Dec 23

One Big Deep Breath. Now: “Chicken & Biscuits”

Presented by Front Porch Arts Collective
In partnership with Suffolk University
Written by Douglas Lyons
Directed by Lyndsay Allyn Cox
Dramaturgy by Juliette Volpe
Fight/intimacy consultations by Ted Hewlett

Dec. 9, 2022 – Jan. 8, 2023
Modern Theater
525 Washington St.
Boston, MA 02108

Critique by Kitty Drexel

BOSTON, Mass. — For centuries white people told the lie that the white experience is universal. Theatre is about universal stories, we white people said. If a story is truly universal, it can be played by any cast and be seen by anyone, and the intended message will still resonate. 

These days, it’s less about convincing producers that Black people can tell a story; it’s about convincing white people that they’ll appreciate a show created for someone else first, white people last. My fellow white people, if you can love Lizzo, an artist who has said to ETonline she makes music for the Black experience, you can love a play like The Porch’s Chicken & Biscuits

In St. Luke’s Church in New Haven, CT, sisters Baneatta Mabry (award-winning Boston actor Jacqui Parker) and Beverly Jenkins (Thomika Bridwell) are mourning the death of their father Bernard Jenkins. Reginald Mabry (Robert Cornelius) is leading the service for Bernard while being a supportive husband to Baneatta but the drama is flying too high for Reginald to catch up.  Continue reading

Dec 20

She Sets Fire to the Smell of Lemons: “OTP” at BPT

Blanca Isabella, Hampton Richards; Photo by Stratton McCrady.

Presented by Boston Playwrights’ Theatre and the Boston University New Play Initiative
Written by Elise Wien
Directed by Enzo Gonzales
Cultural consultant: Ciera-Sadé Wade
Intimacy coaching by Jess Scout Malone
Featuring: Hampton Richards, Blanca Isabella, Diego Cintròn, Dom Carter

December 8-18, 2022
Boston Playwrights’ Theatre
949 Commonwealth Ave.
Boston, MA 02215

Content Advisory: This play contains mentions of suicide and depictions of self-harm.

Review by Kitty Drexel

BOSTON, Mass — OTP is the acronym for One True Pairing, which identifies a person’s favorite fictional romantic relationship. In Wien’s OTP, now closed, best friends Michelle (Hampton Richards) and Ceci (Blanca Isabella) are co-writing a submission to Madame Tussaud’s “Melt Your Heart Out” fanfiction contest. 

Their fanfic features a teenage President Barack Obama (Diego Cintròn doing good accent work). Obama is the leader of the free world during the day and immortal stealer of hearts by night. Suspend your disbelief. OTP is worth it. 

All is well until their lives outside the fanfiction writing intrude on their work: Michelle is running for JSA President! Ceci is writing solo fanfic! Both girls learn that there is more to friendship than convenience and (relation)shipping the same world leader. Dom Carter stars as an uncannily familiar politician with amnesia whom Ceci must rescue from mutant foxes in apocalyptic Illinois.  Continue reading

Oct 11

Dank Memes for Forest Teens: “Eat Your Young”

Maez Gordon, Abacus Dean-Polacheck, Charlotte Stowe, Sunny Feldman; Photo by Hilary Scott Photography.

Presented by Boston Playwrights’ Theatre the Boston University College of Fine Arts School of Theatre
By J.C. Pankratz
Directed by Shamus
Fight and intimacy direction by Yo-El Cassell

Oct. 6 – 16, 2022
PRIDE NIGHT: Friday, October 14 at 8 p.m.
Boston Playwrights’ Theatre
949 Commonwealth Ave.
Boston, MA 02215

A strobe light effect is used during the performance.

Content warnings: Substance abuse disorders, drug use, self-harm, body dysmorphia, disordered eating, fatphobia, violence, and occasional misgendering. Find resources here.

Critique by Kitty Drexel

BOSTON — I fully support content warnings. Content warnings enable survivors to make better choices for their needs. Content warnings are a sign of an empathetic and understanding theatre company. Sometimes even a survivor won’t know when they will be triggered. It is better to err on the side of compassion than to abstain.  

