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L.O.V.E.R.

September 18, 2019

If you are put off by the idea of women defining themselves based on the men in their lives, then Lois Robbins’ one-woman play "L.O.V.E.R." is not for you. However, if you concede that there are women today whose mothers brought them up to believe that they are nothing without a man, then you will find "L.O.V.E.R." entertaining if not enlightening. Last seen Off Broadway in the revival of "Cactus Flower," Robbins proves to be a very personable and genial narrator of this semi-autobiographical story of love, sex and finding contentment. [more]

“the way she spoke”

July 26, 2019

Written by Isaac Gomez, who lives across the border in El Paso, Texas, "the way she spoke" is a one-woman show that fails to speak to us: it’s performed by Mexican film star Kate del Castillo who attempts to give different accents and vocal mannerisms to the various characters she impersonates, without much success. She is no Whoopi Goldberg or Anna Devere Smith, who were--and in Smith’s case, still is--masters or impersonation. [more]

Jacqueline Novak: Get On Your Knees

July 23, 2019

Dressed in gray jeans, a gray T-shirt and white sneakers, the gutsy seasoned comic Ms. Novak expertly paces, gesticulates and does wild double take after double take while clutching a microphone. With her soothing yet expressive vocal tones Novak confidently delivers her masterfully crafted material. It’s comprised of a multitude of classic setup punchlines, precise observations and breezy conversational riffs. The results are very funny and thought provoking. “Death is coming” sets off a somberly pragmatic rumination as there’s more than sex to her routine. [more]

Casting Aspersions

June 26, 2019

Passero’s expressive tenor voice, twinkling eyes, seasoned character actor presence which recalls that of Michael Tucker and jovial personality enables him to entertainingly chronicle his interesting life in 75 breezy minutes. The memory of his parents bringing home the original cast recording of Cabaret incites a smashing rendition of "Willkommen." It’s one of several delightful musical interludes with selections from Applause, equally as accomplished. A wicked Nicholas Cage is among his several spot-on impressions of those he’s been in contact with. Mentioned in stories are Paul Rudd and Leonardo DiCaprio. [more]

Yes! Reflections of Molly Bloom

June 23, 2019

Employing her charming accent with its expressive vocal cadences and exhibiting her alluring sleek physicality and charismatic presence, Moloney totally embodies Molly Bloom as she forcefully conveys the icon’s humor and wistfulness. She authoritatively enacts a myriad of often sensual personal reflections with colossal flair. Whether gleefully reciting Joyce’s graphic dialogue, laying on her back with her legs spread or squatting over a chamber pot, she is fearless in delivering her searing dramatic and comedic characterization. [more]

Proof of Love

May 24, 2019

Never really losing her cool, Pressley always commands the stage even though scenic designer Alexis Distler has made it difficult by creating a huge private room, beautiful in its understated way in blues and beiges, but difficult for one person to fill the space. Yes, Maurice is presumed to be in his hospital bed on stage right, and Lashonda is on the smartphone, but Pressley must negotiate the entire stage herself. Director Jade King Carroll has found reasons for her to move around from chair to sofa to a chair on the other side of the room, but has not helped much in making the play build an arc. The effective lighting by Mary Louise Geiger subtly shifts from afternoon to evening light without our realizing how much time has passed. [more]

The Pink Unicorn

May 18, 2019

Alice Ripley (Best Actress Tony Award winner for "Next to Normal") is, in a word, astounding. Her Trisha is brimming with curiosity, honesty, humor and grace; she is inspiring to watch and simply amazing. Edie’s characterization of Trisha is delicate and poignant, funny and sincere; her illuminating script is sheer writing perfection. [more]

Link Link Circus

April 28, 2019

“Welcome to the smallest circus in the world!” exclaims the beaming Isabella Rossellini at the start of her self-written whimsical performance piece "Link Link Circus." “This show is a theatrical conference on the subject of Can animals think, feel, and have emotions?” explains Ms. Rossellini about the aim of this enchanting exploration containing scientific flourishes where she is joined by her dog and a puppeteer for a delightful 80 minutes. [more]

17 Border Crossings

April 24, 2019

"17 Border Crossings" is one of the most technically adroit Off-Broadway shows to be seen thanks to the split second cooperation between Phillips’ spare scenery design, David Todaro’s brilliantly inventive lighting and Robert Kaplowitz’ sound design and occasional music.  How Phillips uses the table alone is astonishing, literally creating multiple angles of observation, including an astonishing simulation of peering at the Passenger from up above. [more]

The Humours of Bandon

April 12, 2019

The blonde, animated and spunky Ms. McAuliffe portrays 16-year-old Dublin resident Annie who’s been dancing since childhood. Wearing tights, a T-shirt and a varsity jacket, McAuliffe’s delightful characterization is marked by wise girlishness. She alternates between playing Annie, her sturdy stage mother, friends, and a few incidental characters, all with detailed verve and a pleasing accent. Her writing is a concise breezy amalgam of factual details, well drawn figures, and momentum. [more]

Fleabag

March 28, 2019

If Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s "Fleabag" sounds familiar, it may be because of the cult television show now in its second season adapted from this one-woman play. Having premiered at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2013 and having had three successful London runs, it finally arrives in New York with its author-star in a sold out production at the SoHo Playhouse. Not only is this a riveting, liberated evening in the theater, it marks the local debut of a supremely talented actress and writer. [more]

Accidentally Brave

March 26, 2019

“Everything is copy” was Nora Ephron’s maxim about the potential of all of one’s life experiences to be fashioned into narrative material if one has the cachet to be paid attention to. Actress Maddie Corman sure has a lot of copy as well the affluence and connections to get it out there in "Accidentally Brave," her 90 minute self-written solo show. It’s profanity-laden therapeutic storytelling with high production values succeeding as inspirational entertainment for those with an affinity for her upscale sensibility. [more]

The Day I Became Black

March 24, 2019

A searing epiphany at "The Day I Became Black"’s climax redeems its uneven mixture of confessional and stand-up. The show is written and performed by the engaging biracial young comedian and actor Bill Posley. During 80 cluttered minutes we sketchily learn about his stern though supportive African-American father and Caucasian mother of Kentucky “white trash” origin. The Boston-reared Mr. Posley charts the complexities of his racial background due to his black appearance. Navigating through society, dating women and interacting with the police are concretely explored. That Posley is an Iraq War veteran is mentioned only in passing. [more]

A Jewish Joke

March 14, 2019

"A Jewish Joke" brings immediacy to not only the personal and professional effects of the Hollywood blacklist, but to the current onslaught of internet finger-pointing and fear-mongering that can, and does, ruin lives even more quickly than in the slow-moving fifties.  Watching Bernie squirm and sweat over issues not of his own making, but issues that will take him down, is made only slightly more palatable by his self-deprecating humor. [more]

Colin Quinn: Red State Blue State

January 31, 2019

The Brooklyn-born Quinn has been performing stand-up since the 1980’s and his seasoned wise guy New Yorker persona was once showcased on Saturday Night Live and in recent years in several theater pieces. Clad in a plaid shirt, black jeans and sneakers, this show business veteran uses his tuneful gravelly voice with its cadences of the streets to optimum effect. His material is a model example of superior comic writing. Bursts of perfectly crafted one-liners constructed in the classic form of set ups and punchlines, skillfully composed observational riffs and occasionally addressing audience members directly, all sustain "Red State Blue State"’s 75 minutes. [more]

Quentin Crisp: Naked Hope

January 31, 2019

The young British actor Mark Farrelly brilliantly channels the 20th century cultural icon’s witty presence in his highly theatrical self-written solo show. [more]

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]
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