News Ticker

William Shakespeare

Measure for Measure (Theatre for a New Audience)

July 2, 2017

He has updated the play to a contemporary city rife with decadence and corruption. The audience enters the theater from backstage in order to visit Mistress Overdone’s brothel with sex toys and rooms for peep shows on display. Twelve members of the audience sit on either side of the thrust stage, a jury for morality one would suspect. The second act begins in a night club called "The Moated Grange” where Mariana is now a singer with the on-stage band. Six audience members are invited up to sit at the café tables that now dot the stage. [more]

That Which Remains

June 20, 2017

Ms. Donovan’s enthralling opening sequence sets the tone for the production. Behind the curtains are actors in silhouette with their shadows on view.  Other cast members appear to the side of the auditorium and proceed on to the stage.  There are numerous gorgeous stage pictures and compelling movement and dance numbers.  The play’s infamous violent set pieces are boldly realized.  [more]

St. Thomas Choir of Men and Boys: Glory Be to Thee O Lord: Songs of Faith, Hope and Love

May 20, 2017

But the concert didn’t have the satisfaction of a big blockbuster – such as Haydn’s Creation, with which the season began – or of two or three masterworks. Music of the Anglican tradition is the bone and blood of St. Thomas’ work: it’s the music in which the choir excels. The formal musical curriculum in which St. Thomas students are immersed serves them well in any musical endeavor or style, but the Anglican vocabulary is the one these young musicians are most comfortable with. In this particular concert, the music of non-Anglican-tradition composers was well presented, demonstrating the skills of the singers, both young and old, but wasn’t thrilling. [more]

Hamlet. A Version

April 28, 2017

The dialogue of Ileana Alexandra Orlic’s English translation is problematic. Floating around are a few Shakespearean snippets, but otherwise it’s rather stilted. Without much verbal grandeur there’s a prevalent flatness. There’s not a compelling momentum, and so it never really rises above being a curiosity. However, overall this play does somewhat succeed as a spirited condensation, especially for those familiar with the original work. [more]

Richard III (The Bridge Production Group)

November 13, 2016

Shrouded by clear shower curtains, the actors enter the stage and bring out furniture, including a gramophone, and chat with each other. There is newsreel footage proclaiming the end of W.W. II in Great Britain. Half-baked anachronisms pile up during the next two hours and half hours. These include the intermission shtick of old-time drive-in movie announcements, “The show will start in five minutes…visit the snack bar… for buttered popcorn.” [more]

Troilus and Cressida

August 12, 2016

While "Troilus and Cressida" is rarely staged, Daniel Sullivan’s production full of bombs and smoke suggests that in our time of endless wars it speaks to us again, and the play’s cynicism also seems to capture the current zeitgeist. It also features memorable performances from John Glover, John Douglas Thompson, Max Casella, Sanjit de Silva, and Alex Breaux, among others. [more]

Pericles (Theatre for a New Audience)

March 7, 2016

Nunn’s adaptation rearranges some of the scenes and adds material from a prose version of the work by George Wilkins, believed to be Shakespeare’s collaborator. Using music, song, dancing, jousting and a veritable rainbow of colorful costumes, he has created an epic-sized revival that is always eye-filling and easy to follow. While some of the acting is uneven in this large cast of 29 including seven members of the Pigpen Theater Co., it must be said that this is not one of Shakespeare’s best plays as it makes use of unexpected events, many locations, and a large canvas, rather than psychological depth and deathless poetry. [more]

A Midsummer Night’s Dream – Pearl Theatre

September 29, 2015

If you thought Bedlam’s artistic director Eric Tucker had created physical productions for his acclaimed acting troupe in the past, think again. His "A Midsummer Night Dream," seen this summer at the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival and now in residence at the Pearl Theatre, gives the actors a workout from beginning to end. Whether all audiences will go along with it – it is tiring for both performers and viewers – is a question, but like watching a world-class circus or ballet troupe, you know at the end of the evening that you have seen an extraordinary imagination at work. Tucker just expects everyone to go the extra mile. This is not a "Midsummer" for people who have never seen the play before, but one for whom the traditional interpretation no longer has anything to offer. [more]

