Sep 24

Casual Disregard for Our Mutual Humanity: “The Niceties”

Look who’s teaching now. Lisa Banes and Jordan Boatman. Photo: T. Charles Erickson. 

Presented by Huntington Theatre Company
By Eleanor Burgess
Directed by Kimberly Senior
Original music and sound design by Elisheba Ittoop

Aug. 31 – Oct. 6, 2018
Calderwood Pavilion
Boston Center for the Arts
Boston, MA
Huntington on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

(Boston, MA) The Niceties is a play about primary sources. It’s about the writers of white history, and white history’s casualties. It’s about speaking effectively and effective listening. It’s about race and the people who decide what is and isn’t racist behavior. It’s about attempting to be a good person while being good to other people. It’s about an impetuous Black student who’s had enough of excuses from a white professor, and an egotistical white professor who’s forgotten how to teach. There are no winner; there’s only complication. Continue reading

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Sep 07

Langston Hughes as “The Black Clown”

The Black Clown Production Photo
The cast of The Black Clown.
Photo: Maggie Hall.

Presented by American Repertory Theater
Adapted from Langston Hughes’ poem
Adapted by Davóne Tines and Michael Schachter
Music by Michael Schachter
Choreographed by Chanel DaSilva
Directed by Zack Winokur
Music Direction by Jaret Landon
Trumpets by Dave Adewumi and Robyn Smith
Keyboards played by Jaret Landon and Bethany Aikin
Reeds by Rajiv Halim, Isaiah Johnson, and Jason Marshall

August 31 – Sept 23, 2018
Loeb Drama Center
Harvard University
Cambridge, MA
ART on Facebook

Written by Bishop C. Knight

(Harvard Square, Cambridge, MA)  In The Black Clown program, the A.R.T. Artistic Director wrote how “Langston Hughes drew deeply on the traditions of African American music,” and Hughes would have been pleased with this production.  

The pit orchestra breathed life into spirituals and added rhythmic profundity to operatic adaptations of Hughes’ poems. Keyboards were played by Jaret Landon, a Chicago-based composer who was the show’s Music Director, and Bethany Aiken, who studied Music History at Oberlin College.  A theater experience fusing vaudeville, gospel, and jazz, Black Clown brought Langston Hughes’ verse to life onstage.  Every musician in this production – from the trumpet players, to the actors who themselves are acclaimed singers – every musician, per their participation in this production, paid respect both to Hughes and to the African American music at the heart of Hughes’ art. Continue reading

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Aug 20

Fatal Attraction: Love, Friendship, and Ritual Sacrifice in the name of “Our Dear Dead Drug Lord”

Photo by Ally Schmaling. — with Gina Fonseca, Khloe Alice Lin, Lisa Joyce and Tatiana Isabel.

Presented by Off the Grid Theatre Company
Written by Alexis Scheer
Directed by Rebecca Bradshaw

August 17 – September 1, 2018
Calderwood Pavilion
Roberts Studio Theatre
Boston Center for the Arts
527 Tremont St. Boston, MA 02116
Off the Grid on Facebook

Review by Diana Lu

(Boston, MA) It is 2008, a momentous year for the United States, and especially for four teenage girlfriends in suburban Florida. This radical, ambitious, creative squad grapples with identity, relationships, and adult responsibility using the occult as a metaphor…or is it anything but? Continue reading

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Aug 17

A Love Letter, inspired by “A Good Death”

Photo credit: Colleen Moore

Presented by Also Known As Theatre
Written by Shelley M. Hobbs
Directed by Alexandra Smith
Produced by Kelly Smith

August 17 through September 2
Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00PM
Sundays at 2:00PM
Calderwood Pavilion at Boston Center for the Arts
527 Tremont Street, Boston, Massachusetts 02116
The Stanford Calderwood Pavilion on Facebook

Written by Bishop C. Knight

(South End, Boston, MA)  OOH child, nothing but praise for A Good Death!  I’m about to provide a review that’s emotionally charged with encouragement – for you to see this play and to bring loved ones; especially for you to bring religious relatives you have trouble communicating with.  I’ll use the words love and queer repeatedly, because it is a play about lesbian companions who are platonic life partners.  I’ll show why Boston is damn lucky to have Also Known As Theatre (AKA) as it newest independent theatre company.  I want AKA to flourish. I want Alison Bechdel to attend. I want YOU to attend, and here’s why: Continue reading

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Aug 08

“CATO & DOLLY”, The Hancocks

Ye Olde Statehouse

Presented by the Bostonian Society
Produced in partnership with Plays in Place, LLC
Written by Playwright Patrick Gabridge
Directed by Courtney O’Connor
Performed by Stephen Sampson and Marge Dunn

July 6th through September 29th, 2018
Old State House, Downtown Boston, MA

Reviewed by Bishop C. Knight

(Boston, Massachusetts)   On a rainy Saturday, Kathy Mulvaney explained to the crowd of museum visitors that she needed a minute to bring in more chairs, as the hall was fuller than anticipated.  Mulvaney is the Director of Education at the Old State House. She told us that the historical play Cato & Dolly would be about twenty minutes, and she noted that we could not re-enter if we decided to leave for the bathroom.  Finally, Mulvaney encouraged us to sit back and enjoy. Then the hall went silent. Continue reading

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Aug 06

A State of Virginal Ecstasy; Or, Needs More Snakes in Bowls: “Dark Room”

Ensemble | Photo Credit, Andrew Brilliant

Presented by Bridge Repertory Theater
Written by George Brant
Inspired by the life, death, and photography of Francesca Woodman
Directed by Olivia D’Ambrosio
Associate director and dramaturgy by Alexander Platt
Choreography by Doppelgänger Dance Collective

July 27 – August 16, 2018
In residence at the Multicultural Arts Center
Cambridge, MA
Bridge Rep on Facebook

Review 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.

