Feb 07

Gamblers Are People Too: HANDICAPPING

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Photo Credit: Allison McDonough

Presented by Fresh Ink Theatre Company
Written by James McLindon
Directed by Tyler Monroe

January 31 – February 8
The Factory Theatre
Boston, MA
Fresh Ink on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

With apologies to Fresh Ink Theatre Company. The Queen Geek was waylaid by illness and could not complete her review until now. 

(BostonHandicapping 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

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Feb 03

Disparate Pieces: THE WHIPPING MAN

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Care of the New Rep Facebook page.

Presented by New Repertory Theatre
by Matthew Lopez
Directed by Benny Sato Ambush

January 25th – February 16th, 2014
Arsenal Center for the Arts
321 Arsenal Street
Watertown, MA
New Rep on Facebook

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(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

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Jan 30

Technicolor Fabulousness: HAIRSPRAY

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Photo by Gary Ng.

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

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Jan 28

Older Than Most College Students and Still Relevant: TOP GIRLS

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Top Girls

Presented by Theatre@First
by Caryl Churchill
Directed by Liz Adams

January 23 – February 1, 2014
Davis Square Theatre
Somerville, MA
Theatre@First on Facebook

Review by Noelani Kamelamela

(Somerville)

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

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Jan 27

Historical Footnote: THE CLEARING

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Photo credit: The Wellesley Summer Theatre Company

Presented by The Wellesley Summer Theatre Company
by Helen Edmundson
Directed by Nora Hussey

January 9 – February 2, 2014
Ruth Nagel Jones Theatre
Dana Chapman Walsh Alumnae Hall
Wellesley MA 02481

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

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Jan 22

Sweetness Through Unbearable Cruelty: “The Color Purple”

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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
Boston, MA
Speakeasy on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

Two Disclaimers:
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

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Jan 21

Gritty Art: THE DEVIL’S MUSIC – THE LIFE AND BLUES OF BESSIE SMITH

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 Photo by John Quilty.

Photo by John Quilty.

Presented by Merrimack Repertory Theatre
By Angelo Parra
Concept, Musical Staging, and Direction by Joe Brancato

January 9th – February 2nd, 2014
Lowell, MA
MRT on Facebook

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(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

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Jan 16

“The Haberdasher!” A Tale of Derring-Do

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Photo Credit: Brett Marks

By Walt McGough
Presented by Argos Productions
Directed by Brett Marks
Fight Direction by Angie Jepson

January 11 – 25, 2014
Boston Playwrights’ Theatre
949 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston MA
Argos Productions on Facebook

(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

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Jan 15

Potty humor, Puns and a Ripping Good Time: “Rumpelstiltskin, or All That Glitters”

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Photo credit: Roger Metcalf. The cast is wonderful – whether they wore pants or not.

Presented by Imaginary Beasts
Conceived and directed by Matthew Woods
Written by The Ensemble
Choreography by Kiki Samko, Daniel J. Raps, and The Ensemble

January 11 – February 1, 2014
Plaza Black Box Theatre
BCA
Boston, MA
Imaginary Beasts on Facebook

(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

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Jan 14

Uncivil Attempts at Domestication : “Venus in Fur”

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Photo: T. Charles Erickson. This show is not for children of any ages.

 

Presented by Huntington Theatre Company
By David Ives
Inspired by the novel by Leopold von Sacher Masoch
Directed by Daniel Goldstein

Jan. 3 – Feb. 2, 2014
Avenue of the Arts
BU Theatre
Boston, MA
Huntington Theatre on Facebook

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

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