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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Jun 17

Close Your Eyes and Think of England: “Cloud 9”

Cast of “Cloud 9”
Photo: Nile Scott Studios

Presented by the Nora Theatre Company
By Caryl Churchill
Directed by Lee Mikeska Gardner
Voice and Music direction by Caitlin Gjerdrum
Dramaturgy by Sophie Gore
Text and dialect coaching by Allison Olivia Choat

June 6 – 30, 2019
Central Square Theater
Cambridge, MA
CST on Facebook

Critique by Kitty Drexel

Warning: this post contains spoilers. The spoilers are necessary to the conversation.

Trigger warnings: child abuse, mentions of domestic violence, racism, sexism, creepy dolls

Satire: (noun) sat·​ire | \ ˈsa-ˌtī(-ə)r
Definition of satire

1 : a literary work holding up human vices and follies to ridicule or scorn
2 : trenchant wit, irony, or sarcasm used to expose and discredit vice or folly – Per the Merriam-Webster online dictionary

(Cambridge, MA) Satire doesn’t have to be funny. Most satire is funny, but it isn’t a hard and fast rule. Much of comedy is found funny because of its treatment of serious topics. For example, jokes about the Boston Str8 Pride Parade* will get a laugh in some situations. In other situations, the jokes don’t land because this parade represents unadulterated hate towards the LGBTQ+ community. We understand why your jokes are “funny,” but it’s our lives those neo-nazis are protesting. The protest might be funny if it were satire – But it isn’t. It’s real. We’re real too. 

I mention this because the themes that Caryl Churchill attacks in Cloud 9 are real too. Heteros still think that the LGBTQ+ community is asking for extra protections. People of Color (POC) are being massacred in the US for their audacity to take up space. These things aren’t funny but jokes about them can be if told properly. Cloud 9’s themes are still relevant. Continue reading

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May 06

One World, Many Stories: “The Earthroom”

Photo by Paul Fox.

Presented by Fresh Ink Theatre
Written by Marge Buckley
Directed by Rebecca Bradshaw
Fight choreography by Omar Robinson
Dramaturgy by Sarah Schnebly

May 3-18, 2019
Boston Playwrights’ Theatre
949 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02215
Fresh Ink 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.

(Boston, MA) Playwright Marge Buckley has a unique aptitude to balance quirky comedy with human truths. Her science fiction play The Earth Room merges family dynamics with interplanetary conquest with urban planning. It all bounces off the larger issue of mental health avoidance. Human beings may colonize Mars; they may even invent the holodeck, but they will still be inherently guided by human nature.   Continue reading

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Apr 29

“American Moor”: The Black Man And The Play

Presented by ArtsEmerson
Written and Performed by Keith Hamilton Cobb
Directed by Kim Weild
Lighting Design by Alan C. Edwards

April 10 – 21, 2019
Emerson Paramount Theatre
Boston, MA
ArtsEmerson on Facebook

Critique by Diana Lu

(Boston, MA) American Moor is a masterpiece of a one-man show. Written and performed by accomplished actor Keith Hamilton Cobb, the 90 minute monologue portrays the interior narrative of an overqualified black actor as he goes through yet another disheartening audition to play Shakespeare’s Othello for yet another clueless white Director (Josh Tyson). The descriptive prowess of Cobb’s blow-by-blow detail plays out like The Old Man and the Sea. His impressive acting chops create some of the most intense, emotionally raw, and true to life moments I’ve ever seen on any stage, including The Globe Theater in London.
Continue reading

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