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Jason Sherwood

Lockdown

May 7, 2019

Ernie Morris is a middle-aged widowed African-American writer who arrives  at a contemporary unnamed prison to be a volunteer. A young corrections officer explains in great detail all of the rules and regulations. The inmate she becomes closest to is James “Hakeem” Jamerson, nicknamed Wise. He is a 62-year-old African-American man who has been incarcerated for 46 years for shooting and killing a police officer during a pawn shop holdup when he was 16. Over his many years of imprisonment, he’s matured, having gotten a college degree and leading an education program. He’s been continually turned down for parole and Ernie agrees to help him with his statement for the next parole board hearing. Will they succeed? [more]

Southern Promises

April 1, 2019

Playwright Thomas Bradshaw seems to have taken literally the dictum in theater to “Astonish!” His plays like "Burning," "Intimacy," "Job," and "Fulfillment," to name only a few seen in New York in recent years, are shocking, disturbing and an assault on both the actors and audience. In The Flea Theater revival of his 2008 play, "Southern Promises," director Niegel Smith seems to have taken this one step further. In this play about race relationship between masters and slaves set in 1848 Virginia, an antidote to the theory of the benevolent slave owner, the ten-member cast of The Bats, The Flea’s young repertory company, informs us that they are all people of color and that they do not have legacy of confronting slavery on their terms. Several of them reveal that they have had DNA tests performed and discovered that they are of mixed blood, making them both black and white. [more]

Chick Flick the Musical

March 12, 2019

Suzy Conn’s zesty score is a fusion of her peppy music and well-crafted lyrics. “Quandary” is rhymed with “laundry” and among the 14 bright songs there’s a comical ode to Meryl Streep. Ms. Conn’s upbeat book is an orderly framework charting the everyday predicaments of her plucky stock characters. “I think that the Botox went to your brain!” “What’s next? An evening of Chardonnay and shingles?” are representative of the dialogue’s good-natured wit. The scenario manages to just about sustain its 80 minute length. Conn strives for and achieves a feel-good tone for this escapist escapade. [more]

The Chase Brock Experience: The Girl with the Alkaline Eyes

December 31, 2018

Brock’s work once prized effect over substance, but years of choreographing situation and character-based musicals ("Be More Chill," "Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark") have sharpened his artistic vision; or, perhaps, he has matured as he’s gained experience—and years. [more]

This Ain’t No Disco

August 7, 2018

"This Ain’t No Disco" is a compressed, zany look at the years in the 1970s that Studio 54 ruled the social whirl of New York City, complete with debauchery, drugs, loud music, semi-nudity and dancing (brilliantly evocative choreography by Camille A. Brown—herself no slouch with "Once on This Island" under her belt.) The libretto hews closely to the facts about the rise and fall of this mecca of A-list celebrities, including real people—Steve Rubell, Andy Warhol (here called The Artist)—and a host of fictional characters who represent a cross-section of the clientele, from pretty boy bartenders/drug dealers to undercover government agents looking for a chink in Rubell’s armor.  The Mudd Club also makes a guest appearance as well as the homes of several of the characters whose mixing and matching drive the play. [more]

Sojourners & Her Portmanteau

May 31, 2017

Expect great things from Udofia in the future. Both plays demonstrate that she writes full-bodied, three-dimensional characters, while "Her Portmanteau" reveals that she can also write a play from the heart whose emotions will pull you in and stay with you long after the final curtain. Also keep your eye on Chinasa Ogbuagu: playing two different women 36 years apart she is totally unrecognizable, you have to read the program to discover that it is the same actress, an extraordinary feat. [more]

The View UpStairs

May 15, 2017

On the fourth anniversary of the Stonewall uprising in 1973, an arsonist set fire to a gay bar in New Orleans, killing 32 people. This tragic yet forgotten episode in gay history is not only part of a Harvey Fierstein monologue in "Gently Down the Stream"—currently playing at the Public Theater--but also the subject of "The View UpStairs," a new Off Broadway musical that has a lot of spark, but ultimately not enough fire. [more]

Two Class Acts: Squash & Ajax

November 5, 2016

Whether you see one or both of Gurney’s "Two Class Acts," these are provocative plays of ideas on topics of the day. The playwright continues to demonstrate that he has a wise and discerning view of the human condition. Director Stafford Arima has done a beautiful job of obtaining all of the nuances and humor out of the two sharp and intelligent situations. The casting for both plays could not be improved as the actors make their roles their own. The Flea Theater leaves White Street on a high note with two entertaining and superior productions that will close the space with honor and distinction. [more]

Sojourners

February 3, 2016

Ms. Udofia’s dialogue is richly expressive and she renders the four characters with depth and detail. The relationships between the characters are fully explored and their interactions where they voice their hopes and desires are often poignant. This is most particularly felt in the growing camaraderie between Abasiama and Moxie. [more]

Gluten!

November 25, 2015

From offstage we hear the hyperbolic exclamations of a young man, Copious Fairchild, as he masturbates mixed with the soundtrack of a television cooking show. He enters the living room with a jar containing his semen and places it on the coffee table. After favorably commenting on its magnitude his young wife Hibiscus Van Der Waal, takes it and goes offstage. We soon hear her orgasmic sounds as she inseminates herself during this anti-sexual reproductive process called “coagulating.” It’s a pivotal sequence in Stephen Kaliski’s excruciating futuristic spoof "Gluten!" [more]

Songbird

November 10, 2015

Kate Baldwin (John & Jen, Giant, Big Fish, Finian’s Rainbow) as self-absorbed country western star Tammy Tripp gives a big bravura performance as a mother who resents her adult son as he gives away her real age. Adam Cochran as the young songwriter Dean (Konstantin in Chekhov) has just the right combination of confusion and frustration. As Mia (Nina), his girlfriend who wants to be a singer, Ephie Aardema is quite sweet as the impressionable young woman starting out who chooses to go on her own journey. Eric William Morris as successful songwriter now producer Beck Michaels (Boris Trigorin) offers rueful regret for the career he might have had. [more]

SeaWife

July 9, 2015

The six members of the Lobbyists make up the cast along with Raymond Sicam III (on cello) who perform all of the characters as well as play all the instruments. The Melville Gallery has been decorated by set designer Jason Sherwood as a 19th century inn that seems to encircle the audience. Samantha Shoffner’s props (suggestive of both an inn and a schooner) include netting, ropes, glass jars, baskets, paintings and a ship’s wheel. After the band plays an introduction, Caldi (played by Tony Vo) offers to tell us the story of Gravesight, “the greatest harpooner who ever lived.” [more]