Nov 03

Art within Cultural Context: “Kiss”

Kiss presented by ArtsEmerson
Written by Guillermo Calderón
Directed by David Dower

October 26 – November 19, 2017
Emerson Paramount Center՚s Jackie Liebergott Black Box Theatre
Washington Street
Boston, Massachusetts
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Review by Holly Goss

(Boston, MA) Kiss is a play within a play that tells the story of a zealous young theatre group՚s gross misinterpretation of a Syrian play called Kiss. These naive and fresh-faced actors, come up against a nasty dose of realism when they learn what Kiss really means. However the play falls apart when the cast try to diligently apply their new knowledge, to re-perform this seemingly simple love story and reveal the true horror of the war lurking underneath. This second performance falls flat and fails to deliver the big twist the audience anticipate. Kiss tackles a breadth of themes, the war in Syria, the importance of cultural context, the purpose of art. However, the writing is ultimately overly ambitious and is unable to get to the heart of these important questions. Continue reading

Oct 10

“A Bright Room Called Day”: an ambitious call for resistance

Photo by Jake Scaltreto; Prologue: Evening Meal in a Windstorm — with Lindsay Eagle, Juliet Bowler, Noah Simes and Isaiah Max Plovnick.

Produced by Flat Earth Theatre
Written by Tony Kushner
Directed by Dori. A Robinson

September 30-October 14, 2017
The Black Box at the Mosesian Center for the Arts
Watertown, MA
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Review by Polly Goss

(Watertown, MA) A Bright Room Called Day transports us back to a sitting room in 1930s Germany, inhabited my minor actors, eccentric filmmakers and artists. This bohemian gaggle of comrades band together in the early 1930s through their love of Communism, Art and Revolution. As 1933 marches on, the world around them darkens and the sitting room becomes their last refuge from Hitler’s rule. Continue reading

Sep 26

“Faceless”: Humans discriminate, terror is indiscriminate.

Ashley Risteen as Susie Glenn in Zeitgeist Stage Company’s production of Faceless by Selina Fillinger.

Presented by Zeitgeist Stage Company
Written by Selina Fillinger
Directed by David J. Miller

September 15 – October 7, 2017
Plaza Black Box Theatre, Boston Center for the Arts
539 Tremont Street
Boston, MA, 02116
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Review by Polly Goss

(Boston, MA) The long speeches, the scrutinization of evidence, the dissection of a person’s moral fiber in front of a live audience of 12 judging strangers, the theatrics of the courtroom have long delighted us on the stage. From Shakespeare’s Measure to Measure to Law & Order, the delicious synchronicity between real-life and make-believe contained within the courtroom keeps audiences coming back for more and more. Fellinger however breathes new life into this well-worn genre with

Faceless is the story of the “little white girl” Susie Glenn (Ashley Risteen) as she is on trial for joining ISIS and attempting to commit acts of terrorism against the United States of America. The added bonus, the prosecuting lawyer Claire Fahti (Aina Adler) is a devout Muslim, who is determined to stop Susie becoming the (white) face of Islam. Zeitgeist Stage Company have lived up to their name, in this topical and heart-wrenching tale that sheds light on the lurking threat of terrorism behind every screen. Continue reading

Sep 05

Witchcraft, Politics and Womanhood: “The Weird”

Photo credit: Nile Hawver/Nile Scott Shots

Presented by Off the Grid Theatre Company
Written by Kirsten Greenidge, Obehi Janice, Lila Rose Kaplan, and John Kuntz
Directed by Steven Bogart

September 1-16, 2017
Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA
527 Tremont St. Boston, MA
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Review by Polly Goss

(Boston, MA)The Weird is the latest devised piece from Off the Grid Theatre Company. Artistic Director Alexis Scheer, invited 4 different Boston based writers to compose pieces that tackle the intersection between belief in witchcraft and politics. An ambitious and intriguing premise, which unfortunately The Weird does not fulfill. The Weird`s cast includes many talented actors, who do a good job of adding authenticity to the often fragmented writing. However the chaotic and incoherent writing, means the show ultimately fails to tackle any one theme in depth and leaves the audience feeling unsatisfied and underwhelmed. Continue reading

Jun 10

Blood on the Snow: A journey back in time to Boston’s bloody beginnings

The Cast of Blood on the Snow. Photo by Justin Saglio.

