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Ensemble Studio Theatre

Boy

March 15, 2016

In his widely produced 1977 play," The Elephant Man," Bernard Pomerance employed the theatrical device of having the grotesque John Merrick portrayed by an actor (invariably a handsome one) without makeup. "Boy" is similar in that the magnetic Bobby Steggert plays Samantha and later Adam without any external differentiation. Acclaimed for his New York City appearances in such musicals as "Yank" and the 2009 Broadway revival of "Ragtime," as well as the Terence McNally play "Mothers and Sons," Mr. Steggert here delivers a powerful performance. Low-key yet animated, he commandingly conveys all of the anguish and endurance of the character with heartbreaking effect. His characterization is particularly outstanding considering he alternates between being a child, an adolescent and an adult throughout the play. Each permutation is depicted with absolute focus. [more]

Informed Consent

August 24, 2015

Deborah Zoe Laufer’s fascinating and engrossing "Informed Consent" tells three interlocking stories that eventually become one by the end. Under Liesl Tommy’s assured direction and with Tina Benko’s riveting central performance as a research scientist, the play, co-produced by Primary Stages and Ensemble Studio Theatre under the auspices of the Alfred P Sloan Foundation, deals with such issues as genetic testing, science versus religion, scientific ethics, and early onset Alzheimer’s. Inspired by a true story," Informed Consent" uses various theatrical devices to tell its compelling story and remind us of the necessary work needing to be done if we are to find cures for unsolved diseases like diabetes which involve a great many victims. [more]

Ensemble Studio Theatre’s 35th Marathon of New One-Act Plays: Series C

June 26, 2015

Ms. Winkler’s writing is so simple but exquisite in its execution. In twenty minutes the sad lives of the girls are deftly dramatized with a compelling range of emotion. The direction of John Giampietro is a superb display of the art of stagecraft. The clever fantasy device of the cherry trees is skillfully blended into the narrative with boldness and precision. Lighting, sound and music are all utilized to great effect so that it is all visually quite stunning. [more]

Ensemble Studio Theatre’s 35th Marathon of New One-Act Plays: Series A

May 24, 2015

Founded in 1968, this theater company is, “…committed to the discovery and nurturing of new voices, and the continued support and growth of artists throughout their creative lives.” Ensemble Studio Theatre's 35th Marathon of New One-Act Plays: Series A fulfills this noble goal with its enticing and often quite remarkable variety of works. Series B and Series C will follow and all will run through several dates in June. [more]

Five Times In One Night

April 2, 2015

Through a series of five two-character scenes, Atik’s play charts the evolution (or lack thereof) of sex in humanity. While one segment depicts Adam and Eve fumbling through their first discovery of intercourse, another shows a pair of apocalypse survivors struggling to repopulate earth. In between, Atik includes a medieval couple’s epistolary romance, another couple’s post-breakup fling from “last week,” and a third’s inept attempt at exploring fetishes “next week.” Each with their own unique angle, Atik’s five self-contained shorts add up to a heartfelt, whimsical look at the reasons we pursue sex and the means we employ in order to have it. [more]

Winners

February 4, 2015

Although I was never bored, at 135 minutes (including intermission) the play is quite long for the story it's telling. The animals, as fun as they are, get a considerable amount of stage time but never move the narrative forward. They even get solo spots where they recite beat poetry, which are brilliant and amusing but stop the show dead. Even money says that if the parents’ through line was clarified and strengthened this play would slim down easily to a more appropriate length. [more]

When January Feels Like Summer

October 17, 2014

Romantic comedies often collapse under such contrivances, but in practice this play holds up beautifully. Nirmala's struggle to accept that she has a right to tenderness in her life is sensitive without being preachy, and Ms. Kakkar is frankly fantastic in the part. She finds an exceptionally quiet and truthful center for her characterization, and as a result Nirmala's breakthrough moments feel absolutely real and not at all melodramatic. [more]