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
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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.


Mar 22

On A Dime: “Dragon Lady”

Presented by by A.R.T. Breakout, part-one of the Dragon Cycle
Created and performed by Sara Porklob
Original music by Peter Irving
Band: Hot Damn Scandal
Directed by Andrew Russell

March 20 – April 6
Club Oberon
2 Arrow Street
Cambridge MA, 02138
A.R.T. on Facebook

Critique by Kitty Drexel

(Cambridge, MADragon Lady is the courageous story of how potty-mouthed, gangsta grandma Maria Porkalob traveled from the Philippines to the US as told by her granddaughter Sara Porkalob.  This one woman show/dramatic cabaret is intensely passionate. The events of Maria’s stories might not be exactly true. What is true is the emotional veracity with which it is told.

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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

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

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

Mar 14

Loins of Pain: “The Rape of Lucretia”

The morning after. Lucretia (Kelley O’Connor, kneeling) and Bianca (Margaret Lattimore,). Photo by Liza Voll.

Presented by Boston Lyric Opera
Music by Benjamin Britten
Libretto by Ronald Duncan
After the play by Andre Obey
Music direction by David Angus
Stage direction by Sarna Lapine
Dramaturgy by John Conklin
Movement/intimacy direction by Yury Yanowsky

March 11 – 17, 2019
Artists for Humanity Epicenter
100 West 2nd Street
Boston, MA 02127
BLO on Facebook

Sung in English with English supertitles

Critique by Kitty Drexel

Trigger warnings: sexual violence

(Boston, MA) The Rape of Lucretia is about how a sexual assault turned into a war. It’s a timely message… But it’s always been a timely message. Women die at the hands of their abusers everyday. They will continue to do so until society values the lives of women as much as it does power. Boston Lyric Opera partners with Boston Area Rape Crisis Center and Casa Myrna to discuss Britten’s opera about rape and politics.   Continue reading

Mar 09

Applications Invited for Theatre on Fire’s Fun & Games Festival!

The Fun & Games Festival

A festival celebrating the spark of joy and the value of play. We’re taking fun risks, playing games with forms, and leaping before we look.

May 2 – 19, 2019 at the Charlestown Working Theater

More information can be found HERE. 

What the Festival Is:

You are invited to participate in a festival of theatre and performance at the Charlestown Working Theater, curated by Theatre on Fire, with a focus on playfulness (in all forms), experimentation, and most of all: FUN. The world is a dark place right now, as we are constantly reminded. So let’s take some time to remind ourselves of the what brings us joy in a festival format.

What We’re Looking For:

Collaborators like you who have something fun to present! Programmed shows will run a minimum of 30 minutes and a maximum of 60 minutes. New works are encouraged but not required.

 

“Fun,” “games,” and “play” can mean different things to different people, and we’re all about that. Maybe you want to play games with theatrical forms? Maybe you want to host an interactive game night instead of a performance? Maybe a stand-up comedy night is on your mind? We’re open to many ideas, though shows should be consistent with the themes of the festival and with the mission and values of Theatre on Fire.

If you may be interested in participating, please fill out this Expression of Interest form

If you have questions before you fill out that form, please email evans.darren@gmail.com.

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

Mar 09

“When Angels Fall”: El Greco Would Be Proud

When Angels Fall – Photo Credit: Georges Ridel

Presented by ArtsEmerson
Direction and Choreography by Raphaëlle Boitel
Artistic Collaboration, Set and Light Design by Tristan Baudoin
Original Soundtrack and Sound Design by Arthur Bison
Costumes by Lilou Hérin
Rigging, Machinery and Set Design by Nicolas Lourdelle

February 20 – 24, 2019
Emerson Cutler Majestic Theater
219 Tremont Street
Boston, MA 02116
ArtsEmerson on Facebook

Review by Diana Lu

(Boston, MA) When Angels Fall melds dance, aerial circus, slapstick humor, cinematic visual arts and more to weave a fantastical tale of fallen angels (or humans) trying to make sense of their harsh dystopian landscape and their places within (or without) it. As a synthesis of disparate disciplines, director and choreographer Raphaëlle Boitel has crafted a truly original new performance art, and this is a major artistic accomplishment in and of itself. 

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Mar 05

Not That Kind of Review: Bedlam’s “Pygmalion”

The cast; Photo by Nile Scott Studios

Presented by Bedlam Theatre Company
Directed by Eric Tucker
Written by George Bernard Shaw

January 31, 2019 – March 3, 2019
Central Square Theatre
450 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139
Central Square Theater on Facebook

Review by Diana Lu

(Cambridge, MA) Central Square Theatre hosts New York City’s Bedlam Theatre Company in their revamped version of Pygmalion, by George Bernard Shaw. This is the classic story of English phonetician Henry Higgins (Eric Tucker) discovering and training working class waif Eliza Doolittle (Vaishnavi Sharma) on the speech and manners of a proper English lady, to the ultimate folly of both. Bedlam’s new interpretation returns to Shaw’s original feminist conception of Eliza and Henry’s fraught relationship and also changes the Doolittle family to Indian immigrants, ostensibly to reflect modern day issues of gender, class, and immigration in the US. It was a very well done production, and I’m sure there will be many reviews which praise all its various technical merits. This review isn’t one of them. Continue reading