Apr 22

A Bone to Pick with “Sylvia”

Photo by David Costa; L/R: Allan Mayo (Greg) and Shana Dirik (Sylvia)

Presented by Theater UnCorked
Directed by Michelle M. Aguillon
Written by A.R. Gurney

April 18-21, 2019
Calderwood Pavilion
539 Tremont Street
Boston, MA 02116
Theater UnCorked on Facebook

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Boston, MA) You need to know that I really love dogs. I watch videos on YouTube of dogs playing, ashamed of chewing through things, and mindlessly devoted to various owners as they try to follow them to work. But in watching Sylvia, I couldn’t make space in my heart for it the way I have done for pitbulls, goldens, and mutts. The story is just that the dog’s played by a lady (Shana Dirk) and the man who adopts her, Greg (Allan Mayo, who has a gentle, nervous presence), adores her while the put-upon, uptight wife, Kate (the formidable Kim McClure), is jealous. Repeat joke until end of play. Curtain. And folks who want just that out of their theater experience will be satisfied. Continue reading

Apr 22

Sometimes God Eats People: “Caroline or Change”


L to R: Pier Lamia Porter* as “The Washing Machine”, Davron S. Monroe* as “The Dryer” and Yewande Odetoyinbo* as “Caroline Thibodeaux” ; Photograph: Sharman Altshuler

Presented by Moonbox Productions
Book and lyrics by Tony Kushner
Score by Jeanine Tesori
Directed by Allison Olivia Choat
Music directed by Dan Rodriguez
Choreography by Yewande Odetoyinbo

April 20 – May 11, 2019
The Stanford Calderwood Pavilion
Boston Center for the Arts
Boston, MA
Moonbox on Facebook

Critique by Kitty Drexel

(Boston, MA) It isn’t true that money can’t buy happiness. Science, as dressed in commercially digestible articles from Time or Entrepreneur, told us in 2017 that happiness begins at an income that covers payment of non-negotiable needs such as food, rent, and other expenses. That amount was approximated between $50,000 – $75,000. Anything less or more than fiscal solvency lowers our quality of life. Minimum wage is still $7.25. And the 1% wonder why the 99% are angry all the time.   

Caroline or Change is about a poor, Black woman raising four kids on her own in 1963 at the peak of the Civil Rights movement in Louisiana. She’s a maid in the Gellman household where she makes $30 a week (roughly $250/week in 2019) and it’s not enough. Caroline Thibodeaux (Yewande Odetoyinbo) isn’t paid enough to deal with any of the nonsense like throws at her but she does it anyway.  Continue reading

Apr 19

Constant Good Affections: “The Clearing”

Presented by Hub Theatre Company of Boston
By Helen Edmundson
Directed by Daniel Bourque
Assistant direction and dramaturgy by Isabel Dollar
Dialect coaching by Meredith Gosselin
Fight direction by Samantha Richert

April 5 – 20, 2019
First Church in Boston
66 Marlborough St
Boston, MA
Hub on Facebook

Critique by Kitty Drexel

(Boston, MA) The Clearing is about white on white ethnic cleansing. It is 1652 and Cromwell is rabid for Catholic land and English Royalist lives. His Parliament passed the Act for the Settlement of Ireland and sentenced them to lives in Connaught, deportation to Barbados, or to death. It wasn’t very pleasant for anyone except Cromwell’s cronies. Hub Theatre’s production isn’t a hopeful production (the colonizers win) but it tells a necessary story.  
Continue reading

Apr 18

Drinking with Aristotle in “Ipsa Dixit”

Presented by Original Gravity Concert Series
Music & Libretto by Kate Soper
Performed by Equilibrium
Soprano: Stephanie Lamprea,
Violin & Acting Music Director: Nicole Parks
Flute: Orlando Cela
Percussion: Mike Williams

April 12th at 7:30pm
Inner Space
17 Station Street
Brookline, MA, 02445
Original Gravity on Facebook

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Brookline, MA) Ipsa Dixit is Art with a capital, “AH,” an often playful and highly erudite experiment with language and music chiefly meant for people who are already into That Kind of Thing. As a whole, it doesn’t have a clear entrypoint for laymen. This is, at least partially, about the meaning of words vs. the intent of the isolated mind that created them, ie. the vast chasm between expressing something verbally and the isolated brain meat where that verbiage was formed. So yes, it certainly falls into the category of My Thing, with its mosaic of words excerpted from the works of Aristotle, Sophocles, Freud, and Lydia Davis, among others. The music layered on top of these various texts construct an impressionistic portrait of what that language feels like. If you have ever found yourself hungry for a tense drama about a diagrammed sentence, this show is for you. During its two intermissions, there were people who bounced so solidly off the text, they ended up bouncing themselves. Otherwise, others stuck it out for the impressive oddity of Soper’s work as well as the free drinks provided by participating breweries. Continue reading

Apr 16

“Cardboard Piano”: Good Intentions, Poorly Executed

Photo by Andrew Brilliant/Brilliant Pictures; L-R: Rachel Cognata and Marge Dunn.

