Apr 16

“Cardboard Piano”: Good Intentions, Poorly Executed

Photo by Andrew Brilliant/Brilliant Pictures; L-R: Rachel Cognata and Marge Dunn.

Presented by New Repertory Theatre
Written by Hansol Jung
Directed by Benny Sato Ambush

March 23 —April 14, 2019
The Dorothy and Charles Mosesian Center for the Arts
321 Arsenal St
Watertown, MA 02472
New Rep on Facebook

Critique by Diana Lu

(Watertown, MA) Cardboard Piano is a two-part sociopolitical drama. The first act portrays a young love affair between Chris, a missionary’s daughter (Marge Dunn), and Adiel (Rachel Cognata), a Ugandan teenager, and how it was torn apart by senseless homophobia and war violence. The second act sees the daughter return to Uganda 15 years later to find the man who killed her lover (Michael Ofori/Marc Pierre) reviving her father’s church and continuing to oppress his young, queer congregants. Continue reading

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Apr 01

He’s Asking For It: “Extremities”

Photo credit: Ashley Yung; Alissa Cordeiro (Marjorie)

Presented by Also Known As Theatre
In partnership with Boston Area Rape Crisis Center (barcc)
By William Matrosimone
Directed by Alexandra Smith
Fight choreography by Jessica Scout Malone

March 28 – April 13, 2019
First Church Cambridge
11 Garden St.,
Cambridge, MA 02138

Critique by Kitty Drexel

Trigger warning: assault, sexual assault, gas lighting, victim blaming

(Cambridge, MA) It’s a cruel and unusual punishment to be found at guilty of assault when protecting oneself from attacker. Cyntoia Brown served 15 years in prison for murdering a man who bought her for sex so she could flee. At 16 years old, she was tried her as an adult and sentenced to 51 years in prison without parole. She has only recently received clemency for her unreasonably harsh and unjust sentencing. Also Known As Theatre’s production of Extremities puts into stark relief just how easy it is for the US legal system to turn on women for not performing victimhood to exacting standards. Brown is receiving a modicum of justice but how many women will not? Continue reading

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Mar 26

“Not Medea”: Scorned Woman Gets Her Say

Photo by Jake Scaltreto. Who is their right mind double-crosses a half goddess, dark sorceress capable of patricide on a whim? That idiot, Jason.

Presented by Flat Earth Theatre
Written by Allison Gregory
Directed by Elizabeth Yvette Ramirez

March 15 – 30, 2019
The Mosesian Center for the Arts
321 Arsenal Street
Watertown, MA
Flat Earth Theatre on Facebook

Critique by Gillian Daniels

(Watertown, MA)  The myth of Medea is a story of betrayal and fury, where Jason of the Argonauts takes a sorceress wife for material gain and is deeply surprised when she takes her vengeance out on him and their children. Here, the myth of a child-killing witch fits roughly over a more contemporary story of an overworked nurse in pediatric oncology as she takes a night for herself to recount a bitter divorce with humor and then with searing rage. In mainstream culture, the Classical myth of Medea has become known as the story of a mother so cartoonishly evil, it’s difficult to feel the full impact of the horror her narrative contains without exploring each bloody layer. Luckily, the audience of Not Medea has been blessed with both the intimacy of a stripped-down theater experience and the raw passion of actress Juliet Bowler as the titular-woman-who-is-not-Medea-though-she-also-plays-Medea.

Not Medea appears to be a combination of genres, a one-woman show fused with a Classical play, complete with Chorus (Cassandra Meyer). There’s a late reveal that further opens the story into discomfort and parental Hell, but the melodrama keeps the bones of a Greek tragedy by centering a character’s terrible trauma and the wisdom she gains from it. Bowler as the Woman and director Elizabeth Yvette Ramirez make remarkable choices in humanizing a character who’s not a clear-cut heroine.

Bowler, as always, brings grit to her role, and, here, sympathy. She plays Medea and the Woman with the same tumult of anger, lust, and hurt, even if their actions aren’t quite identical. We get the sense of this stressed, tough as nails nurse seeing this play and hating how much she sees herself in it. Certainly, as an audience, we are asked to judge each character presented in the show, like Gene Dante as the heroic Jason with a selfish surfer dude’s dimwitted edge, but we are never made to regard them with the inhumanity and scorn that so many versions of Medea heap on these characters.

