Oct 14

Jigsaw Transcendence: “Angels in America – Perestroika”

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Photo found on Umbrella Facebook page. Currently uncredited.

Photo found on Umbrella Facebook page. Currently uncredited.

Presented by Umbrella Arts
By Tony Kushner
Directed by Nancy Curran Willis

The Umbrella
Concord, MA
October 3 – October 18, 2014
Umbrella Arts on Facebook

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Concord, MA) In 100 years, Tony Kushner’s sprawling masterpiece of Angels in America might be studied by school-kids, much like the Odyssey. That might be the right setting, providing a full semester to fully take in this script. Kushner asks us to follow along as he pinballs between real and surreal, politics and religion, gay culture and religion. Each well-developed scene feels like a glistening jewel of a short story, complete in pacing and characters, but it can be very hard to understand how these pieces come together into one cohesive story. If you’re watching the play for the first time, it can feel like reading a New Yorker magazine from cover to cover in one sitting. Continue reading

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Sep 23

An Earnest Mess: TWINS

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Photo Credit: Boston Actors Theatre Facebook page

Presented by Boston Actors Theater
By Julian Olf
Directed by Anna Trachtman

September 6th – September 21st, 2013
Boston Playwrights Theater
Boston, MA
Boston Actors Theatre on Facebook

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Boston) In his memoir It Would be So Nice if You Weren’t Here, the actor Charles Grodin gleefully revels in his few dismal failures as an actor, including a critique of a scene study given by a famed acting coach where she cut down most of his work on stage.  There was one moment, however, where Grodin and his fellow actor got confused about who was supposed to take a folder, and that moment, she said, was pure acting.  (Think of the frustration one must feel upon hearing such an utterance.) Continue reading

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Jun 25

Sometimes A Snuggle is Just A Snuggle: “The Baltimore Waltz”

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The Baltimore Waltz

presented by Theatre@First
by Paula Vogel
directed by Kamela Dolinova

June 20 – 29, 2013
Unity Somerville
6 William Street
Somerville, MA
Theatre@First Facebook Page

Review by Kitty Drexel

Warning: This production contains graphic but hilarious simulations of sexual acts, and bastardizations of European clichés.

(Somerville) As a playwright, Paula Vogel has the unique opportunity to dedicate herself to exploring and understanding her brother Carl’s end of life circumstances. Carl tragically died of AIDS. Rather than use the written word to metaphorically weep bitterly and openly, Vogel instead channeled her uncommon sense of humor and tender affections for Carl into The Baltimore Waltz, an ode to love, loss and healing.

In the context of the play, Anna has contracted Acquired Toilet Disease (ATD). In “real life,” outside the context of Anna’s fictional imagination, Carl has contracted AIDS. By narrating a character living with a pretend disease created for comic relief, playwright Paula Vogel examines the urgency of life through the lens of incurable disease.While her characters “dance” through a trippy, Noir-influenced trip to Europe, life as we know it continues with its disastrous choreography. Continue reading

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Sep 12

Rent (MA): Celebrating and Embracing Humanity

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The cast of RENT. Photo by Andrew Brilliant/ Brilliant Pictures.

Rent, book, music and lyrics by Jonathan Larson, New Repertory Theatre, Charles Mosesian Theater, Arsenal Center for the Arts, 9/4/11-10/2/11, http://www.newrep.org/rent.php. Mature themes, Full-frontal nudity.

Reviewed by Leah White

(Watertown, MA) The New Repertory Theatre, in residence at the Arsenal Center for the Arts, opens its 2011-2012 season with Jonathan Larson’s Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning musical, RENT.  Considered groundbreaking in its 1996 premiere, RENT uses the story of struggling bohemian artists to convey its message of love, tolerance, and friendship. Continue reading

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Jun 15

The Normal Heart: “We must love one another or die”

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Photo: Joan Marcus

The Normal Heart by Larry Kramer, The Golden Theatre, Broadway, 4/27/11-7/10/11. http://www.thenormalheartbroadway.com/. Winner of Tony Award for Best Revival, Best Featured Actress, and Best Featured Actor.

Reviewed by Becca Kidwell

WH Auden’s poem “September 1, 1939″ (from which the title of the play is derived) states that “no one exists alone”. That statement reaches to the heart of the AIDS movement as we acknowledge the thirtieth anniversary of the first diagnosed case and continue to strive for full equality for every human being. Larry Kramer’s revolutionary play not only remains wholly relevant since its original production in 1985, but also challenges us to see that we have not gone far enough and there is still much work to be done. The cast shows that the only way we’re going to get through all the struggles is together. Continue reading

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