(Lowell) I didn’t know there had to be rules about flashback nostalgia stories, but I think I’ve found one….if only I can decide which one.
First, let’s define the genre. Have you ever seen the movie A Christmas Story or The Wonder Years? Then you know the kind of show MRT’s Mrs. Mannerly is attempting. It’s the adult narrator looking back on his precocious tween self, with a wistful smile, to share lessons learned. Continue reading →
(Lowell) We are usually mired in the mundane of everyday, and we can’t see movement in our own internal characters. That’s why we tend to want some movement in the characters we see on stage. In a good play, a protagonist cannot be the same in the end as she was in the beginning; she must at least gain some scars from experience. The rare exception is a script that goes for the meditative study of a character, as if peeling back layers of a soul like an onion. To pull this off, the author must have deep sympathy for both the character and the human condition, and it’s a narrower road to tread. Continue reading →
Directed by Charles Towers
Listing by Craig Idlebrook
Greed may not be good, as fictional stockbroker Gordon Gekko once famously espoused, but it never goes out of style.
In the 1987 film Wall Street, Gekko’s ode to greed was devastating to hear for Americans who had just suffered through insider trading and junk bond scandals. The late eighties also produced Glengarry Glen Ross, a razor-sharp play by David Mamet which examines greed on the micro-level, as bottom-feeding real estate agents in Buffalo lie, cheat and steal to sell tracts of land in Florida. While focusing on everyday financial crimes, Mamet creates an allegory for Wall Street greed that resonated with Main Street theatergoers in the late eighties. Continue reading →
(Lowell) For a play that focuses on mathematics, Proof, playing at the Merrimack Repertory Theatre, nails social theory. In this thoughtful production, we learn that a family is really a group organism that can adapt to having a limb injured or severed, but that organism can never be the same afterwards. Continue reading →
(Lowell) William Shakespeare may have done more than any writer of his time to examine both internal and external human drama, but he ducked the fight when it came to his own family; so goes the premise of Shakespeare’s Will, the taut and layered production now playing at the Merrimack Repertory Theatre. The Bard may get the headlines in the play’s title, but it is his absence that is the singular event that shapes the life of his wife, Anne Hathaway, who is the only character in this beautifully lonely one-woman play. Through the brave performance of Seanna McKenna, we are reminded that even in the shadow of greatness the drama of everyday is enough to create volumes of literature. Continue reading →
(Lowell) Family dramas on stage and screen are filled with “explanation” moments, when a parent is called out by a now-grown child to explain the who, what and where, when, how and why of family history. The explanation moment can be a blessing or a curse, as it hits home for parents just how much they’ve screwed up their children’s lives while also giving them the chance to make their cases before the court. This theatrical device can be used sloppily for Lifetime dramas or effectively for Oscar-bait movies. Continue reading →
(Lowell) It is frustrating to see a craftsman like playwright John Kolvenbach run rings around pedestrian writers. His play Half n’ Half n’ Half shows that he understands how a play functions on a deep level and that he could write in any genre he chooses, from The Seagull to Lend Me a Tenor. Kolvenbach toys with the audience in several genres with this comedy, while demonstrating his near-mastery of them all. This is more than an exercise in play writing, however. Throughout this script of multiple plays, Kolvenbach is able to document how a lifetime romantic commitment often drives us to need to be committed. Continue reading →
(Lowell, MA) It’s so easy to get lost in the minutia of daily life – the food shopping and bill-paying – that you forget that you make your own destiny. That, in fact, your destiny is created in those very everyday decisions. And it takes an unexpected event, be it a stranger knocking at your window or an unexpected call from an old friend, to remind us. Homestead Crossing, currently playing at the Merrimack Repertory Theatre, is the story of just such a couple. Continue reading →
(Lowell, MA) The author starts with a blank page. It fills with words. From where do the words come? That is the underlying mystery of Merrimack Repertory Theatre’s masterful production of Ghost-Writer. Continue reading →
(Lowell, MA) Unless you are lucky enough to have met your soulmate at fifteen and lived happily ever after (and if you have, please take a moment to pinch yourself and make sure you’re real) then you will relate to the feelings of loneliness, love and the existence of your own romantic Achilles heel in this superb production of Mrs. Whitney at the Merrimack Repertory Theater in Lowell. Continue reading →