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Carol Rosegg

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Summer Shorts 2017: Festival of New American Short Plays – Series B

August 12, 2017

While the three plays in Summer Shorts 2017: Festival of New American Short Plays – Series B have been given proficient productions each seems ultimately unsatisfactory. All seem like first drafts rather than completely fulfilling their potential. The three authors could learn a lesson from the three plays in Series A which all hit their marks. Interesting experiments but failures nevertheless. [more]

Summer Shorts 2017: Festival of New American Short Plays – Series A

August 2, 2017

"Acolyte" by Graham Moore, Academy Award winner for his 2013 screenplay for "The Imitation Game," is a more substantial play than the other two. Based on an historical occurrence in 1954, it brings together two couples, Ayn Rand (founder of Objectivism) and her husband Frank O’Connor and her follower, Nathaniel Branden and his wife Barbara, for one of her weekly dinner parties. Rand has asked the Brandens to remain after all the guests have left following a vigorous debate on Aristotelean principles versus Platonic realism. [more]

Woody Sez: The Life and Music of Woody Guthrie

July 14, 2017

Physically lean, with gaunt but animated features, the immensely charming David M. Lutken plays the narrator and sings many of the numbers. Mr. Lutken magnificently captures the essence of Guthrie with his wry twang, beaming smile and dramatic presence. This dimension is complete when he puts on a blue cap like Guthrie’s iconic one. That image is on display onstage, with a cigarette dangling from the side of Guthrie’s mouth. [more]

Bastard Jones

July 9, 2017

Bastard Jones is surprisingly accessible for a contemporary musical based on a long and episodic 18th century novel. Sophisticated and off-color, naughty but nice, it proves to be a sharp and irreverent entertainment. With a terrific cast and a star making performance by Evan Ruggiero, witty and clever, Bastard Jones is both a delightful 18th century and 21st century evening in the theater. [more]

Terezin

June 26, 2017

Loaded with many characters and incidents, "Terezin" focuses on two sisters, Alexi (Natasa Petrovic) and Violet (Sasha K. Gordon) who, along with their father, Kurt (Sam Gibbs, playing his complex palette of emotions quite well) and mother, violinist Isabella (Sophia Davey, a calm presence who returns frequently as a spirit) are savagely grabbed by the SS for deportation to Terezin.  (One of the shocking first events is the rather realistic strangulation of one of the characters followed soon by the usual vile language—“Jewish swine,” etc.—used by the clichéd glowering Nazis.) [more]

Underground

June 25, 2017

Two likeable people, James (Michael Jinks) and Claire (Bebe Sanders) meet online, have dinner in a local pub owned by Steve (Andrew McDonald) and take the Underground home. That’s about it. Of course, that’s only the basic, very basic, outline. What makes "Underground" a quiet delight is the way van Tricht takes this trite situation and beefs it up with insightful conversation, intriguing situations that border on the fantastic and a clear empathy with her characters. [more]

The Traveling Lady

June 23, 2017

The Pulitzer Prize-winning Foote (1916-2009) was acclaimed for his cycle of plays that celebrated his native, rural Texas that included "The Trip to Bountiful."  In "The Traveling Lady," he characteristically depicts the human condition with everyday conflicts, regional dialogue, and richly delineated and lovingly rendered characters.  Those qualities make these vivid roles for actors. [more]

The Artificial Jungle

June 11, 2017

Ludlam also starred in "Artificial Jungle," his last of 29 plays, which he also directed. It took its inspiration from Emile Zola’s "Therese Raquin," which had already inspired James M. Cain to write "The Postman Always Rings Twice" and "Double Indemnity," each of which became a hit film. Ludlam also set out, with Jungle, to write a crowd-pleaser, and he succeeded with critics and theatergoers alike. [more]

Can You Forgive Her?

