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Tal Yarden

Superhero

March 19, 2019

Although there is a great deal of talent behind the new musical Superhero at Second Stage Theater, it unfortunately makes little impact. It doesn’t help that the thin book by Tony Award winning playwright John Logan ("Red") is a little too much like the smash hit "Dear Evan Hansen" which goes much deeper with similar material. Pulitzer Prize winning composer Tom Kitt ("Next to Normal") has written his own lyrics for the first time and they mainly tell us what we know in pedestrian rhymes and phrases. Don’t blame the hard-working cast led by Tony Award nominees Kate Baldwin and Bryce Pinkham. You want to like "Superhero "with its heart in the right place but it is missing the wow factor and never takes us by surprise. [more]

Network

December 21, 2018

Director Ivo Van Hove’s stage version of the Paddy Chayefsky cult film "Network" gives Bryan Cranston the role of a lifetime as Howard Beale, the UBS news commentator who has a nervous breakdown on air and then becomes a media messiah. The high tech production designed by long-time van Hove associate Jan Versweyveld with video design by Tal Yarden is riveting throughout its two hour intermission-less running time by putting the audience in the news studio and making us complicit in the action. [more]

The Undertaking

January 17, 2018

Dull, smug and interminable," The Undertaking" is a multimedia play written by Steve Cosson that explores the meaning of death.  Jean Cocteau, Marcel Duchamp and Greek mythology are trotted out during this 80-minute hodgepodge. Mr. Cosson is also the director and his physical staging ranges from sedate to overdrive, with the actors incited to be manic. The ending, however, does have an affirmative simplicity. [more]

The Crucible

April 20, 2016

Van Hove sets his version in a modern classroom. When the curtain goes up we first see the girls who will later accuse various people in Salem, Massachusetts, of having bewitched them, seated at desks and singing in unison. The curtain descends and then the play begins with Miller’s first scene. Puritan Reverend Samuel Parris has caught his daughter, his niece Abigail Williams, his black servant Tituba, and other girls in the community dancing in the forest around a cauldron, all forbidden behaviors. On seeing him, his daughter Betty has become catatonic. When expert witch hunter Reverend Hale, who has been sent for, questions Tituba, she confesses to communing with the devil, an idea he plants in her mind. [more]

Lazarus

December 25, 2015

Although this is the eighth show minimalist director Ivo van Hove has directed for New York Theatre Workshop, one would be hard put to recognize it as his. The production uses Tal Yarden’s almost continual streaming video, slide projections, a huge screen representing a television monitor, and an on-stage band made of seven musicians. The pink beige set is often turned into other locales with video which covers all three walls of the set. The band sits behind the set but is often revealed when Venetian blinds on the back wall of Newton’s apartment occasionally open for actors to be seen behind the windows or for the video to transform the stage like cinematic cuts into scenes from various locales. Like Roeg’s movie version of "The Man Who Fell to Earth," Lazarus makes use of surrealistic imagery that gives the evening a psychedelic sensibility. [more]