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Bleach

January 12, 2019

Do you have any objection to being touched?” asks the theater representative of audience members when they check in at the Brooklyn basement where British playwright Dan Ireland-Reeves’ "Bleach" is performed. That question is crucial as one attendee is called upon to silently portray a flashback character who has slight physical contact with the actor, and another gets a brief grinding lap dance. Those who state a negative preference are left alone. [more]

Smoker

January 7, 2019

Mr. Brader’s writing on this fascinating subject is sharp, insightful and well-observed. As a performer, Brader’s breezy personability endows his personal odyssey with an appealing everyman quality as he appears as himself and impersonates various other characters. At 80 minutes, the show is overall compelling. Cold turkey, gradual cessation, hypnosis and bicycle spinning are all attempted to stop with varying results. [more]

Spitting in the Face of the Devil

January 5, 2019

Mr. Brader is an engaging and soulful performer with a smooth and pleasing vocal delivery. Brader is an admirer of Spalding Gray and channels that monumental artist’s impassioned sense of storytelling. As a writer, he offers a vividly candid but somewhat flawed treatment of his explosive autobiographical material. Arguably a tauter and more focused scenario would flow more effectively.  Still, Spitting in the Face of the Devil ultimately achieves redemptive impact. [more]

The Good Adoptee

January 4, 2019

Employing humor, documentary detail and suspense, Bachner offers an emotional detective story. Wit and whimsy meld with poignancy as the picaresque quest begins in present day New York City. It involves a gallery of characters, flashbacks. and often frustrating twists and turns, several of which are legal obstacles that impede such searches. Bureaucrats, a celebrated “adoption hunter,” the adopted parents and other key figures are all imaginatively incorporated into the narrative. Bridgforth is vocally and physically titanic as she switches back and forth between being Susan and playing the other characters with grandly distinctive characterizations. [more]

C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters

December 21, 2018

Some novels are more stage-worthy than others, and "C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters" is not among those that are. As adapted for the stage by Max McLean--who also directs the production with a flair for the grotesque--and Jeffrey Fiske, "C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters" is an unfortunate jumble of gibberish and gobbledygook, told at breakneck speed by Brent Harris, who is playing His Abysmal Sublimity Screwtape. [more]

The Tricky Part

December 4, 2018

Overbearing nuns, eccentric priests and confusing religious tenets are detailed with stand-up comedy gusto by performer Martin Moran in recounting his Colorado Catholic upbringing during his absorbing self-written confessional solo play,"The Tricky Part." Following that familiar list of targets and lively audience interaction, the main thread of the show is disclosed. [more]

Tom Pain (based on nothing)

November 23, 2018

Hall is not helped by an over-zealous production that, for some reason, turns the Signature’s Irene Diamond Stage into a construction site, complete with drop cloths, ceiling netting and lots of ladders ringing the stage—an odd, misleading choice by set designer Amy Rubin. Jen Schriever’s lighting manages to make this set mysterious. Schriever is also tasked with following Hall/Pain in his travels into the auditorium, using houselights along with stage lights with great skill. [more]

The New One on Broadway

November 18, 2018

"The New One," directed by Seth Barrish, is about Birbiglia and his wife’s decision to become parents, the struggles they go through to arrive at pregnancy, and his fretfulness about how becoming a family man will change his life and identity. This is familiar comedic territory but Birbiglia gives it new energy, thanks to the telling details in his stories. For instance, we’ve all heard jokes or seen sitcom bits about how clinics use pornography to help guys produce lab samples of sperm. Birbiglia’s response to the situation is unexpected: he takes the experience mostly in stride, but he is both bemused and amused by the extreme genres of porn provided at the clinic he visits. [more]

Natural Shocks

November 14, 2018

Played by Pascale Armand, known for her Tony nominated Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in "Eclipsed," Angela is the heroine of Lauren Gunderson’s new one-woman play, "Natural Shocks," being given its world premiere by the Women’s Project at the WP Theater. The play has previously been given over 100 staged readings in 45 states over a period of two months. As much as one wants to admire this tour de force for an accomplished actress, in its current form the play has several problems. [more]

Kennedy: Bobby’s Last Crusade

November 9, 2018

There are some fine elements in the portrayal. Arrow’s Kennedy-clan dialect seems believable—though maybe slightly over-baked at points (especially when, late in the play, he sings bits of Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land”). Happily, he is able to suggest Kennedy’s deep compassion for forgotten, disadvantaged Americans. But because we don’t see him interacting one-on-one with other characters, he’s hampered in his ability to make this quality fully evident. [more]

I’m Not A Comedian…I’m Lenny Bruce

November 5, 2018

Purring sensually with a slight nasal New York accent, dressed in a black suit, white shirt and a black tie and handling a microphone while in front of its stand, actor Ronnie Marmo vocally and physically conjures up the presence of that monumental performer in his imaginative self-written solo show, "I’m Not a Comedian…I’m Lenny Bruce." The rascally Mr. Marmo’s haunted facial features, wild eyes and styled dark hair all evoke an accurate resemblance. [more]

