News Ticker

Jason Ardizzone-West

The Michaels

November 10, 2019

Richard Nelson’s latest play, "The Michaels" (subtitled a “Conversation During Difficult Times”) is a thing of beauty. Low-key like his "Apple Family" quartet and his "The Gabriels" trilogy, it is Chekhovian in the best sense of the word: very little happens but life passes by. The characters who sit in a Rhinebeck, New York,  kitchen (also the setting for the other seven plays) talk of life and death, love and desire, memories and accomplishments. They reveal secrets and ponder changes and ultimately make decisions. Not much takes place but then again all of life occurs in the course of the play’s two hours. [more]

Good Grief

October 31, 2018

"Good Grief" opens with a celestial sequence and continues with Nkechi’s narration. Sometimes incidents are replayed in order to get them closer to the truth since all are memories and not always totally accurate.  There’s an early fantasy boxing match that seems out of place. The slight plot involves the death of one of the characters and the profound effect it has on Nkechi. [more]

One Thousand Nights and One Day

April 23, 2018

In performance, "One Thousand Nights and One Day" is a like a play with songs shoehorned in as none of them forward the story but take the emotional temperature of the characters instead. With all of the actors playing at least two parts, modern and ancient, with little costume change, it is often difficult to be certain where we are at any moment. Some play very similar characters, others play against their earlier incarnation. Erin Ortman’s direction is assured with the characterizations but she cannot solve the problems inherent in the writing. [more]

Three Wise Guys

March 12, 2018

Just in time for Easter, TACT/The Actors Company Theatre has adapted and combined  two Christmas-themed Damon Runyon short stories into the seasonally inappropriate, but nonetheless very charming, "Three Wise Guys." Gleefully peppered with Runyon’s distinctive demi-monde argot, or Runyonese, the comedic play depicts a Prohibition-era New York of principled crooks and hustlers who, in true Runyon style, end up having hearts much bigger than their ill-gotten bankrolls, which, of course, doesn’t mean they’re ready to commit to their matrimonially frustrated gal pals. Like another Runyon adaptation about some guys and dolls, the sparsely musical "Three Wise Guys" fancifully speaks to the, perhaps not so unreasonable, belief that those on the make are much more trustworthy than the ones who’ve already made it. [more]

Illyria

November 17, 2017

The conversations revolve around the topics of the New York Shakespeare Festival’s poor finances in 1958, Vaughan’s defection to the Phoenix Theatre which was paying a living wage while the NYSF was not, the choice of Mary Bennett (Vaughan’s choice) or Peggy Papp (Papp’s choice) to play Olivia, George C. Scott’s defection to the movies in his unnamed first film, the House UnAmerican Activities Committee appearances by both Papp and Gersten which has put their jobs in jeopardy, and whether Free Shakespeare in the Park can survive without charging admission. However, none of these conversations are allowed to erupt into real conflict. We are placed in the center of the action as though we are in the room where it happened, but the dialogue remains on the level of chit-chat rather than life or death threatening decisions. The problems never seem to be resolved and the play moves on to its next topic. [more]

Women of a Certain Age – Play 3 of The Gabriels: Election Year in the Life of One Family

November 14, 2016

Told in real time from five to seven PM on Election Day, November 8, 2016, not much happens in the play but as the Gabriel women talk, they reveal their hopes, their fears, their desires and their memories. By the end of the play, we know everything there is to know about them. Under Nelson’s direction, his cast of six who now have played these people in three plays since February 27 (first "Hungry" and then "What Did You Expect?" which began previews on Sept. 19) are not so much acting these characters as living them. [more]

What Did You Expect? – Play 2 of The Gabriels: Election Year in the Life of One Family

September 21, 2016

Like his "Apple Family Plays," Nelson’s "The Gabriel" cycle all take place in a kitchen on a specific day in almost real time using the same six actors to play the family members. These are occasional plays which define a moment in time, as well as being chamber plays, small cast plays set in one place. Not much happens but much gets said and discussed. Described as “Chekhovian” by Oskar Eustis, artistic director of the Public, "What Did You Expect?" is less so as there really is no dramatic event as in such Chekov plays as "The Cherry Orchard" or "The Sea Gull." However, leisurely told and extremely detailed, "What Did You Expect?" offers its own rewards but may not be for all theatergoers. It is an evening of excellent talk which defines a family of have nots in our own time. [more]

Hungry: Play I of The Gabriels

March 19, 2016

"Hungry" is both an occasional play (written for this moment in time) and a chamber play. Not much happens but a great deal is implied. It will not please all theatergoers. However, it will be interesting to see how Nelson develops the next two plays in the series, "What Did You Expect?" and "Women of a Certain Age," with the same actors. Demonstrating their expertise, the cast is real enough to make you think they are not performing. [more]