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Jody Christopherson

The Importance of Being Earnest: Two Ways

March 16, 2019

It’s billed as “Two Ways” because this event is comprised of differing versions performed in repertory. There is the self-explanatory “Conventional Casting” and the “Reversed Casting” where the same superb ensemble plays a different role of the opposite gender in the identical previous performer’s costume.  Each incarnation is a frothy delight faithfully affirming Wilde’s insightful wit and supreme dramatic construction through theatrical magnificence. [more]

Imagining Madoff

March 7, 2019

Employing his rumbling deep voice, his thinning hair slicked back and veering from snarling cheeriness to reflective introspection, Jeremiah Kissel swaggering in a power suit gleefully gives us the ballsy Madoff we desire. Tossing off expertly pronounced Yiddishisms in his rants, Mr. Kissel fully embodies the archetypal striving lusty Jewish kid from Queens who worked the angles and became a macher. Kissel attacks the role with outsize relish as if it were Roy Cohn in "Angels in America." [more]

The American Tradition

January 31, 2019

There are many dimensions to Ray Yamanouchi’s "The American Tradition," directed by Axel Avin, Jr. for the New Light Theater Project. On one level, it’s an adventure story about a daring attempt to escape from American slavery. Eleanor (Sydney Cole Alexander) and Bill (Martin K. Lewis) are an enslaved married couple in the antebellum South. When they learn that he is about to be sold and separated from her, they seek a way to escape to the North. Eleanor proposes a wild scheme: A relatively light-skinned woman, she will disguise herself as Evander, a white male slaver. And Bill will pretend to be Evander’s slave and traveling companion. [more]

The Net Will Appear

December 14, 2018

Gradually, as the course of a year passes, we learn about the characters’ trouble-filled off-stage lives: Rory is coping with being part of a broken family; Bernard suffered loss early in life, and his wife now has medical issues. The growing friendship between the two opposites is obviously meant to create an occasion for epiphany. Too obviously. The drama in the characters’ contrasting lives plays out with boilerplate predictability. It’s all just a little too pat. [more]

Only You Can Prevent Wildfires

October 14, 2017

The audience sitting on three sides of the airy playing area on wooden benches is part of Clifton Chadick’s super, environmental scenic design.  The floor is covered with wood chips, logs and tree stumps, there are a several jagged wooden poles and a few red fire buckets strewn about.  On one end is a stage area and the other is a screen where Joey Moro’s atmospheric projection design is shown.  The crisp imagery includes fires, nature and abstractions.  For several distracting instances the actors at the other end of the stage are projected onto the screen for no discernable reason other than as an aesthetic flourish. [more]

Heartless Bastard

August 21, 2017

Much of the play is like an odd synthesis of 1960’s theatrical satires. There are absurdist shades of Murray Schisgal, Elaine May, and particularly of Jules Feiffer's "Little Murders," laced with Paddy Chayefsky’s lacerating tirades. It eventually becomes clear that it’s meant to be overblown and not at all realistic, and at times is hilarious. A zany Reform rabbi’s irreverent diatribe on faith, and a Darth Vader sight gag are hysterical highlights. Then there’s the girlfriend’s unsettling, casual disclosure that she’s had a double mastectomy. It all recalls the provocatively dark humor of Larry David. [more]

Lou

May 30, 2017

The opening scenes augurs well, hinting at the deeper emotional motivation for Salome’s future behavior, her decision to avoid romantic involvement. As the lights gradually rise to reveal Salome, seated at her desk, her back to the audience, she is described by disembodied voices as a contradictory figure who is loved and respected in equal measure. Then Salome, the product of a respectable, well-to-do upbringing, tells a tale of being duped by the kitchen help when she was a child. The look on Mieko Gavia’s face as Lou Salome after revealing this traumatic event makes it clear that she will never be duped again. Ms. Gavia skillfully portrays Lou Salome as a stalwart anti-romantic who, nevertheless, knows that friendships with the influential males of her time were a necessary evil. [more]

Strays

May 12, 2016

"Strays" is a challenge to describe as it is such a mash-up of traditional theatrical conventions that it doesn’t easily fall into any one category. Directed by Cion, Strays moves as through a haze, scenes folding one into the other, transitions covered by bizarre song and dance breaks (revolving around cats), characters speaking on top of each other almost constantly. The scenic design by Kerry Chipman is straight forward and aided largely by a projector, which displays videos by Maia Cruz Palileo throughout the production. The media element adds to the bizarre tone of the show, and though some of the videos played are designed to help advance the plot, others are simply trippy displays of superimposed kitties floating through the air. [more]

Primary

April 12, 2016

Instead of a satirical take as in the film "The Candidate" (1972) or HBO’s television series "Veep," the treatment of the subject here is realistic in the mode of Norman Lear’s 1970’s situation comedies such as Maude. The toll of the campaign on Laura’s good-natured husband Arthur, her troubled nine year-old daughter Sophie and her resourceful young campaign manager Nick are insightfully explored. [more]

R Culture

November 17, 2014

Author Cecilia Copeland definitely has a feminist agenda but the totality of these pieces advance a universal human concern that any rational person would support in principle. That many of them are genuinely entertaining while being provocative is a considerable achievement. The language can be quite strong, and the situations explicit, but they always suit the subject without being gratuitous. Her work stands out for its demanding, blunt, truth telling, in the tradition of Lenny Bruce, which is in sharp contrast to the prevalent bland tone of much of today's political humor. It is definitely in your face. [more]