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Frank J. Oliva

Sincerity Forever & Bad Penny (Mac Wellman Festival: Perfect Catastrophes)

September 21, 2019

The Flea Theater is honoring one of its co-founding members, playwright Mac Wellman, with a five play festival called “Perfect Catastrophes” which includes two world premieres and three revivals, with casts made up of The Bats, The Flea’s youthful resident company. First up are the one-act plays, "Sincerity Forever" and "Bad Penny," which require separate admissions but can be seen back to back on the same evening or afternoon. Any two of the plays in this festival are an immersive view of the avant-garde playwright who has created new works for almost 50 years and has won three Obie Awards. [more]

Death of a Driver

March 5, 2019

The play is carefully plotted, and the tragic action that Snider builds runs its course in a logical, plausible fashion. But something about "Death of a Driver" never quite catches fire. The story has gravity but lacks the sense of pity and terror that tragedy is famously supposed to invoke. Maybe it’s partly due to the fact that the play is so brief, and that its short scenes sometimes take place years apart, creating a kind of herky-jerky quality. Maybe it’s because the world of the play is relatively narrow—with the lack of supporting characters preventing us from getting a full sense of the Kenyan culture and political landscape. [more]

Hurricane Party

September 21, 2018

The intellectual level of "Hurricane"’s characters may not be as high as George, Martha, Nick and Honey’s.  Nevertheless they reveal their inner psychological turmoil, secret fears, secret yearnings and sense of isolation with equal intensity.  Thigpen’s astutely observed dialogue and Maria Dizzia’s vivid whirlwind direction lift "Hurricane" from foul-mouthed melodrama to passionate character study. [more]

The Loneliest Number

March 1, 2018

Author Lizzie Vieh’s brilliant play "The Loneliest Number" initially appears to be a slight off-beat comedy about a swinging couple’s encounters but after its first third evolves into a profound, suspenseful and searing exploration of relationships.  Ms. Vieh’s dialogue is sharp, filled with well-crafted jokes and painful depth. A wistful description of a children’s Halloween parade with them in their costumes becomes an insightful reverie of desires. [more]