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Phoenix Theatre Ensemble

The Cult Play

February 6, 2018

Mr. Cusumano has crafted a scenario that though familiar is gripping.  The timeless craving for lost souls seeking a purpose in life by handing over their existence to charlatans is freshly explored here.  The dialogue is well-observed, sharp and occasionally very funny.  The play is peopled by a collection of characters who are all identifiable and have finely drawn back stories. [more]

A 2017 10 Best List

December 20, 2017

Darryl Reilly, Critic Looking back at the 128 performance reviews I wrote for Theaterscene.net in [more]

Tartuffe

November 1, 2017

Complementing his gorgeous stage pictures, director Craig Smith’s vibrant staging has the actors in constant motion on the small playing area.  The cast precisely paces, dashes and undulates, achieving a propelling pace and focus. Chanting monks roaming through the audience is an eerie highlight.  Slapstick, high comedy, bawdiness and dramatic truth are all vividly rendered by Mr. Smith’s superior sense of stagecraft. [more]

Entertaining Mr. Sloane

May 8, 2017

That this production has such an ideal Sloane puts it into the stratosphere.  With his sculpted physique, prevalent musculature and chiseled features that recall the young Malcolm MacDowell (who played the role in a 1975 London revival), Matt Baguth is mesmerizing.  Speaking in a whispery, low, lightly accented voice, Mr. Baguth commands attention.  Whether wearing Mod clothing or encased in black leather, and a tight white T-shirt, Baguth vividly captures the predatory nature of this youthful interloper with sly conviction. [more]

The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui

October 24, 2016

British author Stephen Sharkey’s new translation is faithful to Brecht, but the Phoenix Theatre Ensemble has fashioned the presentation as an old-time radio show. Brecht was known for his self-conscious style of distancing and alienation, where the audience is made aware that they are watching a play but this additional device is a distraction and not as funny as intended. [more]

Murrow

May 13, 2016

Many members of the American public and the journalism community continue to revere Edward R. Murrow as a paragon of integrity in the field of news reporting. Due to the skillfully writing of Joseph Vitale, Joseph Menino’s tremendous performance and its strong physical production, Murrow affirms his noble legacy. [more]

The Gambler

January 27, 2016

Director Lordi-Kirkham has unaccountable staged the play as though it were a radio play or a reading, making it more talky and static than it needs to be. While the text is faithful to the Russian novella with some trimming to reduce the number of characters, the use of both a narrator and much of the narration from the novel makes this seem like an interior monologue rather than a play. Unfortunately, the actors playing the twenty somethings who are given the most stage time do not have the technique necessary to bring off this psychological drama. At two hours and 10 minutes with no intermission, this is a long evening in the theater. [more]

American Moor

April 29, 2015

A play that has much opportunity to expose the relationship of casting director with actor, not merely across the table but across racial backgrounds and stereotypes begins as it promises. Enter Cobb, a large black man, anxiously awaiting the call of the casting assistant as he proceeds to unapologetically disturb the entire waiting room with his nervous behavior. The thought of playing Othello brings back memories of his youth and a single theater teacher unwilling to allow him to play any role other than that which he might be traditionally cast in for an assignment. As the character’s exposition is beginning to evolve, the casting agent interrupts us. We can tell the actor has an agenda to prove; that now as a grown man in this audition things will be different. [more]