May 04

High Velocity Surrealism or, Buckle Up, It’s Going To Be A Bumpy Night: “The Grand Parade (of the 20th Century)”

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This video has been slowed down considerably to protect the innocent.

Presented by ArtsEmerson
Produced by Double Edge Theatre
Conceived, designed, and directed by Stacy Klein
Composed by Alexander Bakshi
Music and vocal direction by Lyudmila Bakshi

April 30 – May 3, 2015
Emerson/Paramount Center Mainstage
Boston, MA
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Review by Kitty Drexel

Trigger warning: Strobe effect, Gunshots

One hour with no intermission.

(Boston, MAStacy Klein writes in her director’s note that Grand Parade (of the 20th Century) pairs the dream-like works of Marc Chagall with the “extreme conflicts” of the twentieth century. Images from his paintings are reflected in the troupes’ depiction of significant events in American history. Her intention as designer, director and co-creator was to “(reflect) history through (the creators’) own eyes” as “the only way to speak to (their) desires for the future.” If what Klein and Double Edge presented is their vision of the future, we are doomed; Grand Parade is a hot mess. Continue reading

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Apr 25

Integrity Sells for So Little: CITY OF ANGELS

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Photo by Mark S. Howard

Photo by Mark S. Howard

Presented by Lyric Stage Co. of Boston
Book by Larry Gelbart
Music by Cy Coleman
Lyrics by David Zippel
Vocal arrangements by Cy Coleman and Yaron Gershovsky
Directed by Spiro Veloudos
Music direction by Catherine Stornetta
Choreography & musical staging by Rachel Bertone

March 27 – May 2, 2015
Boston, MA
Lyric on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

(Boston, MA) City of Angels pays homage to film noir with tongue firmly in cheek sexual innuendo and integrated design film tropes. The Lyric Stage Co. of Boston brings life to this beloved musical with panache and two shakes of wit with inspired clever projection design by Jonathan Carr and zippy choreography by Rachel Bertone. This production is great fun. The book and lyrics are clever. The score, vocal and instrumental, is inherently singable. The artistic upsides far outweigh the downsides. An evening spent at COA is one well spent. Continue reading

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Apr 16

Scaping the Serpent’s Tongue: “Shit-Faced Shakespeare”

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­­­

Photo care of Magnificent Bastard Productions

Photo care of Magnificent Bastard Productions

Presented by Magnificent Bastard Productions
Produced by Gabriel Kuttner and Daniel Berger-Jones in association with Cambridge Historical Tours

April 15 – May 1, 2015
Davis Square Theatre
255 Elm Street Somerville
Magnificent Bastards on Facebook

Review by Danielle Rosvally

(Somerville, MA) Everybody’s got that one friend. That friend who goes to a party (…or the bar, or any function where booze is readily available), has a bit too much, turns absolutely hilarious, but then the real conundrum begins: who is going to take care of “that friend”? John did it last time (to great disaster for the interior of John’s car); Sally isn’t much of a caregiver and would probably have “that friend” weeping openly on the floor of the bathroom in about ten minutes flat; and Bob doesn’t care for “that friend”. That just leaves you. Congratulations, you’ve now been saddled with the responsibility of taking care of this adult/child because “that friend” (as usual) couldn’t be bothered to know their own limits (despite the fact that you’ve been out of college for ten years now and shouldn’t “that friend” know better?). Suddenly, what was once a fun and exciting party is a tiresome (and stressful) burden. Continue reading

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Apr 13

Daniil Kharms Continues to Charm in imaginary beasts’ Betty Bam!

