Jan 24

“The Shadow Whose Prey The Hunter Becomes”

Presented by ArtsEmerson
Created by Back to Back Theatre, Australia
Authored by Michael Chan, Mark Deans, Bruce Gladwin, Simon Laherty, Sarah Mainwaring, Scott Price, Sonia Teuben
Directed by Bruce Gladwin
Composed by Luke Howard Trio – Daniel Farrugia, Luke Howard, Jonathon Zion
Performed by Michael Chan, Simon Laherty, Sarah Mainwaring, Scott Price

Jan. 23–26, 2020
Emerson Paramount Center’s Jackie Liebergott Black Box
559 Washington Street
Boston, MA 02111
ArtsEmerson on Facebook 

Critique by Kitty Drexel

Boston, MA —  One of the ignoble truths of living as a disabled person is that people stare. People stare at us because we’re different. They stare because they can. Performance is one way that disabled people wrestle back control. We get to choose when people stare at us. It is liberating.

In Back to Back Theatre’s The Shadow Whose Prey The Hunter Becomes, the disabled cast wants you to stare so they can stare back. And when they do, they do not flinch. I’d wager good money that Thursday night’s audience has never had their gaze turned back on them. Witnessing this was deliciously rewarding. Continue reading

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Jan 23

Bickering is A Language of Love: “We All Fall Down”

Presented by Huntington Theatre Company
by Lila Rose Kaplan
Directed by Melia Bensussen
Jan. 10 – Feb. 15, 2020
South End / Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA
Boston, MA
Huntington on Facebook

Critique by Kitty Drexel

“Ring-a-round the rosie,
A pocket full of posies,
Ashes! Ashes!
We all fall down.” – Traditional song (American version)

Boston, MA — We All Fall Down is a family portrait that examines clashing egos during a period of family dilemma. The Stein family isn’t talking to each other. In their defense, they aren’t listening either. It’s Passover. Everyone has an agenda and none of them correspond. We All Fall Down is about the power we give denial. The stronger the denial, the tauter the family bond. Continue reading

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Jan 17

Calling the Police Over a Picnic:”Pass Over”

Photo by Nile Scott Studios; Lewis D. Wheeler, Kadahj Bennett, Hubens “Bobby” Cius

Presented by SpeakEasy Stage Co. with The Front Porch Arts Collective
By Antoinette Nwandu
Directed by Monica White Ndounou
Fight choreography by Brandon G. Green
Movement coaching by Mila Thigpen
Dramaturgy by Pascale Florestal

January 3 – Feb. 2, 2020
Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts
SpeakEasy on Facebook
The Front Porch on Facebook

Critique by Kitty Drexel

Trigger warning: white guilt, language, fuck the police

(Boston, MA) The sheer volume of what one must understand as true regardless of personal belief in order to not merely understand but thoroughly digest Antoinette Nwandu’s Pass Over at SpeakEasy Stage is overwhelming. The role that white people play in perpetuating racism’s systemic horrorshow machinations against Black people (and all people of color) is astounding.

Here is a list of links containing basic concepts that could be helpful. 

  • It is not the responsibility of Black people to explain racism or to convince white people that it exists. 
  • Being nice isn’t the same as not being racist. Racist people are nice all of the time. Nice people are racist all the time.
  • Black friends won’t make a white person less racist. Dismantling internalized racism requires a lifetime of work.  
  • It should go without saying that Black people want equality. They don’t want to reverse their treatment at the hands of white people back onto white people. 
  • Racism is about power. Reverse racism doesn’t exist. 
  • White people have to stop taking personally Black resistance to oppression.  
  • All of this information is a Google search away. 

Continue reading

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Nov 19

Some of Them Want to Be Abused: “The Moors”

Photo via Entropy’s Facebook page.

