Jul 18

Edith Wharton’s Intelude: “Mr. Fullerton, Between the Sheets”

Photo by Jason Grow. Newhouse as Wharton.

Presented by Gloucester Stage Company
By Annie Undeland
Directed by Judy Braha
Featuring Sarah Newhouse* as Edith Wharton, Ryan Winkles* as Morton Fullerton, Joshua Wolf Coleman* as Henry James, and Bridgette Hayes as Posy.

June 8 – 22, 2022
Gloucester Stage Company Theater
267 East Main St
Gloucester, MA

95 minutes without intermission

Review by Craig Idlebrook

GLOUCESTER, Mass. — How do you bring an iconic author’s love letters to life? That was the unenviable task that playwright Annie Undeland volunteered to do when she came across the letters Edith Wharton wrote to a lover during an extramarital affair. In reading the letters, Undeland has said she was struck how Wharton, who was known to be a refined and biting observer of Gilded Age society, became so nakedly besotted and unguarded, like any fool in love. Continue reading

Jun 11

Believe Victims, Listen to Black Women: “The Light” at the Lyric Stage

Photo by Mark S Howard; Dominic Carter and Yewande Odetoyinbo.

Presented by the Lyric Stage Company of Boston
By Loy A. Webb
Directed by Jacqui Parker
Intimacy direction by Ted Hewlett
COVID safety officer: Emily Collins
Music credit: “Natural High” from the EP “After Hours,” Allyssa Jones feat. Apollo Payton
Featuring: Dominic Carter and Yewande Odetoyinbo

June 3-June 26, 2022
Lyric Stage Company of Boston
140 Clarendon St
Boston, MA 02116
The Playbill 
70 minutes with no intermission

Review by Kitty Drexel

BOSTON — The Light at Lyric State of Boston demands its audience believe victims, to listen to them. Trust their stories; lead with compassion. 

In a 2020 article by the American Psychological Association, “Black Women Often Ignored by Social Justice Movements,” lead researcher Stewart Coles said “Black women are often overlooked in people’s conversations about racism and sexism even though they face a unique combination of both of these forms of discrimination simultaneously.” Continue reading

Jun 04

Could be Better, Could be Worse: American Repertory Theater’s “1776”


Presented by American Repertory Theater
Produced in association with Roundabout Theatre Company
Book by Peter Stone
Music and Lyrics by Sherman Edwards
Based on a Concept by Sherman Edwards
Directed by Jeffrey L. Page and Diane Paulus
Music Direction by Ryan Cantwell
Choreography by Jeffrey L. Page
Music Supervision by David Chase
Orchestrations by John Clancy
Vocal Design by AnnMarie Milazzo
Dialect Coaching (NYC) by Dawn-Elin Fraser
Dialect Coaching (Cambridge) by Erika Bailey
Fight Direction by Thomas Schall

May 17 – July 24, 2022
Loeb Drama Center
Cambridge, MA
Run Time: 2 hours and 45 minutes, including one 15-minute intermission

The mask goes over your nose.

Critique by Kitty Drexel

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Contemporary performances of Stone & Edwards’ 1776 are a response to Hamilton. The 1997 Broadway revival production at the Roundabout Theatre had an all white, all cis male cast (with Star Trek TNG’s Brent Spiner in the role of John Adams). American Repertory Theater tries something different with its 2022 production. It is largely successful thanks to the brave, button-pushing performances of its actors. 

1776 is the reproduction of the infamous congressional meetings that lead to the United States’ declaration of independence on July 4, 1776. John Adams (Crystal Lucas-Perry), Benjamin Franklin (Patrena Murray), and Thomas Jefferson (Elizabeth A. Davis) cajole the members of the Continental Congress into voting for American independence from British tyranny.  Continue reading

May 23

USDAC, the Arts & Mutual Aid: “Artists and Healers as Essential to Recovery from Crisis: A Reflection on Trying Times”

Images from the event. This discussion featured jackie sumell (The Prisoner’s Apothecary), Auntie Sewing Squad, Ana Rodney, and Taja Lindley.

