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Trip Cullman

The Mother

March 17, 2019

Huppert, the consummate actress, commands the stage at all times, making all the other performers pale in comparison. As Anne, she travels from familiar to sarcastic to manic to depressed to suicidal. Initially her heavily French accented English and her staccato rhythms are difficult to follow, but eventually it becomes accessible, even appropriate to this very French play. While the role does not require much action, Huppert has found all sorts of ways of building her character: stretching out on the sofa as if sleeping, playing with a cigarette, dancing with her son in manic fashion, examining herself in a mirror. Anita Yavich’s chic costumes fit her to perfection: the severe grey turtleneck and black shirt that we first see her in, and later the short red party dress with black stockings that looks like it might be a throwback to her youth. [more]

Choir Boy

January 15, 2019

Now playing at the MTC’s Samuel J. Friedman Theatre on Broadway, "Choir Boy" is set at The Charles R Drew Preparatory School for Boys, a Catholic academy for young men of color. Written by Tarell Alvin McCraney (who shared the 2017 Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for Moonlight), the problem with the play is that Pharus’ colleagues and choir mates prove as generic as the student uniforms they all wear: blue blazers, white shirts, striped ties, and beige trousers. (The costume designer is David Zinn, who also did the scenery.) [more]

Days of Rage

November 16, 2018

As proven elsewhere, Steven Levenson is expert at depicting young people in crisis on stage. "Days of Rage" is very real in its handling of a group of people of similar beliefs living together who have forces that are driving them apart, and as such it is engrossing and intriguing. However, the play’s theme seems to be rather opaque or at least vague in its depiction of college-age radicals at the height of the Vietnam War. While some of the characters are thinly drawn, most problematic is that the catalyst to all the action is a character that we want least to hear from. [more]

Lobby Hero

April 16, 2018

Ethical integrity versus moral turpitude is the theme of Kenneth Lonergan’s "Lobby Hero" now having its Broadway debut at The Second Stage’s newly renovated home, The Helen Hayes Theater. Although Trip Cullman’s production is very leisurely for at least the first half of this talky and long play first seen in New York in 2001, his quartet of impeccably cast players (Michel Cera, Brian Tyree Henry, Bel Powley and Chris Evans in his Broadway debut) have a field day with these ethically challenged police and security officers. "Lobby Hero" may appear at first to have a great many meaningless conversations, but it all becomes a tight web of intrigue as the tension rises in the second act. [more]

Six Degrees of Separation

May 9, 2017

All the acting is sharp, from the upper-crusters taken in by Paul (Lisa Emery, Michael Countryman and Ned Eisenberg) to their kids (Colby Minifie, Keenan Jolliff, Ned Riseley, and Cody Kostro), Chris Perfetti as Trent who, sexually intoxicated by Paul, fills him in on the ways and means of all the people he will eventually swindle, and finally, to the young lovers (Peter Mark Kendall and Sarah Mezzanotte) whose fate reveals just how psychologically damaging Paul can be. [more]

Yen

February 3, 2017

There are many questions that the author fails to answer. Although the boys have not attended school in years and Bobbie has been diagnosed as ADHD and should be in the British equivalent of special education, no social worker seems to have visited to check up. Who is paying the rent or the electricity? Is the mother on welfare and are these items paid automatically? There is no explanation of how the boys are eating and how Taliban stays alive if they have not been feeding it for days or even weeks. While the neighbors are aware of Bobbie’s stealing, he seems to be getting away with it. The dog’s continual barking from his locked room can be heard on the street but no complaints have been filed. Is all this a metaphor or a slice of life drama? [more]

The Layover

September 6, 2016

Following "Bachelorette" and "Assistance," Leslye Headland’s latest play, The Layover, is a taut psychological thriller told in an updated film noir style. Trip Cullman, who has directed all of her New York productions, has made the play a tour de force of tension and unease. As acted by Annie Parisse, Adam Rothenberg, Amelia Workman, John Procaccino and Quincy Dunn-Baker, the tone is marvelously sustained. The only fly in the ointment is the ending which will take you entirely by surprise and may feel unmotivated. [more]

Significant Other

June 30, 2015

Joshua Harmon, the author of the bitingly engaging "Bad Jews," is back on the boards with "Significant Other," another modern morality tale.  Again he displays his incredible ear and eye for the behavior of modern twenty and thirty-somethings.  Love, its frustrations and great rewards, is the subject.  The pangs of loneliness, self-imposed or otherwise come in for a good going over, too.    [more]

The Substance of Fire

May 5, 2014

Time has caught up with Jon Robin Baitz’s 1991 play and bankrupting one’s company over issues of integrity no longer seems quite admirable. Jon Robin Baitz writes literate, thoughtful plays like his 2012 Pulitzer Prize finalist, Other Desert Cities. However, like the revival last fall of his earliest play The Film Society showed, plays may date badly or their attitudes become artifacts of another generation. [more]