Oct 17

Sympathy for the Sinner: ABIGAIL/1702

Photo by Meghan Moore; Rachel Napoleon and Jon Kovach.

Photo by Meghan Moore; Rachel Napoleon and Jon Kovach.

Presented by Merrimack Repertory Theatre
Script by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
Directed by Tlaloc Rivas

October 12 – November 6, 2016
50 East Merrimack Street
Lowell, MA 01852
MRT on Facebook

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Lowell, MA) Ever notice that there aren’t many Academy Awards won for performances given in horror films? This might be because such scripts require a form of acting gymnastics – extreme emotion in some moments and the ability to deliver silly-sounding lines with a straight face in others. Continue reading

Sep 26

Trump Might Not be the Worst*: 45 PLAYS FOR 45 PRESIDENTS

Terrell Donnell Sledge starts off the show as George Washington. Photo by Meghan Moore;

Terrell Donnell Sledge starts off the show as George Washington. Photo by Meghan Moore.

Presented by Merrimack Repertory Theatre
Written by Andy Bayiates, Sean Benjamin, Genevra Gallo-Bayiates, Chloe Johnston, and Karen Weinberg
Directed by Sean Daniels

September 7 – October 2, 2016
50 East Merrimack Street
Lowell, MA
MRT on Facebook

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Lowell, MA) Do you know that dull portrait of all the U.S. presidents that’s on the inside binding of high school history textbooks? Mix it with an episode of Game of Thrones and an episode of Who’s Line is it Anyway?, and you have 45 Plays For 45 Presidents. Continue reading

May 12

Absurd Political Escapism: HOME OF THE BRAVE

Photo by Meghan Moore

Photo by Meghan Moore

Presented by Merrimack Repertory Theatre
Written by Lila Rose Kaplan
Directed by Sean Daniels
Featuring Karen MacDonald

April 20 – May 15, 2016
50 East Merrimack Street
Lowell, MA
MRT on Facebook

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Lowell, MA) Finally, a political play that is as absurd and as over-the-top as the 2016 presidential election! Um, I’m not sure that’s a good thing. Continue reading

Mar 21

Catching the Beat: THE REALNESS: A BREAK BEAT PLAY

 Photo by Meghan Moore.

Photo by Meghan Moore.

Presented by Merrimack Repertory Theatre
Written by Idris Goodwin
Directed by Wendy C. Goldberg

March 16 – April 10, 2016
50 East Merrimack Street
Lowell, MA
MRT on Facebook

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Lowell, MA) The power of hip hop as an art form comes from seizing the rhythm of the moment. The same could be said for The Realness: a break beat play, which is making its world premiere in Lowell. Writer Idris Goodwin has embedded a few dozen profound beats in this play, and it is a beautiful thing to watch when this cast catches one, and then another; the stage crackles to life in these moments. Often, however, it feels like these beats have yet to be uncovered on stage, making this play feel like a work in progress. Rarely do I wish to go back to see a play with the same cast, but I’d like to see how this production grows toward the end of its run in Lowell. Continue reading

Jan 25

Sober Truth….With Jokes: THE WHITE CHIP

Jeffrey Binder in "The White Chip" Photo by Meghan Moore.

Jeffrey Binder in “The White Chip” Photo by Meghan Moore.

Presented by Merrimack Repertory Theatre
Written by Sean Daniels
Directed by Sheryl Kaller

Jan 6 – 31, 2016
50 East Merrimack Street
Lowell, MA
MRT on Facebook

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Lowell, MA) Earnestness may be the most difficult emotion to pull off in theater well. Attempts generally fall short and become bludgeoning lectures, wooden morality plays, or both. That’s what makes The White Chip, playing at Merrimack Repertory Theatre, such a theatrical revelation. Not only does it deliver a powerful, needed message on why so many fail at addiction recovery, but it is a riveting play that is a joy to watch, as playwright Sean Daniels manages to add just the right amount of humor and perspective to keep the audience hooked. Continue reading

Aug 31

“The Lion” Sends Audience Roaring with Applause

Photo by Meghan Moore

Photo by Meghan Moore.

Presented by Merrimack Repertory Theatre
By Benjamin Scheuer
Directed by Sean Daniels

Aug. 26 – Sept. 20, 2015
50 East Merrimack Street
Lowell, MA
Merrimack Repertory Theatre on Facebook

Review by Travis Manni

(Lowell, MA) While no African cats ever pounced on stage, much to my dismay, I will say that the Merrimack Repertory Theatre’s production of The Lion, which marks both the start of the theatre’s 2015-16 season as well as Sean Daniel’s Artistic Directorial debut at the MRT, took me quite off guard. Continue reading

May 11

On Golden Bay: THE OUTGOING TIDE

David Adkins, Ross Bickell, Felicity LaFortune. Photo by Meghan Moore.

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

April 23 – May 17, 2015
50 East Merrimack Street
Lowell, MA 01852
MRT on Facebook.

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Lowell, MA) The decline of old age comes for so many of us, and yet there are few who are prepared to meet it on our own terms. In the powerful drama The Outgoing Tide, one patriarch races against time and his own failing memory to decide his fate in the face of dementia. This production is sure to spur thought-provoking discussions on aging and death, and it largely avoids the feel of a Lifetime Original medical drama of the week. We never lose sight of the individuality of the main character even as what makes him an individual slowly disintegrates. Continue reading

Feb 02

Almost Like Family: THE BEST BROTHERS

Photo by Meghan Moore.

Photo by Meghan Moore.

Presented by Merrimack Repertory Theatre
Written by Daniel MacIvor
Directed by Charles Towers

January 8 – February 1st, 2015
Lowell, MA
MRT on Facebook

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Lowell, MA) Every time a member of one’s family dies, the remaining members of the family must re-form to create a unit, or split away and cease to be. This is an especially arduous task for two almost estranged brothers in The Best Brothers. They must resolve what they were to each other when the matriarch of the family was alive, and what they are to each other now that she is gone. Continue reading

Dec 08

Delightfully Off-Kilter: “13 Things About Ed Carpolotti”

Photo by Meghan Moore.

Photo by Meghan Moore.

Presented by Merrimack Repertory Theatre
Book, Music and Lyrics by Barry Kleinbort
Based on a play by Jeffrey Hatcher

November 28 – December 21, 2014
50 East Merrimack Street
Lowell, MA
MRT on Facebook

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Lowell, MA) It’s one thing to create a play that mimics the feeling of being trapped in a conversation with someone who is batty; it’s another to make such a play entertaining. As the play 13 Things About Ed Carpolotti demonstrates, the difference is all in the storytelling prowess of the off-putting character. Continue reading

Nov 04

Words vs. Action: DUSK RINGS A BELL

Pictured Todd Lawson and D'Arcy Dersham. Photo by Meghan Moore.

Pictured Todd Lawson and D’Arcy Dersham. Photo by Meghan Moore.

Presented by Merrimack Repertory Theatre
By Stephen Belber
Directed by Michael Bloom

Oct. 23 – Nov. 16th, 2014
50 East Merrimack Street
Lowell, MA 01852
MRT on Facebook

Review by Craig Idlebrook

Trigger warning: Contains Adult Language

(Lowell, MA) Which watershed moments in our lives define us, the ones where we rise above our fears or the ones where we give in to our basest nature? That’s the central question of the beautiful and flawed production of Dusk Rings a Bell, playing at the Merrimack Repertory Theatre. Continue reading