Aug 03

10 Minute Stretch Breaks: “Dream Boston”

Presented by the Huntington Theatre Company
Dream Boston: A New Series of Audio Plays
The 54th in ’22 by Kirsten Greenidge
McKim by Brenda Withers
Overture by Kate Snodgrass
By the Rude Bridge by Melinda Lopez

Online now for free on the Huntington Theatre website
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Please remember to donate! Donate now so theatre can still exist later. 

Critique by Noelani Kamelamela

STREAMING – I appreciate theatre makers using online platforms to present pre-recorded work or livestream theatrical content. In these times, when it is prudent for people not to be in theatres or congregating outdoors for a concert, the creation of work that can be digested at home or even on a lunch break is a political act beyond taking general responsibility for the health and welfare of a community by cancelling in person productions.

Dream Boston is easy to digest in four separate audio plays and can be listened to with an internet connection on someone’s phone for less than ten minute stretches.  The playwrights and the directors for Dream Boston are women. Continue reading

Jul 23

Coronavirus Take Me: “Edith VS. Quarantine”

Edith in all her glory.

​Presented, performed, and written by Amanda Erin Miller
Featuring: Rachel Evans, Melissa Shaw, Shawn Shafner, Lorin Taylor
Produced by FringePVD

Performed July 21, 2020 at 7:30PM
Website: How to Suffer Better, The Jew in the Ashram
Amanda Erin Miller on social media: 
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Venmo

Critique by Kitty Drexel

“What do you call an anti-vaxxer in the 1920’s? …Dead!” – Edith Shlivovitz

Trigger warning: screen kissing

YOUTUBE — Edith VS. Quarantine: 89 & One Tough Cookie opens on Edith Shlivovitz up to her elbows in household detritus for donation, ropes of pearls swinging around her neck, plastic-framed glasses matching perfectly her cheetah jumpsuit. Edith is a character: she won’t take any of your crap. She’s stir crazy and has no more fucks to give.

EVQ is what happens when a one-woman-show has reached peak performance. Edith, a widowed, Jewish, octogenarian housewife from New York who hasn’t left her apartment since March, is over the top archetype of old lady. 

Miller’s character shoots through Zoom, past the door of your bedroom and into the street like porn on an iPhone at a family reunion. Edith is holding her tits, listening to “Memory” and quoting Deepak Chopra. As the late Joel Schumacher said of his movie disasters, “nobody pays to see under the top.”  

EVQ is a an emotional journey. Folx who don’t enjoy a bit of the absurd with their raunch won’t get this show. Edith’s antics read like a peculiar Only Fans site for gawkers with very particular kinks. Edith references her dead husband Winston, chats with her taxidermied cat Clementine, and reenacts her favorite scenes from the thee-atre. 

Edith treats you, her guest, to several photo montages. She pitches her app idea, quotes Anaïs Nin’s erotica, and segues to her reality TV show. That’s what I remember from before I blacked-out from the silliness. 

Edith VS. Quarantine is not high art. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, either. It is a character sketch that depicts one woman going as far as she can go because the rules no longer apply. These are unprecedented times, and Edith is no longer at the mercy of society’s rules. If that isn’t inspirational, I don’t know what is.  

My sincere apologies to Miller re: review tardiness. The pandemic kills productivity like a mother.

Next performance of Edith VS. Quarantine: 89 & One Tough Cookie: Friday 7/24 at 7:30pm

FestivalPVD runs July 19 – August 1, 2020
Information about the 2020 festival HERE
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Jul 23

Faster than Eight Tiny Reindeer on Uppers : “Get Thee Behind Me, Santa”

Get Thee Behind Me, Santa: An Inexcusably Filthy Children’s Time-Travel Farce for Adults Only
Presented by Maximum Verbosity
Produced by FringePVD
Written and performed by phillip andrew bennett low

Performed on July 20, 2020 at 9PM
Website: Maximum Verbosity
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Critique by Kitty Drexel

My sincere apologies to low re: review tardiness. The pandemic kills productivity like a mother.

ZOOM — Maximum Verbosity presents a holiday allegory to beat that tired one told every single Christmas. Get Thee Behind Me, Santa features cursing, sexuality, blasphemy and other microaggressions. 

Get Thee Behind Me, Santa is an exceedingly fast-paced holiday allegory with an occasional rhyme scheme that pulls no punches. Jesus of Nazareth, Saint Nick, two angels with a greater appreciation for the physical form and a cast of other characters are determined to live in a better timeline, a timeline without a Santa cult.

