With apologies to Fresh Ink Theatre Company. The Queen Geek was waylaid by illness and could not complete her review until now.
(Boston) Handicapping by James McLindon combines three heavy subjects into one script: gambling addiction, physical incapability, and the deep holes we dig ourselves when we deny reality. It is a short but effective play. From the moment the lights come up, with the help of the Fresh Ink crew, McLindon’s script relentlessly reveals the exacting scarcity that is his cast and plot. There is no hope for the denizens of the betting booth. There is hope for the audience. Continue reading →
(Watertown) Sometimes you can check off all the boxes for what makes an interesting play without the play adding up to great theatre. The Whipping Man, playing at the New Repertory Theatre, has all the ingredients (interesting slice of history, family drama, a striking set, a strong cast), but they don’t create something bigger. Continue reading →
Presented by Wheelock Family Theatre
Book by Mark O’Donnell & Thomas Meehan. Music by Marc Shaiman
Lyrics by Scott Wittman & Marc Shaiman
Based on the New Line Cinema film written and directed by John Waters.
Directed by Susan Kosoff
Musical Direction by Matthew Stern
Choreography by Laurel Conrad
January 24 – February 23rd, 2014
180 The Riverway
Wheelock College Boston, MA
Wheelock Family Theatre on Facebook
Review by Craig Idlebrook
(Boston) The first act of Wheelock Theatre’s Hairspray is such a great way to dance away the winter blues that it should be prescribed like Vitamin D. Words fail to do justice in describing this outlandish, energetic, and mirth-filled play, which unfolds like American Bandstand on just a hint of acid, so I’ll just say that I smiled straight through from the downbeat of the opening number until intermission. Since the second act couldn’t top the first without causing people to disappear to a Nirvana of spastic theatrical comedy, it’s probably just as well that the play trailed off slightly after intermission, like a great joke that leaves you with a fit of the giggles. Continue reading →
Theatre@First offers an earnest take on Caryl Churchill’s meditation on womanhood in the 1980s. The production is best in the lighter moments, when the realities of the character’s lives seem far less crushing.
Top Girls itself is not traditional, but is and was a groundbreaking piece which provides incisive snapshots of women beyond as well as within classical archetypes. A show which only represents female voices is not necessarily feminist by default, but feminism as it relates to the time as well as the past pops up regularly. Central themes such as success and sacrifice are embodied by Marlene, played effectively as a witty and ruthless vamp by Kathy-Ann Hart, who has achieved autonomy by choosing the advancement of her career over other areas of her life. Continue reading →
The theatre is handicapped accessible, for disability services Jim Wice @ 781-283-2434
Review by Craig Idlebrook
(Wellesley) If, like me, you have a history degree that you find yourself using as a doorstop or a paper weight, then you might like any play or movie that has cannons, bodices, and acts of Parliament. But it’s hard to judge whether a work of historical fiction is actually good, or if it’s just an excuse to geek out on people talking about legislation and wars of yesteryear. Continue reading →
Lovely Hoffman in The Color Purple. Photo by Glenn Perry Photography
Presented by Speakeasy Stage Company
Based on the novel written by Alice Walker and the Warner Bros/Amblin Entertainment motion picture of the same name
Book by Marsha Norman
Music and lyrics by Brenda Russell, Allee Willis, Stephen Bray
Directed by Paul Daigneault
Musical direction by Nicholas James Connell
Choreography by Christian Bufford
January 10 – February 8, 2014
Stanford Calderwood Pavilion
Boston Center for the Arts 527 Tremont St
Speakeasy on Facebook
Review by Kitty Drexel
1. Brief nudity is used to abruptly symbolize the stark differences between the lives of Shug and Celie. Prudes should stay at home.
2. This is a musical predominantly about Black women. The only role White people play are as silent, historically accurate oppressors. Racists and sexists won’t enjoy themselves either.
(Boston) The Color Purple is exquisite. It is a tour deforce presentation of musical theatre at its finest. With only one small hiccup, this production achieves greatness on the stage. Run, do not walk, as fast as you are able and get tickets to this show. Do it. Continue reading →
(Lowell) Do you know the blues? I mean really know the blues?
I’m not talking about some wannabe pop singer appropriating the blues to make the crowd gasp on American Idol. I’m not talking about the rock n’ roll hybrid blues that the Rolling Stones used to distance themselves from the Beatles. I’m talking the unsanitized blues, rife with onion-skin-thin innuendo about graphic sex and domestic violence. It’s raw and splintered music, the kind where you can taste hunger and oppression and yet you laugh so you don’t cry. Continue reading →
(Boston) Well, this season theatre has really shown Boston that girls can kick some serious butt. From the A.R.T.’s Robin Hood, to Imaginary Beast’s winter Panto Rumplestiltskin, we’ve seen our share of swashbuckling dames on the Boston stage this winter. The Haberdasher! doesn’t buck the trend and delivers ungenderbiased asskickery in the form of rapier-crossing adventure and witty banter.
Simply and sweetly: this is a fun show with high entertainment value that would be particularly attractive to the young or young-at-heart. Continue reading →
(Boston) The low-brow humor of the pantomime* is not for everyone. Not unlike the like satyr plays of the ancient Greeks, panto isn’t intended to educate an audience but to show it a ripping good time. It’s a celebration of adult immaturity heaping with potty humor, puns and physical comedy. Imaginary Beasts’ winter pantos deliver this and so much more. This year’s treat, Rumpelstiltskin, or All That Glitters, packs in the family-inappropriate funny while also tantalizing the brain with witty pop culture references, dance, and a dash of Alice in Wonderland. You can’t bring a kid to a satyr play but you should bring your baby of any age to Rumplestiltskin. Continue reading →
This show is not for children. Don’t take them unless you like paying for visits to the psychologist.
***Potential Trigger Warnings***
(Boston) The misogynistic pop hit, “Blurred Lines” blew up the radios last summer. For those unfamiliar with the tune, vocalists Robin Thicke, Pharrell Williams and rapper T.I. engage in sexist boondoggle to try to convince the object of their bleeting to sleep with them. “Blurred Lines” is about coercion. In a sexual context, coercion is rape. There is nothing blurred about the lyrics used in their song (as explained here and here).
In other contexts “blurred lines” can be a metaphor for the skewed boundaries between two or more characters entering into unknown relationship territory. For example, in Huntington Theatre Co’s Venus in Fur the lines between characters and their roles in the story arc are blurred. Thomas and Vanda begin the play as strangers with a clearly defined characters. Over the course of the play, who they are as individuals and to each other is disrupted when fate plays her hand. Continue reading →