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David Weiner

Mojada

August 4, 2019

Following up on Luis Alfaro’s critically acclaimed Chicano retelling of Sophocles’ "Oedipus Rex" called "Oedipus El Rey," The Public Theater now stages his equally relevant and timely "Mojada" which melds Euripides’ "Medea" with the Latinx immigrant experience in the big American cities. Those who know the Greek myth of Jason and Medea will be prepared; those who at the performance under review obviously did not know what was coming were shocked and horrified by the ending. Either way the play is spellbinding theater. Chay Yew, artistic director of Chicago’s Victory Gardens Theater who also directed the Public’ production of Oedipus El Rey, has staged the stunning and devastating play with an excellent cast of Hispanic-American actors which is as timely as tomorrow’s headlines. [more]

Fireflies

October 28, 2018

Although Donja R. Love describes his new play "Fireflies," his second world premiere in New York in 2018, as a “surrealistic voyage through Queer love during pivotal moments in Black History,” this riveting play is about a great deal more than that: racism, faith, homophobia, domestic abuse, women’s roles, alcohol addiction, infidelity, women’s right to choose, and sexuality. As sharply directed by Saheem Ali, the problem is that until the very end it is difficult to know where the play is going and what its real message is. [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]

The Babylon Line

December 19, 2016

Aaron Port (Josh Radnor), a down on his luck writer, is reduced to teaching Adult Ed classes in middle class/middle brow 1960’s Levittown, Long Island. Richard Greenberg ("Take Me Out," "Our Mother’s Brief Affair") in his new play, "The Babylon Line" at the Mitzi E. Newhouse, has Port frequently speak directly to the audience, doling out information and setting the scene, from the vantage point of 2015. Although it’s an awkward device it does come in handy, particularly at the end when a number of plot strands come together. Port’s frustration with his career is exacerbated by having a successful friend, Jay, confront him en route to his teaching assignment. [more]

Smokefall

March 2, 2016

The play seems to be saying that life is full of suffering but love will conquer all, not a very new or profound message. One flashback (Violet and Daniel’s first date) is replayed at least three times with no new significance with each repeat. The title is a quote from T.S. Eliot’s "The Four Quartets": “The moment in the draughty church at smokefall/ Be remembered; involved with past and future./ Only through time time is conquered.” Unfortunately, like a great deal of late T.S. Eliot, these lines are too abstruse to have much bearing on the play. Smokefall is the sort of work that you either go with its whimsy or hate it. This is definitely not a play for all theatergoers. [more]

Misery

November 23, 2015

The best role in the story is that of sociopath, deranged Annie Wilkes. Metcalf runs the gamut of emotions from bliss to murderous rage and back and turns on a dime. Unlike Willis, she uses her face to show all of her moods both pleased and black. Always interesting to watch, her Annie is revealed as crazier the longer the story goes on. The scenes in which she has to get Paul back into bed suggest that her Annie not only contains tremendous emotional extremes but also enormous strength from years running her farm. Playing the role less childless-like than Kathy Bates did in the movie, she makes Annie Wilkes all her own. As the third member of the cast in the minor role of the sheriff, Brown is completely convincing but he hasn’t been given much to do in his few brief scenes. [more]

Guards at the Taj

June 21, 2015

Rajiv Joseph’s plays are filled with emotional or physical violence as in "Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo," "Gruesome Playground Injuries" or "Animal out of Paper." His new play, "Guards at the Taj," being given its world premiere by Atlantic Theater Company, has both. Set in India in 1648, this riveting drama which works on many levels has been directed by Amy Morton, best known for her New York performances in Steppenwolf transfers to Broadway ("August: Osage County" and "Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?"), and features Omar Metwally and Arian Moayed who are always commanding. [more]

Dying For It

January 14, 2015

Dying for It, Moira Buffini’s free adaptation of The Suicide, is fine as a drama but the premise makes it a classic farce. Unfortunately, the Atlantic Theater Company production fails to find the humor in this dark comedy. As such the contemporary parallels to our own time do not become obvious as either satire or humor. [more]