“Who do you think you are?” With each generation, the answer to that question becomes more ambiguous and cryptic. Yet, the question does not go away and becomes the fulcrum for the conflict in Brandon Jacob-Jenkins’ play Neighbors. Company One does not apologize for the rawness of the material, but embraces it and challenges the audience to do the same.
The young actors Lori Tishfield and Tory Bullock steal the show. Ms. Tishfield’s portrayal of Melody Patterson, a confused teenager of a mixed-race family, underscores the need for love, acceptance, and belonging that we all search for. Her honest performance is matched by the sweet naiveté of Tory Bullock as Jim Crow, Jr. Jim does not want to follow in his father’s footsteps as a performer, but becomes more comfortable as he develops a relationship with Melody. Continue reading →
Freudian analysis? A dream of Dali? Too much spicy food? These are questions the audience might ask while watching Hysteria. Using the real meeting between Freud and Dali as a starting point, Johnson’s play moves from farce to surrealism to nothingness. The Nora Theatre Company makes this strange journey palatable and pleasurable and masks the flaws of the script.
The exaggerated perspective of the set, Freud’s study, immediately tells the audience that something peculiar is going to happen. As the play unfolds, Janie E. Howland’s surrealistic set design matches the frenetic energy that is sent forth from the actors. No one questions the absurdity of the situations that take place because the cast commit fully to the roles that they play. Richard Sneed, as Freud, tries to hold the world together as it keeps trying to spiral out-of-control. His warm-fatherly nature combined with Freud’s philosophies moves the audience from sympathy for a dying man to anger at an intractable man that will not even admit the possibility that he might have erred. Continue reading →
Zero Point Theater, a relatively new theatre company, brings Neil Simon’s crowd-pleasing favorite Barefoot In The Park to the stage. While a few of the references from the 1963 play are dated, the integrity of this piece—underscoring the complexity of developing relationships—remains sound, along with the majority of the quips and witty dialogue that Simon is famous for. Continue reading →
Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune is a difficult play to stage. The tight, witty, intelligent romance by Terrence McNally requires a comparable production that will not fall flat; New Repertory Theatre’s current production rises to the challenge.
A two-person play needs two strong actors. Anne Gottlieb and Robert Pemberton deliver beyond expectations. Not only are they strong individual actors, but they also thrive as a couple. While Terrence McNally has said that the play is a “romantic fairytale”, the play would not hold an audience’s attention if it was not grounded in genuine, believable characters. As Robert Pemberton speaks every line, his eyes reveal the sincerity of his heart. Over the span of one night, Johnny’s profession of love could seem ludicrous, even threatening—except for the fact that this Johnny is truly sincere and truly loves Frankie. Ann Gottlieb walks the delicate line between being fragile and resilient. If she does not display strength, the character of Johnny would crush her; at the same time, the character of Frankie has been hurt and the vulnerability still has to be there to create the tension. As Frankie, Gottlieb has found this balance so that the character can hold her own against Johnny, but still fear the pain of heartbreak. Gottlieb and Pemberton completely draw the audience in to Frankie and Johnny’s struggle where one can’t help but fight with them for the connection to something that can last. They ARE Frankie and Johnny—trying to be more than just a couple of “bodies bumping around in the night”. Continue reading →