A discussion presented by The U.S. Department of Arts and Culture (USDAC) with 18th Street Arts Center, in L.A.
Part of WE RISE 2022
Friday, May 20, 2022 6 pm-7:30 pm ET
ONLINE 
We Rise 2022 on Facebook
U.S. Department of Arts and Culture on Facebook

Review by Afrikah Smith

“As we have seen time and time again, when the governments fail us, it’s the people who come together and help communities survive…”  —Raquel de Anda, panel facilitator

ZOOM — Presented by the U.S. Department of Arts and Culture, the discussion centered on the intersection of arts and mutual aid and what it means to create and be in community with one another. Emphasizing the ways that are anti-oppressive and that uplift and respect one another in community, the panel featured jackie sumell of The Solitary Gardens & Prisoner’s Apothecary, Kristina Wong and the Auntie Sewing Squad, Ana Rodney of MomCares, and interdisciplinary artist Taja Lindley. All whose work exemplified art, healing, and mutual aid efforts through the lenses of abolition, radical care, reproductive justice, transformative justice, and racial justice. Continue reading

May 05

The Politics of Punching Down: “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder”

Jennifer Ellis, Robert St. Laurence*, Kate Klika, Phil Tayler, Jared Troilo*, Lori L’Italien, Aimee Doherty*, Todd McNeel, Jr., Leigh Barrett*. Photo by Mark S. Howard.

Presented by The Lyric Stage Company of Boston
Music and Lyrics by Steven Lutvak
Book and Lyrics by Robert L. Freedman
Directed by Spiro Veloudos
Music Direction by Matthew Stern
Choreography by Larry Sousa

April 15 – May 22, 2022
Lyric Stage Company
40 Clarendon St
Boston, MA
Tickets

Critique by Maegan Bergeron-Clearwood

BOSTON, Mass. — Laughter is never neutral. Whiteness is never neutral. A comedy of manners might stake the claim that farce is some great, humanizing equalizer, but humor is inherently directional: someone is always doing the laughing, and something, or someone, is always being laughed at.

A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, which won the Tony in 2014 for Best Musical, is vague about its directionality. Ostensibly, we’re laughing at the hypocritical mores of upper crust Edwardian England, but we’re just as often prompted to laugh at, for example, effeminate men, hyper-feminine women, or the “exotic” peoples suffering under the thumb of colonialism offstage. Continue reading

Mar 19

I Need Your Hand on My Heart: “Everyday Life and Other Odds and Ends”

Presented by ArtsEmerson and Sleeping Weasel
Written by Charlotte Meehan
Directed by Tara Brooke Watkins
Choreographed by Peter DiMuro
Videography by Lee Francois
Original composition “Alone Together” by Kirsten Volness

Live: March 12 – March 27, 2022
Streamed: April 1 – 10, 2022
Emerson Paramount Center
Jackie Liebergott Black Box
559 Washington Street
Boston, MA 02111

Review by Kitty Drexel

BOSTON, Mass. — Everyday Life and Other Odds and Ends by Charlotte Meehan is about people. People are confusing, leaky, wonderful, breakable creatures capable of great love and harrowing despair. 

This play is also about disability. We are introduced to Meehan’s characters and their relationships, and then we learn about their relationships to Parkinson’s Disease. People with disabilities are human first so it is right that we learn the world of the play in this order. 

In Everyday Life and Other Odds and Ends, three imperfect couples navigate their relationships. We watch them live with Parkinson’s Disease. The persons with PD are surviving. The caretakers are too. Survival means something different to each couple. We learn what survival means at the same time they do.  Continue reading

Mar 10

Geeks Review Books: “Boston Theatre Marathon XXIII: Special Zoom Edition Anthology”

Boston Theatre Marathon XXIII: Special Zoom Edition Anthology
Boston Playwrights’ Theatre
Edited by Kate Snodgrass, Artistic Director
Smith & Kraus, Inc
Softcover, 340 pages
ISBN: 9781575259611
Copyright 2021
$20.00
Purchase the Anthology 

Review by Kitty Drexel

BOSTON — Boston Theatre Marathon XXIII: Special Zoom Edition Anthology is the physical manifestation of the 23rd Annual Boston Theatre Marathon on Zoom. #BTMXXIIIelectricZOOMaloo 

The Boston Theatre Marathon was live and in-person until COVID-19 struck the Earth like a biblical pestilence. Years 2020 and 2021 were over Zoom. This anthology puts the magic and the mystery of 2021’s plays in one book.