Cymbeline

August 13, 2015

At The Public Theater’s Shakespeare in the Park venue, director Daniel Sullivan has proved himself a brilliant interpreter of the Bard’s comedies, both dark and light, from the evidence of his "Merchant of Venice," "The Comedy of Errors" and "Twelfth Night," to name only a few. Therefore it is a great disappointment to report that his "Cymbeline," the second and last 2015 Shakespeare in the Park offering, based on his 1999 Old Globe Theatre, San Diego, staging, is both confused and uneven, both visually and theatrically. Even more discouraging, the production wastes the talents of noted stage stars Kate Burton, Raúl Esparza, Patrick Page, and Lily Rabe and Hamish Linklater, the acting couple being reteamed on the New York stage for the fifth time. [more]

The Tempest

June 20, 2015

The first thing one notices on entering the Delacorte Theatre is how empty the large stage looks. In Riccardo Hernandez’s scenic design, except for a tiny desk on the right and a small pile of rocks on the left, the playing area is simply a large open expanse that is backed by scaffolding which offers a kind of balcony or catwalk and in front of which are hung curtains or screens. On this is projected dark, churning seascapes in streaming video. As the setting for the play is an island, this is initially attractive but as it continues throughout the play, it becomes both distracting and superfluous. The costumes by Emily Rebholz in black and white are also devoid of color. David Lander’s lighting occasionally turns the stage blue, green or red, but this comes as an intrusion to the rest of the concept of the production. Along with the lack of magic until almost the end of this long play, it appears as if Greif’s interpretation of the play were simply to keep things spare and unadorned. Unfortunately, this tale which calls out for enchantment and sleight of hand is not the play to do this with. [more]

The Two Gentlemen of Verona 

May 31, 2015

For those who saw Fiasco Theater’s inventive and clever version of "Into the Woods" at the Roundabout’s Laura Pels Theatre earlier this year, you know what a delightful take this company has on material that has previously been performed in a traditional manner. If you didn’t see their Into the Woods or their previous production of "Cymbeline," then you are in for an absolutely delightful treat with their latest production, "The Two Gentlemen of Verona," now at the Theater for a New Audience’s Polonsky Shakespeare Center. Performed with a cast of six talented and resourceful actors (five of whom were members of both the "Cymbeline" and "Into the Woods" casts) in a barebones production which hits all its marks, this early Shakespeare comedy is always hilarious, always surprising, always accessible and always romantic. [more]

‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore

May 6, 2015

We associate Jacobean revenge tragedy with the reign of King James I. Each play’s atrocities seemed to dare the next playwright with an unspoken “Can you top this?” Playwright John Ford continued the genre under the next king, Charles I, coming up with new and even more lurid variations. Red Bull Theater which specializes in the plays of Shakespeare and his contemporaries is offering a staging of Ford’s rarely revived masterpiece "‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore." While artistic director Jesse Berger has piloted a solid production which is a good introduction to this unfamiliar play, it all seems a bit tame when the script seems to cry out for tremendous excesses. As always, however, with Red Bull productions, the diction in this revival is impeccable and totally intelligible. [more]

Twelfth Night, or What You Will

April 8, 2015

Since Bedlam theatre company arrives on the radar in 2013, theatergoers have left their performances as devoted fans. Beginning with acclaimed productions of "Hamlet" and "Saint Joan" in the fall of 2013 and an extended run in the spring of 2014 with casts of only four actors, they returned last fall with a delightfully faithful and inventive stage adaptation of Jane Austen’s "Sense and Sensibility." The same four actors who appeared in Bedlam’s "Hamlet" and "Saint Joan" are back (along with Susannah Millonzi) in two alternate versions of the same Shakespeare comedy, one titled "Twelfth Night" and the other, "What You Will." Minimalist and clever to the nth degree, the "Twelfth Night" performance under review brought the audience to its feet at the end of the two (ingenious and intermission-less) hours. [more]

The Winter’s Tale

February 27, 2015

"The Winter’s Tale" is classified as one of Shakespeare’s “problem plays” or “dark comedies” and as such it does not get produced very often. Under the direction of The Shakespeare Society’s Michael Sexton, The Pearl Theatre’s revival is elegant and entertaining. It solves some of the play’s problems while creating new ones. Surprisingly, the contemporary sets by Brett J. Banakis and costumes by Tilly Grimes work amazingly well for a tale told of the 16th century. [more]