel these women have lived together for years. Emily Walton is charming as the idealistic Jean who comes to feel that there is no place for her in such a poisonous environment. As her nemesis Miss Connor, Kellie Overbey is sympathetic as a woman who feels that life has given her a poor hand but that her writing makes it all worthwhile. Mary Bacon is a tower of strength as the stalwart Miss Strong who after 18 years refuses to be pulled into the petty wrangling as her way of survival. [more]

The Goodbye Room

March 14, 2016

Eric Gilde’s new drama, "The Goodbye Room," realistically and powerfully captures a family’s journey after losing a loved one. The worst of times always seems to bring the deepest of emotions to the surface as we prepare to say good-bye to someone close to us, while also dealing with the family and friends that surround us in our time of need. It is not only difficult for a family as a unit, but it individually takes a toll, as each member deals with grief in a different way. The result is a storyline that is eye opening, stirring and poignant. [more]

Walk Hard

March 14, 2016

Imani’s production of 'Walk Hard" for Metropolitan Playhouse is an exciting piece of theater from an eye-opening rediscovery. Historically, it comes nine years after Clifford Odets’ 'Golden Boy" which covers similar content and 13 years before Lorraine Hansberry’s "A Raisin in the Sun" in which the Younger family fights a similar battle. Current racism condemned by the Black Lives Matter movement and much talk of income inequality in this election year make Walk Hard relevant once again at this time. [more]

Widowers’ Houses

March 14, 2016

Director David Staller has ingeniously staged this small-scale production with numerous theatrical flourishes. Scene transitions are accomplished with actors in character moving furniture, there are hilarious slapstick bits, voice-over recordings are heard representing a character’s thoughts and the very precise stage choreography all enrich the presentation while faithfully representing the author’s intentions. Mr. Staller has also assembled a first-rate cast of talented actors who are all expert at crisply delivering Shaw’s wordiness while sustaining vivid characterizations. There is also clever double casting. [more]

Connected

March 13, 2016

"Connected" is a series of short plays, each tackling our always-connected culture from a different angle. The first of four stories is about Meghan, a high schooler with a crush on one of the most popular guys in school. Midori Francis, the charming actress playing Meghan, decides to ask her crush to the prom and, after her theatrical prom proposal gets caught on camera and uploaded to YouTube, Francis’s timid teen reaches web celeb status, with her video collecting one million views in 24 hours. This story has a lot to say about what it means to be popular, and the juxtaposition of a down-to-earth girl rising to celebrity status opens the door to a thought-provoking conversation about the fickleness of fame, and the isolation that ironically comes with it. [more]

Buried Child

March 13, 2016

After a twenty year hiatus from the New York theater scene, Sam Shepard’s Pulitzer Prize-winning "Buried Child" is back in the Big Apple but in a more intimate setting. This latest iteration of the dramatic classic sees its return to the world of Off-Broadway, with a limited engagement at The Pershing Square Signature Center. Loaded with a powerhouse cast led by Ed Harris, the latest from the The New Group is a fresh take on an American classic. [more]

One Way to Pluto!

March 10, 2016

Patrick Brian Scherrer plays Peter, appearing in all 11 scenes, often in intense situations. The very personable Mr. Scherrer’s performance is quite heroic as he boldly embraces the play’s many painful episodes with his boyish charm. He is painfully believable as this wide-eyed struggling artist in the cruel big city and is instrumental to the play’s success. [more]

The Body of an American

March 9, 2016

The inspiration for the play began when poet and playwright Dan heard the Fresh Air interview. Paul was already famous as the photographer who took the now iconic 1993 picture of U.S. Staff Sgt. William David Cleveland’s body being desecrated in Mogadishu. As he took the photo, Paul heard a voice say, “If you do this, I will own you forever,” which led to his continuing post-traumatic stress syndrome. The public outcry caused President Clinton to pull the American forces out of Somalia which led to other political repercussions. Dan, suffering his own traumas, identified with Paul and emailed him. Surprisingly the reclusive Paul answered him and this led to a long correspondence and finally a face-to-face meeting in the Arctic. [more]

Familiar

March 9, 2016

The family tension is defined in terms of the strong female relationships between mother Marvelous (Tamara Tunie) and the bride-to-be, who differ when it comes to wedding plans as well as the bride and her younger sister, Nyasha (Ito Aghayere) who clash over lifestyle choices. Big sister is the accomplished, serious professional woman who is strongly tied to her religious beliefs and customs, and the free-spirited little sister (who wasn't even asked to be a bridesmaid) who is tired of being berated for her choices. Tendi looks more to her aunt from Africa for guidance than her mother and is determined to have her look upon her choices as favorable. The source of comic relief in Familiar is Donald, the father (played by Harold Surratt), who sits back observing all the conflict and tries his best to take it all in stride. This family is one for the ages and how they deal with each other and common familiar issues is something all audiences can relate to. [more]