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Photo credit: Roger Metcalf

Photo credit: Roger Metcalf

Presented by imaginary beasts
Directed by Matthew Woods, Joey C. Pelletier, and Michael Underhill
Written by Daniil Kharms
Translation by Zoya Derman
Adapted by The Ensemble

April 10 – May 2, 2015
At the Plaza Black Box Theatre
at the Boston Center for the Arts
539 Tremont Street, Boston MA
imaginary beasts on Facebook

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Boston, MA) The innovative and evocative imaginary beasts continue with their year-long exploration of Stalinist-era author, Daniil Kharms, with Betty Bam! Their last attack on his material, KNOCK!, was a condensed affair, a multi-character and multi-story primer on Kharms’ bleak humor and deeply unsettling monologues. The actors took pratfalls and grafted the absurdist theater onto a sort of vaudeville act. In Betty Bam!, the visual nods remain in the early-twentieth century, but the aesthetic switches to black and white film, page-boy cuts, and a set styled into a cartoon explosion. The five actresses who depict Betty Bam’s fractured identity (Beth Pearson, Amy Meyer, Molly Kimmerling, Sarah Gazdowicz, and Kiki Samko) are each a live action Betty Boop caught in an explosion of a different sort, one that takes the guise of an interruption into their life: the police, Ivan (Cameron Cronin) and Pytor (William Schuller). As with KNOCK!, the police are an oppressive force, one here to take Betty to an unknown fate. The action of taking her away makes up the entirety of the plot. Continue reading

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Jun 04

Getting Your Kicks Off Route 66: Sex Fest 2

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This review is for mature audiences only: While the review is relatively safe for work, the production is not. The Geeks of the New England Theatre Geek are all adults. We sometimes review productions with “adult themes*”. The title of the production is a clear indicator of both the subject matter and performance content. If this is not something for you, please help yourself to another review.

You have been warned.

*Although why they are described that way is beyond me. Being over the age of 18 is no clear indication of adulthood.
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Jun 02

A Robust Spectacle: THE TEMPEST

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Photo: The Smith Center/Geri Kodey

Photo: The Smith Center/Geri Kodey

Presented by the American Repertory Theatre
By William Shakespeare
Adapted and Directed by Aaron Posner and Teller
Magic by Teller
Songs by Tom Waits and Kathleen Brennan
Choreography by Matt Kent, Pilobolus
Magic Design by Johnny Thompson
Magic Engineering and Construction by Thom Rubino
Music Direction and Arrangements by Shaina Taub

May 11th – June 15th
Cambridge, MA

Reviews by Craig Idlebrook and Clara Idlebrook

(Editorial note – Reviewer Craig Idlebrook attended The Tempest with his family. The American Repertory Theatre asked that he include his 8-year-old daughter’s take on the show. Clara Idlebrook’s review appears below Craig’s.)

Craig’s Take:

There is something so delicious about watching artists at work who have mastered their craft enough to disregard public opinion and create something exquisitely weird. American Repertory Theatre’s staging of the Tempest feels like a transcendent late-night jam session between William Shakespeare, veteran magician Teller, and musical sabotage specialists Tom Waits and Kathleen Brennan. You could picture this production being a traveling troupe’s one-shot staging done during a layover, and someone happened to hit the record button on an iPhone. Continue reading

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Jun 02

Over-the-Top Big Top: Cirque du Soleil’s “Amaluna”

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Presented by Cirque du Soleil
Created by Guy Laliberté, Gilles Ste-Croix, Fernand Rainville
Directed by Diane Paulus
Composed and music directed by Bob & Bill (Guy Dubuc and Marc Lessard)
Choreographed by Karole Armitage
Acrobatic choreographers Debra Brown & Caitlan Maggs
“Sanddornbalance” Act by Rigolo Swiss Nouveau Cirque

May 30 – July 6, 2014
Boston Marine Industrial Park on the Waterfront
Boston, MA
Amaluna on Facebook

Review by Gillian Daniels

Lightly adapting the The Tempest and playing fast and loose with source materials of multiples mythologies, Amaluna patches together dreamy images and circus acts into one, outlandish show. It’s energetic and fittingly over-the-top. Cirque du Soleil has an image to maintain as a thoroughly extravagant circus and they continue this grand tradition by marrying the flashiness of Las Vegas to a syrupy storyline. Continue reading

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May 28

Buchenwald, Those Were the Days: LEBENSRAUM

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Photo Credit: Josephine Anes

Photo Credit: Josephine Anes; photo chosen specifically for its derp factor.

