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Derek Smith

The School for Scandal

April 30, 2016

Red Bull Theater which has specialized in Elizabethan and Jacobean tragedies has moved on to the 18th century with Marc Vietor’s exquisite and stylish revival of "The School for Scandal," Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s famous but rarely revived classic comedy of manners. With impeccable casting and a pitch-perfect production team, this School is as witty, delightful and accessible as one could wish. The 18th century look of the play is both historic and satiric. Anna Louizos’ clever settings transform one into the other with the turn of a wall or a door and a rearrangement of the furniture, highlighted by Russell H. Champa’s lighting. Her witty use of props (a chamber pot, a trunk, empty picture frames) adds to the fun. [more]

The White Stag Quadrilogy

February 20, 2016

An element of "The White Stag Quadrilogy" which cannot go overlooked is the amount of dancing incorporated into the production. In lieu of proper production techniques, Wolfert and company instead choose to depict stags parading across the desert, or eagles flying through the sky, by way of “interpretive” dancing. Enlisting the staff of the Plaza Michelle for this purpose, the dancing trio of Derek Smith, Michelle Uranowitz, and Jaime Wright are together a band of merry misfits who revel in their undulating, gyrating, style of dance (choreographed in hilariously gratuitous fashion by Chloe Kernaghan). Referred to on multiple occasions by Wolfert as “trained professionals,” the self-aware ensemble is a recurring aspect of the play which is, time and time again—and again, hilarious. [more]

Incident at Vichy

November 28, 2015

Arthur Miller is having a great posthumous 100th birthday! "A View from a Bridge" opened on Broadway to sensational reviews to be followed soon by "The Crucible." Now a revival of "Incident at Vichy," his frightening, microcosmic examination of Nazi-occupied France during the height of World War II, is enjoying a fine revival at the Signature Theatre. While the first two plays are each experiencing radical re-assessments, the director of Vichy, Michael Wilson has opted for a straight-forward, naturalistic interpretation in which each character exists as a finely etched portrait and the set (by Jeff Cowie) is a real, frightening place down to the period French newspapers plastering the holes in the windows. [more]

Desire: An Evening of Plays Based on Six Stories by Tennessee Williams 

September 15, 2015

Having commissioned evenings of one act plays by major American playwrights based on the short stories of Anton Chekhov and the sonnets of William Shakespeare, The Acting Company has now turned to the work of a native author. As directed by Michael Wilson, the result, "Desire: An Evening of Plays Based on Six Stories by Tennessee Williams," is a mesmerizing work of one acts in which each author handles the original material differently and the brilliant group of nine actors, mainly Acting Company alums, get to tackle two – four roles each. Many give such vivid and varied performances that it is necessary to examine the program to realize that you have seen the same performer in a contrasting role. [more]

‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore

May 6, 2015

We associate Jacobean revenge tragedy with the reign of King James I. Each play’s atrocities seemed to dare the next playwright with an unspoken “Can you top this?” Playwright John Ford continued the genre under the next king, Charles I, coming up with new and even more lurid variations. Red Bull Theater which specializes in the plays of Shakespeare and his contemporaries is offering a staging of Ford’s rarely revived masterpiece "‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore." While artistic director Jesse Berger has piloted a solid production which is a good introduction to this unfamiliar play, it all seems a bit tame when the script seems to cry out for tremendous excesses. As always, however, with Red Bull productions, the diction in this revival is impeccable and totally intelligible. [more]