Oct 30

“Cirque of the Dead” Review 2018: Damned Good Time


Presented by Boston Circus Guild
Directed by Joseph C. Walsh

October 19 – October 31, 2017
The Oberon
2 Arrow Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
Cirque of the Dead on Facebook

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Cambridge, MA) A possessed contortionist, a painting that springs to life to ensnare its painter, a clan of vampires, and a burlesque zombie who strangely (and seductively?) tears off and eats their own skin during their aerial act. Yes, it is Halloween for the Boston Circus Guild. This year, they successfully walk the line between disturbing and beguiling. The show is fragmented into circus acts, yes, but the pieces cohere into a complete (if possessed) picture. Continue reading

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Oct 15

Cirque of the Dead Preview: The Nightmare Continues

Presented by Boston Circus Guild
Directed by Joseph C. Walsh
October 19 – October 31, 2017

The Oberon
2 Arrow Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
Cirque of the Dead on Facebook

Preview by Gillian Daniels

(Cambridge, MA) Last year, in 2017, Cirque of the Dead delighted me with Jumanji-esque antics and host Wes Hazzard’s charisma.

This year, in another callback to one’s youth for an adults-only murder show, the theme is Choose Your Own Adventure. The 2018 show promises new acts, acrobats, aerialists, butts, cannibalism, monsters, sex, and a bar full of specialty cocktails.

Joseph C. Walsh will be directing and says, “This exciting event combines breathtaking circus skills, startling theatricality and classic horror to offer its audience a unique and immersive experience. The incredible performers have stretched me artistically and inspired me with their astounding abilities and passion for pushing the boundaries of the modern circus genre.”

Music will be provided by Minusworld, a nerd-themed, “high-energy Synthrock” band.

Boston Circus Guild (BCG) describes itself as “a collaboration of over fifty musicians, artists, circus performers, dancers, and event producers from the Boston area. BCG members regularly perform at prestigious events and venues throughout New England including the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Pfizer, Cirque du Soleil, and The Boston Bruins Foundation.” I had to scrape my jaw off the floor after witnessing last year’s acrobatics. I expect nothing less than spectacular.

Last year, I also wrote,  “The visuals are deeply compelling and wonderfully gross. […] The sense of escapism Cirque of the Dead represents, gory and grim as it may be, is invaluable and beautifully articulated with supreme commitment to physical flights of fancy.”

And I can’t wait for the next chapter.

Performances:
Friday, October 19: 7:00PM & 10:30PM
Saturday, October 20: 6:30PM
Thursday, October 25: 7:30PM
Friday, October 26: 7:00PM & 10:30PM
Saturday, October 27: 6:30PM
Wednesday, October 31: 7:00PM & 10:30PM

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Aug 10

“Leftovers” and the Balance Between Wishes and Truths

Photo by Paul Fox.

Presented by Company One Theatre
Written by Josh Wilder
Directed by Summer L. Williams
Developed by C1 PlayLab

July 21 – August 18, 2018
The Strand Theatre
543 Columbia Road, Boston, MA 02125
The Leftovers on Facebook

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Boston, MA) When a giant dandelion bursts out of the ground in their Philadelphia yard, Kwamaine (the charming Christian Scales) is enchanted while his older brother, Jalil (Kadahj Bennett, who pulls some of the best humorous faces I’ve seen on any given stage), is understandably baffled. Their harassed mother, Raquelle (Lyndsay Allyn Cox), is mostly just annoyed. Writer Josh Wilder and director Summer L. Williams deliver an odd, funny city-based fable that becomes a magic realist quest through systemic poverty, race, The Cosby Show, and the insulating nature of fantasies. Continue reading

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Aug 03

“Richard III”: Uncomfortably Mirroring a Summer of Our Discontent

Faran Tahir (Richard III) and the cast of Richard III (photo by Evgenia Eliseeva)

Presented by the Commonwealth Shakespeare Company
Written by William Shakespeare
Directed by Steven Maler

July 18 – August 5, 2018 
Parkman Bandstand
Tremont Street & Winter Street
Boston, MA 02108
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Review by Gillian Daniels

(Boston, MA) The Commonwealth Shakespeare Company brings an arresting production of Richard III to Boston’s Common. The grim story of a happily evil king is enlivened by the performance of Faran Tahir as he swaggers, lies, and simpers his way to a throne that might as well be soaked in blood. The play is grounded in real world anger toward a cartoonish villain who disintegrates into a self-doubting coward. It’s a cathartic watch, one that both moved me and concerned me in the way it compliments and comments on topical news items. Continue reading

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Jun 05

“Les Liaisons Dangereuses”: When You Play the Game of Patriarchy, Everyone Loses

Jaime Carrillo (Volanges), Greg Maraio (Merteuil), Dan Whelton (Valmont) & Stewart Evan Smith (Danceny). Photo: Jorden Photography.

Presented by The Nora Theatre Company
Directed by Lee Mikeska Gardner
Adapted by Christopher Hampton
Novel by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos

May 31st – July 1st, 2018
Central Square Theatre
450 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge
Central Square Theater on Facebook

Content Warning: (In the show’s own words.) Full nudity, sexual content, violence, and a damn good sword fight. Suggested age: 18 and over.