Presented by Happy Medium Theatre Co.
By Israel Horovitz
Directed by Brett Marks

May 9 – 23, 2014
The Factory Theater
Boston, MA
Happy Medium on Facebook

Featuring: R. Nelson Lacey, Audrey Lynn Sylvia, Michael Underhill

Review by Kitty Drexel

Trigger Warning: Nazis, Holocaust, Death, Violence, Microaggressions, Gloucester references

(Boston) “Lebensraum” literally translated means “living space.” For the Nazis, it was local colonialism, an expansion of territory in order to displace inferior people. It is based on the manifest destiny principle*.

Lebensraum, the drama, is about the world reaction to a German Chancellor’s televised invitation to the Jewish community to return to Germany. It has a tender love story, media hype and politics to poke your eye out. While the events of the script are not real, the characters’ reactions to the fictional events are. Horovitz’s script is striking because, were the events of the show to actually occur, they would likely occur as they do in his script. His argument is convincing and his psychology is sound. Horovitz has analyzed the human population and found us territorial, racist and surprisingly resilient. It is horrifying to know that while we teach the Holocaust in history, humans have learned almost nothing from it. Continue reading

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May 20

Blood, Gore and Mediocrity: CARRIE THE MUSICAL

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Presented by Speakeasy Stage Company
Music by Michael Gore
Lyrics by Dean Pitchford
Book by Lawrence D. Cohen
Based on the novel by Stephen King
Directed by Paul Melone
Music directed by Nicholaus James Connell
Choreographed by Larry Sousa

Stanford Calderwood Pavilion
Boston Center for the Arts
Boston, MA
Speakeasy on Facebook
Stephen King on Facebook
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Trigger Warning: Fanatical Christianity, Gore, Attractive Youths Kissing, Depictions of High School  

Review by Kitty Drexel mediocrity

(Boston) The story of Carrietta White is supposed in invoke sympathy from its reader. Stephen King wrote a story about a young woman so hopelessly naïve and sheltered from the world that she has no tactics to cope with common life stressors. It’s easy enough to relate to her story, to put ourselves in her shoes because everyone feels like an outsider at one time or another. Unfortunately, Carrie is not actually a relatable character. Her life is in no way comparable to another’s. The impossible fantasy of Carrie is what makes the novel/movie/musical. Attempting to make her relatable or identifiable is a stretch that is in no way feasible. And yet, as long as there are outsiders who wish they had super powers, the comparison will be made anyway. Continue reading

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May 19

Style and Form as a Metaphor for Life: SONTAG:REBORN

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Photo by James Gibbs

Photo by James Gibbs

Presented by ArtsEmerson: The World On Stage
Produced by The Builders Association and New York Theatre Workshop
Based on the books Reborn and As Consciousness is Harnessed to Flesh by Susan Sontag, edited by David Rieff
Adapted by Moe Angelos
Directed by Marianne Weems
Assistant directed by Shannon Sindelar
Dramaturgy by James Gibbs

May 6-18, 2014
Paramount Mainstage Theater
Boston, MA
ArtsEmerson on Facebook
The Builders Association on Facebook
Susan Sontag on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

(Boston) Susan Sontag was a feminist journalist who wrote extensively on the topics that inspired her. She directed, produced and wrote for the stage. She was an atypical mother. She was unabashedly herself. She is/was not readily consumable for the masses (although very good, her writing is chewy and requires time for adequate digestion). It should come as no shocker that art dedicated to her life and artistic style is not either. Sontag: Reborn is not a sweet show that idealizes Sontag’s life. It is a dramatic rendering of her thought process through stream of consciousness monologues and quotes from her works. Attendees should prepare themselves accordingly.

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