June 3, 2017

While most of the audience remained stony-faced, my companion and I were laughing hysterically throughout much of "Can You Forgive Her?", a black comedy if ever there was one, by Gina Gionfriddo at the Vineyard Theatre. It may be that many in the audience failed to recognize it was a comedy, and took it far too seriously, which is somewhat understandable, given the seemingly earnest yet cockamamie story--or rather stories--that unfold. [more]

The Government Inspector

June 2, 2017

Director Jesse Berger’s fast-paced staging is an exuberant amalgam of physical and verbal virtuosity combined with visual flair. A highlight is a crowd of characters hurrying into a closet and popping out one by one that’s out of a Marx Brothers movie. There’s also the spectacle of a group of bearded, shabby villagers of various heights storming The Mayor’s house in their flowing garments. [more]

Building the Wall

May 31, 2017

Unlike such political plays as Arthur Miller’s "The Crucible," David Hare’s "Stuff Happens" and the current "Oslo" by J.T. Rogers, Building the Wall is speculative political fiction. Projected into the not-so-distant future, it takes place after a terrorist attack has released a dirty bomb in Times Square irradiating two square blocks. As a result, President Trump has declared Martial Law and begun rounding up millions of immigrants for deportation. This extraordinary move which had gotten out hand has led to his impeachment and exile to Palm Springs. "Building the Wall" takes place in 2019 in a prison meeting room in a federal lock-up in El Paso, Texas. Gloria, an African American historian and college professor, has come to interview Rick, a white man, who is awaiting sentencing for his role as the former warden of a new Magnum Security private prison facility outside of El Paso for illegal immigrants awaiting deportation. It is Rick’s role in the disposal of bodies after a cholera epidemic in the overcrowded facility which has landed him in prison. [more]

Spamilton

May 18, 2017

Chris Anthony Giles, Nicholas Edwards, Dan Rosales, Juwan Crawley and Nora Schell (original cast) [more]

Fossils

May 9, 2017

Though the printed script, such as it is, is credited to Nel Crouch, Crouch is listed in the program as only the director, and "Fossils" is rather “By” Bucket Club, described as an “associate company.” Such confusion is perpetrated throughout the production: it’s hard to say if, in the end of this extremely low-tech presentation, Vanessa has actually encountered the Monster--and/or her father--or not. "Fossils" is apparently more about what doesn’t happen than what does. [more]

The Roundabout

May 5, 2017

Although the play seems to have something to say about economics and political systems, it is simply a very light romantic comedy making use of elements of change during the Great Depression. Ross’ production is quite proficient and fast-paced, but the characters are generic and we don’t learn much about them. As Lord Kettlewell, Brian Protheroe is the typical crotchety but wise aristocrat, Richenda Carey is most eccentric as the impoverished Lady Knightsbridge, and Lisa Bowerman is level-headed as the previously estranged Lady Kettlewell. Carol Starks’ Mrs. Lancicourt is the manipulative upper-class woman who attempts to dominate all situations. Hugh Sachs is a raisonneur straight out of classic drawing room comedy and would have been as at home in a play by Wilde, Shaw, Pinero or Galsworthy. [more]

Indecent

April 25, 2017

"Indecent" is, on the surface, the history of Yiddish writer Sholem Asch’s brave Yiddish play "God of Vengeance" which was—incredibly, considering its wise understanding of the Jewish demimonde—written in 1906 during the height of anti-Jewish pogroms. (Asch actually witnessed a pogrom and its ugliness tainted his life thereafter.) It is far more, though. The play is a look at the sweep of Jewish life in the twentieth century using Asch’s creation as the hook. [more]

Rebel in the Soul

April 23, 2017

If this all sounds a bit over-intellectual, well, so is the play. Though the intelligent script may be based on real people, they are forever describing themselves--and each other--in ways that real people never do. Think about practically any play by George Bernard Shaw, and you begin to get the picture. (Archbishop McQuaid even says, “I do find political theory most compelling.”) And although Moore, as director, has done much to compensate for the tiny stage space on which the expansive story unfolds--particularly with helpful projections by Chris Kateff and a cramped but effective set by John McDermott--she isn’t abetted very much by her actors. [more]