I like how brave the play is in addressing the fallibility of mothers. It’s something I’ve been delighted to see in few other shows where women who have children are not portrayed as goddesses or people always able to see the best in their kids, but fallible individuals with their own sources of pain. Yes, facing the imperfection of mothers can be a tough sit, but the way this show explores all the troubles and regrets of motherhood is deeply refreshing.

Even the Chorus seems to have some internal struggles regarding her relationship to the story. Meyer repeatedly nears the end of the stage with fear, unable to leave. She also, memorably, seems furious with the Woman for addressing the audience directly–obviously the Chorus’s job, and a delicious meta moment in the narrative.

Not everything works for me. Playwright Allison Gregory’s makes some distracting choices. The sections of the play that more strictly adhere to the source material often become repetitive, jarring with the contemporary ebb and flow of Not Medea’s other, less Classical scenes. I think there are story elements in the show that would have packed a firmer punch with some careful editing. Also, I found Gregory’s choice in names for the Woman’s offspring just a little too on-the-nose.

Ultimately, the play succeeds in what it seems to set out to do: exploring the layers of a Classical myth with understanding and thought. Like the queen goddess Hera angry at her husband for his many dalliances or the punishment Aphrodite earns for not being loyal to a husband she was made to marry in the first place, popular Greco-Roman mythology has been filtered through a lens that dismisses female anger. Not Medea leans into that fury and, like many Greek tragedies, comes out the other side wiser for it.


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Mar 20

Her Name is Dr. Franklin, You Git: “Photograph 51”

Pictured: Stacy Fischer; Photo by Maggie Hall

Presented by The Nora Theatre Company
A Catalyst Collaborative@MIT Production
The Brit d’Arbeloff Women in Science Production Series
Written by Anna Ziegler
Directed by Rebecca Bradshaw
Voice and dialect coaching by Rebecca Schneebaum

March 14 – April 14, 2019
Central Square Theater
450 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139
CST on Facebook

Trigger warnings: vintage sexism, gaslighting, victim blaming

Critique by Kitty Drexel

(Cambridge, MA) Photograph 51 is depressing – not because it’s a depressing play, but because it tells us (STEM researchers, women, women within STEM, etc.) how little progress towards gender equality we have made since Dr. Rosalind Franklin discovered the structure of DNA. Her work, her words went largely ignored and men took all of the credit for her work. This is disturbing. That women in STEM are still silenced is even more so.   Continue reading

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Mar 18

Apply Anointment Directly to Area: “Burning”


Presented by
Theatre@First
By Ginger Lazarus
Directed by Andrea Humez
Fight choreography by Nathan Johnson
Makeup/Blood by Meg Boeni

March 15 – 23, 2019
Unity Somerville
6 William Street
Somerville, MA
T@F on Facebook

Critique by Kitty Drexel

Trigger warning: domestic violence, victim blaming

(Somerville, MA) It’s very simple. If a man* cannot talk to a woman** then that man* isn’t good enough for that woman**. Effective communication is the foundation of any relationship. Anything less than efficacy will cause the relationship to fail. Burning is about how one such relationship failed more than just a pair of lovers.  Continue reading

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Mar 15

Eat the Rich: the National Theatre’s “An Inspector Calls”


Presented by ArtsEmerson
By The National Theatre of Great Britain
Written by JB Priestly
Directed by Stephen Daldry
Music by Stephen Warbeck
Fight direction by Terry King

March 14 – 24, 2019
Emerson Cutler Majestic Theatre
Boston, MA
ArtsEmerson on Facebook

Critique by Kitty Drexel

(Boston, MA) An Inspector Calls forces its audience to confront issues of socio-economic depravity as symbolized by the neglectful behaviors of one upper middle-class English family. It’s arrival in Boston coincides with the news of an elaborate college admissions scam. The rich, powerful and entitled have been flaunting their capacity to harm for centuries. An Inspector Calls is not for the politically avoidant. Continue reading

