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Mahira Kakkar

7 Minutes

March 31, 2022

Given one hour to decide and vote, the union committee must come to a decision in real time. On one level the play is very much like Reginald Rose’s "12 Angry Men" in which a group of disparate people must also make a life or death decision. However, unlike that play, the characters in "7 Minutes" are not clearly delineated so that we do not know where many of them stand or who they are. While the production directed by Mei Ann Teo is absorbing for most of its running time placing us in the room where it happens, her staging having the actors move about a great deal makes it difficult to keep most of the 11 women separate from each other. Unlike "12 Angry Men," "7 Minutes" does not offer a great many arguments for and against to warrant its running time, mainly getting into personalities. [more]

Addressless: A Walk in Our Shoes

January 21, 2022

Turning the plight of New York City’s homeless into a game is an iffy proposition to say the least.  At best, the audience for the theatrical effort, "Addressless: A Walk in Our Shoes," learns about the daily terrors facing this disenfranchised population; at worst, the interactive game overshadows the very same awful truths turning homelessness into a superficial search for more and more points. The Zoom audience, giving advice to the actors who portray the unfortunate avatars of three luckless souls, takes the focus off of their tragic, often inescapable circumstances. [more]

The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui

November 17, 2018

The Classic Stage Company's current revival of Bertolt Brecht’s "The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui" is not the first to draw comparisons between the sitting president and Hitler. In 2002, or the year after 9/11, National Theatre of Actors presented an all-star production in downtown Manhattan – featuring Al Pacino, no less - comparing Ui to Hitler and President George W. Bush. [more]

Henry VI (NAATCO)

August 22, 2018

Presented by NAATCO (National Asian American Theatre Company), it has a virtually all-Asian excellent cast of sixteen, several of whom play roles of opposite genders. Creatively conceived by Stephen Brown-Fried and superbly directed by him, his Orson Welles-like vision transcends the difficult material. This sterling production is also an inspired example of Americans succeeding at Shakespeare. [more]

Against the Hillside

February 8, 2018

The production is not helped by William Carden’s heavy-handed direction.  Scene transitions are punctuated by sound designer and composer Shane Rettig’s blaring, pulsing and overwhelming original electronic music. In near darkness, stage hands wearing black appear to rearrange furniture and set props.  This all becomes formulaic and distracting. Carden’s physical staging is rudimentary and the actions flow weakly. Most unnerving is that Mr. Carden has the actors speaking rapidly and being overly emphatic for much of the time and this sets an artificial tone. [more]

The Trial of an American President

October 10, 2016

Trial is stacked against Bush from the get-go. The torrent of facts alone convicts him. The director, Stephen Eich, the author and probably the actor, Mr. Carlin, seem to have decided to make Bush weak-voiced, full of twitches, nervous eye movements and religious fervor. Had Bush been portrayed as a stronger man who truly believed in what he did, the play might have had a dramatic spine. The very fact that after being convicted by a jury of audience members Bush’s last word is a tearful outcry (“Laura”) serves to induce not empathy, but pity. [more]

When January Feels Like Summer

October 17, 2014

Romantic comedies often collapse under such contrivances, but in practice this play holds up beautifully. Nirmala's struggle to accept that she has a right to tenderness in her life is sensitive without being preachy, and Ms. Kakkar is frankly fantastic in the part. She finds an exceptionally quiet and truthful center for her characterization, and as a result Nirmala's breakthrough moments feel absolutely real and not at all melodramatic. [more]