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Cambridge, MA) When dividing the population into a binary construct where one group is viewed as perpetually in danger of committing sexual indiscretions and possessing virtue that they may only give to certain people, and the other group is seen as committing indiscretions and betrayals because they can’t help themselves, yes, some awful dynamics are at play. In this production, the source material of Les Liaisons Dangereuses is not much altered, but the way it’s performed is. The players all appear to be male without makeup, dresses, or distinctive cosmetic traits, beyond the apparently random distribution of a few bits of jewelry, rosary beads, and gloves. To clarify, this is a faithful adaptation of a story where two manipulative, almost-lover aristocrats spend their time “ruining” innocence. The gender of the characters remains the same as it was in Pierre Choderlos de Laclos 1782 novel. The gender of the actors just doesn’t always conform to those of their characters. In having an all-male cast, gender is shown as the flimsy construct it is, and adherence to stringent, narrow roles reproduce only an eventual misery in everyone. But just because the proud Vicomte de Valmont (Dan Whelton) and perceptive Marquise de Merteuil (Greg Maraio) seem to see the pieces of the social contraption in which they move doesn’t mean they can escape the trap. Continue reading

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May 22

Batman Burlesque Brings Out the Brave and the Bold

Presented by The Slaughterhouse Society

May 20 – May 25, 2018
The Oberon
2 Arrow Street
Cambridge, MA
The Slaughterhouse Society on Facebook

Review by Gillian Daniels

CONTENT WARNING: Psychosexual camp with some abuse and violence for good measure.

(Cambridge, MA) Maybe it’s the number of expertly dressed femme fatales and smart suited gentleman villains in the rogue gallery. Maybe it’s just the spandex. All the same, Batman’s unique blended history of pulp, humor, and darkness puts it at the same cross-section of camp and psychosexual horror in which Boston’s happily weird burlesque scene specializes. The Slaughterhouse Society makes sure burlesque and Batman are a match made in vaudeville variety show heaven. Continue reading

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Feb 08

Flighty “Die Fledermaus” Wobbles But Lands

FPresented by The Harvard College Opera
Composed by Johann Strauss II
Libretto by Karl Haffner and Richard Genée
Music Directed by Sasha Yakub
Stage Directed by Mitch Polonsky

Agassiz Theater
Cambridge, MA
Jan 31 – Feb 4
Facebook Event

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Cambridge, MA) The Harvard College Opera succeeds in creating a production of Die Fledermaus with the boozy haze that one would associate with a show that sings a tribute to champagne, dubbed “the king of wines!” How else would a woman, Rosalinde (Veronica Richer, a marvelous soprano), successfully disguise herself from her husband, Eisenstein (Ethan Craigo), with a flimsy mask? Why else would an innocent man, Alfred (the charming Samuel Rosner), happily go to prison instead of the husband of his beloved? The logic of this operetta is certainly rooted in the logic of being pleasantly drunk. It’s only when the show becomes more interested in its sensibility than its story, like someone drinking under the impression he’s far funnier and balanced than he thinks he is, that it begins to wobble. Continue reading

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Jan 26

Caregiver Vents and Mourns in “Mala”

Presented by Huntington Theatre Company and ArtsEmerson
Written and performed by Melinda Lopez
Directed by David Dower

Jan. 6 – Feb. 4, 2018
Calderwood Pavilion
Boston Center for the Arts
Boston, MA

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Boston, MA) “Dying doesn’t make you wise,” says Melinda Lopez, describing the death of her tough, stubborn mother. “Dying doesn’t make you generous.” The words could serve as the thesis of Mala, a story of a loyal daughter processing guilt and bitterness over the death of her elderly parents. Baked into the subject matter is a grim but gentle humor, one that picks at the coat of polish usually applied to recollections of the grieving process. Lopez’s pain, here, is visceral and true, not some softly lit movie set. Continue reading

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Dec 24

A Mobile, Spectacle-Driven Adaptation of “Sense and Sensibility”

Presented by Bedlam
Written by Kate Hamill
Based on the novel by Jane Austen
Directed by Eric Tucker

December 10, 2017 – January 14, 2018
The American Repertory Theater (A.R.T.)
ART on Facebook

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Cambridge, MA) Communicating the swift wit of a Jane Austen story is sometimes lost in an adaptation of her work. What better metaphor for the pace and quick gossip of polite society than a stage where all the furniture has wheels and actors move across it with the precision of a ballet? Bedlam, in its own words, “creates works of theatre that reinvigorate traditional forms in a flexible, raw space.” This adaptation is as kinetic and flexible as described, but it works best when its uses its techniques to highlight Austen’s source material, not when they try to rely on special effects. Continue reading

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Nov 07

We Want More of “OUT’hood FEST!”

Presented by The Theater Offensive
Performers: Eddie Maisonet, Erin Ebony, Danny Harris Sr., Cheyenne Harvey, and J.D. Stokely

October 30, 2017
Hibernian Hall
184 Dudley Street, Boston, MA 02119
Roxbury, Massachusetts

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Roxbury, MA) OUT’hood FEST is a festival designed to by and for the voices and works of local LGBTQ POC. The night I attended was specifically a “taster” of this talent, the culmination of The Theater Offensive’s pilot program, the OUT’hood Residency. This program supports the creation of artwork by, for, and/or about LGBTQ people of color who are local to Boston. If what I saw this year was any indication, this festival will invigorate some of the most versatile artists of the Boston community. Storytellers Eddie Maisonet, Erin Ebony, Danny Harris Sr., Cheyenne Harvey, and J.D. Stokely certainly shined, and I look forward to finding more of their work. Continue reading

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