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Jane Shaw

Hindle Wakes

February 4, 2018

Stanley Houghton’s once controversial "Hindle Wakes" explodes everything you have ever been taught about the double standard and the place of women in society. The irrefutable logic of the characters in this play can only leave you with one conclusion. Gus Kaikkonen’s superb production for the Mint Theater Company restores this forgotten play to its rightful place in British drama. Had the playwright not died prematurely the year after "Hindle Wakes"’ premiere, the play would most likely have not fallen into an almost 100 year eclipse. Ironically, the Me-Too movement reminds us that the philosophy that “boys will be boys” is both immoral and indefensible. [more]

Yours Unfaithfully

January 28, 2017

One problem is that the play (unlike Noel Coward’s "Design for Living" or Somerset Maugham’s "The Constant Wife" which cover similar territory) is neither witty not clever, and none of the lines are particularly sparkling or original. While the play may delineate liberated sexual behavior, its drawing room comedy format is too conventional and refined. All five performers always seem to be acting as their style is too arch to be truly believable. [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 Day by the Sea

August 30, 2016

Now that we have been through all the angry play movements, literate writers like N.C. Hunter and Terence Rattigan are once again ripe for revival. While in his own time, Hunter was criticized for being too much like Chekhov that now seems a plus in the days of sloppy craftsmanship and plays that are really movie scenarios staged in the theater. "A Picture of Autumn" was obviously a post-war British variation on Chekhov’s "The Cherry Orchard," while Waters of the Moon resembles "The Sea Gull." "A Day by the Sea" owes a great deal to Chekhov’s "Uncle Vanya" and includes the same basic cast of characters. [more]

Men on Boats

August 2, 2016

In this swashbuckling comedic play, 'Men on Boats" takes an innovative approach by casting ten women in the roles of the first “white” discovers of the Grand Canyon. However, this was not a nod to the current trend of casting cisgender or transgender actors. The use of “on boats,” instead of “in boats,” indicates the state of being in which the actresses find themselves — a history panorama where gender and race play little part. [more]

The New Morality

September 28, 2015

When American born Londoner Harold Chapin was killed in W.W. I in 1915, he was a highly regarded actor, stage manager and playwright, although not as famous as his colleagues George Bernard Shaw, James Barrie or John Galsworthy. While he had completed four full-length plays, his early death led to an eclipse of his work and his fame. In the centenary of his death, the Mint Theater Company well-known for uncovering lost works of merit, has revived his major comedy, "The New Morality." While Jonathan Bank’s production is elegant and polished, this diverting play unfortunately seems lightweight and thin today. [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]

Fashions for Men

March 16, 2015

Though totally unknown to Americans, Ferenc Molnár’s "Fashions for Men" is another treasure newly unearthed by the reliable Mint Theater. Davis McCallum’s polished and period-perfect production is not only vastly entertaining and enlightening about the human condition, but it should go a long way to making this play more widely known to the theater-going public. While the play is set in a world that is long gone, its contemporary relevance is based on the fact that it dramatizes the human comedy which will always be in fashion. [more]

The Killer

June 11, 2014

Much of the work of the play is left to the smoke and lights added by the designers but these elements fail to create mood on TFANA's stage. Matthew Richards' lighting is suitable without becoming a real character in the play even when the scenes are performed on a bare stage. The off-stage noises created by sound designer Jane Shaw don't go far enough as Ionesco intended them to fill the stage with the off-stage crowds, locales and events that we don't see. [more]