Angel & Echoes

April 18, 2017

Presented together on the same bill, "Angel & Echoes" is part of the Brits Off Broadway Festival at 59E59 Theaters (where, it’s worth noting, "Echoes" originally played last year). As written by Naylor, enacted with ferocity and vitality by Avital Lvova, and directed with dispatch by Michael Cabot, "Angel" proves the far more effective (second) half of the evening. That may be because it’s told with an in-your-face immediacy and gumption that elude Echoes, which juxtaposes the lives of two different women, who lived in that region of the world at very different times. [more]

William Inge in Rep: Picnic & Come Back, Little Sheba

April 1, 2017

Though rather flawed in execution, there is much to enjoy in "Picnic" & "Come Back, Little Sheba": William Inge in Repertory. It is also revelatory in proving William Inge’s high ranking in the annals of dramatic literature. [more]

Kid Victory

March 6, 2017

It would be difficult to imagine anything darker than the content of the second musical collaboration by John Kander and Greg Pierce having its New York premiere at the Vineyard Theatre. Possibly Kander’s own"Cabaret" or "The Visit" - but both take place long ago and in faraway lands. Kid Victory relates the tale of a 17-year-old youth who was kidnapped for a year and has returned to his Kansas family. All the members of the community want to behave as though nothing has changed but for Luke Browst nothing is the same and things can’t go back to the way there were before. [more]

Fish Men

February 23, 2017

Each character is conveniently a different, representative type of oppressed nationality. Though Tirado goes overboard in detailing these culturally diverse, downtrodden characters’ backstories with sociological overtones, and despite numerous tangents, there are very compelling portions, and the roles are rich opportunities for the talented cast. [more]

The Dressmaker’s Secret

February 19, 2017

The playwrights have a keen understanding of this place and time, helped by the simple, but telling scenery of Stephen C. Jones, who also lit the small performing space to give the illusion of multiple settings. Molly R. Seidel’s costumes also hit the nail on the head as far as period and character are concerned. The glamorous dress Mária creates for Irma is in direct contrast to her own dreary housedresses, and Robert’s fancy western style suit makes Robi even more eager to leave Romania. [more]

The Big Broadcast on East 53RD

February 14, 2017

Rounding out the cast are Alexis Bronkovic as Ruth--Penny’s best friend--and Bill Tatum, who plays Ray’s boss. Once again, the driving motivation behind nearly every character is nowhere to be found. It seems that simply for the sake of creating a play about fake news, Brukenfeld opted to fill his script with lifeless characters that don’t question anything and are content to believe that Ray is dead. The performances across the board are unsympathetic and played mind-bogglingly straightforward. For what it’s worth, the actors do all that they can with the material at hand, turning in acceptable performances given the circumstances. [more]

Georgie: My Adventures with George Rose

February 2, 2017

What truly distinguishes the show is Dixon’s fearless psychological focus on Rose and himself. The predominant theme is of hero worship and its bruising disappointments. It also attempts to explore the issue of the often-dark contrast between the on-stage and off-stage lives of great entertainers. In examining their involvement, Dixon doesn’t spare Rose or himself from honest scrutiny. [more]

2017 LaBute New Theater Festival

January 21, 2017

Reading David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest while lying on a couch is Jay, a slacker-looking type in his 30’s. Sitting in the living room nearby is his 60ish mother who enjoys watching Dr. Phil on television and complaining about her ailments. Gabe McKinley’s Homebody is an enthralling black comedy with shades of Grey Gardens. Mother and son bicker, rehash recriminations and share their joy over the possibility of Jay’s novel being published. In 35 minutes, Mr. McKinley delivers a very well written, plotted and satisfying one-act play. It’s so pleasurable that a full-length version would be most welcome. [more]

The Mikado Reimagined (NYGASP)

January 5, 2017

In keeping with Sullivan having been hit over the head, the cast is clothed in a motley collection: a combination of late Victorian and Japanese styles. Some are in all Japanese, some in all Victorian, most are in a combination of the two. Even the Victorian costumes have baroque additions to make them look exotic. The women all wear Victorian gowns with bustles open in the back just as though they had not finished dressing. The concept while colorful is quite a mess with every possible variation on stage at the same time. [more]

