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Christopher and Justin Swader

Hart Island

March 13, 2022

Whether or not Tracy Weller’s "Hart Island" directly harkens back to Masters, it certainly has similarities, most particularly in its poetically rendered revelations of the underbelly of life and death. Weller turns Hart Island, impeccably rendered in Christopher & Justin Swader’s set occupying most of the Gym at Judson, into a dark metaphor revealing more than any statistics or headlines could ever do about existence during the Covid pandemic. Hart Island is where the bodies of indigent and anonymous people wind up, usually buried by prisoner work details from nearby Riker’s Island.  Of course, during the last two years Hart Island’s necropolis has burgeoned both in reality and in Weller’s imagination as fertile in this time as Masters’ was in his. [more]

The Sabbath Girl

February 17, 2020

The trite set-up makes all of the characters one-dimensional, with the Jewish Seth a “knish maker” and shop owner on “Hester Street, Angie groping to find herself--not to mention a partner--and Sophia, a loving and understanding “Nonna.” Blake, of course, is a leather-clad roué, who also wears sunglasses throughout--until he loses them. What is somewhat surprising is to learn that Seth, an orthodox Jew, was in an “arranged” marriage before, and divorced his wife two years ago. But the play suffers from an inordinate lack of surprise. [more]

The Invention of Tragedy (Mac Wellman Festival: Perfect Catastrophes)

September 22, 2019

Halfway through the abstract hijinks there are fleeting references to terrorists, getting in trouble for bringing a little knife on an airplane and vague political debates as the tone grows more serious. Devotees of Mr. Wellman’s idiosyncratic style may be enchanted while anyone else could be baffled. Brevity, playfulness and presentational polish are its virtues. [more]

Then They Forgot About the Rest

April 23, 2019

Playwright Georgina Escobar presents an exuberant hodgepodge of sci-fi elements and satirical corporate bits with a feminist slant. Ms. Escobar’s punchy pseudo-scientific dialogue carries her choppy scenario with its shades of "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" to sustaining the mildly entertaining 80 minutes. Escobar has a command of language, sprinkling catchphrases that land throughout. Early onset, end of days, extreme memory vetting, protein inhibitor and Petro Corp all get a lot of mileage. It doesn’t all gel, vagueness abounds but there’s spirited integrity. “…I’m asking improbable questions seeking impossible answers,” Escobar states in her program notes. [more]

The Truth About Santa

December 11, 2018

This nonsensical, broad comedy is penned by the clever Greg Kotis ("Urinetown"). Songs and arrangements by Steven Gross are whimsical and entertaining, and costume designer Whitney Locher presents her vaudevillian best in this frothy piece. Led expertly by director Ilana Becker, the cast bludgeons, connives and wiggles their way through this slice of holiday slapstick; young and old, the actors’ comic timing is well-honed and the fun they have performing this piece is entirely infectious. [more]