News Ticker

April Matthis

Toni Stone

June 30, 2019

Lydia R. Diamond’s "Toni Stone" is a tour de force for one actress and Obie Award winner April Matthis gives a bravura performance as the first woman to play professional baseball as part of the Negro League. Although she is backed by eight men who from time to time make up the teams she was on, this is basically a one-woman show. In fact, this might have been a better play if Toni was the only character we had to follow on stage. However, director Pam MacKinnon excellently defines each character as we meet them in various combination; we just don’t know who they are most of the time. [more]

Everyone’s Fine with Virginia Woolf

June 13, 2018

“What a dump” is the immortal opening line of Edward Albee’s dramatic masterpiece, "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?".  In the inane spoof "Everyone’s Fine with Virginia Woolf," it’s spoken by George instead of Martha while he is brightly lit and standing in a doorway. This instantly signifies to those who are familiar with the original work that we’re in for an irreverent ride. However, the promise of a wry send-up very quickly descends into pretentious pointlessness. [more]

Measure for Measure (Elevator Repair Service)

October 21, 2017

Director John Collins, founder of ERS, has set the play in an office or conference room with three long tables (in Jim Findlay’s design which eventually grows tiresome)  and a great many stick telephones by which the characters often call each other to relay Shakespeare’s lines as if they are working from their offices. The walls of the set become screens for the text to scroll upwards through most of the play; at time we even see it five ways including the ceiling and with four panels in the back as well as on the back wall. Whether this is to remind us that this is a play of language, it is usually distracting and not very revealing. Often the actors speak so fast that it impossible to follow them and then in a brilliant coup de theatre one scene (that between brother and sister Claudio and Isabella) is spoken so slowly that it seems to reveal hidden meanings not noticeable before. [more]

Signature Plays

May 30, 2016

It’s clear why Edward Albee’s "The Sandbox" (1959), María Irene Fornés’ "Drowning" (1986) and Adrienne Kennedy’s "Funnyhouse of a Negro" (1964) are considered modern absurdist classics. They hew to the territory the truly greats like Samuel Beckett, Eugene Ionesco, the Dadas and Alfred Jarry explored, with Beckett the most influential, particularly in the first two plays, interpreting them with an American spin. If they are not as effective—if they seem somehow clichéd—the playwrights cannot be faulted. The Art World simply moves on. [more]

Antlia Pneumatica

April 7, 2016

Rachel Hauck’s scenic design is the most outstanding feature of the interminable "Antlia Pneumatica." Ms. Hauck accurately and vividly represents the Texas ranch setting by an elaborate kitchen counter top in the center of the bare stage that is surrounded by shrubbery. It’s very functional as much of the activities involve preparing a feast. [more]

Iowa

April 16, 2015

An actor in a suit wearing a pony mask and a tail trots out on stage a few times and later appears some more times without the mask to sing. A woman in a burqa (ordered from Amazon) walks around with a laptop. An ensemble of relatively mature women cavorts as high school cheerleaders, one of whom has sex with the pony. This same multi-racial group have another production number as all of them portray teen detective Nancy Drew. The show opens and closes with a young girl dressed as a boy in a seersucker shorts suit who sings. The drawn out finale involves a bunch of polygamous wives wearing different colored pastel gowns and singing what is called “Oratorio.” These are among the David Lynch-type surrealistic flourishes on display. [more]

The Insurgents

February 24, 2015

Playwright Lucy Thurber is angry about the state of things in America today. As a result she has written an angry play about her feelings and given them to her heroine Sally Wright in "The Insurgents, "now having its New York premiere courtesy of Labyrinth Theater Company. Unfortunately, while her heart may be in the right place, and who would disagree with her about the state of things today, Thurber has not written a play so much as a series of rants which basically say the same thing: no one is doing anything to help the poor and disenfranchised who continue to lose their footing on a downward slope. While the audience is asked to sing a hymn of hope at the end of the evening (the words are provided in the program), the play has no ending and is totally lacking in hope. [more]