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Red Bull Theater

American Moor

September 16, 2019

Cobb is titanic in this piece bringing his resonant voice and impressive physical presence to bear on the most famous classic role for a Black actor in the canon as well as his thoughts about race and the theater. His justifiable anger when the director tells an anecdote about a woman who drove across the country in diapers to confront her rival as an example of the effects of jealousy is enough to flay one alive. His analysis of the man Othello and his relationship to the white Venetians is a brilliant explication of both character and society. Cobb’s understandable problem with white directors who want to tell him how to play a Black man exposes race in America from a new point of view. American Moor may make you angry but it is always enlightening and right on target. Although Cobb’s passion gets the better of him, you will never feel that he has gone too far or misrepresented things as they are. [more]

Mac Beth

May 29, 2019

Schmidt’s streamlined adaptation of Shakespeare’s Scottish tragedy is played by a cast of seven schoolgirls who meet in an abandoned urban field after school without any set up other than that they throw down their book bags before launching into the first scene. Designed by Jessica Pabst, their school uniforms made up of cape with hood, a blazer, a skirt, and tie are made of Scottish tartan which is appropriate for this play. Every prop in the show comes from the backpacks and purses they carry with them. The girls perform the play without reading from the text as though they have studied it in school and are thoroughly versed in it. Once they enter the scene, the girls never exit but sit on the sidelines watching for the rest of the play. [more]

The White Devil

April 5, 2019

Not seen in New York since 1965, John Webster’s Jacobean revenge play, "The White Devil," has been given a juicy, vigorous modern dress production by Red Bull Theater which specializes in Elizabethan and post-Shakespearean dramas. While not as great as Webster’s "The Duchess of Malfi" or Shakespeare’s psychological dramas, this second-rung tragedy from 1612 has been directed by Louisa Proske with live video and contemporary trappings in a style that is always riveting, always engrossing, particularly notable for a play that will be unfamiliar to most theatergoers. [more]

The Metromaniacs

April 26, 2018

To add that "The Metromaniacs" also contains a play within the play, in which all of the characters are apparently playing themselves, might begin to suggest how confusing it all becomes, especially since they all enter and exit with a rapidity as if there were indeed a fire in the house--meaning Francalou’s no less than The Duke Theater on 42nd Street. [more]

The Government Inspector

June 2, 2017

Director Jesse Berger’s fast-paced staging is an exuberant amalgam of physical and verbal virtuosity combined with visual flair. A highlight is a crowd of characters hurrying into a closet and popping out one by one that’s out of a Marx Brothers movie. There’s also the spectacle of a group of bearded, shabby villagers of various heights storming The Mayor’s house in their flowing garments. [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]

The School for Scandal

April 30, 2016

Red Bull Theater which has specialized in Elizabethan and Jacobean tragedies has moved on to the 18th century with Marc Vietor’s exquisite and stylish revival of "The School for Scandal," Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s famous but rarely revived classic comedy of manners. With impeccable casting and a pitch-perfect production team, this School is as witty, delightful and accessible as one could wish. The 18th century look of the play is both historic and satiric. Anna Louizos’ clever settings transform one into the other with the turn of a wall or a door and a rearrangement of the furniture, highlighted by Russell H. Champa’s lighting. Her witty use of props (a chamber pot, a trunk, empty picture frames) adds to the fun. [more]

The Changeling

January 13, 2016

The interpretations are also open to question. Although she should be demure before her sexual awakening, Sara Topham plays Beatrice as experienced and sophisticated which allows her nowhere to take her character. While the beauty and the beast theme is much in evidence, Manoel Felciano’s make-up as the ugly De Flores fails to make him the monstrous embodiment of the play’s description. Christian Coulson’s Alsemero is described by his friend Jasperino as asexual and he seems to have taken this as the basis for his character. As a result he is extremely bland, as is John Skelley’s Alonzo, so that we never see what Beatrice is supposed to see in these men. [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]