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

Feb 28

Play Nerd Games; Win Nerd Prizes: “Young Nerds of Color”

Nerds! James Ricardo Milord, Daniel Rios, Jr., Alison Yueming Qu, Kortney Adams, and Lindsey McWhorter, and Karina Beleno Carney in “Young Nerds of Color”. Photo: Nile Scott Studios.

Presented by Underground Railway Theater
The Brit d’Arbeloff Catalyst Collaborative@MIT Production
Arranged by Melinda Lopez
Directed by Dawn M. Simmons
Original music by Nona Hendryx
Dramaturgy by Des Bennett
Featuring: Kortney Adams(she/her), Karina Beleno Carney (she/her), Lindsey McWhorter (she/her), James Ricardo Milord (he/him), Daniel Rios, Jr. (he/him), Alison Yueming Qu (she/they)

All tickets come with Digital Insurance
Feb. 17 – March 20, 2022
Streaming: March 7 – April 3, 2022
Central Square Theater
450 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139
CST on Facebook

Please note: People of Color (POC) is a term used in Young Nerds of Color to describe people of Asian, Black, Native, Hispanic and Latino descent. It is not being used because white people are uncomfortable saying “Black.” They might also be that. 

Running Time: 90 minutes, no intermission.

Critique by Kitty Drexel
A Note from Noelani Kamelamela is below.

Cambridge, Mass. — My wonderful partner is scientist of color (a note from them below). An adult nerd of color, if you will. They work at MIT. Seeing MIT through their eyes, knowing their experiences made watching Young Nerds of Color easier to believe and harder to endure. Young Nerds of Color is fun! It’s also chock full of difficult truths.  Continue reading

Feb 21

Hidey-Ho Rangerinos: “Rx Machina”

Anastasia Olowin, Robyn Unger; Photo by Stratton McCrady.

Presented by Boston Playwrights’ Theatre and the Boston University College of Fine Arts School of Theatre
By Caity-Shea Violette
Directed by Blair Cadden
Intimacy choreography by Jesse Hinson
COVID-19 Safety Management by Jay Eddy
Featuring: Anastasia Olowin, Robyn Unger, Lisa Tucker, Lila Heller, Isabel Van Natta
The digital program

February 17-27, 2022
Boston Playwrights’ Theatre
949 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02215
BPT on Facebook

Critique by Kitty Drexel

BOSTON — Rx Machina by Caity-Shea Violette is one of two plays about addiction currently running in Boston. It’s no coincidence. COVID-19 has decimated our mental health. 

The modern human, when faced with a medical crisis and no affordable solutions, will turn to legal and illegal self-medicating. The CDC’s website says that the opioid epidemic is a public health crisis. The news, any channel, will confirm this statement.   Continue reading

Feb 19

Please Live Life to Its Fullest Responsibly: “People, Places & Things”


Presented by SpeakEasy Stage Company 
Written by Duncan MacMillan
Directed by David R Gammons
Dramaturgy by Rulas A Muñoz

Feb. 11 – March 5, 2022
Audio Description – February 19 at 8pm and February 20 at 3pm
Open Captioning – March 3 at 2pm and 7:30pm
South End / Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA
527 Tremont St.
Boston, MA 02116
SpeakEasy on Facebook

Critique by Kitty Drexel

CONTENT ADVISORY:  This production contains depictions of addiction and self-harm, discussions of sexual assault, an extended strobe light sequence, herbal cigarette smoke, and loud noises.

BOSTON — A friend once told me, despite the burden mental illness can present, that the brain is trying to help. The myriad painful symptoms I and many others experience as effects of mental illness are the brain’s way of facilitating, even normalizing the abnormalities of life. Sometimes, I’d rather it not. 

Just because the brain is trying to help, it doesn’t mean the brain is actually helping. It takes tremendous discipline to correct negative behaviors and toxic thoughts and to learn new ones. Failure is inevitable. If it takes a village to teach toxic patterns, it takes another village to reinforce positive ones. 

SpeakEasy Stage’s People, Places & Things running at the BCA is about addiction, mental health, the theatre, and identity. Emma (Marianna Bassham in a performance that will blow your mind) is in denial. She abuses drugs to cope with her performing career, her family, and the life that happens in-between. She’s on so many drugs when she collapses on stage during a production of The Seagull, it’s a miracle she isn’t dead already.  Continue reading

Feb 05

Lead Me On to the Light: “The Bluest Eye” at The Huntington

The cast in The Huntington’s production of The Bluest Eye by Lydia R. Diamond; Photo by T Charles Erickson.

Presented by The Huntington 
Based on the American classic novel by Toni Morrison
Written by Lydia R. Diamond
Directed by Awoye Timpo
Choreography by Kurt Douglas
Music direction by David Freeman Coleman
Original music by Justin Ellington 
Dramaturgy by Sandy Alexandre 
Intimacy direction by Ayshia Mackie-Stephenson

January 28 – March 13, 2022
Digital access available through March 27, 2022
ASL-INTERPRETED PERFORMANCE: Friday, February 11 at 8pm.
OPEN CAPTIONED PERFORMANCE: Tuesday, February 15 at 7:30pm.
AUDIO-DESCRIBED PERFORMANCE: Saturday, February 26 at 2pm
Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA
Boston, MA
The Huntington on Facebook

The Bluest Eye plays in approximately one hour and 40 minutes with no intermission.

Content warning: every kind of violence amidst a Black community

Critique by Kitty Drexel

“Coming together in a circle to tell a story is essential to our humanity. That’s what we’re inviting the community into with The Bluest Eye.” – Director Awoye Timpo

Boston, MA — The synopsis for The Bluest Eye would have a newcomer believe that the play is about unattainable, western i.e. colonialist beauty standards. It is, but The Bluest Eye is about much more. 

Pecola Breedlove (Hadar Busia-Singleton) has come to stay with Claudia (Brittany-Laurelle) and Freida (Alexandria King). We learn through Claudia’s narration all about the Breedloves.  Mrs. Breedlove (McKenzie Frye, who tears the roof off in her role) and Mr. Cholly Breedlove (Greg Alverez Reid) are scarred from growing up in the Midwest. 

Through an examination of their stories, we come to understand Pecola and why she dreams of having blue eyes. Ramona Lisa Alexander,  Brian D. Coats and Lindsley Howard round out the cast. The cast is excellent together and individually in their own right.
Continue reading