Apr 18

“No Exit”: Raising Hell in a Somerville Basement

Photo by Teri Incampo

Presented by Exiled Theatre
By Jean-Paul Sartre
Adapted from the French by Paul Bowles
Directed by Katharine Jordan

April 14-30, 2017
Auspicious Phoenix: The Space Studio
438 Somerville Ave
Somerville, MA 02143
Exiled Theatre on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram

Review by Travis Manni

(Somerville, MA) Walking past the Somerville Market Basket, down an alley to the right, I was unsure what to expect from Exiled Theatre’s production of Jean-Paul Sartre’s No Exit. To help set the mood, audience members were directed to “descend into Hell” (aka down a flight of stairs) into a basement space. Bulbs hung from the ceiling, and a modest but tasteful array of couches donned the scene—some were for the actors, some acted as seats for the audience. There was a great amount of effort to prepare the audience for what they were about to witness, and its effect made for a great welcoming. Continue reading

Apr 10

Humans or Animals in “Coyote on a Fence”

Photo by Tim Gurczak

Presented by Hub Theatre Company of Boston
By Bruce Graham
Directed by Daniel Bourque

March 31-April 15, 2017
First Church Boston
66 Marlborough Street
Boston, MA 02116
Hub Theatre Company of Boston on Facebook

Review by Travis Manni

(Boston, MA) If characters are going to be trapped in a prison, they have to be compelling for the sake of a play. Thankfully, in Hub Theatre Company of Boston’s production of Daniel Bourque’s Coyote on a Fence, all the characters are quite fascinating to watch move around and exist in the world of jail cells. Continue reading

Mar 18

“Silent Sky”: Fearless Feminism in the 19th Century

Photo credit: Jake Scaltreto

Presented by Flat Earth Theatre
By Lauren Gunderson
Directed by Dori A. Robinson

March 10-25, 2017
The Mosesian Center for the Arts
321 Arsenal Street
Watertown, MA 02472

Review by Travis Manni

(Watertown, MA) The impact that women have had in shaping our view of the world is so profound and infinite it could fill the sky. Often, their significance is overlooked, but it’s lovely seeing these roles brought to light in the arts. In its New England premiere production, Flat Earth Theatre brings to life the love, loss, and feminism of Lauren Gunderson’s Silent Sky. Continue reading

Mar 08

The Simple Beauty of “Grand Concourse”

Photo by Glenn Perry Photography; full stage with cast.

Presented by SpeakEasy Stage Company
By Heidi Schreck
Directed by Bridget Kathleen O’Leary

March 3-April 1, 2017
539 Tremont Street
Boston, MA 02116
SpeakEasy Stage Company on Facebook

Review by Travis Manni

(Boston, MA) While I try not to make a habit of going to see religious shows, there’s something about the themes of religion that is compelling. They bring people together and allow them to question anything from faith and love to forgiveness and existence. And while playwright Heidi Schreck’s Grand Concourse manages to tackle all of these, what’s captivating about the show is that it does so without forcing religious concepts. Continue reading

Mar 07

“Wheel of Austen” Puts Improv in the 18th Century

Photo credit: Mike Descoteaux

Presented by ImprovBoston
Directed by John Herman
Created by Michelle Boncek & John Herman

March 3-31, 2017
40 Prospect Street
Cambridge, MA 02139
ImprovBoston on Facebook

Review by Travis Manni

(Cambridge, MA) Improv is a weird thing to have to review. You often can’t comment on the set, because the world and props within it are imaginary. The entire show is based on a singular experience that will never be repeated, and that relies heavily on the chemistry of the actors on stage. But I’m happy to report that chemistry in one of ImprovBoston’s productions of Wheel of Austen was well within the performers’ wheelhouse. Continue reading

Feb 21

“The Honey Trap” Sweet Like Honey, Sting Like a Bee

Maureen Keiller, Barlow Adamson. Photograph credit: Kalman Zabarsky

Presented by Boston Playwrights’ Theatre & Boston University College of Fine Arts School of Theatre
Written by Leo McGann
Directed by Adam Kassim

