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Marsha Ginsberg

Notes on My Mother’s Decline

October 22, 2019

Knud Adams directs this one-set show which at times has moments of humor, but overall is a slow moving and usually depressing narrative. Ari Fliakos, who plays the son, gives a reserved performance. Too often I thought of  the somber tones of The Twilight Zone’s Rod Serling. Fliakos  speaks directly to the audience while seldom having conversations with his mother, played convincingly by Caroline Lagerfelt. When they do interact, it’s via a call that usually describes her mundane days. [more]

Felix Starro

September 4, 2019

The score with Ms. Hagedorn’s sharp lyrics and composer Fabian Obispo’s pointed melodies in the manner of Stephen Sondheim and John Kander is quite accomplished with its rousing group numbers and rich solos. Highlights include an eerie sequence with one sick person after another seeking rejuvenation, a Billy Flynn "Chicago"-style bit documenting Felix’s past popularity and an acidic anthem by a mercenary San Francisco female florist who deals in black market identity papers for illegal immigrants. [more]

Intractable Woman: A Theatrical Memo on Anna Politkovskaya

September 23, 2018

Exhibiting talent and charm but with relatively impassive vocal deliveries are the trio who portray Anna Politkovskaya and other characters such as soldiers, medical personnel and military officials. They are Nadine Malouf, Nicole Shalhoub and Stacey Yen. They’ve been styled to have similar appearances and directed to be distant so that their performances are in the mode of recitation rather than distinctive characterizations, resulting in a lack of emotional impact. [more]

The Undertaking

January 17, 2018

Dull, smug and interminable," The Undertaking" is a multimedia play written by Steve Cosson that explores the meaning of death.  Jean Cocteau, Marcel Duchamp and Greek mythology are trotted out during this 80-minute hodgepodge. Mr. Cosson is also the director and his physical staging ranges from sedate to overdrive, with the actors incited to be manic. The ending, however, does have an affirmative simplicity. [more]

The Effect

April 8, 2016

"The Effect" investigates the emotional, physical and ethical effects of drug testing, certainly a hot button issue in our time when we have come to expect a pill to solve all of our problems. The scientific portions are made human as we see them through the eyes of Connie and Tristan who must do everything at the same time as foils in the experiment. The parallel stories of test takers and warring doctors with a past history add to the visceral and intellectual pull of the play. [more]

Angel Reapers

March 6, 2016

The audience for "Angel Reapers" is immediately immersed in the Shaker world, forced to cross the set—simple board floors, ladder-back chairs, a couple of windows and doors—en route to the seats. Several cast members are already in place. As more characters saunter on and take their seats, men and women on opposite sides, an infectious laughter spreads improbably through the cast before hymns are sung and a long list of proscribed activities is chanted. They also express delight in the “gifts” they contribute: “I have the gift of gathering eggs;” “I have the gift of reaping hay;” etc. [more]