From the Boston Playwrights’ Theatre website: “For more than two decades, the Boston Theater Marathon has brought together playwrights, directors, and theatre companies in an effort to foster collaboration between artists and producers.  Continue reading

Mar 08

Strange and a Little Bit Lonely: “This Bitter Earth”


Presented by TheatreWorks Hartford
By Harrison David Rivers
Directed by David Mendizábal
Fight and intimacy direction by Rocío Mendez
Digital playbill

Live on stage: February 16 – March 20
Streaming: March 7-20
TheaterWorks Inc
233 Pearl Street
Hartford, CT 06103
TWH on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

Content warning: This Bitter Earth contains partial nudity as well as mature language and themes.

STREAMING ONLINE — This is a review for the pre-recorded, streamed version of This Bitter Earth.

Relationships are hard work. The kind of work a relationship requires depends upon the people in it. As the white person in a biracial relationship, you either educate yourself to understand the experiences of your partner of color, or you lose them. Your partner will either love you back by meeting you halfway with patience and sympathy, or they will lose you. 

This Bitter Earth is the first play that I’ve seen in my ten years as a critic to specifically, comprehensively address the complex issues of a modern biracial relationship. Other plays have broached the subject; none have been as successful as This Bitter Earth. Continue reading

Mar 07

Suck It, Hambone: “Peggy Shippen is… a play about the wife of Benedict Arnold”

Queen’s own photo from Chelsea Theatre Works.

Peggy Shippen is… a play about the wife of Benedict Arnold
Presented as part of the Resident Artist Program at Chelsea Theatre Works.
Written by Libby Schap & Luke Robbins
Featuring: Lauren Foster, Lisa Joyce, Molly Kimmerling, Libby Schap

March 4-12, 2022
Fridays and Saturdays @8PM
Chelsea Theatre Works in the Black Box Theatre
189 Winnisimmet Street
Chelsea, MA 02150

Covid19 policy: masks & vaccination are required

Review by Kitty Drexel

CHELSEA, Mass. — Naked lightbulbs hang from scaffolding over a raw black box stage. Their pull-chains gently sway from the motion of patrons choosing their seats. The naked stage leaves lots of room for the performance of Peggy Shippen is…, an enigmatic new play that’s running about ten minutes late.  

Peggy Shippen is… a play about the wife of Benedict Arnold is a little weird, a lot unusual, and not boring. It borrows from Hamilton’s leftover hype and sidles up to the creative demands of Jordan Tannahill’s Theatre of the Unimpressed Continue reading

Mar 02

Writing for the Moms the World Ignored: “Erma Bombeck: At Wit’s End”

Karen MacDonald. My parents have that end table. Photo by Megpix/Meghan Moore

Erma Bombeck: At Wit’s End
Presented by Merrimack Repertory Theatre
By Allison Engel and Margaret Engel
Based on the life and works of Erma Bombeck
Directed by Terry Berliner
Original music by Brett Macias
Filmmaker: Kathy Wittman
Featuring Karen MacDonald

FEB 24-MAR 13, 2022
Simultaneously Live and Streaming
Hall/Lowell Memorial Auditorium
50 East Merrimack Street
Lowell, MA 01852
MRT on Facebook 

Approximate run time: 80 minutes, no intermission

Review by Kitty Drexel

Lowell, Mass. — Erma Bombeck: At Wit’s End is a serviceable, inoffensive one-woman show about humorist Erma Bombeck. Folks who remember Bombeck will enjoy the show. 

People who enjoy the work of Karen MacDonald will also enjoy the show. MacDonald is delightful. Thanks to her work with director Terry Berliner, MacDonald dominates the stage like she lives there. Continue reading