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The Flea Theater

Founded in 1996 by three of New York’s most acclaimed downtown theater artists—director Jim Simpson, designer Kyle Chepulis and playwright Mac Wellman—the award-winning Flea Theater was originally formed out of the purely artistic impulse to create “a joyful hell in a small space”. Brash, energetic and dedicated, we quickly became a downtown beacon for creative artists of every discipline, and for audiences seeking bold and inventive work. For more info click here: http://www.theflea.org/

Emma and Max

October 19, 2018

Solondz’s mordant wit makes this the darkness of tragicomedies. Brooke and Jay’s delusions so typical of white entitlement are entire their own. When we finally hear from Brittany, she turns out to be a keen observer of entitled white behavior and middle-class liberal hypocrisy. Though we never meet Emma and Max except on Brooke’s baby cam, their off-stage presence is felt throughout the play. As Solondz’s movies contain brilliantly written dialogue, he is a natural for the theater. While his movies are made up of mostly two character scenes, this technique transfers beautifully to the stage. The only flaw here is that the monologues which become rants go on a bit too long, long after we get the gist and the characters given their many prejudices away. A bit of skillful trim – or the invention of more ideas would make this an even more powerful play. [more]

Laura Bush Killed a Guy

June 26, 2018

With her honeyed and smoky Texan vocal inflections, wearing a short-haired lustrous brown wig and costume designer Rhonda Key’s gleaming trim white suit, actress Lisa Hodsoll is phenomenal as former First Lady Laura Bush in author Ian Allen’s kaleidoscopic solo play, "Laura Bush Killed a Guy." For 95 mesmerizing minutes, Ms. Hodsoll gives a smashing performance that transcends mere impersonation or campy replication. Looking and sounding like Mrs. Bush, with her twinkling eyes and beaming presence, Hodsoll’s characterization is a dazzling amalgam of comedy, emotion and depth. An only child, she and her parents went on a mission... [more]

ms. estrada

April 18, 2018

The Q Brothers Collective (made up of GQ, JQ, Jackson Doran and Postell Pringle) is best known in New York for their hip hop variations on Shakespeare: "Othello: The Remix" in 2016 and "The Bomb-itty of Errors" in 2000. As the entire show is in rhyme and rhythm, there are very few discrete songs, but the couplets come so fast that it is at times difficult to make out the clever lyrics. The upside of the new show has all the hijinks of a teen musical but with the unsophistication of a college parody (the downside). It is the latest musical version of Aristophanes’ most famous comedy, but unlike the 2011 "Lysistrata Jones," "ms. estrada" has eliminated all of the politics for an exploration into the social aspects instead. [more]

Locked Up Bitches

March 6, 2018

All the good jokes get lost in the onslaught of cast members vying for their moments and looking for the audience’s approval, which admittedly was offered freely.   "Bitches" becomes chaotic, crude and in your face, not to mention clichéd, the clichés hiding behind dirty jokes and blatant shtick.  Raine clearly can’t rein in the cast’s enthusiasm even though they are portraying animals with animal passions. [more]

Fill Fill Fill Fill Fill Fill Fill

February 8, 2018

Produced as part of the Flea’s Season of Women, Del Rosso’s freshman effort shows great promise.  Under Marina McClure’s insightfully freewheeling direction the members of The Flea’s resident acting troupe, The Bats, takes the play and exuberantly runs with it with their usual unabashed energy and courage to expose themselves—right down to their underwear! [more]

Syncing Ink

October 11, 2017

Mr. Njikam offers a witty take on the classic mythology of a hero’s episodic journey with a lively African-American slant. There are a lot of high school and college scenes with wise teachers referring to James Baldwin and W.E.B. Du Bois, combative students, a dying father and an imperious mother. Rhyming battles, love and enlightenment occur along the way. The narrative is so eventful and spread out that it can be difficult taking it all in and its overall impact is diluted. [more]

A.R. Gurney’s Memorial at The Music Box

September 13, 2017

Sigourney Weaver, who acted in Gurney’s plays Mrs. Farnsworth and Crazy Mary, periodically appeared onstage with her husband Jim Simpson. Mr. Simpson was the former Artistic Director of The Flea Theater which presented 15 of Gurney’s works. Throughout the celebration the couple reminisced about the writer and recited biographical details about him, while illustrative slides depicting his life were projected. At the conclusion of this portion, in white lettering on a black background, were projected the titles of Gurney’s 48 plays. It was a stark testament to his achievements. [more]