It makes fun of the Da Vinci Code but it’s more similar to the popular 2003 mystery novel than it isn’t. GTBM,S jumbles together art, religion, science fiction, film noir, and other seemingly incongruent references into one tale. Therein lies the intended humor. 

In humorous narratives of this ilk, the jumble of references is the point. Lists are par for the course. Except, GTBM,S is  told at such breakneck speed that we aren’t able to absorb all of phillip andrew bennett low’s puns and scenes. They aren’t funny if we can’t savor them. The image of elves with super soakers is funny but, with low’s telling, blink and you’ll miss it. The same goes with many of the other clever bits concerning the Bible, popular soft drinks, and the Mayan civilization. 

The funniest moments of GTBM,S are when low pauses after a character’s one-liner. Jesus said, “Howdy-do?” Low gave us time to react, so I did; I laughed.

Someone said (I couldn’t catch the character’s name), “I am amazed at how useless I find your vowels.” Low paused again; I laughed again. 

I was able to respond in real-time to low’s work. It felt amazing. Audiences of artists want to respond to an artist. Please let us. 

Theatre shouldn’t be a race to the finish… Unless it is.  If the point of GTBM,S was to impress the audience with how quickly and how much low can spit a monologue, low succeeds. But, we couldn’t tell that this was his goal. He needs to indicate this to us. 

Some of this can be excused by the medium of Zoom. A one-person show without an audience is torture for an artist. We create with the presumption that an audience will share the room when we perform. Without the audience, we fly by the seat of our pants. It’s anyone’s guess how things will turn out. We can only hope for the best.

Based on the GTBM,S trailer from the 2019 Minnesota Fringe, I’m going to make an educated guess that low’s speed is intentional. If low’s intent truly was to tell a convoluted story overflowing with references across modern and archaic world history while ripping Christianity a new one, he needs to slow down so the audience can receive the story.

Storytelling can be as alinear as the space time continuum but, if it’s for an audience, it also has to be available to that audience. Artists need to perform at the same speed that an audience listens. Anything else is masturbatory.   

Next performance of Get Thee Behind Me, Santa: Friday 7/24 at 9:00pm

FestivalPVD runs July 19 – August 1, 2020
Information about the 2020 festival HERE
FringePVD on Facebook

Jul 22

Klaatu Barada Nikto: “The Puritans”

Produced by Sparkhaven Theatre Company
Part of the Camp Strangewood Series
Written by Phaedra ​Michelle Scott
Directed by Hannah Pryfogle
Compositions by Alissa Voth

July 19, 2020 at 8PM
To watch with captions during the live broadcast, head to sparkhaventheatre.com/watch-strangewood.
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Critique by Kitty Drexel

YOUTUBE — The Sparkhaven Theatre Company’s anticipated series Camp Strangewood opened last Sunday, July 19 at 8PM. It’s fans gathered on YouTube to watch the first installation, The Puritans. Similar to Sparkhaven’s previous endeavors, it was spoopy, silly and uncannily relatable.  Continue reading

Jul 15

“Waiting for Kim Lee” Doesn’t Do Asian American Women Justice

Presented by Asian American Theatre Artists of Boston
Written by Vivian Liu Somers
Directed by Alison Qu

Virtual Staged Reading, July 8, 2020, 7PM
HowlRound Theatre Commons
AATAB on Facebook

Critique by Diana Lu

ZOOM/HOWLROUND — Let’s be clear: Waiting For Kim Lee is not a play; it’s a rant, forced into a dialogue. I hate it when people screech from the steps of a soapbox and call it art (David Mamet* comes to mind). I also hate the superficial media representation-discussion that seems to be the only thing Asian American artists ever talk about.

That was fine in 2016, but right now, we’re dying of COVID-19 at higher rates than the national average and getting hate-crimed for America’s pathetic epidemic response. We’re struggling to keep our businesses afloat, and protesting for our right to exist, and for Black lives. Complaining about parents and how many auditions you’re getting right now seem like outdated and out of touch problems.

It would be one thing if Waiting for Kim Lee had anything especially insightful or new to say about it, but this play just recycles the same few talking points that have already been rehashed by every Buzzfeed article for the last five years. Not only are they stale, but they are also narrow-minded and miss the point. Continue reading

Jul 05

“Grindr” (An Operatic Ode to Absent Queer Community During Pandemic)


Grindr (And Other Concerns) Act 1: An Annotated Singthru

A Comedic Chamber Opera
Fundraiser for Marsha P. Johnson Institute

Directed by Ingrid Oslund
Music by Marc Hoffeditz
Libretto by MJ Halberstadt
Featuring performers Brad Baron, Jonathan Harris, Wes Hunter, Adrian Jones, Craig Juricka, Sara Kerr, and James Lesu’i

June 26 – 27, 2020

Content warning: adult themes and sexual references

Review by Gillian Daniels

ZOOM — “Queerness is about so much more than who you’re sleeping with. It’s also about a sensibility, a sense of camp,” says director Ingrid Oslund.