Horror theatre can tell important stories, but often it is an excuse to disgust an audience with cool theatre tricks and fake blood. Eat Your Young is a hard departure from torture porn (or torture fanfiction, as is the case for much of theatre), and I am glad to see it, but it was not the show I was expecting from the content warnings or the summary on the BPT website. 

Content warnings are an imperfect, relatively new practice. Eat Your Young contains elements of traditional psychological horror, but it is largely a comedy. The content warnings lead me to expect jump scares, even physical torture. I was surprised when neither happened. 

Lucia (Abacus Dean-Polacheck), Jelly (Charlotte Stowe), Ginger (Sunny Feldman), and Quinn (Maez Gordon) are four mismatched teens enrolled in an abusive emotional growth school disguised as the wilderness survival program. The teens are abandoned in the forest without resources except for their water bottles, a baggie of tampons, and their sociopathic counselors Marty (Ross Beschler) and Marty B (Jay Eddy).  Continue reading

Oct 04

Hurt Me, Daddy: “Dracula: A Feminist Revenge Fantasy, Really”

Sara Jones plays Renfield (left); shown with Maria Hendricks as Dr. Van Helsing (middle) and Lisa San Pascual as Mina Harker (right). Photo by Gillian Mariner Gordon.

Presented by The Umbrella Stage Company 
Based on the novel by Bram Stoker
By Kate Hamill
Directed by Michelle Aguillon
Original Music Compositions by Valerie Forgione
Intimacy Direction by Kayleigh Kane 
Fight Direction by Sarah Flanagan

Sept. 30 – Oct. 23, 2022
The Umbrella Arts Center
40 Stow Street
Concord, MA 01742

Critique by Kitty Drexel

CONTENT WARNINGS: This play contains sexual situations, violence, and death by suicide. It may not be appropriate for persons under 16 years old.

This production uses strobe light effects and fog effects.

CONCORD, Mass. — Do heteros know they’re supposed to like their partners? Dracula: A Feminist Revenge Fantasy, Really is yet another retelling of a classic gothic romance novel in which men treat their female partners terribly; their behavior is belittling, lacks respect, and reeks of contempt. It’s no wonder playwright Kate Hamill rewrote it with a snappy, violent finale. 

Dracula: A Feminist Revenge Fantasy, Really spins the novel by Bram Stoker for a modern audience of thinking minds. Mina Harker (Lisa San Pascual) expects a baby any day now, but her husband Jonathan (Joseph Jude) must assist Count Dracula (Dustin Teuber) with land acquisition. Mina’s best friend Lucy Westenra (Gabrielle Hatcher) can’t contain her glee at marrying Dr. George Seward (Dominic Carter) but fears she must for George’s sake.

Renfield (Sara Jones) can’t remember what happened to her husband. Drusilla (Emily Sheeran) and Marilla (Bowen Huang) hunger. Dracula: A Feminist Revenge Fantasy, Really is not told in letters, thankfully. Continue reading

Sep 27

From the Back to the Middle and Round Again: “Fabulation or, The Re-Education of Undine”

Lyndsay Allyn Cox as Undine. Photo by Mark S Howard.

Presented by the Lyric Stage Company of Boston
Written by Lynn Nottage
Directed by Dawn M. Simmons
Intimacy consultant: Ted Hewlett
COVID-19 safety officer: Emily Collins
Online Playbill

Sept. 16 – Oct. 9, 2022
140 Clarendon St
2nd Floor
Boston, MA 02116

Approximately 2 hours, including one 15-minute intermission.

Review by Kitty Drexel

“In literary criticism, the term fabulation was popularized by Robert Scholes, in his book The Fabulators, to describe the large and growing class of mostly 20th century novels that are in a style similar to magical realism, and do not fit into the traditional categories of realism or romance.”

BOSTON — An undine (or Ondine) is a mythological water elemental out of the European tradition. The Swiss alchemist Paracelsus wrote of a nymph who became human out of love for a mortal man. Without love, she has no soul and cannot live on land. Undine must take care for she will die if her lover is unfaithful. 

