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Bronwen Sharp

The Order of the Golden Scribe: Initiation Tea

February 24, 2024

"The Order of the Golden Scribe: Initiation Tea" is an immersive and interactive theater experience co-created by Shuai Chen and Arlo Howard, who also directed. It combines a story about a secret society of historian scribes with a series of creatively challenging cryptographic puzzles. It is all wrapped up in an elaborate initiation "tea" for new members of the Order. The initiation ceremony requires the initiates to prove themselves worthy of joining the Order by solving the puzzles. Each successful solution is rewarded with first tea, then finger sandwiches, followed by scones with jam and butter, and finally, a dessert. The puzzles are cleverly conceived and presented. The audience is divided into teams of four or five seated at café style tables. [more]

Big Trip: Part 2 – Three Love Stories Near a Railroad

October 18, 2023

To say that Krymov works like no other director is an understatement not to be taken lightly. He is known for his inventive Russian adaptations, but he has also been earning a reputation for tackling American literature with the same whimsical and sometimes fourth wall-smashing approach that emphasizes the pure act of theater making. It is at first quite disarming in its playfulness, yet never loses sight of sincere treatment of works of literature. Here we find two Ernest Hemingway short stories, "Hills Like White Elephants" and "A Canary for One," both written in the late 1920’s, matched with two scenes that serve as dense character portraits from Eugene O’Neill’s "Desire Under the Elms," circa 1924. They are not your normal fare when you consider the expectations of the term “love story.” [more]

Big Trip: Pushkin “Eugene Onegin” In Our Own Words

October 3, 2023

Krymov’s production is a rapturous love letter to the making of theater. He unearths how we really tell our stories by our emotions, what we hide, as much as what we reveal. He uses his stagecraft to develop new work from what has existed for decades but now through what must be the most meticulous, yet fresh, improvisatory stage vocabulary. His new company’s forthcoming seasons will be must-see events of the highest order. [more]

Hong Kong Mississippi

May 5, 2023

From the moment he walks out with a stuffed “Disneyfied” dragon to tell us a fairy tale his mother told him when he was little, we are enraptured by Pinky, an 11-year-old Chinese boy growing up in San Francisco’s Tenderloin. Written and performed by Wesley Du, "Hong Kong Mississippi" is a coming-of-age tale that speaks innocently, yet often in frank terms, of racism. And providing the real dose of irony, the only other character to experience a seismic shift in the play is the man who resents Pinky the most, a man who against his better judgment unknowingly becomes Pinky’s mentor and father figure he never had. [more]

Prima Facie

May 1, 2023

The mesmerizing Jodie Comer, making her Broadway debut in the Olivier Award-winning best new play after starring in the genre-subverting BBC show Killing Eve, portrays Tessa (for which Comer also won an Olivier in her West End bow) with stunning fidelity to the pain she causes and endures. While the tension between these two aspects of Tessa's personal history eventually ignite a fervent reassessment of who she has been, who she is now, and who she should be, Comer never gets ahead of herself in the performance. Early on, as Tessa recounts, in predatory terms, conducting a cross-examination that frees a rapist, Comer convinces us, beyond any reasonable doubt, that Tessa not only perceives practicing law as a "game" but also is emotionless about the outcome, no matter the consequences for others. At this point, in hearing Tessa trumpet her job so blithely, the horror is ours alone, because, for Tessa, everything she's saying is just another day at the office. [more]

Iceland

March 30, 2023

Composer/librettists O-Lan Jones and Emmett Tinley have created what they refer to as “a re-Creation Myth” in this fascinating interdisciplinary opera theater work entitled "Iceland."  It is profoundly musical in that it embraces both opera and contemporary musical theatre by casting 12 opera singers as The Hiddenfolk and Mythic Beasts of Icelandic folklore and two musical theater singers who would be equally comfortable sitting on the Billboard Hot 100 as the two leads that are pushed together romantically over the course of 17 hours one New Year’s Eve in Iceland. [more]

The Weak and the Strong

December 12, 2022

Erik Ehn’s title "The Weak and the Strong" taken from St. Paul may refer to the bad choices that some people make that others avoid, but it seems to only reinforce the clichés of most western films. The storytelling and production are mostly so obscure that the play becomes tedious as it is so difficult to follow. With a 70-minute first act, the play seems extremely long and overwritten. It is to be hoped that the play finds an audience that can follow its circuitous path to its conclusion and in its poetic speech and metaphors. [more]

Underneath the Skin

December 6, 2022

Famed performance artist John Kelly has brought his latest show, "Underneath the Skin" to La MaMa, subtitled “A Penetrative Portrayal of a Queer Giant Based on the life and work of Samuel Steward 1909-1993.” Steward had a remarkable life in the first three-quarters of the 20th century as a college professor, a tattoo artist, a pornographer, an unofficial collaborator at the Kinsey Institute and a sexual renegade. He was also a friend of Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, Thomas Mann, André Gide, had trysts with Rudolph Valentino and Lord Alfred Douglas, and became the lover of Thornton Wilder. Underneath the Skin is a fascinating and engrossing blend of theater, dance, video, erotic art and a gay history of the 20th century. [more]