February 16-26, 2017
949 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA
Boston Playwrights’ Theatre on Facebook
Boston University New Play Initiative

Review by Travis Manni

(Boston, MA) According to the old cliché, you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. The truth of this is debatable, but it’s true that, when luring something, or someone, to its doom, it’s much simpler to do it in a soft, sweet way. On multiple levels, this was the crux of how Leo McGann’s The Honey Trap told a story of history, guilt, and revenge. Continue reading

Feb 02

Boston Arts Academy’s “The Wiz” Finds a Place to Call Home

Dorothy, portrayed by Kamiya Parkin; Photo credit Ella Snyder

Presented by Boston Arts Academy
Book by William F. Brown
Music and Lyrics by Charlie Smalls
Adapted From “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” by L. Frank Baum
Directed by Maura Tighe
Musical Direction by Tyrone Sutton
Choreography by William McLaughlin

January 26-28, 2017
The Strand Theatre
543 Columbia Road
Dorchester, MA 02125

Review by Travis Manni

(Dorchester, MA) In a world where the future of the arts is unclear, and many would like to be transported from reality for a while, it is refreshing to see the next generation of artists from Boston Arts Academy not only take pride in their art, but convey a powerful message of pride in one’s roots. In BAA’s production of The Wiz, I was blown away at the maturity and emotional depth that a group of young adults still in high school not only understood, but also was able to convey to the audience. Continue reading

Jan 31

“The Princess and the Pea”: A Fairytale Political Drama

“Three Plot Twists”: Sarah J. Mann as Prince Percy, James Sims as Mick Motley, Matthew Woods as Captain Brightside; photo credit: imaginary beasts.

Presented by imaginary beasts
Written by The Ensemble
Based on the fairytale by Hans Christian Andersen
Directed by Matthew Woods

January 14 – February 4, 2017
Plaza Black Box Theatre at the Boston Center for the Arts
539 Tremont Street, Boston MA
Boston, MA 02116
imaginary beasts on Facebook

Review by Travis Manni

(Boston, MA) In this uncertain and tumultuous political climate, the arts are a fantastic medium to fight back. While this often applies to theatre, I must admit I was surprised that imaginary beasts’ production of The Princess and the Pea used the kid’s show to make a mockery of our current state of affairs. But it was effing brilliant. Continue reading

Jan 24

Playing with Fate in “Intimate Exchanges”

Sarah Elizabeth Bedard and Jade Ziane. Photo: A.R. Sinclair Photography

Presented by The Nora Theatre Company
Written by Alan Ayckbourn
Directed by Olivia D’Ambrosio

January 12-February 12, 2017
Central Square Theatre
450 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139
Central Square Theatre on Facebook

Review by Travis Manni

(Cambridge, MA) There truly is nothing like the unique experience of theatre. And in Alan Ayckbourn’s Intimate Exchanges, the audience is presented with a choose-your-own-adventure in which no performance is ever identical to the one before. Continue reading

Jan 11

Quality Beats Out Content in “Brilliant Adventures”

Michael Underhill as Rob, Sam Terry as Luke. Photo by Danielle Fauteux Jacques

Presented by Apollinaire Theatre Company & United Talent Agency
Written by Alistair McDowall
Directed by Danielle Fauteux Jacques

December 28, 2016-January 21, 2017
Chelsea Theatre Works
189 Winnisimmet St.
Chelsea, MA 02150
Apollinaire Theatre Company on Facebook

Review by Travis Manni

(Chelsea, MA) Every theatre geek knows that good theatre should ask questions and initiate a conversation. It should do something as small as make the audience think of something from a different perspective or as large as make you question everything. These were the expectations I had when sitting down to watch Apollinaire Theatre Company’s production of Brilliant Adventures. Continue reading