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Harry Feiner

A Lovely Sunday for Creve Coeur

October 1, 2018

What gives "A Lovely Sunday for Creve Coeur" its special cachet in the Williams canon is that its storyline and heroine called Dorothea very much suggest a prequel to A Streetcar Named Desire set ten years earlier, when Blanche was still teaching and coping with life, though already needing liquor and pills to get her over her anxieties. Some enterprising theater group ought to schedule these two plays in repertory with the same actress in the leading role in each. [more]

Days to Come

August 29, 2018

"Days to Come" fills in the gap in Hellman’s career between her first play, the controversial "The Children’s Hour," and the immediate successors, the hugely commercial hit and often revived, "The Little Foxes" and the New York Drama Critics Circle Award-winning "Watch on the Rhine." Completists will want to see this play which has not been seen in New York for over 40 years. The Mint Theater Company’s revival of "Days to Come" is an example of a worthy, lost play whose problems haven’t yet been solved – if they ever will. See it now as there probably will not be another chance anytime soon. The Mint is to be applauded for taking a chance on this rarely seen, but estimable failure. You will not be bored but you may not be convinced. [more]

My Life on a Diet

August 2, 2018

Hence:  "My Life on a Diet," a comically rich stroll through her career in TV, theater and film.  Written by Taylor and her late husband, Joseph Bologna and originally directed by Bologna, Diet is currently at the Theatre at St. Clement’s where a contagiously comfortable Taylor, elegantly attired (gown by Pol’ Atteu) settles down in Harry Feiner’s kitschy, carpeted set to schmooze with her audience.  Taylor, now in her eighties, begins with some self-deprecating humor about aging, after showing herself at various stages in her life. [more]

The Show-Off

October 5, 2017

The central character is actually Mrs. Fisher who worries about her children and plots to open Amy’s eyes to her husband’s faults. Unfortunately, Annette O’Toole has been directed to play her as shrill, strident and hysterical, rather than as a wise middle-aged lady who has no illusions about life. Given a great many ethnic prejudices in her dialogue which in 1924 defined her as a suburban provincial, played this way she simply comes across as a bigot. We ought to be rooting for her against the barbarian invasion but O’Toole makes her almost as bad as Aubrey. [more]

The Violin

September 20, 2017

In fact, Harry Feiner’s marvelous, you-are-there set design for "The Violin" made me think of 'American Buffalo" (set in a shabby pawn shop) before the first words of the play were even uttered or its three cast-members (Robert LuPone, Peter Bradbury and Kevin Isola) even appeared on the stage. But whether or not playwright McCormick had that early Mamet work in mind, the main idea behind "The Violin" was probably inspired by a real event, when celebrated cellist Yo-Yo Ma left his prized cello in the trunk of a New York taxi some years ago, and paid a handsome reward for its return. [more]

The Traveling Lady

June 23, 2017

The Pulitzer Prize-winning Foote (1916-2009) was acclaimed for his cycle of plays that celebrated his native, rural Texas that included "The Trip to Bountiful."  In "The Traveling Lady," he characteristically depicts the human condition with everyday conflicts, regional dialogue, and richly delineated and lovingly rendered characters.  Those qualities make these vivid roles for actors. [more]

Public Enemy

October 16, 2016

Ibsen’s "An Enemy of the People" is a classic of modern drama but at times it can seem musty in a poor translation. David Harrower’s "Public Enemy" is not only a shrewd, accessible adaptation, it also makes clear the contemporary relevance of the dangers of the herd instinct in a seemingly just society. The Pearl Theatre Company production is a must-see for all good citizens, particularly in these perilous times. [more]

A Taste of Honey

September 22, 2016

Director Austin Pendleton made some choices which don’t help the now creaky play. Although Peter is described as ten years younger than Helen, Pendleton has cast the ever reliable Bradford Cover who unaccountably looks to be Helen’s age or older. This changes the dynamic of the play as with a younger man it would be obvious why Helen doesn’t think she has much hold over him. While the apartment is described as dirty with junk all over it, Harry Feiner’s set is spotlessly clean. This changes the environment a good deal and makes Jo’s life much less intolerable than described. In addition to the on-stage jazz combo which was also part of the original 1958 London production, Pendleton has several of the characters occasionally speak directly to the audience which makes this play more surreal than the kitchen sink milieu would imply. All of this makes the revival much less affecting than it might have been. [more]

A Wilder Christmas

December 13, 2015

The Peccadillo Theater Company’s "A Wilder Christmas" is a gentle and genteel evening of theater:  two early Thornton Wilder one-act plays, directed with an attention to detail and a leisurely sense of timing by Dan Wackerman, the company’s artistic director.  "The Long Christmas Dinner" (1931) and "Pullman Car Hiawatha" (1930) together make for a rich sampling of Wilder’s familiar themes of family and the unavoidable specter of death (which, in Wilder, is only the beginning of another journey).  These themes were perfected in his 1938 masterpiece, "Our Town," including the conceit of a godlike Greek chorus in the form of a Stage Manager who explains and even supervises the action. [more]

Nora

December 2, 2015

Pendleton has made some strange directorial choices. Characters appear on stage and stand silently long before their entrances. This is distracting as one wonders are they supposed to hear the conversations taking place. Many of the entrances and exits take place through the main aisle of the theater which breaks the fourth wall convention continually. He has also cast several actors as older than they are described so that this shifts the character relationships appreciably. The most famous scene in the play when Nora slams the door, possibly the most iconic moment in modern drama, is diluted considerably as there is no door for Nora to slam. Harry Feiner’s set design has the drawing room and bedroom visible side by side throughout the play which seems somewhat inappropriate for the 19th century setting. [more]

Don Juan

May 27, 2015

The Pearl Theatre Company’s express aim in reviving this curiosity according to translator Jess Burkle, responsible for this world premiere adaptation, is “to connect the experience of the play in the original French to American audiences in 2015.” Burkle’s method is to use “alliteration, idiom, and mixed metaphor” as “the key to getting us all to pay attention to Moliere’s glowing words.” Much of the problem with Hal Brooks’ production is that while all of the characters aside from Don Juan (who is clothed as a rock star) are dressed in 17th century costumes, the text is made up of contemporary language. [more]

Rocket to the Moon

March 8, 2015

The Peccadillo Theater Company has finely and faithfully revived this rarely seen Odets play, the 6th of his plays to be produced in the late thirties. They are, “dedicated to the rediscovery of classic American theater, particularly those works which, despite their obvious literary and theatrical value, are not regularly revived.” [more]

A Loss of Roses

May 16, 2014

While Dan Wackerman's production is always absorbing, the muddled psychology in the script and the debatable choices made by the actors keep the play from joining Inge's more important major plays. [more]