(Cambridge, MA) Producer and director, D’Ambrosio gives an important, informative speech before Dark Room to guide audience expectations. She suggests we allow the performance to wash over us. Should we become puzzled by the actions onstage, rather than self-interpret what we see, we should allow the performance to explain itself through continued observance. I’d further posit that audience members do proper research before attending. The chiaroscuro style of Francesca Woodman is emphatically stirring. To fully absorb the performance, it behooves an audience to google Woodman’s art. Continue reading

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Jul 13

The Link Between Cause and Effect: “AddictShunned”

The cast. Photo: Avenue Stage

Presented by Avenue Stage
By Judith Austin
Directed by Michael O’Halloran

Boston Playwrights’ Theatre
949 Commonwealth Ave.
Boston, MA 02215
Avenue Stage on Facebook

AddictShunned was originally titled Spiro Spero, which roughly translates to “While I Breathe, I Hope.”

Review by Kitty Drexel

“Addiction is defined as a chronic, relapsing brain disease that is characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences. It is considered a brain disease because drugs change the brain; they change its structure and how it works. These brain changes can be long lasting and can lead to many harmful, often self-destructive, behaviors.”
— NIDA website, “The Science of Drug Abuse and Addiction: The Basics” https://www.drugabuse.gov/

(Boston, MA) Addiction is as much of a disease as Diabetes. Yet, while we don’t demand diabetics to will themselves healthy, we do demand this of addicts. Addicts need and deserve compassion, understanding, and resources to break the cycles of abuse. Avenue Stage’s AddictShunned compassionately reframes the stories of addicts. The audience is made to find commonality with characters it would prefer to remain anonymous.   Continue reading

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Jun 11

#Gamergate, Too: “The Nether”

Photo by Jake Scaltreto

Presented by Flat Earth Theatre
By Jennifer Haley
Directed by Sarah Gazdowicz

June 8 – 23, 2018
The Mosesian Center for the Arts
321 Arsenal Street, Watertown, MA, 02472
Flat Earth on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

Trigger warnings: pedophilia, sexual abuse, implied physical violence, predatory grooming

(Watertown, MA) Flat Earth’s production is expectedly excellent but it isn’t enjoyable. Well actually, The Nether is about ethics in gaming journalism. It’s a political metaphor for gamer identity protection. Just kidding: It’s about abusive communities on the internet and the people who dwell in them. Identity protection and “ethics” are smoke screens for heinous behavior in the name of free speech and implausible deniability. #yesallwomen Continue reading

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Jun 07

Ready for “A Piece of My Heart”

Photo credit: Nile Scott Photos

Presented by Wellesley Repertory Theatre
Written by Shirley Lauro
Suggested by the book by Kevin Walker
Directed by Nora Hussey
Starring in the sensational ensemble:  Victoria Georgia, Marge Dunn, Ariela Nazar-Rosen, Sarah Lord, Jenna Lea Scott, Andres Lyman, Danny Bolton, and Alan White

May 31 through June 24, 2018
Wellesley Repertory Theatre
The Ruth Nagel Jones Theatre
106 Central St, Wellesley, MA
WRT on Facebook

Review by Bishop C. Knight

(Wellesley, Massachusetts) A Piece of My Heart is a drama about five nurses and one singer who voluntarily travel to Vietnam for one year during the Second Indochina War.  This cast of patriots did a terrific job recreating the emotional bonds of friendship that form between those in war zones. Continue reading

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Jun 05

“Les Liaisons Dangereuses”: When You Play the Game of Patriarchy, Everyone Loses

Jaime Carrillo (Volanges), Greg Maraio (Merteuil), Dan Whelton (Valmont) & Stewart Evan Smith (Danceny). Photo: Jorden Photography.

Presented by The Nora Theatre Company
Directed by Lee Mikeska Gardner
Adapted by Christopher Hampton
Novel by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos

May 31st – July 1st, 2018
Central Square Theatre
450 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge
Central Square Theater on Facebook

Content Warning: (In the show’s own words.) Full nudity, sexual content, violence, and a damn good sword fight. Suggested age: 18 and over.

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Cambridge, MA) When dividing the population into a binary construct where one group is viewed as perpetually in danger of committing sexual indiscretions and possessing virtue that they may only give to certain people, and the other group is seen as committing indiscretions and betrayals because they can’t help themselves, yes, some awful dynamics are at play. In this production, the source material of Les Liaisons Dangereuses is not much altered, but the way it’s performed is. The players all appear to be male without makeup, dresses, or distinctive cosmetic traits, beyond the apparently random distribution of a few bits of jewelry, rosary beads, and gloves. To clarify, this is a faithful adaptation of a story where two manipulative, almost-lover aristocrats spend their time “ruining” innocence. The gender of the characters remains the same as it was in Pierre Choderlos de Laclos 1782 novel. The gender of the actors just doesn’t always conform to those of their characters. In having an all-male cast, gender is shown as the flimsy construct it is, and adherence to stringent, narrow roles reproduce only an eventual misery in everyone. But just because the proud Vicomte de Valmont (Dan Whelton) and perceptive Marquise de Merteuil (Greg Maraio) seem to see the pieces of the social contraption in which they move doesn’t mean they can escape the trap. Continue reading

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