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The Artist Will Be With You in a Moment

March 12, 2020

With its eloquent nods to conceptual art, good-natured comedic tone and superior performance, "The Artist Will Be With You in a Moment" is an intelligent entertainment. [more]

Incantata

March 7, 2020

Some books and movies and poems do not lend themselves to theatricalization, and that’s certainly the case with "Incantata," which is currently being given its American premiere at the Irish Repertory Theatre. Though it’s only 80 minutes long, it felt like an eternity--and not only because of the story--but also the telling. What’s even more annoying is that it tells the same poem, again and again, and seemingly again. [more]

Ashley Blaker: Goy Friendly

February 17, 2020

"Goy Friendly" is clearly meant as a light entertainment with lecture-demonstration components and succeeds as such.  It’s delightful spending time with this superb raconteur, even if he cleverly sidesteps the deeper implications of his subject matter. [more]

Happy Birthday Doug

February 16, 2020

Mr. Droege’s sharp and well-observed writing renders each of these familiar figures with biting depth, achieving grand mini-portraiture. Though preoccupied with comedy, an undercurrent of proportioned sentiment elevates the work above mere caricature. Promiscuity, aging, drugs, alcohol, loneliness and the past are among the issues eloquently explored in relation to the gay male lifestyle. Droege’s shrewd structure has each of the participants alternatively popping up to chatter while imparting pertinent personal details, fueling the semblance of a narrative. [more]

Where We Stand

February 14, 2020

Amidst the hubbub that includes coerced audience clapping and singalongs, we attempt to discern what the point is. It appears to be the story of an outsider who takes up residence in a rural locality and is accused of a crime;  the audience votes whether to convict or acquit him. Several audience members have been given pages of lofty speeches to recite. “The words your fellow Townspeople quoted come from Dr. Cornell West and Coretta Scott King,” states the program. Where We Stand’s 70 minutes are mildly engaging if often baffling and do make some impact. [more]

Border People

February 5, 2020

Hoyle has brought his most recent play, "Border People," to New York City in a production directed by Nicole A. Watson. It’s a work dedicated to people who dwell along borders of various sorts—“geographical or cultural”—and it suggests that no matter how clearly lines of demarcation may be drawn, they can seem arbitrary and sometimes strangely porous. Hoyle presents nearly a dozen characters in this show: diverse in age, gender, race, nationality, religion, sexuality and temperament. He includes people from one side or another of actual U.S. borders, both to the north and to the south. We also meet characters from the Bronx who live along the borders that separate the borough’s “projects” from the outside world. [more]

BOOM

January 22, 2020

Employing an impressive array of voices and mannerisms, and only sometimes augmented with a wig or article of clothing, Miller as “Narrator” impersonates numerous performers, personalities, and politicians of the era, voicing every commercial and even dubs his own parents in short video clips at the very beginning of the piece. “100 voices. 25 years. 1 man,” the publicity statement declares, and Miller doesn’t disappoint. [more]

Miss America’s Ugly Daughter:  Bess Myerson & Me

January 18, 2020

More in the spirit of Carrie Fisher than Christina Crawford, performer Barra Grant chronicles her life and that of her famous mother in her engaging and smartly presented self-written solo show, "Miss America's Ugly Daughter: Bess Myerson & Me." Nostalgic New Yorkers will have their memories refreshed while others might be delightfully informed. It’s a harrowing, insightful and often very funny 90 minutes. [more]

The Gospel of John

December 11, 2019

After marveling at Ken Jennings’ power of memorization, one has to admire his ability to deliver the entire text of "The Gospel of John" with unwavering clarity and devotion to its meaning both as literature and as a Christian lodestone. An agile actor (and singer), Jennings (the original Tobias in "Sweeney Todd"), deftly tells the story of Jesus as seen through the eyes of John the Baptist.  The actor roams about a simple raised platform in front of a rough-hewn back curtain made of wrinkled tan cloth.  What looks like a handmade bench—a subtle reference to Jesus’ vocation?—completes the set. [more]

The Santa Closet

December 10, 2019

Houses on the Moon Theater Company’s delightful and earnest mission is to “dispel ignorance and isolation through the theatrical amplification of unheard voices.” "The Santa Closet," another one-man show written and performed by the company’s co-founder Jeffrey Solomon, doesn’t reach the lofty goals of some of his other plays; however, the newly updated, tenth-year anniversary production of this frothy, zany tale is nevertheless aloft with quite a few grins and chuckles. [more]

Fires in the Mirror

November 17, 2019

The Reverend Al Sharpton, Angela Davis, and Sonny Carson are among the two dozen celebrities, cross section of New Yorkers, and male and female integral figures of diverse ethnicities that are given astounding portrayals by actor Michael Benjamin Washington. These simulations occur during this bedazzling revival of conceiver and writer Anna Deavere Smith’s acclaimed 1992 solo play about the Crown Heights Riots, "Fires in the Mirror." [more]

A Woman of the World

November 3, 2019

Kathleen Chalfant adds another feather to her cap as Emily Dickinson’s posthumous editor Mabel Loomis Todd in the world premiere of Rebecca Gilman’s new one-woman play, "A Woman of the World," presented by The Acting Company in association with Miranda Theatre Company at 59E59 Theaters. Staged by Miranda’s artistic director Valentina Fratti with elegant assurance, Chalfant is both fascinating and seductive as this real life woman who in the 1880’s and 1890’s scandalized conventional Amherst, Massachusetts, with her liberated and bohemian behavior long before such goings on became acceptable for women – or men. [more]

Bella Bella

October 31, 2019

Like a great many history plays, Harvey Fierstein's "Bella Bella" is as much about the present as the past, paralleling everything that's gone wrong now with what went wrong then. Unsurprisingly, it's also shamelessly biased, with the first word in the play's title apparently meant to be read in Italian as part of Fierstein's banally straightforward tribute to Bella Abzug, the feistiest of feisty 1970's New York City politicians, best known for her take-no-prisoners liberalism as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. One's enjoyment of the play probably depends on how prone you are to clap or hiss along with the rest of the unambiguously sympathetic Manhattan Theatre Club audience, even if it's only in your own head. [more]

Victor

October 16, 2019

The play captures emotions that many of us have felt, from unrequited love, to loss. Seldom are we allowed access to such a raw story and candidness. In a time where we shield each other from truths, this stark and unapologetic performance allows us to feel what Victor meant to Edgar. [more]

Katsura Sunshine’s Rakugo

September 29, 2019

Katsura Sunshine is the stage name of this charismatic 49-year-old Toronto-born performer who relocated to Japan and apprenticed to a Rakugo artiste. Mr. Sunshine eventually became a notable practitioner in his own right and has the distinction of being a Westerner. Sunshine is affable, animated and possessed of a pleasing fast-paced vocal delivery that demonstrates comic timing and dramatic heft with a Canadian lilt. This vocal expressiveness combined with his shock of jagged blonde hair, striking facial features that he contorts into a gallery of expressions enables him to command the stage. Wearing a kimono, kneeling at a small table and handling the hallowed props of a fan and a hand cloth, he evokes the genre’s essence with assured authenticity. [more]

All the Rage

September 21, 2019

Both Moran and his script are disarming, captivating, touching, and thought-provoking. The audience cranes to hear his every truth-packed word, feeling his moments of joy and triumph as well as those of disappointment, resignation and, yes, even anger. [more]

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]
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