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Rachel Botchan

The Property

June 25, 2018

Although the advance publicity for Ben Josephson’s "The Property" refers to it as a comedy, there is nothing funny about it, neither jokes nor comic situations. In fact, the heroine’s desperate need for security ends up destroying five people. The themes are relevant in an era when people are downsized after many years of work and have trouble paying their mortgages but the stilted artificial dialogue and the melodramatic events damage the serious issues at stake. While veteran director Robert Kalfin has staged the play as though it were a drawing room comedy, its content presupposed that it is a tragedy on the lines of such better plays as George Kelley’s Pulitzer Prize winning "Craig’s Wife" and William Inge’s "The Dark at the Top of the Stairs." [more]

God of Vengeance

December 31, 2016

Surprisingly, Eleanor Reissa’s production for New Yiddish Rep has made some debatable choices which damage the power of the play. First of all and most obviously, although not a word has been updated, the characters wear contemporary clothing and use modern objects like headphones, a plastic umbrella and platform shoes. Since there are references to opening a horse stable and the sexual mores of 1907 have changed considerably, this is both distracting and confusing. (The word “roubles” has been eliminated for the more innocuous bucks and coins.) [more]

The Dingdong

April 29, 2016

Shanahan’s adaptation has a great many delicious one-liners and double-entendres (“I don’t go out for mutton when I can have filet mignon at home;” “Keep referring to me as a plate of food and you’ll be dining a la carte;” “I put a leash on my ‘inner beast’ and take him out for a walk every once in a while;” “Looks like you have a bad case of the puberty, kid. You should see a doctor,”) as well as witty exchanges between the warring couples. Much of the fun of the play is seeing the same actors return over and over again in different roles often within a matter of seconds. Best is Kelly Curran who throws herself into four very different women, one more enticing than the other: the Parisian vixen Claudia Pontegnac, the tempestuous Italian Fabiola Soldignac, the oversexed New Yawker Mandy, and a very sexy French maid in bouffant costume with a feather duster. [more]

The Winter’s Tale

February 27, 2015

"The Winter’s Tale" is classified as one of Shakespeare’s “problem plays” or “dark comedies” and as such it does not get produced very often. Under the direction of The Shakespeare Society’s Michael Sexton, The Pearl Theatre’s revival is elegant and entertaining. It solves some of the play’s problems while creating new ones. Surprisingly, the contemporary sets by Brett J. Banakis and costumes by Tilly Grimes work amazingly well for a tale told of the 16th century. [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]