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Sarah Ruhl

For Peter Pan on her 70th birthday

September 14, 2017

In interviews, Ruhl says she intends this play as a gift to her mother who played Peter Pan in Iowa as a teenager.  As noble as this goal is, "For Peter Pan on her 70th birthday" never coheres into a compelling experience.  The character of Ann is fascinating but is embedded in an uninvolving scenario that is perhaps a mediation on aging, death and disillusionment. [more]

How to Transcend a Happy Marriage

March 30, 2017

Marisa Tomei excels as George, the narrator of "How to Transcend…" --and of her own story. Thanks to Tomei’s vocal and visual expressions, we constantly share in George’s ongoing surprise, as she graduates from naivety to knowledge. In the end, it is George who has the most “transcendent,” and religious, experience. (It is not insignificant that we’re told George is the only Catholic in the group.)“It seems like you have omniscience,” says George, in her closing monologue, “when you can talk to the audience in a play.” And talk to us, she does, in the playwright’s smart, yet snappy language. Consider George also telling us that Jenna, “over time forgave us,” after walking in on her parent’s participating in a sex orgy. And “the trauma of seeing her parents’ aberrant sex lives up close--it became an anecdote in a college application.” Or consider David’s saying: “I’m from everywhere. And nowhere. I moved constantly as a child…. as a result, I don’t really believe in nationality.” [more]

Dear Elizabeth

December 1, 2015

The great mid-20th century American poets Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell were friends from 1947 until his sudden death 30 years later. As they were usually in different cities and countries (Bishop lived in Brazil for many years while Lowell lived in New York City and Boston), they wrote each other over 450 letters which were published in 2008 as "Words in Air: The Complete Correspondence between Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell." Sarah Ruhl, an adventurous playwright whose plays tend to be very different from each other, has adapted the letters for the stage in a homage to writing and friendship called Dear Elizabeth in which all of the words are that of the poets. Kate Whorskey’s fascinating production for WP Theater (formerly The Women’s Project) has staged the play much in the manner of last year’s revival of A.R. Gurney’s "Love Letters" and also with revolving casts. [more]

The Oldest Boy

November 17, 2014

Sarah Ruhl's latest play, The Oldest Boy, having its world premiere at Lincoln Center Theater's Mitzi E. Newhouse, is a magical spiritual investigation into the relationship between teachers and students, and mothers and sons. Based on a true story told to the author by her Tibetan housekeeper, Rebecca Taichman's production uses dance (choreographed by Barney O'Hanlon), ritual and a puppet (designed and directed by Matt Acheson) for three-year-old Tenzin. The play also has the Mother directly address the audience and features breathtaking and colorful lighting effects by Japhy Weideman on Mimi Lien's minimalist but pleasing setting, as well as beautiful Asian costumes by Anita Yavich. [more]