Prinze: The One-Man Show

November 5, 2018

Sonera opens the show with Prinze doing one of his sets at the Improv Club in New York City, 1976, beginning with one of his famous lines, “Looking good!” and continuing with his sardonic comments about Puerto Ricans (“A lot of people think Puerto Ricans are responsible for cockroaches.”) and civil rights.  He speaks of touring to Florida and the frustration of having to perform in front of old people and then goes on to disparage blacks and gays, all material that would be PI today, but delivered as a “nice guy” who’s just observing the world. [more]

Sakina’s Restaurant

October 31, 2018

In an apparent effort to demonstrate that he’s become one of us, Mandvi arrives in the theater by walking down the central aisle at the Minetta Lane Theatre, wide-eyed, as he peers and takes in the audience, on his way to the stage. And indeed, Azgi’s had at least 20 years to become increasingly assimilated: "Sakina’s Restaurant" was originally presented at the American Place Theatre in 1998. [more]

Love, Linda

October 29, 2018

Elegantly inhabiting the small Triad stage, Holland’s Linda is clearly a class act, with a smooth, rich, dark voice.  Hearing her tale of their days in the twenties cruising the high points of Europe, the culturally historical figures they carouse with—including Diaghilev, Chanel and Stravinsky—and Cole’s early successes are fascinating:  cue “Ours,” “I Love Paris,” “Miss Otis Regrets” (written for the legendary Bricktop in whose boîte the Porters hangs out with their fun-loving, rich friends) and the adorable “Scampi,” the triumphant tale of a mischievous shrimp. [more]

Sesar

October 26, 2018

Christopher Plummer’s guest appearance on a 1987 episode of "The Cosby Show" giving a Shakespearean mini-recital in the Huxtable living room had a profound effect on writer and performer Orlando Pabotoy. That clip is a highlight of Mr. Pabotoy’s marvelous solo show, "Sesar" that recounts his relationship with his heroic father. Opening with a furious recreation of a storm and closing with an enchanting visual surprise, it’s 65 theatrical and emotionally resonant minutes taking place in the family bathroom [more]

Wild Abandon

October 8, 2018

What our mothers owe us - and what we owe them - is at the heart of Leenya Rideout's one-woman autobiographical show, "Wild Abandon." In it, the prodigiously accomplished singer, songwriter, playwright, actor, and multi-instrumentalist comes to terms with both her mother's life and her own. Perhaps these twin goals converge a bit too neatly, especially given the harrowingly true complications Leenya introduces along the way, but there are so many hard-earned and poignant insights in "Wild Abandon" that the end result is successful nonetheless. [more]

I Hear You and Rejoice

September 18, 2018

Exhibiting the dazzling wizardry of someone who trained at the École Jacques Lecoq in Paris, Murfi is breathtaking as he clowns, mimes and barrels all over the space while distinctively rendering each character. His synthetic gray hair, malleable facial features, striking eyes that are in constant motion and affable presence enable him to swiftly shift from one denizen to another and he also channels several simultaneously. He plays Kitsy, Pat, a busybody who runs the newspaper store, a family friend, priests, and an assortment of colorful locals. [more]

beep boop

September 11, 2018

"beep boop," Richard Saudek’s hour-long sad-sack romp through modern man’s constant love/hate bout with technology, is at HERE, the avant-garde arts center in SoHo. Its deft combination of mime, music, audio-visual effects and—yes—modern technology is worth a visit to this very active performance space, if for nothing else than to see Saudek disappear into his laptop. [more]

Hershey Felder as Irving Berlin

September 9, 2018

Using a format that has worked for him before in his George Gershwin and Leonard Bernstein evenings, Hershey Felder has returned to 59E59 Theaters in a charming biographical musical as legendary songwriter Irving Berlin. As Felder narrates his story becoming Berlin, he also sings and plays over 30 of his most famous songs, as well as some not so familiar today, including “Blue Skies,” “White Christmas” and the iconic, “God Bless America’. [more]

Private Peaceful

September 8, 2018

Wearing a realistic period uniform and donning a metal helmet, the youthful and animated Mr. O’Regan recalls the electric persona of the young Tom Courtney as he vividly portrays numerous characters besides the wide-eyed Thomas. Utilizing his rich vocal talents and wiry physique, these strong characterizations include his solid brother, a vicious old woman, and various martinets. If nothing else, Private Peaceful showcases O’Regan’s considerable talents. [more]

Intrusion

August 31, 2018

More in the style of informative advocacy event for the lecture circuit then a theatrical work, "Intrusion" wanly tackles the subject of rape. "I set out to create a show that addresses the systemic problem of rape culture from an intellectual standpoint…” is how writer-performer Qurrat Ann Kadwani describes her solo play that was inspired by the 2012 fatal gang rape of Jyoti Singh in India. Ms. Kadwani’s intellectual approach is the problem. Instead of a raw depiction of the topic, this is a dry recitation. [more]

