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Ashley Garrett

Vatican Falls

November 6, 2022

You won’t find Vatican Falls on any map about picturesque raging waters.  No, Frank J. Avella’s new play, "Vatican Falls," is, instead, a passionate, sometimes humorous, indictment of the Catholic Church and its long history of concealing the sexual abuse suffered by hundreds of young men at the hands of priests. Tony DiBernardo’s vivid, yet simple set—red platforms that were eventually arranged into the form of a cross—help Avella—who co-directed with Carlotta Brentan—make his sometimes confusing storytelling clearer by dividing the stage into two playing areas. [more]

The Winter’s Tale (Bedlam)

October 21, 2022

Many of Bedlam’s productions have used small casts with most of the actors playing more than one role. In the case of "The Winter’s Tale," not one of Shakespeare’s more often produced plays, the casting uses so few actors  that the play becomes confusing and difficult to follow, and a great many characters and much dialogue has necessarily been cut. In one head-scratching scene, Elan Zafir is required to play King Polixenes and his son Prince Florizel at the same time. While the sets and costumes are modern, with the Shakespeare poetry sacrificed to sound like contemporary speech, the characters are still referred to as “King Leontes” and his wife “Queen Hermione.” As the setting by John McDermott looks like three rooms in a frat house, one wonders why the Royal Family of Sicilia would be living in such shabby quarters and continually guzzling beer in the palace. [more]

Complicity

October 10, 2022

On paper, Diane Davis’ play "Complicity" offers a stark, yet refreshing take on the now familiar Harvey Weinstein-tainted Hollywood story of women being victimized by a male-run, male-driven industry. On stage what we have instead are sometimes too-clipped scenes where an audience is left the chore of filling in the many blanks.  The actors sometimes attempt to do just that with histrionics that are unfortunately not reined in by director Illana Stein. [more]

The Collision / The Martyrdom

January 30, 2022

Throughout these plays there resonates an overarching message of female empowerment, a message that provides depth to the otherwise light comedy being served up. Nuns are habit forming, that’s what people say, and this viewer wanted nothing more than to run back and see this show again. [more]

Bedlam’s Persuasion

September 29, 2021

Bedlam’s 2014 production of "Sense and Sensibility," adapted by Kate Hamil from the novel by Jane Austen, and directed by Eric Tucker, set the bar so high for cleverness, originality and wit that we have come to expect this level of expectation from all of their future offerings. Unfortunately, their stage version of Austen’s last novel "Persuasion," a tale of mature love and second chances by first time playwright Sarah Rose Kearns, does not work as well. Among the problems are so much doubling and tripling that it becomes difficult to keep the characters separate and a lack of humor and irony that was inherent in the original material. Tucker seems to have forgotten that this should be a comedy of manners. [more]

Polylogues

September 27, 2021

Each interviewee’s name is projected onto the back wall as Clark carefully transitions between the 21 people she’s interviewed; young, old, male, female, cis- or otherwise. This is a large number of roles for one person to play, so there is some blurring of “characterizations”; nonetheless, Clark establishes an effective conduit for what is ultimately most important: the messages that these individuals share about their experiences and varying successes with non-monogamy and/or polyamory. The direction by Molly Clifford seamlessly shapes the evening into an effective delivery device for thoughts on an intriguing subject. [more]

Lured

November 13, 2018

Frank J. Avella’s "Lured" at the Theater for the New City practices a bit of theatrical legerdemain.  Ostensibly about the perils of being gay in today’s Russia, Avella takes an unexpected turn into revenge melodrama that almost defeats his main political/social theme.  Considering that Lured is based on real events, at the very least he dulls the important political and social points he is making by having the victims and perpetrators behave equally abhorrently. [more]

Uncle Romeo Vanya Juliet

September 30, 2018

Previous experiments from this adventurous theater group helmed by artistic director Eric Tucker include two versions of Twelfth Night performed in repertory, Hamlet and Saint Joan performed with casts of only four actors, and an updated Pygmalion which was double cast in its smaller roles. In "Uncle Romeo Vanya Juliet," Tucker has tried something new: a mashup of both Anton Chekhov’s "Uncle Vanya" and Williams Shakespeare’s "Romeo and Juliet," with scenes from the two alternating. The result is not confusing, but irritating and irrelevant, with neither play gaining from the combination. The advertisement for this show reads “5 actors, 2 plays, 1 performance,” but to what point? [more]

Let’s Get Ready Together

June 4, 2018

Playwright Lizzie Stern has an ear for contemporary discourse and her dialogue is well-crafted. The characters are appealing and are finely detailed. The universal focus is on the relationships of the young women, their youthful idealism and their conflicts with their mothers. Structurally inspired, there are phone calls to the mothers, voice overs and confessional asides. Ms. Stern has a good grasp of the theatrical but her plotting is faulty. [more]

Bedlam’s Pygmalion

April 4, 2018

Scenic designer John McDermott has turned the black box space at the Sheen Center into an intimate amphitheater with the audience sitting around three sides of Higgins’ laboratory/study with no viewer more than four rows from the action. When Eliza arrives to arrange for lessons on her small income, we discover what we already suspected: this Eliza has been born in India and she is prone to speak in Hindi when she gets excited, just like her father Alfred Doolittle does when he follows her to Wimpole Street to see what he can get out of her good fortune - when she sends for her things but not her clothes. This adds a new, contemporary level to the play: Eliza is an immigrant rather than an East End cockney which contributes to the play’s current relevance. [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]