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James J. Fenton

David, A New Musical

June 14, 2024

"David" now at the AMT Theater is an ambitious Off Broadway musical dramatizing the story of the youth of the hero David, later second king of Israel. It has a bouncy contemporary score by Albert Tapper and a large talented cast. Somewhat indebted to Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Biblical musicals, it is narrated by the older King David on his deathbed to the Prophet Nathan. Most of David’s adventurous exploits take place off stage, while the dramatized scenes are mainly political and dramatic. [more]

Switzerland

February 22, 2019

Mystery writer Patricia Highsmith ("Strangers on a Train," "Carol," "The Talented Mr. Ripley") was famously alcoholic, depressive, misogynistic and racist. She was unique as an internationally famous writer who had created in Tom Ripley the only serial killer ever created by a woman writer. In "Switzerland," Joanna Murray-Smith, one of Australia’s most successful playwrights, has written a play about the last days of this reclusive writer’s life. Directed by Dan Foster, the initially fascinating premise takes a sharp turn into territory that requires a good deal of suspension of disbelief. [more]

Kunstler

February 24, 2017

In "Kunstler," playwright Jeffrey Sweet recounts the defense attorney’s life and career in his well-written, comprehensively researched, and affectionate treatment. The conceit is that Kunstler is to address an audience of law school students at a university. Kerry is a young woman who is the vice-chair of the program committee attends him to him and becomes his foil, and is the play’s secondary character. This construction allows for a free wheeling manner of imparting the chronological details. It’s a solid take that could have certainly been at least a routine biographical exploration, but is undone here by the odd casting. [more]

Promising

November 24, 2015

Aside from the obvious theme of morality in politics, the play also deals devastatingly with issues of privacy in public life and in the information age. Can David keep the news of the abortion secret? How will the press deal with his Asian sister showing up? Which side are the pundits on the web on? Can the Carver campaign ride out the storm? The contemporary issue of date rape is also explored thoroughly. "Promising" ends with a sensational denouement which will leave the audience with much to think about. [more]

Drop Dead Perfect

August 29, 2015

Everett Quinton has found the ideal vehicle in the hilarious "Drop Dead Perfect" to revive the style of the Ridiculous Theatrical Company for which he originally found fame. Like the plays of the late Charles Ludlam plays, Erasmus Fenn’s Drop Dead Perfect parodies a specific genre using movie and television quotes and characters, situations lifted from famous melodramas, and sexual puns placed in new contexts. Here the new play is a satire of 1940’s and 50’s Bette Davis and Joan Crawford melodramas, with dollops of I Love Lucy which allows Quinton do sparkle as a Southern heiress with many scores to settle. Director Joe Brancato manages to keep the melodrama believable at all times and none of the quartet of actors goes beyond the histrionics inherent in the plot. [more]