A Room of My Own

March 8, 2016

The most colorful character in more ways that one is Uncle Jackie (Cantone) who lives upstairs. A closeted gay man in a society that doesn’t accept him, he has become an angry, self-loathing misanthrope with a barbed tongue to match. Cantone gives a bigger-than-life performance that makes Jackie a truly memorable character. In the play’s quieter moments we find out what he has sacrificed all his adult life in order to remain in the old neighborhood and it is he who is keeping the family going with handouts that continually avert disaster. [more]

Pericles (Theatre for a New Audience)

March 7, 2016

Nunn’s adaptation rearranges some of the scenes and adds material from a prose version of the work by George Wilkins, believed to be Shakespeare’s collaborator. Using music, song, dancing, jousting and a veritable rainbow of colorful costumes, he has created an epic-sized revival that is always eye-filling and easy to follow. While some of the acting is uneven in this large cast of 29 including seven members of the Pigpen Theater Co., it must be said that this is not one of Shakespeare’s best plays as it makes use of unexpected events, many locations, and a large canvas, rather than psychological depth and deathless poetry. [more]

Rap Guide to Climate Chaos

March 7, 2016

For his latest production, Brinkman has assembled over 20 songs which, cohesively, tackle every aspect of the climate crisis. Starting with a background of the physics and chemistry behind what’s happening in the world, he begins the show with a crash course in climate science. Brinkman’s clever lyrics are both informative and comical, and the unique way in which the information is presented to the audience makes learning fun and entertaining. Not only that, the conversational approach in his rapping also helps to make the information more easily digestible. [more]

Hughie

March 5, 2016

When the audience enters, the curtain is up and Christopher Oram’s imposing scenic design of the faded hotel lobby is in view. The visual effect of its industrial greenish walls, dirty stone columns, chipped wooden adornments, ancient elevator, central staircase, frayed threadbare furnishings, severe front desk, and grimy windows is that of a stunning representation of hellish imprisonment. Also on view while the audience waits the play to start is the night clerk staring into space. [more]

Nice Fish

March 4, 2016

Todd Rosenthal’s remarkably atmospheric and evocative setting is waiting for the audience when they come into the theater: a huge expanse of a corrugated ice flow in Northern Minnesota in forced perspective with miniature cars, ice fishing huts and a train in the far distance. Erik, a dour, taciturn ice-fishing enthusiast played by Jim Lichtscheidl, dressed in a green parka and yellow cap, and Ron (Rylance), a fishing novice dressed in a glowing orange parka and matching hat, appear on the ice to drill holes in the frozen lake on this last day of the ice fishing season. As Ron tells us in his first monologue, “If you go into the woods, the back country, someplace past all human habitation, it is a good idea to wear orange and carry a gun, or, depending on the season, carry a fishing pole, or a camera with a big lens. Otherwise it might appear that you have no idea what you are doing…” [more]

Dead Dog Park

March 3, 2016

At the onset of the production, each cast member is introduced by walking onto stage one by one. Starring intently out into the audience, there is a general sense of unrest to be found behind the eyes of each performer. The house lights of the theater are still on, and the piercing gazes coming from the actors scattered across the stage immediately destroys any notion of a fourth wall. The fourth wall, the theatrical device that the audience can usually hide safely behind, is taken away from the audience before the production even begins. There is no question: from the time the very first actor takes the stage, it is established that the audience is just as responsible for the events of Barry Malawer’s "Dead Dog Park" as any one of the fictional characters in the story [more]

Smokefall

March 2, 2016

The play seems to be saying that life is full of suffering but love will conquer all, not a very new or profound message. One flashback (Violet and Daniel’s first date) is replayed at least three times with no new significance with each repeat. The title is a quote from T.S. Eliot’s "The Four Quartets": “The moment in the draughty church at smokefall/ Be remembered; involved with past and future./ Only through time time is conquered.” Unfortunately, like a great deal of late T.S. Eliot, these lines are too abstruse to have much bearing on the play. Smokefall is the sort of work that you either go with its whimsy or hate it. This is definitely not a play for all theatergoers. [more]

