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Matthew Amendt

The Comedian’s Tragedy

June 30, 2019

Matthew Amendt’s new play "The Comedian’s Tragedy" asks the burning question why did Aristophanes, the master of Greek comedy, never write any tragedies. Socrates in Plato’s "Symposium" equated comedy and tragedy with Aristophanes present, but the question does not seem to have been asked these 2,400 years. While Amendt attempts to pass off his play as history, he plays fast and loose with the actual facts. Director Bill McCallum’s production does not help things by having the actors from ancient Athens mainly in contemporary clothing and having several historically male characters played by women. As most of the people in the play are not household names except to Greek scholars, this makes the play much more difficult to follow let alone recall what one should know about life in the days of Socrates and Aristophanes. [more]

The Tragedy of Julius Caesar

April 3, 2019

Shakespeare’s politically charged Roman tragedy, "Julius Caesar," has always been a touchstone for inflaming emotions. In earlier times, monarchs used to ban the play when uprisings were imminent. In the 1930’s, the play was presented as an anti-Fascist rallying cry. In our own era, it has been presented with various American presidents as the stand-in for Caesar. While Shana Cooper’s production for Theatre for a New Audience here called "The Tragedy of Julius Caesar" is vigorous, lusty and lucid, it offers no political point of view. We never understand why the conspirators want to get rid of Caesar nor what they want to replace him with instead. [more]

Coriolanus (Red Bull Theater)

November 9, 2016

Just as Ulysses S. Grant and Dwight D. Eisenhower did centuries later, Coriolanus, urged on by his powerful mother, Volumnia (a startling, stinging Lisa Harrow), uses his military success as a springboard for a high political office, Consul, which he easily wins with help of two Tribunes of Rome, Sicinius Velutus (a wily Stephen Spinella) and Junius Brutus (Merritt Janson, playing cross gender to perfection) and a friend, Menenius Agrippa (Patrick Page, using his weighty voice and commanding eyes brilliantly). [more]

‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore

May 6, 2015

We associate Jacobean revenge tragedy with the reign of King James I. Each play’s atrocities seemed to dare the next playwright with an unspoken “Can you top this?” Playwright John Ford continued the genre under the next king, Charles I, coming up with new and even more lurid variations. Red Bull Theater which specializes in the plays of Shakespeare and his contemporaries is offering a staging of Ford’s rarely revived masterpiece "‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore." While artistic director Jesse Berger has piloted a solid production which is a good introduction to this unfamiliar play, it all seems a bit tame when the script seems to cry out for tremendous excesses. As always, however, with Red Bull productions, the diction in this revival is impeccable and totally intelligible. [more]