This Day Forward

December 6, 2016

"This Day Forward" shows much tighter control than many of Nicky Silver’s early anarchic plays. However, aside from offering a few wonderful characters in Malka and the older Irene, the play is disappointing as it sets up expectations which don’t play out. When "This Day Forward" is over, it leaves a feeling of something missing that has failed to take place. It can’t simply be saying that the sins of the parents are visited on the children – or could it? [more]

Terms of Endearment

November 30, 2016

It isn’t until the second act of Dan Gordon’s stage adaptation of "Terms of Endearment," based on both the Larry McMurtry novel as well as the Academy Award-winning screenplay by James L. Brooks, that the play takes off. Featuring the now grown-up film star Molly Ringwald in the role of Aurora Greenway that won Shirley MacLaine the 1984 Oscar for Best Actress, the first act jumps around, skipping huge chunks of time as you can in movie cutting, but seems like something is has been left out on stage. [more]

Finian’s Rainbow

November 28, 2016

Moore’s adaptation successfully uses the small, recently renovated stage of the Irish Repertory Theatre so that even with 13 actors the performance area always looks populated with the people of Rainbow Valley. James Morgan’s clever unit set is redolent of the South with its huge live oak draped above the stage. Mary Jo Dondlinger’s lighting is redolent of the warm southern sun as well as the cool evening moonlight. The four piece orchestra sits neatly tucked in the back of the stage without distracting from the performance. [more]

A Taste of Things to Come

November 25, 2016

During the first half of the 20th century, the perception of women and their place in society was archaic and harmful to say the least. In fact, it wasn’t until the late 1950’s that the widely accepted oversimplification of the role of women was truly called into question and brought under scrutiny. Documenting the influential and crucial decade between the ‘50’s and ‘60’s, Debra Barsha and Hollye Levin’s new musical "A Taste of Things to Come" is a very pointed yet enjoyable exploration of these transformative years for the housewife, told through the eyes of four women who have a common interest in cooking. [more]

The Babies

November 23, 2016

Musical numbers are catchy and silly while sharing important life lessons. “What Are Friends For” and “All Alone” examines feelings of sadness, loneliness, and finding your tribe no matter your family circumstances. You may not be able to choose your family, but these babies will always have each other’s back. The emotional ballad, “We Will Get through This,” tugs at the heartstrings and is sung beautifully by Mallory. The scenic and lighting design by Josh Iacovelli brings light and warmth to the space with minimal props as not to distract from the group dynamic on stage – while ensuring that the babies are comfy and cozy in their distinctive onesies. [more]

Othello: The Remix

November 20, 2016

In this smart, clever version of the story, Iago, slightly uptight longtime member of Othello’s crew believes that he is not appreciated when newcomer Cassio, a much happier rapper who just enjoys performing gets more notice from Othello. As in the original, Iago plots Othello’s downfall by making him jealous, hinting that Cassio was romancing Desdemona, Othello’s love. Roderigo, the nerdy techie, with a lisp and a heavy heart, also yearns unrequitedly for Desdemona. [more]

Coriolanus (Red Bull Theater)

November 9, 2016

Just as Ulysses S. Grant and Dwight D. Eisenhower did centuries later, Coriolanus, urged on by his powerful mother, Volumnia (a startling, stinging Lisa Harrow), uses his military success as a springboard for a high political office, Consul, which he easily wins with help of two Tribunes of Rome, Sicinius Velutus (a wily Stephen Spinella) and Junius Brutus (Merritt Janson, playing cross gender to perfection) and a friend, Menenius Agrippa (Patrick Page, using his weighty voice and commanding eyes brilliantly). [more]

Vietgone

November 8, 2016

Not only does Nguyen have a unique sensibility and style, but the story is told entirely from the Vietnamese-American point of view, one not often seen on our stages. We hear the Americans as the Vietnamese do and as the Americans attempt to speak in Vietnamese. While the structure of the play is quite challenging going backwards and forwards in time from July 1975 in a Middle America relocation camp and breaking out in rap songs periodically, "Vietgone" is a very compelling portrait of displaced people trying to make a new life for themselves while wishing they were back home where they cannot go. [more]
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