The New One

August 17, 2018

Comedian/monologist Mike Birbiglia, best known for "Sleepwalk with Me," has the remarkable knack of finding humor in autobiographical crises that shouldn’t be funny but in his hands are uproarious. His latest show, "The New One," is just as hilarious as the previous ones. When Mike and his wife, the poet Jennifer Hope Stein, got married he pointedly told her that he did not ever want to have children, and she agreed. Ten years later Jen has changed her mind and tells him, “A baby wouldn’t have to change the way we live our lives,” probably the understatement of the century. [more]

Beloved

August 9, 2018

Translated into English from the Swedish by Charlotte Barslund, Ms. Langseth’s trite sexual obsession scenario is reminiscent of the novels of Patricia Highsmith and the French thriller films of Claude Chabrol. Langseth lays on sociological concerns to give the work more cultural heft. There are bromides about the class system and rebelling against the patriarchy. [more]

My Life on a Diet

August 2, 2018

Hence:  "My Life on a Diet," a comically rich stroll through her career in TV, theater and film.  Written by Taylor and her late husband, Joseph Bologna and originally directed by Bologna, Diet is currently at the Theatre at St. Clement’s where a contagiously comfortable Taylor, elegantly attired (gown by Pol’ Atteu) settles down in Harry Feiner’s kitschy, carpeted set to schmooze with her audience.  Taylor, now in her eighties, begins with some self-deprecating humor about aging, after showing herself at various stages in her life. [more]

Stray

July 23, 2018

As the sleek and black-clad Tanya Marquardt vigorously wraps up her self-written 60-minute autobiographical show "Stray," with her giddy dancing and hurling her ponytail around, the aimless first half has been redeemed by the more cohesive second half. It’s been like traveling back in time to Club 57, The Pyramid Club or another of the East Village performance venues of the 1980’s. [more]

Coming Clean

June 29, 2018

For 85 minutes, we get a take on the gay male experience that includes a randy Midwestern adolescence, waitering and escorting in Manhattan, crystal meth and recovery.  The writing is well-constructed, contains flavorful descriptive passages and is forceful. The personable Mr. Strothmann delivers his monologue in a charming manner that realizes its dramatic and comedic qualities while taking his shirt off and dropping his pants along the way. [more]

Laura Bush Killed a Guy

June 26, 2018

With her honeyed and smoky Texan vocal inflections, wearing a short-haired lustrous brown wig and costume designer Rhonda Key’s gleaming trim white suit, actress Lisa Hodsoll is phenomenal as former First Lady Laura Bush in author Ian Allen’s kaleidoscopic solo play, "Laura Bush Killed a Guy." For 95 mesmerizing minutes, Ms. Hodsoll gives a smashing performance that transcends mere impersonation or campy replication. Looking and sounding like Mrs. Bush, with her twinkling eyes and beaming presence, Hodsoll’s characterization is a dazzling amalgam of comedy, emotion and depth. An only child, she and her parents went on a mission... [more]

Another Woman’s Baby

June 12, 2018

Blonde, of ample physique, and possessed of an appealing matter of fact vocal delivery that soars with range, Mollenkamp has an engaging everywoman persona. She veers from dry humor to raw emotion with flair. Costume designer Victoria Depew’s striking all-white ensemble with black fringed accents endow Mollenkamp with a spiritual glow. [more]

Feeding the Dragon

April 8, 2018

Under the assured direction of Maria Mileaf in a production which started at the Hartford Stage earlier this year, Sharon Washington is a captivating and entertaining presence both as she narrates her story and also gives commentary and hints of her life since then. Told with the innocence of childhood, "Feeding the Dragon" will also enchant readers and nostalgia buffs alike, for the world that she describes does not exist anymore now that libraries are high tech places ruled by computers and other media – and without apartments for a live-in staff at the top of the building. [more]

My Brilliant Divorce

March 21, 2018

The lithe and silvery-haired Ms. Gilbert dazzles for 90 minutes as she addresses the audience directly with her warm and joyous presence. She tells jokes, sings, and dances, all while conveying pathos.  In addition to her vivid primary characterization, she portrays 16 other characters of various ages and nationalities with a commanding assortment of dialects and physical traits. [more]

Dogs of Rwanda

March 13, 2018

Dan Hodge commandingly plays the American narrator who has written a book about his youthful experiences in Rwanda during its 1994 civil war and genocide. Mr. Hodge created the role in the 2017 Philadelphia production of the play. The boyish yet mature, and personable Hodge perfectly portrays this young man traumatized by witnessing atrocities. His All-American presence, good looks and charisma energize the grim and familiar material. He enters through the theater and addresses the audience throughout with charm. [more]

Time No Line

February 27, 2018

In the moving and affirmative final sequence, journal entries from 1989 to 1990 are projected as text that details deaths of friends. Kelly is on the floor silently drawing shapes with white and then red chalk that becomes a configuration of human forms. One of the entries shown from that era reveals his HIV positive diagnosis. [more]

In the Body of the World

February 20, 2018

"Body" dovetails Ensler’s personal agonizing battle with cancer and her involvement with a feminist group in the Democratic Republic of Congo where women have faced violence, rape and almost unending disruption of their lives.  Ensler’s input was requested by Dr. Denis Mukwege, a Congolese gynecologist whose ministrations to the female victims of the sadism of soldiers and government officials paints a litany of one tragic event after another. [more]
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