An undine stands as a modern metaphor for the woman who cannot let go of love. Her relationship is over, her lover moved on, but the undine will not move on. There’s the possibility of a happy ending though – Undine can go home if she kills her boyfriend before he cheats

Fabulation or, The Re-Education of Undine puts Undine (Lyndsay Allyn Cox) at the top of her game. She has everything: a wildly successful boutique PR firm in Manhattan, a handsome husband Hervé (Jaime José Hernández) with a fancy accent to match his l’accent aigu, a devoted assistant (Brittani Jenese McBride), a full bank account, a bougie accountant (Barlow Adamson), and more social currency than Wendy Williams. Or, she does until Hervé disappears with his clothing and every last penny she has. And, she’s reluctantly pregnant.  Continue reading

Sep 23

True Silence is the Rest of the Mind: “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike”

Presented by Titanic Theatre Company
Written by ​Christopher Durang
Directed by Darren Evans
Featuring Shelley Brown, Alisha Jansky, Scot Colford, Eric McGowan, Will Shapiro, and Julia Hertzberg

September 21-October 8, 2022
BCA Plaza Black Box Theater
Boston, MA

Review by Kitty Drexel

“Resumé”by Dorothy Parker
Razors pain you;
Rivers are damp;
Acids stain you;
And drugs cause cramp.
Guns aren’t lawful;
Nooses give;
Gas smells awful;
You might as well live.

BOSTON — Titanic Theatre Company’s Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike is the most intimate version you will ever see. The cast (and their melodramatic breakdowns) places the fourth wall practically on our laps. An audience has no choice but be sympathetic to a cast delivering breakdown after melodramatic breakdown within a short range.  

Durang’s comedy is an offshoot of Anton Checkhov’s most famous plays, but it isn’t a parody.  Vanya (Scot Colford), Sonia (Shelley Brown), and Masha (Alisha Jansky) are brother and sisters reunited to attend a costume party at the Dorothy Parker house up the street in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. To the dismay of Vanya and Sonia, Masha has brought flavor of the week Spike (Eric McGowan) with her from New York City. Spike has found Nina (Julia Hertzberg fresh, sweet and effervescent as strawberry soda) at the pond. No one gets along until they almost do. Cassandra (Will Shapiro) hopes they can read the omens before it’s too late.    Continue reading

Jul 18

Edith Wharton’s Intelude: “Mr. Fullerton, Between the Sheets”

Photo by Jason Grow. Newhouse as Wharton.

Presented by Gloucester Stage Company
By Annie Undeland
Directed by Judy Braha
Featuring Sarah Newhouse* as Edith Wharton, Ryan Winkles* as Morton Fullerton, Joshua Wolf Coleman* as Henry James, and Bridgette Hayes as Posy.

June 8 – 22, 2022
Gloucester Stage Company Theater
267 East Main St
Gloucester, MA

95 minutes without intermission

Review by Craig Idlebrook

GLOUCESTER, Mass. — How do you bring an iconic author’s love letters to life? That was the unenviable task that playwright Annie Undeland volunteered to do when she came across the letters Edith Wharton wrote to a lover during an extramarital affair. In reading the letters, Undeland has said she was struck how Wharton, who was known to be a refined and biting observer of Gilded Age society, became so nakedly besotted and unguarded, like any fool in love. Continue reading

Jun 16

Liminal Spaces for Desettlement: “The Orchard”

The Making of THE ORCHARD Virtual Experience from Igor Golyak on Vimeo.

Presented by Arlekin Players Theatre & (zero-G) Lab
Conceived, adapted, and directed by Igor Golyak
Based on The Cherry Orchard by Anton Chekhov, as translated by Carol Rocamora 
With new material by Igor Golyak 
Robotics designed by Tom Sepe
Music composition by Jakov Jakoulov
Emerging technologies design by Adam Paikowsky
American Sign Language direction by Seth Gore
Translations by Carol Rocamora
Full creative crew credits are HERE
Featuring Jessica Hecht, Juliet Brett, Darya Denisova, Elise Kibler, John McGinty, Nael Nacer, Mark Nelson & Ilia Volok
Mikhail Baryshnikov as Anton Chekhov and Firs

June 16 – July 3, 2022
The Orchard is a hybrid piece of theater and can be seen in two formats:
Live & In-Person
Baryshnikov Arts Center, NYC
&
Virtual Experience, Online
(zero-G) Lab

The show runs just under 2 hours, with no intermission.