Presented by Entropy Theatre Company
By Jen Silverman
Directed by Joe Juknievich
Dramaturgy by Jo Michael Rezes
Movement Direction by Kayleigh Kane

November 8 – 17, 2019
Plaza Black Box Theatre
Boston Center for the Arts
Boston, MA
Entropy on Facebook

Critique by Kitty Drexel

“Some of them want to use you/Some of them want to get used by you
Some of them want to abuse you/Some of them want to be abused”
— “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” by the Eurythmics

(Boston, MA) The Moors is Brontë novel fanfiction. It condenses all of the winsome trappings of gothic romance novels into one melodramatic package for our amusement. Jen Silverman funnels archetypal characters from gothic romances into dark, mysterious environments. They are forced to confront unsettling truths against a backdrop of death and decay. Then Silverman makes us watch. For the right viewer, The Moors is voyeurism.   Continue reading

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Nov 12

Vintage Neuroses in a Noir Package: “Unusual Things Have Happened: Tales of Everyday Horror”

Photo via Facebook; the cast at Charlestown Working Theatre.

Presented by imaginary beasts
Produced by special arrangement with the children of Shirley Jackson, and Catalyst Management, LLC. 
By Shirley Jackson
Directed by Mathew Woods
Ensemble: Laura Detwiler, Denise Drago, Lauren Foster, Molly Kimmerling, Amy Meyer, Bob Mussett, Jennifer Taschereau

November 2nd – November 16th, 2019
Charlestown Working Theater
442 Bunker Hill Street, Charlestown, MA  02129
The Beasts on Facebook

Trigger warning: psychological horror, emotional trauma, spooky ghosts

Critique by Kitty Drexel

“Journeys end in lovers meeting; I have spent an all but sleepless night, I have told lies and made a fool of myself, and the very air tastes like wine. I have been frightened half out of my foolish wits, but I have somehow earned this joy; I have been waiting for it for so long.”― Shirley Jackson, The Haunting of Hill House

(Charlestown, MA) imaginary beasts’ latest production, Unusual Things Have Happened: Tales of Everyday Horror brings the psychological pain of everyday anxiety into sharp focus. The beasts tell six stories adapted from the works of Shirley Jackson in a style that they have named “narrative theatre.” Cast members dictate the action onstage just as a third-person voice narrates the passages of a book.  It looks and sounds like a one or two-person Greek chorus.

The vignettes that make up the production examine the commonplace terrors that women experience on the daily: isolation, powerlessness, and disorder. There is puppetry, mime, and yes, scene narration. The narrators are like impartial babysitters watching their human companions toddle towards danger. They might stop them, but where’s the fun in that?  Continue reading

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Nov 05

It’s Moist-city in Here: “X”

The cast; Photo by Jake Scaltreto.

Presented by Flat Earth Theatre
By Alistair McDowall
Directed by Lindsay Eagle
Dramaturgy by Dee Rogers
Violence and Movement Consultant: Sarah Gazdowicz
Scenic Designer: Darren Cornell
Costume Designer: Erica Desautels
Lighting Designer: Connor S. Van Ness
Sound Designer: Kyle Lampe
Special Effects Designer: Lynn Wilcott
Props Designer: Jake Scaltreto
Cast: Cassandra Meyer, David Anderson, Nick Perron, Slava Tchoul, Abigail Erdelatz

Nov. 1 – 16, 2019
The Mosesian Center for the Arts
321 Arsenal Street
Watertown, MA
Flat Earth on Facebook

Critique by Kitty Drexel

Trigger warning: gore, blood, violence, psychological horror

(Watertown, MA) Flat Earth’s production of Alistaire McDowall’s X is a mind fuck. This psychological horror-ballet with dripping blood, broken minds, and sleep deprivation won’t let its audience get away with mindlessly consuming a performance. And then it pounds it into you so you never forget. Continue reading

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Sep 25

Rhythms of Humanity: “Choir Boy”

The cast in “Choir Boy.” Photo by Nile Scott Studios.