Tennessee Williams 1982

March 1, 2016

Under the umbrella title "Tennessee Williams 1982" (the year of both play’s composition the year as well as that of playwright’s death), The Playhouse Creatures Theatre Company is presenting the world premiere of “A Recluse and His Guest” (to be published this summer) and the New York premiere of “The Remarkable Rooming-House of Mme. Le Monde,” (included in the 2008 volume, The Traveling Companion and Other Plays.) Not only are these unfamiliar plays uncharacteristic of the writer’s other work (a fable and a Grand Guignol), they have been given a surrealistic production by director Cosmin Chivu who directed the 2013 provocative revival of "The Mutilated" which demonstrated the viability of that black comedy once consigned to the scrap heap. Both plays in this doublebill are unified by their cynicism and their dark view of the world. While the plays may not be to everyone’s taste, the doublecasting of the two plays demonstrates remarkable versatility on the part of the talented cast, which is at times uneven. [more]

The Cherry Orchard

February 25, 2016

The focus too often strays from Chekhov and his darkly comic portrait of a Russia to a piece of silly business or a maladroit placement of rows of audience members, breaking the fourth wall. He has the working class upstart Lopakhin sing “My Way,” the Frank Sinatra classic, to celebrate his buying the cherry orchard—a jarringly farcical bit. [more]

Smart People

February 24, 2016

The satire begins early: it turns out that although the department likes having Brian doing his research proving that whites are genetically racist, they are not happy with his conclusions. Although Jackson may be the smartest doctor in the room, he has trouble working with others and bending to authority on the job. Although Valerie has a Harvard degree, she cleans houses to pay her rent which ticks off her upper middle-class mother. However, she is not pleased when she attends an audition for “Mary, the social worker” and is asked instead to read for the part of “Shlonda” from the ‘hood. Ginny finds that her therapy clients perceive her as white, but she knows that in the talk of race in America, she is invisible as race is defined as between blacks and whites in modern discourse. [more]

The Good Girl

February 21, 2016

The chemistry between Gabriel and Baessato is fierce and electrifying as they get to know each other, and intensifies as Van begins to observe the human-like behavior of the robot and is determined to find out more. Anjali is hesitant to let him in on the secret, but reveals that the robot has developed an emotional bond to her, and sometimes responds to certain feelings such as loneliness and separation – often uttering the words, "don't leave me" through the door. Van is fascinated at what he finds out and the two join forces to figure out how best to capitalize on the service of the sex robot and how she can accommodate a greater (and richer) clientele by playing into their fantasy of the obedient housewife. [more]

The White Stag Quadrilogy

February 20, 2016

An element of "The White Stag Quadrilogy" which cannot go overlooked is the amount of dancing incorporated into the production. In lieu of proper production techniques, Wolfert and company instead choose to depict stags parading across the desert, or eagles flying through the sky, by way of “interpretive” dancing. Enlisting the staff of the Plaza Michelle for this purpose, the dancing trio of Derek Smith, Michelle Uranowitz, and Jaime Wright are together a band of merry misfits who revel in their undulating, gyrating, style of dance (choreographed in hilariously gratuitous fashion by Chloe Kernaghan). Referred to on multiple occasions by Wolfert as “trained professionals,” the self-aware ensemble is a recurring aspect of the play which is, time and time again—and again, hilarious. [more]

Prodigal Son

February 16, 2016

Television and film actor Timothée Chalamet (Showtime’s "Homeland" and Christopher Nolan’s "Interstellar") makes an impressive New York stage debut as the play’s young protagonist. The role is almost too small to contain his bigger-than-life portrayal: kinetic, animated, provoking, questioning, vital, dynamic. His moods turn on a dime and he can shift from being a sophisticated adult back to being a little boy in a moment. Tall and lanky, he suggests the author but as he must have looked back in 1965. Also making his Manhattan Theatre Club debut, David Potters as his roommate Austin is tremendously sympathetic as a young man afraid of breaking the rules who has led a very sheltered life up until now. [more]

The Woodsman

February 15, 2016

The forest setting by Ortiz seems to envelop the audience as does the sound design which is created by the actors in tandem with violinist Naomi Florin who plays Edward W. Hardy’s melancholy original score throughout the evening. The impressive Bunraku-style puppets are the work of Ortiz who seems to be a one-man theater corporation able to do everything required himself including his co-direction with Claire Karpen. The only wrinkle is that at times it is a bit confusing as to what is happening since after the opening prologue there is no dialogue and some of the mime is ambiguous. However, the show with folk-style backwoods costumes by Molly Seidel and atmospheric lighting by Catherine Clark & Jamie Roderick is always theatrical, always hypnotic. [more]