Review by Kitty Drexel

This review is of the virtual performance of The Orchard on Tuesday, June 14, 2022.

New York & Online — The Arlekin Players are no strangers to the digital theatre. Their productions of chekhovOS / an experimental game/, Witness, and State vs. Natasha Banina were wildly successful. chekhovOS / an experimental game/ and Witness were both live and audience-interactive in ways that the theatre community hadn’t seen before. These shows navigated the new frontier of digital theatre by showing artists and audiences what is possible. 

They were also super cool to watch.  Continue reading

Apr 25

Joy, Compassion, Kicking Ass in Spandex: “Black Super Hero Magic Mama”

Ramona Lisa Alexander – Photo by Lauren Miller

Presented by Company One in collaboration with American Repertory Theater,
Boston Public Library, and Boston Comics in Color Festival
Written by Inda Craig-Galván 
Directed by Monica White Ndounou
Dramaturgy by Ilana M Brownstein and Regine Vital
Animation design & comics consultant: Cagen Luse
Fight choreography by Margaret Clark

April 23 – May 21, 2022
Rabb Hall @ Boston Public Library’s Central Branch
Copley Square
Boston, MA 
All tickets are Pay-What-You-Want ($0 minimum)

Recommended for ages 14 and up. This production contains depictions of police brutality, violence, death, grief, depression, and strong language.

Review by Kitty Drexel

BOSTON, Mass. — The leads of Black Super Hero Magic Mama deserve a critic that looks like them. I look like the cops that are acquitted by juries that also look like me for killing unarmed Black men and women. There are more white critics than Black critics in New England. We need more Black critics in Boston. I strongly urge interested individuals to apply for The Porch’s Young Critics Program this winter and then to shoot me an email. 

Company One and American Repertory Theatre’s Black Super Hero Magic Mama shows us an unsettled Chicago. Sabrina Jackson (Ramona Lisa Alexander, who ran that stage like Pam Grier on a mission) is raising a bright young quiz show star Tramarion Jackson (Joshua Robinson). When Tramarion isn’t trouncing the competition on “Know Your Heritage” with Coach Corey Brackett (Ricardo Engermann), he’s writing comic books with his friend Joseph A Hughes aka Flat Joe (Anderson Stinson III). These two smart but mouthy kids have bright futures. That is until the worst happens. Continue reading

Dec 29

You Don’t Have to Understand Your Queer Family to Love Your Queer Family: “The Rise and Fall of Holly Fudge”

Rehearsal for “The Rise and Fall of Holly Fudge.” Photo by Meghan Moore/Megpix

Presented by Merrimack Repertory Theatre
By Trista Baldwin
Directed by Courtney Sale
Cast: Kristian Espiritu, Karen MacDonald, Eliza Simpson, Milicent Wright

Now – January 4, 2022
Video on Demand via Mandolin.com
MRT Playbill 
MRT on Facebook

Age Recommendation: 14 and older. Some adult content/language.

Review by Kitty Drexel

Video-On-Demand — The copious productions of The Christmas Carol that come around every year are for mainstream Christmas celebrators. The Rise and Fall of Holly Fudge is a Christmas production for the rest of us. It’s intersectionality feminist. It passes the Bechdel Test. It’s under two hours, and you can drink rum-nog the entire time from your own home. Cheers! 

‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house… Carol (New England darling Karen MacDonald) was stirring because her daughter Holly (Kristian Espiritu) was finally coming home to Brockton, Mass.! This year Holly is bringing her special friend Jordan (Eliza Martin Simpson). Worlds, politics, and identities collide when Holly reveals to Carol that Jordan is more than just her Jewish, progressive liberal friend from Portland.

Milicent Wright plays the online Zumba cueing, comestible baking, excellent listener and BFF neighbor Chris. I would take Zumba class with Chris/Millicent any day. She seems fun.  Continue reading