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Mar 09

For “Endlings,” Death Becomes Her

Presented by American Repertory Theatre
By Celine Song
Directed by Sammi Cannold

February 26 – March 17, 2019
ASL Interpreted performances: Wednesday, March 13 at 7:30PM and Sunday, March 17 at 2PM
Open Captioned performances: Thursday, March 14 at 7:30PM and Saturday, March 16 at 2PM
Audio Described performances: Friday, March 15 at 7:30PM and Saturday, March 16 at 2PM
Loeb Drama Center
Cambridge, MA
ART on Facebook

Review by Diana Lu

(Cambridge, MA) Neil Armstrong was the first man on the moon and everyone in the world knows his name. Young Jean Lee was the first Asian female playwright on Broadway, and that is all she’s known as: “Asian female playwright”. Even in headlines about her work, white newspapers didn’t bother to print her name. Most people don’t know her name, including Asian women outside of theater. Let’s face it. White people like white plays, and the occasional token, minstrel show. Continue reading

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Feb 11

Portrait of an Actress and Her Art: “Bare Stage”

Photo by © Kippy Goldfarb/Carolle Photo – Kevin Cirone as Parker and Ashley Risteen as Kate

Presented by Festival Theater
Directed by A. Nora Long
Written by Michael Walker

February 8, 2019 – March 2, 2019
South End / BCA Plaza Theaters
Boston, MA 02116
Event on Facebook

Critique by Gillian Daniels

Content warning: nudity, vulnerable actresses with potentially slimy, powerful men.

(Boston, MA) Kate (Ashley Risteen) believes in art and is portrayed as nothing less than a serious artist in Bare Stage. She’s a passionate actress with a mission, and in her most recent role, she’s been asked to perform naked. You know, in front of her family, friends, boyfriend, everyone, in the town where she lives. In mainstream American pop culture, the prevailing attitude seems to be, “If everyone knows what they’re in for, sure, why not?” But the reality is more complex, not just in contemplating censorship but exploitation and art. Continue reading

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Feb 11

The Largesse of the Sea Maidens: A Conversation with “Endlings” Playwright Celine Song

Han Sol Dive Suit Costume Rendering by Linda Cho

A Conversation with “Endlings” Playwright Celine Song
Presented by American Repertory Theatre
By Celine Song
Directed by Sammi Cannold

February 1 – March 17, 2019
ASL Interpreted performances: Wednesday, March 13 at 7:30PM and Sunday, March 17 at 2PM
Open Captioned performances: Thursday, March 14 at 7:30PM and Saturday, March 16 at 2PM
Audio Described performances: Friday, March 15 at 7:30PM and Saturday, March 16 at 2PM
Loeb Drama Center
Cambridge, MA
7till8 Wetsuits on Facebook

OpEd and interview by Diana Lu

They are sometimes called “Korean mermaids,” and sometimes “sea women,” or haenyeo. The female free divers of Jeju Island are the last keepers of a centuries-old tradition of ocean floor fishing, one that created a unique matrilineal craft and matriarchal economy. In the 1960s, there were more than 26,000 haenyeo. Today there are less than 4,500. Nearly all are over 50 years old, with few young women interested in replacing them. It is difficult, dangerous work, diving without oxygen, wearing lead weights for up to two minutes at a time. About nine haenyeo a year are lost to the sea. Continue reading

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Feb 04

Parental Supervision Requested: “Girlish”

Photo by Paul Fox; Eigo and Jensen in a lighter moment.

Presented by Fresh Ink Theatre
By Alexa Derman
Directed by Melanie Garber
Dramaturgy by Corianna Moffatt and Ramona Ostrowski

Feb. 1 – 16, 2019
Plaza Black Box Theatre
Boston Center for the Arts
Boston, MA
Fresh Ink on Facebook

Critique by Kitty Drexel

Trigger warning: catfishing, dubious consent, underage romantic activity

(Boston, MA) My cousin Aubrey* owned a coveted Samantha Parkington American Girl Doll growing up. I hadn’t known what jealousy was until I saw Samantha in Aubrey’s perfect, skinny arms. Sure, I occasionally suffered a nervous desire to own things that I couldn’t have such as Gap jeans or the a Skip-It, but I didn’t really know what wanting was until I espied Samantha in all her plastic, toothy glory. Samantha was everything Aubrey was, and nothing I’d ever be. I needed an AG doll. I’d die without one.   Continue reading

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