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Urban Stages

The Archbishop’s Ceiling

May 13, 2019

As president of International PEN, the worldwide association of writers, from 1966 – 1969, playwright Arthur Miller moved about Eastern Europe freely and witnessed a great many troubling events concerning writers of all genres. These occurrences led to his writing "The Archbishop’s Ceiling," his most political play, which was presented at the Kennedy Center in 1977. Revised after the failure of this production, it had its world premiere at the Cleveland Playhouse in 1984 but was not picked up for a New York production. Since then it has been seen in London at the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1986, Budapest in 1989, Westport, Ct., in 2006 and Denver in 2015. It has finally made it to New York courtesy of Regeneration Theatre in residence at Urban Stages. [more]

Death of a Driver

March 5, 2019

The play is carefully plotted, and the tragic action that Snider builds runs its course in a logical, plausible fashion. But something about "Death of a Driver" never quite catches fire. The story has gravity but lacks the sense of pity and terror that tragedy is famously supposed to invoke. Maybe it’s partly due to the fact that the play is so brief, and that its short scenes sometimes take place years apart, creating a kind of herky-jerky quality. Maybe it’s because the world of the play is relatively narrow—with the lack of supporting characters preventing us from getting a full sense of the Kenyan culture and political landscape. [more]

Life x 3

November 28, 2018

"Life X 3" was first seen in 2003 at the Circle in the Square.  This revival is tauter and funnier.  Perhaps this smaller venue refracts the play in a different way, but these four actors are more convincingly real, not to mention greater pains in the butt.  As the title implies, they get three chances to reveal—and revel in—their egos and idiosyncrasies, each succeeding part bringing out both nuances and bombshells. [more]

Alternating Currents

May 15, 2018

Despite the complexity of the interactions of the people of Electchester and the poor folk at Pomonok, Kraar manages to end on a promising note.  "Alternating Currents," produced under the auspices of the Working Theater, is a diverting look what happens to an idyllic place after decades of reality intrude. [more]

Dogs of Rwanda

March 13, 2018

Dan Hodge commandingly plays the American narrator who has written a book about his youthful experiences in Rwanda during its 1994 civil war and genocide. Mr. Hodge created the role in the 2017 Philadelphia production of the play. The boyish yet mature, and personable Hodge perfectly portrays this young man traumatized by witnessing atrocities. His All-American presence, good looks and charisma energize the grim and familiar material. He enters through the theater and addresses the audience throughout with charm. [more]

Angry Young Man

March 24, 2017

The confusion and the rapid pace of the production pretty much engulf--and finally overwhelm--the extremely complicated story of"Angry Young Man." The performers, on the other hand, make this something of a gem of a small, Off Broadway offering, from Urban Stages. The wayward plot eventually takes Youssef to a disco with Patrick, and with Patrick’s girlfriend Alison, where Youssef is confronted by a skin-head, Terry, whom he accidentally kills. “The other customers were almost exclusively male,” says Youssef. “They seemed for the most part to be dressed as Patrick: long-hair, T-shirts, scruffy blue jeans.” [more]

Mabel Madness: The Life of Mabel Mercer

March 10, 2016

Along the way she met the songwriters whose work she illuminated. During "Mabel Madness," Ms. Beverley sings “Can’t Help Lovin’ That Man of Mine” (Kern/Hammerstein), “Down in the Dumps on the Ninetieth Floor” (Porter), “Summertime” (The Gershwins), amongst others. She uncannily finds Mercer’s style, sounding surprisingly like Mercer in her speak-singing period which depended mostly on exquisite timing, understanding the lyrics and hitting the few notes still within her power. She catches Mercer's regal, yet still down to earth, quality, too. [more]

Monte Cristo

February 3, 2016

safe guess would be that most audiences coming to see New Light Theater Project’s adaptation of Alexandre Dumas’ "The Count of Monte Cristo," one of most classic and exhilarating works of all time, are quite familiar with the material. A tragic tale of a man imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit leads sailor Edmund Dantes to seek justice as he becomes the wealthy Count of Monte Cristo. [more]

Sojourners

February 3, 2016

Ms. Udofia’s dialogue is richly expressive and she renders the four characters with depth and detail. The relationships between the characters are fully explored and their interactions where they voice their hopes and desires are often poignant. This is most particularly felt in the growing camaraderie between Abasiama and Moxie. [more]

The Algonquin Kid

December 27, 2015

Colby’s fascinatingly entertaining autobiography, "The Algonquin Kid," was turned into a one-time theatrical event as part of the Urban Stages’ Winter Rhythms series, hosted by Mr. Colby, produced and directed by Peter Napolitano, with Bill Zeffiro at the piano playing a rich list of songs associated with the many famously creative hotel guests and a few written by Mr. Colby himself. As a real-life Eloise, Mr. Colby was witness to much history and this show, barely scratching the surface, was witness to his good fortune. [more]

Unseamly

October 20, 2015

Director Sarah C. Carlsen does an excellent job of utilizing minimalism to tell the story. "Unseamly" is told in a non-linear format, and relies heavily on flashbacks. Instead of having set pieces rolling in and out to change scenes, the play is presented in a bright white room which has secret doors and set pieces that pop out of the walls to change the environment and accommodate the next flashback. The set and costumes are both designed by Brian Dudkiewicz, and there is definitely a consistent style throughout. Minimalist with flashes of bright color, the clothing is sexy and trendy, and contributes to the overall theme of the play: costumed liberally, the whole production is steeped in sexuality. [more]

The Book of Moron

March 31, 2015

“Who Are You,” recorded by The Who, starts off "The Book of Moron." It’s a well-crafted 80-minute theater piece of observational stand up comedy written and performed by Robert Dubac. The title is a pun on the musical, The Book of Mormon and is representative of Mr. Dubac’s comic sensibility. Those who find him funny will have a great time at this show, and those who don’t, will have a tough time. [more]

No One Loves Us Here

January 28, 2015

Playwright Ross Howard’s new work illustrates the characteristically 21st Century sentiments of unbridled selfishness, feigned apathy, and perennial discontent. His pointed, political indictment of our skewed American values is simultaneously too hard to watch and too illuminating to ignore. "No One Loves Us Here" is an entertaining, engaging bloodbath that leaves its audience thinking lots and feeling little. Perhaps this is as it should be. [more]