This could easily serve as the thesis for the zoom presentation of selected pieces from the comic opera-in-progress, Grindr (And Other Concerns). The show follows queer men Brandon, Riley, and Riley’s long-term, timid partner, Eugene, as they use and debate the merits of the titular hook-up app. Their odyssey includes such contemporary pratfalls as mysterious acronyms such as DDF (drug and disease free), sexually transmitted infections, and excitable adults obsessed with Disney. Continue reading

May 27

They stole her body and the pants off a white man: “Our Lady of 121st Street”

image via https://www.facebook.com/LABTheaterCo

Presented by LAByrinth Theater Company
Written by Stephen Adly Guirgis
Directed by Elizabeth Rodriguez
Stage Directions read by David Deblinger

Performed on Saturday, May 23 @ 8PM
A Zoom performance

LAByrinth Theater Company
Cherry Lane Theatre
38 Commerce Street
New York, NY 10014
LAB on Facebook
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Critique by Kitty Drexel

“Hang on because it’s gonna be dope.” – From the pre-performance speech by Elizabeth Rodriguez.

ZOOM — This production is made available to viewers as a part of LAByrinth Theater Company’s desire to continue existing past the coronavirus pandemic. If you viewed this production and you are able, please donate to LAByrinth Theater. Donate now so theatre can exist later.

Directors must stop apologizing for their Zoom readings. Our Lady of 121st Street’s triumphant director Elizabeth Rodriguez is not the first to apologize to a Zoom audience. If I had my druthers, she would be the last. It’s unfair to the cast and crew who have put so much energy into the performance. Now is not the time to apologize for variables spinning mundanity far beyond our control. There is no set precedent for corona-times streaming theatre.  We’re inventing the genre. Mistakes and minor emergencies are part of the fun of live theatre. Continue reading

Feb 24

Don’t Feed the Troll: “Deal Me Out”

Photo by Stratton McCrady; Rachel Belleman, Matthew Bretschneider, Hannah Beebe, Dev Blair, Caleb Cedrone

Presented by Boston Playwrights’ Theatre
Written by MJ Halberstadt
Directed by Shana Gozansky
Dramaturgy by Ally Sass

February 13 to March 1, 2020
Boston Playwrights’ Theatre
949 Commonwealth Ave, Boston, MA 02215
BPT on Facebook
Critique by Kitty Drexel

Boston, MA — We all know that one toxic person who refuses to go away: they show up everywhere, you grew up together, they were hired when the company first started, etc. No one in your circle wants to get singled out by kicking them to the curb. Instead, everyone brines in their own contempt because confronting Toxic Tilly might upset the barely tolerable status quo. Boston Playwrights’ Theatre’s Deal Me Out directly addresses the harm they do. Continue reading

Feb 24

Distracted by T-Rex: “She the People”

Presented by Huntington Theatre Company
Resident Direction / Choreography by Carisa Barreca
Original Direction / Head Writing by Carly Heffernan
Original Music & Sound Design by Mary Mahoney
Music Direction & Sound Design by Jacob Shuda
Stage Managing by William Collins

Performance dates: Feb 18 – Mar 8
Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA
527 Tremont St., Boston:
Facebook link

Review by Chloé Cunha

Boston, MA — I am woman, hear me roar… with laughter? She the People is fun, high-energy, and, in its best moments, a cathartic release of female frustrations. At its least effective, it is as on the nose as the opening sentence of this review, and narrow in its vision. Though not as radical as one might expect or hope for, it nevertheless presents an entertaining piece of political bubblegum pop to chew on. Continue reading

Feb 03

Now with Bonus Toilet Goblin: “Vanity Fair”

Presented by Underground Railway Theater
By Kate Hamill
From the novel by William Makepeace Thackeray
Directed by David R. Gammons
Fight coordination by Victor Ventricelli
Dialect coaching by Erika Bailey
Dramaturgy by Hilary Rappaprt

January 23 – February 23, 2020
Central Square Theater 
450 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139
Central Square Theater on Facebook

Critique by Kitty Drexel

Cambridge, MA — William Makepeace* Thackeray’s Vanity Fair postdates Voltaire’s Candide by almost 100 years. Kate Hamill’s Vanity Fair now at Central Square Theater compares strongly to the famed Bernstein operetta. One could expect the human race to have evolved to squabble over different intersocial problems after nearly a century. One would be wrong. Continue reading