Inanimate

September 3, 2017

Performed by The Bats, the resident company of The Flea Theater, the world premiere of "Inanimate" is the inaugural production in their new home on Thomas Street, between Church and Broadway, several blocks south of their original premises. Performed in The Siggy, named after founder and patron Sigourney Weaver, a house with 46 permanent seats, it is the first of the three new theaters to open prior to the complex’s grand opening on September 28. It has been given a sharp, assured staging by director Courtney Ulrich with engrossing performances by its cast of seven. [more]

Two Class Acts: Squash & Ajax

November 5, 2016

Whether you see one or both of Gurney’s "Two Class Acts," these are provocative plays of ideas on topics of the day. The playwright continues to demonstrate that he has a wise and discerning view of the human condition. Director Stafford Arima has done a beautiful job of obtaining all of the nuances and humor out of the two sharp and intelligent situations. The casting for both plays could not be improved as the actors make their roles their own. The Flea Theater leaves White Street on a high note with two entertaining and superior productions that will close the space with honor and distinction. [more]

The Trojan Women

September 4, 2016

Written in 415 B.C. as a criticism of the Athenian capture of Melos and the subjugation of its population earlier that year, "The Trojan Women" has remained relevant throughout the last 2,500 years due to mankind’s penchant for war. Although Ellen McLaughlin’s new adaptation makes some changes to the Euripides original, it retains its power pertinent for our own time in the wake of the refugee crisis. While at times callow, Anne Cecelia Haney’s production for The Bats is persuasive, potent and poignant. It also provides an excellent introduction to the plays that make up Greek tragedy for those who have not experienced them on stage. [more]

The Good Earth

August 30, 2016

Gwenllian Higginson and Michael Humphrey in a scene from “The Good Earth” (Photo credit: Tom [more]

Wolf in the River

March 26, 2016

Directed by the author, "Wolf in the River" is an environmental production as the audience is invited to sit in folding chairs around a mound of earth with forlorn flowers, garbage and debris. However, there are set pieces and props located in the four corners of the venue as well. When the play begins, a man sitting in the audience gets up, strips off his shirt and shoes, and becomes the play’s narrator and master of ceremonies, as well as one of the characters. In an unnamed Southern American location, we are on the banks of a river (the audience is the river) filled with alligators. Six actors in pasty make-up wander around the outer perimeter of the room. Although the program does not explain their presence, the script reveals that they are the ghosts of those who have perished in the river. [more]

Fulfillment

September 24, 2015

"Fulfillment" by the always surprising Thomas Bradshaw is about anything but the contentment and success implied by its ironic title. The Flea Theater’s production, directed to emphasize its undercurrents of eroticism and anger by Ethan McSweeny, is both shocking and sad. The audience witnesses the almost classically Greek downfall of a man done in by his own weaknesses. Anger, lust, pride and greed does in the central character. [more]

The Singularity

August 6, 2015

Under the careful direction of Amy Fowkes, Lundy-Paine captures a woman’s painful journey when trying to have a baby and nothing is working. She finds the ever so delicate balance between finding the strength to keep it together and allowing her vulnerability and struggle to shine through. While she knows what she wants when it comes to selecting a donor, her choices become limited with time and she resorts to an option that is way ahead of her – or medicine’s – time. [more]

the dreamer examines his pillow

July 31, 2015

Like most of the other of the author’s works, the three characters here are very colorful individuals who histrionically clash with each other while verbosely explaining their feelings and motivations. As entertaining, funny, and thoughtful as these often quite lengthy exchanges are, they’re unable to compensate for a lack real action or suspense over the course of the three scenes lasting 90 minutes and becomes wearying. Though similar in structure and themes to many of his successful other works, the dreamer examines his pillow is not as satisfying. [more]

Strictly Dishonorable

August 4, 2014

Travis Chinick's costumes are period perfect for the tail end of the Jazz Age while Liz Scherrier's two sets suitably set the mood for both the main room of the speakeasy and the bachelor apartment above. Beth Lake's sound design includes snatches of tenor arias as well as pertinent outside noises. [more]