Presented by SpeakEasy Stage Company
By Tarell Alvin McCraney
Directed by Maurice Emmanuel Parent
Musical Direction by David Freeman Coleman
Choreography by Yewande Odetoyinbo and Ruka White

Sept. 13 – Oct. 12, 2019
Stanford Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts
Boston, MA
SpeakEasy on Facebook

Review by Shiyanbade Animashaun

(Boston, MA) Choir Boy opens on a sole figure, David (Dwayne P. Mitchell), a student at the elite Charles R. Drew Prep School. He looks into the audience with intent as he begins to step dance. It is deliberate, slow and unaccompanied. The routine then increases in intensity and volume as more students appear. They flank the audience, on their way to the stage, with percussive dancing and chanting. Among the students, I noticed Bobby Marrow (Malik Mitchell) right away. He often seemed moments away from breaking into a joyous smile, mirroring my own.  Continue reading

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Aug 26

Prison is a Place: “Cherry Docs”

The cast; Photo by Tenneh Sillah.

Presented by Acropolis Stage Company
By David Gow
Directed by Evan Turissini
Law practice consultation by Will Korman
Judaism & culture consultation by Becky Price

August 23 – September 1, 2019
The Rockwell
255 Elm Street
Somerville, MA 02144
Acropolis Stage on Facebook 

Critique by Kitty Drexel

This critique contains minor spoilers. 

Trigger warning: depictions of violence, domestic terrorism, racism, hate speech, panic attacks, white fragility

(Somerville, MA) Cherry Docs may be the most relevant-to-our-times production this theatre season. Other area-productions will claim to be relevant (storytelling often is) but they won’t attack the western world’s ongoing white, male, hetero, cis problem like David Gow’s play. Gow even offers solutions to the problems that our white men create for us. The script isn’t perfect, but it does offer the victims of predatory, toxic male behavior a way out. Cherry Docs a more compassionate play than is credited.  Continue reading

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Jun 25

The Emperor Has No Clothes: ‘Masquerade’ Was a Smug, Misogynistic Mess


Presented by Cherry Orchard Festival
Produced by Vakhtangov State Academic Theatre of Russia
Based on the ‘verse drama’ by Mikhail Lermontov
Directed by Rimas Tuminas
Set Design by Adomas Yatsovskis
Costumes by Maxim Obrezkov
English Subtitles by Ivan Samokhin

June 18—19, 2019
Emerson Cutler Majestic Theatre
Boston, MA 02116
Cherry Orchard Festival on Facebook

Critique by Diana Lu

(Boston, Mass.) My program calls Masquerade a “verse drama.” That’s about the most pretentious thing I’ve ever seen. Even Shakespeare just wrote “plays.” Other reviewers keep comparing this 19thcentury Russian romantic play to Shakespeare’s Othello. I’m sure writer Mikhail Lermontov filched his basic plot points from The Bard, but the similarities end there. Continue reading

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Jun 18

Darkness Eats Unwanted Souls, or The Homeless are Human: “King of Shadows”

Trinidad Ramkissoon and Laura Chowenhill in “King of Shadows.” Photo via Flat Earth’s Facebook page.

Presented by Flat Earth Theatre
By Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
Directed by Michael Hisamoto
Puppetry by Amy Lehrmitt
Intimacy direction by Betsy S. Goldman

June 7 – 22, 2019
Mosesian Center for the Arts
Watertown, MA
Flat Earth 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.

Trigger warnings: mentioned sexual abuse, mentioned sex work (which is real work)

(Watertown, MA) There is a lot of ambiguity in Aguirre-Sacasa’s King of Shadows. He doesn’t communicate a clear message to his audience.  Specifically, he doesn’t clarify what it is he’s trying to say. At no fault of Flat Earth, Hisamoto or the cast, Aguirre-Sacasa implies in only uncertain terms that teen homelessness is bad, rich grad students with savior complexes are ineffective, and fairytales are fun. The details are a mishmash of complications. Flat Earth does a good job with the script, but Aguirre-Sacasa isn’t doing them any favors. Continue reading

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