Adults Only

February 12, 2016

Directed by Alex Correia, the seven different plays presented each serve a purpose. "The Heart Attack," which opens the show, is solemn yet silly. Taking place in a hospital, Nate Rollins is a patient who thinks he is having a heart attack, and Shane Allen is the Doctor assigned to his case. The premise is initially that of just a hypochondriac in action, but once the check-up has been completed, the tone changes to that of a more poignant and meaningful exchange between two grown men. While not all the plays are equally as funny, humor is present throughout the entire evening to keep the overall tone on the lighter side. [more]

Defendant Maurice Chevalier

February 11, 2016

His great grandnephew, the French-born and raised Alexis Chevalier has written this well researched play with music that is based in part on Maurice Chevalier’s memoirs. It is structurally problematic with fantasy episodes, extraneous musical and dance sequences, and numerous often-lengthy scenes that don’t cohere. The dialogue is straightforwardly purposeful imparting historical facts and details with occasional bursts of poetic qualities. [more]

Broadway & the Bard

February 9, 2016

At the top of the show Cariou tells us that he made his Broadway debut in the Stratford Connecticut Shakespeare Festival’s transfer of "Henry V" in 1969 and six months later in the spring of 1970 appeared at the Palace Theatre in the new musical" Applause." Ever since then, he has had the idea to combine Shakespeare and song with “tunes that either support the text or are the antithesis.” The evening proceeds to pair Shakespeare and song thematically, like the opening sequence which offers Orsino’s “If music be the food of love, play on” from "Twelfth Night," followed by Sondheim’s “Love, I Hear” from "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum" and Rodgers and Hart’s “Falling in Love with Love,” from "The Boys from Syracuse," based on Shakespeare’s "The Comedy of Errors." [more]

Utility

February 8, 2016

Schwend’s dialogue is realistic, believable, and true to life, as are the characters. As a play, however, it is a bit of a downer as we watch Amber become wearier without any relief in sight. Aside from Chris who is always putting everything off until tomorrow, Amber’s mother (who has been conned into liking him as a good father) is always begrudging about helping out though she lives down the block and doesn’t have anything else to do. The atmosphere and the characters are real, but each scene is just more and more of the same which becomes depressing and tiresome – just like Amber’s life. There is also the question of where the money comes from to buy all of the items that are carried in the door – unless the family is living on credit card debt which is never mentioned. This is also the sort of play where we hear a get deal about the children Janie, Max and Sammy, but the author manages to keep them off stage all evening. [more]

O, Earth

February 7, 2016

Nevertheless, Wills’ production is continually taking us by surprise both by his casting and his choices. His transgendered characters are played by transgendered actors. Moran’s Wilder and Angelos’ Ellen look a great deal like their counterparts, while Blankson-Wood and Heleringer as Spencer and Duncan, respectively, are a hoot as young entitled gay men who have totally bought into the capitalist system. “Mizz June” and Gentili, who are themselves transgendered icons, bring an air of authenticity to their roles as the colorful and outspoken Marsha and Sylvia. [more]

Chatting with the Tea Party

February 6, 2016

Cast as the curious playwright Rich, actor Jeffrey C. Wolf is the central focus of the evening. Wolf narrates the play by way of a series of monologues, which preface interviews with various members of the Tea Party or other pertinent political figures. Carrying the show on his back, Wolf is an agreeable narrator with an infectious curiosity. At times the play navigates deeply into American History, and when he dives into a fact or number heavy-preamble, his pace is cognizant of the fact that the audience is best assumed unfamiliar with it. Thanks to this, exposition regarding past political events is well-received and easily digestible. [more]

I and You

February 4, 2016

So begins a remarkable comedy-drama of two very opposite teenagers who shouldn’t have met and wouldn’t have if Anthony had not chosen the reclusive, mysterious Caroline for his partner. The play makes use of opposites, beginning with the theme of the poem, love and death, and in Whitman’s typical fashion, everything in between. But Caroline and Anthony are also opposites in every possible way: pessimistic/optimistic, sedentary/athletic, closed minded/open minded, white/black, friendless/popular, careless student/straight A student. They appear to have nothing in common, but by the end of the play they are drawn to each other through the magical words of Whitman and Leaves of Grass. Ultimately, Caroline and Anthony have revealed their dreams, fears and true selves to each other and to us. [more]
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