Jun 25

“Corteo”: What Circus Dreams May Come

Presented by Cirque du Soleil 
Directed and Created by Daniele Finzi Pasca and Line Tremblay
Music Composed and Directed by Jean-Francois Cote, Phillipe LeDuc, and Maria Bonzanigo

June 19th – June 30th, 2019
Agganis Arena
925 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02215
Corteo on Facebook

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Boston, MA) Mauro, the Dreamer Clown, tells the audience, “I dreamed of my funeral.” Except it’s no dream; this character is actually on his deathbed. A funeral becomes a party and the party becomes a circus. Angels fly on wires above, shoes walk across the stage on their own, and our narrator relives childhood memories while he’s fitted for wings. The somber frame narrative balances the rest of the show, which is cheeky, saccharine, and full of dream imagery that seems to have been cut, raw, from a sleeper’s mind. Continue reading

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Jun 17

Close Your Eyes and Think of England: “Cloud 9”

Cast of “Cloud 9”
Photo: Nile Scott Studios

Presented by the Nora Theatre Company
By Caryl Churchill
Directed by Lee Mikeska Gardner
Voice and Music direction by Caitlin Gjerdrum
Dramaturgy by Sophie Gore
Text and dialect coaching by Allison Olivia Choat

June 6 – 30, 2019
Central Square Theater
Cambridge, MA
CST on Facebook

Critique by Kitty Drexel

Warning: this post contains spoilers. The spoilers are necessary to the conversation.

Trigger warnings: child abuse, mentions of domestic violence, racism, sexism, creepy dolls

Satire: (noun) sat·​ire | \ ˈsa-ˌtī(-ə)r
Definition of satire

1 : a literary work holding up human vices and follies to ridicule or scorn
2 : trenchant wit, irony, or sarcasm used to expose and discredit vice or folly – Per the Merriam-Webster online dictionary

(Cambridge, MA) Satire doesn’t have to be funny. Most satire is funny, but it isn’t a hard and fast rule. Much of comedy is found funny because of its treatment of serious topics. For example, jokes about the Boston Str8 Pride Parade* will get a laugh in some situations. In other situations, the jokes don’t land because this parade represents unadulterated hate towards the LGBTQ+ community. We understand why your jokes are “funny,” but it’s our lives those neo-nazis are protesting. The protest might be funny if it were satire – But it isn’t. It’s real. We’re real too. 

I mention this because the themes that Caryl Churchill attacks in Cloud 9 are real too. Heteros still think that the LGBTQ+ community is asking for extra protections. People of Color (POC) are being massacred in the US for their audacity to take up space. These things aren’t funny but jokes about them can be if told properly. Cloud 9’s themes are still relevant. Continue reading

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May 07

“Vietgone” Baby, “Vietgone”

Quentin Nguyen-duy and Rob Chen – Photo by Paul Fox.

Presented by Company One
In partnership with Pao Arts Center
Written Qui Nguyen
Directed by Michelle Aguillon

April 26 – May 25, 2019
Boston Center for the Arts
Plaza Theatre
Boston, MA
Company One on Facebook

Review by Diana Lu

(Boston, MA) A hip hop musical play, Vietgone is Qui Nguyen’s new rom-com style re-telling of his parents’ love story. Though it’s presented as “a story about falling in love, not a story about war”, it very much is also a story about the Vietnam War, its devastating consequences, and the dignity and fortitude of its survivors. As a play, it’s well-written, at times hilarious, at times, heartbreaking. Continue reading

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May 07

“black odyssey boston”: Greek Myth Meshes Beautifully with African Diaspora

Brandon G. Green & Johnny Lee Davenport. Photo: Nile Scott Studios.

Presented by by The Front Porch Arts Collective & Underground Railway Theater
Written by Marcus Gardley
Directed by Benny Sato Ambush
Choreographed by Melissa Alexis
Music Directed by Alyssa Jones

April 25 – May 19, 2019
Central Square Theatre
450 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139
black odyssey boston on Facebook

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Cambridge, MA) Brandon G. Green is Ulysses Malcolm Lincoln, a soldier who’s unmoored. Not just unmoored on the sea, but unmoored in time, place, and personhood. We follow him on a journey as episodic as The Odyssey with as much raw, mythic power. The classic epic has been broken down and rebuilt with a mosaic of African diaspora culture. black odyssey boston is truly an epic in that it is three hours of fantastical and strange adventures. It finds its way home, however, not when it tries to piece together every popular touchstone it can lay its hands on, but when it focuses on the human relationships of its characters. Continue reading

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May 06

One World, Many Stories: “The Earthroom”

Photo by Paul Fox.

