Apr 28

Make ‘em Laugh: “The Complete History of Comedy (abridged)”

Bookmark and Share

­­­Michael Faulkner and Dominic Conti of the Reduced Shakespeare Company; Photos by Meghan MooreMichael Faulkner and Dominic Conti of the Reduced Shakespeare Company; Photos by Meghan Moore

Presented by The Reduced Shakespeare Company
Written and Directed by Reed Martin and Astin Tichenor

April 24th – May 18th, 2014
Merrimack Repertory Theatre
50 East Merrimack Street, Lowell MA
The Reduced Shakespeare Company on Facebook
Merrimack Repertory Theatre on Facebook

Review by Danielle Rosvally

(Lowell) The Reduced Shakespeare Company have long been proprietors of abridged histories and this touring production of The Complete History of Comedy (abridged) will deliver everything that you expect from the boys at the RSC: a three-man team dishing out biting satire, poignant historical and social commentary, and a dude in a really bad wig. Continue reading

Bookmark and Share
Mar 03

Character-Building: EQUALLY DIVIDED

Bookmark and Share
Photo by Meghan Moore. Pictured: Jill Tanner, Felicity La Fortune, Will Lyman and Anthony Newfield.

Photo by Meghan Moore. Pictured: Jill Tanner, Felicity La Fortune, Will Lyman and Anthony Newfield.

Presented by Merrimack Repertory Theatre
by Ronald Harwood
Directed by Charles Towers

February 13th – March 9th, 2014
Lowell, MA
MRT on Facebook

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Lowell) Professional baseball player Ichiro Suzuki once got into hot water for saying that when his team is losing year after year he focuses instead on playing for his own individual accomplishments.  To some, it showed selfishness, but to me it showed professionalism. Continue reading

Bookmark and Share
Dec 09

Fading into the Woodwork: STELLA AND LOU

Bookmark and Share
Displaying Stella-and-Lou-dress-rehearal-compressed (1).jpg

Photo by Meghan Moore.

presented by Merrimack Repertory Theatre
By Bruce Graham
Directed by Charles Towers

November 29th – December 22nd, 2013
50 East Merrimack Street
Lowell, MA
MRT on Facebook

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Lowell) Nelson Mandela once said, “There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.”  Yet many of us cling onto being small all our lives.  Doing a play about that intentional smallness can be tricky without having the play succumb to smallness itself. Continue reading

Bookmark and Share
Nov 04

A Polite Mugging: MRS. MANNERLY

Bookmark and Share
Care of MRT Facebook Page

Care of MRT Facebook Page

Presented by Merrimack Repertory Theatre
By Jeffrey Hatcher
Directed by Mark Shanahan

October 24 – November 17, 2013
50 East Merrimack Street
Lowell, MA
MRT on Facebook

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(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

Bookmark and Share
Oct 14

Bad Behavior Porn: GOD OF CARNAGE

Bookmark and Share
Photo by Meghan Moore

Photo by Meghan Moore

Presented by Merrimack Repertory Theatre
By Yasmina Reza
Translated by Christopher Hampton
Directed by Kyle Fabel

September 19th – Oct. 13, 2013
The Nancy L. Donahue Theatre
Lowell, MA
MRT on Facebook

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(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

Bookmark and Share
Apr 08

Timeless Greed is Coming to MRT with Glengarry Glen Ross

Bookmark and Share

Glengarry
presented by Merrimack Repertory Theatre
MRT Facebook Page

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

Bookmark and Share
Mar 29

When X+Y+Z=X+Y+Z-1: PROOF

Bookmark and Share
https://mail-attachment.googleusercontent.com/attachment/u/1/?ui=2&ik=eacf24cc2b&view=att&th=13db5fcef24a3fc7&attid=0.1&disp=inline&realattid=9462bffff6bbf670_0.1&safe=1&zw&saduie=AG9B_P-8Q_l0QzPMOYuJpu9b4yGh&sadet=1364566712433&sads=8a7OkyFJrdwvVawQwpsGvn59UMs

Photos by Meghan Moore; Michael Pemberton and Keira Keeley.

Presented by Merrimack Repertory Theatre

by David Auburn
Directed by Christian Parker

50 East Merrimack Street
Lowell, MA 01852
March 21st – April 14th, 2013
Merrimack Rep Theatre Facebook Page
Estimated run time 2 hours with one 15 minute intermission.

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(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

Bookmark and Share
Jan 20

Wistful Grief: SHAKESPEARE’S WILL

Bookmark and Share

 

Seana McKenna as Anne Hathaway. Photo by Meghan Moore

Seana McKenna as Anne Hathaway. Photo by Meghan Moore

by Vern Thiessen
Directed by Miles Potter
Composed by Marc Desormeaux

presented by Merrimack Repertory Theatre

50 E. Merrimack Street
Lowell, Massachusetts 01852
January 10th – February 3rd, 2012
Merrimack Repertory Theatre Facebook Page

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(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

Bookmark and Share
Jan 07

A Parental Nightmare or Fantasy: MEMORY HOUSE

Bookmark and Share

***With Apologies to Merrimack Repertory Theatre and the cast of Memory House, this review was intended to be published during the October/November run****

Susan Pellegrino and Rebecca Blumhagen. Photo by Meghan Moore

Susan Pellegrino and Rebecca Blumhagen. Photo by Meghan Moore; snuggles.

by Kathleen Tolan
Directed by Melia Bensussen

presented by Merrimack Repertory Theatre
50 E. Merrimack Street
Lowell, Massachusetts 01852
October 25th – November 18th, 2012

Merrimack Repertory Theatre Facebook Page

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(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

Bookmark and Share
Dec 17

Enduring Marriage: HALF N’ HALF N’ HALF

Bookmark and Share
Carol Halstead, Zoë Winters, Andrew Pastides and Jim Ortlieb. Photo by Meghan Moore.

Carol Halstead, Zoë Winters, Andrew Pastides and Jim Ortlieb. Photo by Meghan Moore.

by John Kolvenbach
directed by Kyle Fabel

Merrimack Repertory Theatre
50 East Merrimack Street
Lowell, MA
November 29th – December 23rd, 2012
Merrimack Repertory Theatre Facebook Page

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(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

Bookmark and Share