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Oscar Wilde

A 2019 Ten Best List

December 19, 2019

These superior revivals, bold new plays and a terrific solo show were the most fascinating and memorable productions I experienced this year. [more]

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]

Salome

October 15, 2018

This M-34 production, under Rutherford’s direction, doesn’t rise to stratospheric heights.  Quite the opposite:  Rutherford’s direction and writing turns Salome into a fascinating domestic comedy/drama, an interesting interpretation, even a witty interpretation, but one that avoids piercing the audience’s minds.  He keeps the actors watchable with an in-your-face directing style.  Earnest and energetic as it is, he never squeezes fresh revelations from the text. [more]

American Players Theatre: Midwest Summer Theater Destination 2018

August 3, 2018

Having added the 200-seat indoor Touchstone Theatre in 2009 to the outdoor Hill Theater with a capacity of 1,089, the season which began on June 14 now runs until November 18. It currently serves 110,000 patrons annually, one of the largest audiences for classical outdoor theater in the United States. Another perk of visiting the neighborhood is to tour Taliesin East, Frank Lloyd Wright’s fascinating private home as well as his school for architects, both of which are only one mile away from the theater. [more]

The Stratford and Shaw Festivals 2017

September 15, 2017

Apart from two years ago, when personal developments required me to cancel my scheduled trip at the last minute, the present summer marked my 18th consecutive year at the Shaw Festival at Niagara-on-the-Lake and my 12th at the Stratford Festival--both in Canada. (Stratford is about a 90-minute drive from the Toronto airport, and Niagara-on-the-Lake is an hour or so from Buffalo.) What any theatergoer who’s never been to either Festival doesn’t know is that each is the best-kept theatergoing secret in North America. That’s because they are true repertory theaters, and there’s nothing to compare with seeing the same actor in one play in the afternoon and then in a very different production in the evening. And for the most part, every actor in each company is doing just that: there are matinees and evening performances every day of the week, except for Monday, when both Festivals are dark. (Each Festival also has four different theaters.) [more]

Diversions & Delights

March 11, 2015

The famous late-19th century author Oscar Wilde is a rather paradoxical historical figure. On the one hand, he was a proud Irishman quick to correct anyone who suggested otherwise; on the other, he spoke with the finest English accent. He was too pedantic to relate to the masses, and yet his work was widely revered by all social strata. Many people loved to hate him and others hated that they loved him. In "Diversions & Delights," the 1979 play that recently returned to Manhattan for a one-weekend run presented by The Ensemble Theatre Company of New York, writer John Gay distills these many facets of a complicated man into a solo performance piece that is appropriately pretentious and accessible. [more]

Casa Valentina

May 12, 2014

Harvey Fierstein's Casa Valentina is absorbing theater both as a revealing look into a world unknown to most theatergoers as well as a suspenseful new story. If the play has a flaw, it is that its message is a little bit obscure [more]

The Rivals

May 11, 2014

The Pearl Theatre Company's revival of Richard Brinsley Sheridan's 1777 comedy of manners "The Rivals" is both laugh-out-loud funny and intellectually stimulating. Hal Brooks' exemplary direction scores immediately in the first scene. It's a typical pre-modern opening, pages of dense exposition where a couple of minor characters discuss the major characters and their situations. Brooks avoids tedium and confusion by having the characters appear upstage when named, doing a bit of dumb show when appropriate. It's a perfect solution, introducing the actors and plot without fuss, without anachronism, and without wasting time. [more]