Presented by New Repertory Theatre
Written by Hansol Jung
Directed by Benny Sato Ambush

March 23 —April 14, 2019
The Dorothy and Charles Mosesian Center for the Arts
321 Arsenal St
Watertown, MA 02472
New Rep on Facebook

Critique by Diana Lu

(Watertown, MA) Cardboard Piano is a two-part sociopolitical drama. The first act portrays a young love affair between Chris, a missionary’s daughter (Marge Dunn), and Adiel (Rachel Cognata), a Ugandan teenager, and how it was torn apart by senseless homophobia and war violence. The second act sees the daughter return to Uganda 15 years later to find the man who killed her lover (Michael Ofori/Marc Pierre) reviving her father’s church and continuing to oppress his young, queer congregants. Continue reading

Apr 09

The Knocking is Coming from Inside the Cabin: “Macbeth”

Presented by the Underlings Theatre Company
By William Shakespeare
Directed by Daniel Thomas Blackwell
Fight direction by Lauren Squier
Dramaturgy by Isabel Dollar

April 5 – 13, 2019
Mosesian Center for the Arts Blackbox Theater
321 Arsenal St
Watertown, MA
Underlings on Facebook

Critique by Kitty Drexel

(Watertown, MA) There is much to learn from the Underlings production of Macbeth currently open at the Mosesian Center for the Arts in Watertown. The cast and crew took some risks: some of them paid off, others did not. What is most important to glean from this production is that the Underlings boldly proceed towards their artistic goals for Macbeth. Risk taking theatre is by far more laudable than theatre that plays it safe no matter the outcome. Not everyone will agree with the risks that the Underlings took but, at the very least, the Underlings can boast that they performed their version.   Continue reading

Apr 04

Geeks Read Books: TCG Play Reviews, April 2019

On occasion, the New England Theatre Geek will review recently published plays. The Antipodes is the latest release from Annie Baker. In it, Baker takes on corporate culture from a storyteller’s perspective. The Prisoner by Peter Brook and Marie-Helene Estienne is not well written. The Painted Rocks at Revolver Creek discusses apartheid via an artist’s life work. A Doll’s House, Part 2 played on Boston’s Huntington Theatre’s stage in early 2019. Hnath’s script is deserving of several reads. Please read on below.

The Antipodes
By Annie Baker
TCG
New York, 2018
Paperback, 120pp
$14.95

The Antipodes takes place in a static, windowless room with office chairs behind which are stacked many boxes of seltzer. This could be a soulless writers room, a marketing research discussion room, or even one of those rent-an-office conference spaces available in communal office complexes. The location is specifically nondescript to allow the strange goings on of Baker’s play shine. Strange goings on of both the occult and Office Space varieties bleed through the mundane to unsettle the lives of everyone involved.   Continue reading

Apr 04

Mass Cultural Council Presents Communication Access in Plymouth, April 9, 2019

Join the Mass Cultural Council for a Community Conversation on the use of captions in theatre and performance!

Access to Theatre: Captions and Communications
Plymouth Library:  Tuesday April 9; 5:30-7:30pm
Please RSVP

massculturalcouncil.org
Facebook
Twitter

(Plymouth, MA) Access is more than ramps and bathrooms.  Communication access is an obligation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  If you are a patron of the arts, have you simply stopped going to events? If you are a producer of theater, what do you know about captioning? This community conversation is for all of us on both sides of the experience.

Captioning can engage new audiences as well as re-engage old audiences.  Our discussion will address institutional obligations, effective messaging, captioning software, and funding resources; as well as the BIG aspirational principles of “access” when striving for robust audience engagement.

Join us for a Community Conversation on effective accessible communication practices in theatre and live performance!

The Plymouth Public Library is located at 132 South Street in Plymouth MA 02360. 1-508-830-4250. RSVP or Sandy Spekman at sspekman@gmail.com

This event is sponsored by the Hearing Loss Association of America, Plymouth Chapter (HLAA), and the Mass Cultural Council’s Universal Participation (UP) Initiative. This event will be captioned in Real Time (CART). The library is physically accessible.

Apr 03

“Don Giovanni” Reframed for Our Troubled Times

Photo via Boston Opera Collaborative

Presented by Boston Opera Collaborative
Music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte
Stage Direction by Patricia Maria-Weinman and Greg Smucker
Conducted by Tianhui Ng

March 28 – April 6
Ben Franklin Institute of Technology
41 Berkeley Street
Boston, MA 02116
Don Giovanni on Facebook

Content warning: Assault and sexual assault

Critique by Gillian Daniels

(Boston, MA) This iteration of Don Giovanni begins with a projection of the infamous pussy-grabbing quote from our Cheeto-in-Chief. It goes on to present images of Brett Kavanaugh, Kevin Spacey, Harvey Weinstein, and so many (too many) others. From minute one, it’s clear this is a production without subtlety, but for those of us who wake up in dread of what the news will say about the continued degradation of women’s rights in the United States, this is exactly the production we need. To use Don Giovanni as a lens to view our very national moment is a bold move and a difficult one to land. Continue reading