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Cherry Lane Theatre

AlieNation: The Journey I Never Made & A Story of Love and Soccer

November 15, 2017

Adhering admirably to its cultural mission, Kairos Italy Theater is treating downtown audiences to a double-bill of smartly written Italian one-acts, each exploring the contentious topic of immigration in their own unique and achingly human ways. Minimally staged, but with talented actors, the beauty of the plays is largely in the playwrights’ words, which seemingly have lost nothing in translation. Though if either play is appreciably better in Italian, some language lessons and a long trip is in order. [more]

The Gospel According to Thomas Jefferson, Charles Dickens and Count Leo Tolstoy: Discord

October 10, 2017

Although director Kimberly Senior who also piloted the Chicago production has staged the play with elegance, she never really turns up the heat so that there are not many sparks in Carter’s debate. Discord, yes; but no fireworks which might have made the discussion more dramatic. The play uses titles on the back wall to name each of the 14 scenes much in the manner of Brecht’s alienation effect. This breaks up the play but is not very informative. The device of the invisible fourth wall being a mirror in Wilson Chin’s all blue-grey interrogation room seems a gimmick to allow the men to face the audience directly for much of the play. [more]

If Only…

August 28, 2017

Mr. Klingenstein beautifully and simply renders his fictional account with exquisite detail and emotion.  Klingenstein’s dialogue is precise and filled with sharp epigrams.  It’s all a genteel and moving exploration of the human condition.  A lovely highlight is Ann and Samuel recreating portions of the Lincoln-Douglas Debates of 1858. [more]

In a Word

July 1, 2017

Told mainly in reenacted flashbacks, In a Word plays multiple language games. It also proves the limits of language. Can you really describe exactly what happens at any given moment? And if you misunderstand a word or take it to mean something else the whole meaning changes. After two years, Guy wants to know what Fiona didn’t tell him on the day Tristan disappeared. Fiona brings evidence to the detective but fails to be exact in her suspicions. Tristan misunderstands things he is not meant to hear and proceeds on his own explanations. [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]

Crashlight

August 28, 2016

"Crashlight" is a musical that is so inept that the recurring age-old mental question while watching it is, “What were they thinking?” The "King Lear"-style eye gouging sequence in the second act pushes it into the realm of the totally ludicrous. [more]

The Mushroom Cure

July 29, 2016

In the course of 90 minutes, we follow the ups and downs of Strauss’ professional, mental health and romantic lives in great detail. To his credit, Strauss gives the impression of delivering these stories as if for the first time. He was fresh and very involved, yet sensitive to the audience’s reactions. He managed to make a tediously unattractive condition fascinating and also managed to make himself affecting and human, his disability notwithstanding. OCD has never been as attractively rendered. [more]

Out of the Mouths of Babes

July 7, 2016

At one point stumbling around in a sleep mask and wearing a colorful nightgown, the 88 year-old Estelle Parsons has a field day as the 88 year-old Evelyn, a former journalist for The International Herald Tribune. Ms. Parsons delightfully barrels through the play growling, cursing, and exhibiting vibrant physicality. Being the skillful old pro that she is, Parsons has the technique to tone it down when needed. [more]

Nora

December 2, 2015

Pendleton has made some strange directorial choices. Characters appear on stage and stand silently long before their entrances. This is distracting as one wonders are they supposed to hear the conversations taking place. Many of the entrances and exits take place through the main aisle of the theater which breaks the fourth wall convention continually. He has also cast several actors as older than they are described so that this shifts the character relationships appreciably. The most famous scene in the play when Nora slams the door, possibly the most iconic moment in modern drama, is diluted considerably as there is no door for Nora to slam. Harry Feiner’s set design has the drawing room and bedroom visible side by side throughout the play which seems somewhat inappropriate for the 19th century setting. [more]

Laugh It Up, Stare It Down

September 16, 2015

Romantic comedy was once the staple of Broadway. Today it turns up more often in the movies. When it appears on the stage it is fairly unusual today and something of a throwback to an earlier era. Alan Hruka’s "Laugh It Up, Stare It Down" is quite charming in its way. However, its whimsical style tends to undercut the serious topics it deals with on the subject of love, marriage and how to treat life’s problems. As a result, it seems more than vaguely inconsequential. However, it remains a diverting if innocuous evening of light entertainment. [more]

New Country

May 24, 2015

In addition to his superior writing achievement, Mr. Roberts also plays the complex old codger, Uncle Jim. He has written a grand vehicle for himself, and his performance is as tremendous as his writing. Blusteringly entering, carrying a garish blow-up sex doll, and resembling a grizzled Duck Dynasty figure with a big scraggly beard, wearing a cap, camouflage gear and orange sneakers, he instantly gets laughs. With a unique, guttural, singsong twang, he delivers numerous zingers, but soon the pathos and depth of this disaffected character is poignantly revealed. [more]

Everything You Touch

February 14, 2015

It’s a stylized “family secrets” drama, presented with a broad comedic tone. Heightened and arch (often including lengthy florid speeches) the dialogue has shades of "The Devil Wears Prada." Though mostly dense and opaque, there are emotionally involving sequences, particularly as the play reaches its conclusion. Ms. Callaghan also explores the theme of women’s self-image and how that issue clashes with society’s idealized view and the resulting conflicts. Bordering on the didactic, this nevertheless does yield moments of poignancy. [more]

The Brightness of Heaven

October 27, 2014

"Almost all the families I knew were struggling to find their way forward and make sense of a way of life that was unraveling before their eyes," writes Ms. Pedersen in her author's note in the program. She has a laundry list of period-piece social issues that are superficially covered including abortion, pre-marital sex, the economy, interfaith marriage, homosexuality, Watergate, and The Vietnam War. The writing is often sharp and well observed, with zingers and jokes that effectively register. "If Irish Dementia is only remembering the grudges, than Irish Amnesia is only forgetting the food." "Excuse me, but is this twentieth century Buffalo or fifteenth century Barcelona?" [more]

A Fable

June 1, 2014

Playwright David Van Asselt's is set "Somewhere, almost anywhere, below the equator." It feels like an academically imagined recreation of something that would have played at LaMaMa in 1967 for a thesis project. Debatably borrowing from Shakespeare, Bertolt Brecht, The Living Theatre, Candide, Urinetown and The Cradle Will Rock, it's a wearying odyssey. [more]