Presented by Fresh Ink Theatre
Written by Marge Buckley
Directed by Rebecca Bradshaw
Fight choreography by Omar Robinson
Dramaturgy by Sarah Schnebly

May 3-18, 2019
Boston Playwrights’ Theatre
949 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02215
Fresh Ink on Facebook

Critique by Kitty Drexel

Disclaimer: I auditioned for this production, and was not cast. It is my opinion that only a jackass would allow rejection, a natural process of auditioning, to taint their review.

(Boston, MA) Playwright Marge Buckley has a unique aptitude to balance quirky comedy with human truths. Her science fiction play The Earth Room merges family dynamics with interplanetary conquest with urban planning. It all bounces off the larger issue of mental health avoidance. Human beings may colonize Mars; they may even invent the holodeck, but they will still be inherently guided by human nature.   Continue reading

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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

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Mar 22

On A Dime: “Dragon Lady”

Presented by by A.R.T. Breakout, part-one of the Dragon Cycle
Created and performed by Sara Porklob
Original music by Peter Irving
Band: Hot Damn Scandal
Directed by Andrew Russell

March 20 – April 6
Club Oberon
2 Arrow Street
Cambridge MA, 02138
A.R.T. on Facebook

Critique by Kitty Drexel

(Cambridge, MADragon Lady is the courageous story of how potty-mouthed, gangsta grandma Maria Porkalob traveled from the Philippines to the US as told by her granddaughter Sara Porkalob.  This one woman show/dramatic cabaret is intensely passionate. The events of Maria’s stories might not be exactly true. What is true is the emotional veracity with which it is told.

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Mar 05

Not That Kind of Review: Bedlam’s “Pygmalion”

The cast; Photo by Nile Scott Studios

Presented by Bedlam Theatre Company
Directed by Eric Tucker
Written by George Bernard Shaw

January 31, 2019 – March 3, 2019
Central Square Theatre
450 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139
Central Square Theater on Facebook

Review by Diana Lu

(Cambridge, MA) Central Square Theatre hosts New York City’s Bedlam Theatre Company in their revamped version of Pygmalion, by George Bernard Shaw. This is the classic story of English phonetician Henry Higgins (Eric Tucker) discovering and training working class waif Eliza Doolittle (Vaishnavi Sharma) on the speech and manners of a proper English lady, to the ultimate folly of both. Bedlam’s new interpretation returns to Shaw’s original feminist conception of Eliza and Henry’s fraught relationship and also changes the Doolittle family to Indian immigrants, ostensibly to reflect modern day issues of gender, class, and immigration in the US. It was a very well done production, and I’m sure there will be many reviews which praise all its various technical merits. This review isn’t one of them. Continue reading

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Feb 12

Keep Going, Sincerely:”Still Standing”

Featuring Anita Hollander. Photos by Andrew Brilliant/Brilliant Pictures.

Presented by New Rep Theatre
Written and Performed by Anita Hollander

Feb. 9 – March 3, 2019
Mosesian Center for the Arts
Watertown, MA
New Rep on Facebook

Critique by Kitty Drexel

(Watertown, MA) I cannot begin to explain what a revelation it is to watch Anita Hollander perform Still Standing. It is still unique for a disabled performer to play a disabled character or to just be themselves onstage. The standard for theatre productions are abled performers playing every role. Audiences are not accustomed to too much truth in their art. There was a time when I thought I’d never see people with experiences like mine grace the stage.  
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Feb 11

Humorous Teachings: Sketch Writing MasterClass with Kevin McDonald

McDonald’s headshot

Presented by Improv Boston
Sketches Thru Improv – the Kids in the Hall Way
February 2, 2019, 10AM – 5:30PM
40 Prospect St
Cambridge, Massachusetts
IB on Facebook

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Cambridge, MA) Kevin McDonald has enough accolades under his belt as a writer and performer that one could have forgiven him if he had chosen to mail it in during his seminar on sketch comedy at Improv Boston. A founding member of the Kids in the Hall, McDonald has decades of experience in comedy writing and a resume that would earn him the right to lecture from on high to comedy newbies. Continue reading

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