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Neil Pepe

Juno and the Paycock

April 12, 2019

From this group of familiar faces, O'Reilly and Keating are particularly strong in their second go-around, finding notes in Jack and Joxer's codependent relationship that are both hilarious and hideous. With his almost sneering delivery of Joxer's obsequious and vowel-rich responses ("it's a darlin' funeral, a daarlin' funeral"), Keating's performance is especially brilliant, pitched just before the point when servility turns into hate. As for Jack, O'Reilly brushes aside his litany of faults to make him a first-rate charmer, capable of snatching a smile from Juno even after he's brought the overburdened woman to her wit's end. [more]

On the Shore of the Wide World

September 21, 2017

Neil Pepe’s production of Simon Stephens’ "On the Shore of the Wide World" will not please all. The pace is consciously slow – like the life lived by these characters. However, the wait is worth the effort. By the end when the family reunites for Sunday dinner, the play has become both powerful and poignant. The title, incidentally, comes from the next to the last line of John Keats’ sonnet, “When I have fears that I may cease to be” in which the speaker worries about missing out on love, fulfillment, fame and success, apt summation of Simon Stephens' play.  [more]

The Penitent

March 10, 2017

Perhaps because Mamet-regular Jordan Lage is so effective as Richard, the scenes between Charles and his own attorney prove the most effective. While Laura Bauer’s sensible costumes do all they can to make her seem real, Rebecca Pidgeon proves robotic as Kath, detracting from her character’s constant bewilderment. (Come to think of it, maybe it was a stylized choice for playing the part, because of Kath’s befuddlement and uncertainty, at every turn.) The last scene is set in a rehab room, where Kath has been confined, following a mental collapse or nervous breakdown. [more]

Marie and Rosetta

September 30, 2016

The two women size each other up, first by Sister Rosetta singing such gospel numbers as “This Train,” “Rock Me” and “Sit Down,” while Marie demonstrates her style with “Were You There When They Crucified My Lord.” Then they move into a series of dynamic duets, each one more robust and rousing then the last. Eventually they sing a few of the pop songs that Sister Rosetta has made famous: “I Want a Tall Skinny Papa” and “Four or Five Times.” A sleight of hand is their writing “Up Above My Head” together while we watch and listen to the song unfold as if for the first time. Lewis brings her powerful, full-bodied voice to her songs, while Jones has a smaller, mellower sound (the real life Knight was a contralto). However, when they join together in song, the results are glorious, and each duet will make you hungry for the next one. [more]

Hold On to Me Darling

March 31, 2016

In the hands of someone other than Timothy Olyphant, Strings McCabe might be a self-pitying monster too extreme to take seriously. However, this brilliantly accomplished actor has just the right amount of blarney to make Kenneth Lonergan’s "Hold On to Me Darling" one of the most satisfying plays in town. And you will learn a good deal about the lives of the rich and famous and how they get away with the antics they commit. [more]

Dying For It

January 14, 2015

Dying for It, Moira Buffini’s free adaptation of The Suicide, is fine as a drama but the premise makes it a classic farce. Unfortunately, the Atlantic Theater Company production fails to find the humor in this dark comedy. As such the contemporary parallels to our own time do not become obvious as either satire or humor. [more]