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Shakespeare

Lear: That Old Man I Used to Know

September 14, 2019

Hopkins had added selections from Lewis Carroll (references to the Jabberwock and “The White Knight’s Song: The Aged Age Man,” the poem which gives her the new title), Emily Dickinson (“I’m Nobody! Who are you?”), Alfred Lord Tennyson’s “Ulysses” (“To strive, to seek, to find and not to yield”), and unidentified poems from Dylan Thomas. Aside from the fact that these are several centuries newer, all of these have a different rhythm than Shakespeare’s Lear. The music credits include Satie’s “Gymnopedie” No. 1, Chopin’s “Nocturne in E minor,” excepts from Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 and Piano Sonata No. 23 in F minor, and “Ombra mai fu” from Handel’s opera Serse. The most outstanding problem is that we have other associations with this material so that they stick out like a sore thumb. [more]

Twelfth Night (Duende Productions)

April 16, 2019

By stripping down the show and performing it in a white box theater space with minimal scenery and costumes, the eight actors, doubling up on parts, have fun interpreting Shakespeare’s luscious comedy of unrequited love and mistaken identity for each other, often bringing the viewers into the action (with mixed results).  This is probably the friendliest Twelfth Night I’ve ever seen since the musical Your Own Thing in the sixties. [more]

The Tragedy of Julius Caesar

April 3, 2019

Shakespeare’s politically charged Roman tragedy, "Julius Caesar," has always been a touchstone for inflaming emotions. In earlier times, monarchs used to ban the play when uprisings were imminent. In the 1930’s, the play was presented as an anti-Fascist rallying cry. In our own era, it has been presented with various American presidents as the stand-in for Caesar. While Shana Cooper’s production for Theatre for a New Audience here called "The Tragedy of Julius Caesar" is vigorous, lusty and lucid, it offers no political point of view. We never understand why the conspirators want to get rid of Caesar nor what they want to replace him with instead. [more]

C4: The Choral Composer/Conductor Collective Presents “Water Music”

June 22, 2018

One special feature of this concert was also a mark of C4’s maturity and clout as a musical organization with a well-deserved reputation for excellence: they sponsor the IGNITE commissioning competition. In the 2017-2018 season, C4 received over 300 submissions; from these, 20 finalists were chosen, and from these, three winners were chosen. C4 member Martha Sullivan wrote about the selection process in the typically informative program notes. “Tonight, after careful rehearsal, we share the winners … They showed us works they had already created, and we responded by asking each composer to create something new, something that would be born here and now, with C4 and you are privileged to witness this birth.” [more]

Arden/Everywhere

October 16, 2017

Signaling that we’re in for something different, Bauman has redubbed the play "Arden/Everywhere," a hint that home, and the emotional impact of losing it, is at the heart of her reimagining. Largely through design choices, but also some modest changes to the text, Bauman connects the diasporic struggles of the play’s characters to those experienced by the 65 million refugees the United Nations has identified throughout the world today, effectively arguing that, in both cases, the pain is there for anyone to see. [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]

Otello (LoftOpera)

March 20, 2017

LoftOpera is a feisty little company that operates around Brooklyn, especially Bushwick. They are giving" Otello" in LightSpace Studios, a disco on Flushing Avenue about the size of a high school gymnasium. There’s a small orchestra (27, about half the size Rossini wrote for), kept under tight but lyrical control by the company’s maestro, Sean Kelly. The singers do not appear to be looking at him for cues while they are enthusiastically playing out the story, but they only got lost once at Saturday night’s performance. [more]

Doctor Faustus

June 24, 2015

Much of the play is directed using Brecht’s so-called alienation effect in which the audience is constantly reminded that this is all a play, a poor choice for a tragedy that wants to put both awe and fear into the hearts of its listeners. Tony Strages’ set design resembles a circus or vaudeville and much of the performance is played on that level. What is sacrificed is the seriousness of the theological and moral issues. There are continual shifts in tone which simply draw attention to themselves, rather than add to the meaning. [more]

Gertrude: The Cry

August 1, 2014

The PTP/NYC company are directed to carry on adeptly, fervently, with considerable aplomb in Mark Evanchos' monumental setting, amid some of the best and lavish costume changes – by Danielle Nieves --ever seen Off-Broadway, including Gertrude's, most of the time, that is. [more]

Much Ado About Nothing

June 23, 2014

While Jack O'Brien's production of Much Ado About Nothing is in no way definitive, it is tremendous fun. His strength here as a director is that his 20 person ensemble has become a true community, one that lives and loves together, one we can believe gets involved in each other's problems and joys. [more]

A Fable

June 1, 2014

Playwright David Van Asselt's is set "Somewhere, almost anywhere, below the equator." It feels like an academically imagined recreation of something that would have played at LaMaMa in 1967 for a thesis project. Debatably borrowing from Shakespeare, Bertolt Brecht, The Living Theatre, Candide, Urinetown and The Cradle Will Rock, it's a wearying odyssey. [more]