Presented by The Bostonian Society
Written by Patrick Gabridge
Directed by Courtney O’Connor

June 1 – August 20, 2017
The Old State House
Boston, MA
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Review by Polly Goss

(Boston, MA) It is March 6, 1770, bloodshed, discontent and rebellion bubbles in the air. Four Bostonians lie dead on the streets outside the Council Chamber and British soldiers are held responsible. The people of Boston are sick of British rule, the soldiers and their taxes – they want them out. Inside Governor Hutchinson is faced with an impossible choice: defy his King, or defend his country? This site specific play takes the audience back in time to a forgotten night that helped shaped the course of, not only the city’s history, but the world’s. Blood on the Snow sold out at its world premiere last Spring and returns to The Old State House in Boston this summer. O’Connor’s naturalistic direction is spot on, allowing the audience to be unnoticed voyeurs alongside the table where history was made. Continue reading

May 04

“Desire”: Revealing the Depths of Our Secrets

Sam Terry, Eric McGowan, Margaret McFadden and Alexander Rankine in “The Resemblance Between a Violin Case and a Coffin” by Beth Henley. Photo by Richard Hall/Silverline Images.

Presented by Zeitgeist Stage Company
Adapted from the short stories of Tennessee Williams
Written by Elizabeth Egloff, Marcus Gardely, Rebecca Gilman, David Grimm, John Guare and Beth Henley.
Directed by David Miller

April 28 – May 20, 2017
Boston Center for the Arts
Boston, MA
Zeitgeist on Facebook

Review by Polly Goss

(Boston, MADesire is a haunting collection of six short stories adapted into one act plays, performed by the talented Zeitgeist Stage Company at the Boston Center for the Arts. This ensemble performance casts a spell over the audience, as we watch a symphony of tortured souls battling with their secret desires. A couple of the plays’ attempt to modernize Williams’ fiction falls short, but overall the cast perform these conflicted characters with real empathy and vigour. Desire provides a fascinating insight into the creative process of a literary master and is well worth a watch. Continue reading

Apr 13

“Everyman”: What’s God like? You’re God like

Image discovered on Apollinaire’s Facebook page.

Presented by Apollinaire Theatre Company
By Carol Ann Duffy
Directed by Dale J. Young

April 7 – May 6, 2017
Chelsea Theatre Works
189 Winnisimmet St.
Chelsea, MA 02150
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Review by Polly Goss

(Chelsea, MA) Originally a 15th century Morality Play, British Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy’s rewriting of Everyman holds the mirror up to our 21st century consumer-driven society…and the view isn’t pretty. Everyman was an ambitious undertaking for the Apollinaire Theatre Company and at points the script demands a larger stage and company than the Chelsea Theatre Works provides. Continue reading

Apr 10

The Who & The What: Lifting the curtain on the gender-politics at the heart of a Pakistani-American family drama


Presented by Huntington Theatre Company
By Ayad Akhtar
Directed by M. Bevin O’Gara

March 31 – May 7 2017
South End Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA
527 Tremont Street
Boston, MA
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Review by Polly Goss

(Boston, MA) The Who & The What is a heartfelt and moving portrayal of the inter-generational and cultural conflicts nestling within the heart of a Pakistani American family. The Who & The What is more than just a Muslim variation of the domestic tragicomedy, which has historically dominated depictions of the immigrant family on stage and screen. Pulitzer Prize winning author Ayad Akhtar asks some pervading questions about Islam, religious doctrine and gender politics that resonate with audiences of all different races and creeds. The play is a delight to watch, but Akhtar’s light hearted writing leaves the audiences asking some serious questions about the nature of family and faith. Continue reading

Apr 03

More Life for All, More Death for Some: “Golda’s Balcony”

Photo by Andrew Brilliant / Brilliant Pictures: Bobbie Steinbach.

Presented by New Rep Theatre
By William Gibson
Directed by Judy Braha

March 25-April 16, 2017
Mainstage Theatre at the Mosesian Arts Center for the Arts
321 Arsenal Street
Watertown, MA
NewRep on Facebook

Review by Polly Goss

(Watertown, MA) Golda’s Balcony tells the story of Israel’s creation through the eyes of one of its most influential authors, Golda Meir – the state’s first and only female Prime Minister. The play follows Golda from her idealistic youth standing on soapboxes in Milwaukee preaching Zionism, up until one fateful night in the Yom Kippur War in 1973. Continue reading

Mar 27

“Sinners (The English Teacher)”: You can’t cross the same river twice

Photo by CHARLES MCATEER

Presented by: Greensboro Arts Alliance & Residency/The Mirror Theater, Ltd. in collaboration with New Repertory Theatre and Boston Center for American Performance
By Joshua Sobol
Directed by Brian Cox

March 23 – April 2, 2017
Theatre Lab@855
855 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA
New Rep on Facebook

Review by Polly Goss

(Boston, MA)“Sinners” tells the story of the condemned English professor Layla (Nicole Ansari), as she awaits execution by stoning for having had an affair with her student, Nur (Ben Getz). The unnamed theocracy in which the story takes place has clear parallels to modern day Saudi Arabia. However, Layla’s characterization relies heavily on the Old Testament view of femininity, women are the dangerous corruptors of man’s innocence; Layla is a modern day Eve, Jezebel or Delilah. Cox’s artful direction places this tragic love story within a broader feminist framework, as we see a passionate woman literally crushed by the forces of patriarchy. Continue reading