Mar 07

Boston’s Unfortunate History of Complicity: “The Boston Abolitionists”

Presented by The Poets’ Theatre, and the Boston Athenaeum
Written by David Gullette
Directed by Bob Scanlan

Sunday, March 5, 2017 @ 1:00 P.M.
The Boston Athenaeum
10½ Beacon Street, Boston, MA 02108

Review by Polly Goss

(Boston, MA) The Boston Athenaeum was the perfect setting for a performance that delved into the city’s complex past. Surrounded by portraits of Boston’s founding fathers, The Poets’ Theatre gave voice to some of Boston lesser-known revolutionaries in this unusual piece.

Challenging the stock image of the 19th century abolitionist as ‘a white man in a black suit’, the actors gave voice to some of the nation’s bravest and most controversial pioneers: escaped slave David Walker, the formidable Maria Stewart and white Southern activist Angelina Grimké among others. The story of Anthony Burns, the escaped slave, who was sent by a Massachusetts judge to return to Virginia and slavery, added a darker tone to the piece. Highlighting the North’s complicity with Southern slavery, Burns’ story reminded the audience that Boston’s history, like the whole country’s, is stained by slavery. Continue reading

Feb 16

It’s A Privilege To Be So Offended: AN OCTOROON

(photo cred: Jeremy Fraga)

(photo cred: Jeremy Fraga)

Presented by Company One and ArtsEmerson
Written by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins
Directed by Summer L. Williams

Jan. 29 – Feb. 27, 2016
Emerson/Jackie Liebergott Black Box
559 Washington St; Boston MA, 02111
Company One on Facebook
ArtsEmerson on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

(Boston, MAI know enough about civil and political rights to know that I don’t know nearly enough to speak with authority; I know enough to know that white people need to shut up and show up in support of the voices of people of color (POCs). That white people have done more than enough talking on behalf of the peoples we oppress. My suggestion is to attend An Octoroon and stay for the talk back. Use your money to express your belief that everyone deserves equal rights and equal representation. Use your attendance as an opportunity to start a respectful conversation about the US’s race problem. Let POCs know that their fight doesn’t exist in a vacuum.  Continue reading

Nov 23

Festive and Fun: “A Civil War Christmas: an American Musical Celebration”

Photo image courtesy of the Facebook Page.

Photo image courtesy of the Facebook Page.

Presented by Wellesley College Theatre
Written by Paula Vogel
Music by Daryl Waters
Directed by Nora Hussey

November 18 – 22
Ruth Nagel Jones Theatre
Wellesly, MA
WCT on Facebook

Review by Danielle Rosvally

Christmas theatre is a very specific genre that requires a very particular mix to make effective (or even palatable).  The recipe starts with good old-fashioned holiday cheer; add a dash of nostalgia, a hint of history, a generous helping of family values, and (of course) finish with a generous sprinkling of festive music.  Paula Vogel’s A Civil War Christmas: An American Musical Celebration has all the necessary ingredients for the Christmas genre, but actually performing it requires a special touch.  The piece’s simplistic dialogue which features such tropes as characters telling you who they are before they begin to speak (“In the West Wing of the White House, President Lincoln’s maid was cleaning the floor…. Hi, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the show tonight?”) that have the danger to edge this play towards the realm of children’s theatre cheesiness, or satirical campiness. Continue reading

Feb 03

Disparate Pieces: THE WHIPPING MAN

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