Jul 23

Coronavirus Take Me: “Edith VS. Quarantine”

Edith in all her glory.

​Presented, performed, and written by Amanda Erin Miller
Featuring: Rachel Evans, Melissa Shaw, Shawn Shafner, Lorin Taylor
Produced by FringePVD

Performed July 21, 2020 at 7:30PM
Website: How to Suffer Better, The Jew in the Ashram
Amanda Erin Miller on social media: 
Facebook
​Twitter
Venmo

Critique by Kitty Drexel

“What do you call an anti-vaxxer in the 1920’s? …Dead!” – Edith Shlivovitz

Trigger warning: screen kissing

YOUTUBE — Edith VS. Quarantine: 89 & One Tough Cookie opens on Edith Shlivovitz up to her elbows in household detritus for donation, ropes of pearls swinging around her neck, plastic-framed glasses matching perfectly her cheetah jumpsuit. Edith is a character: she won’t take any of your crap. She’s stir crazy and has no more fucks to give.

EVQ is what happens when a one-woman-show has reached peak performance. Edith, a widowed, Jewish, octogenarian housewife from New York who hasn’t left her apartment since March, is over the top archetype of old lady. 

Miller’s character shoots through Zoom, past the door of your bedroom and into the street like porn on an iPhone at a family reunion. Edith is holding her tits, listening to “Memory” and quoting Deepak Chopra. As the late Joel Schumacher said of his movie disasters, “nobody pays to see under the top.”  

EVQ is a an emotional journey. Folx who don’t enjoy a bit of the absurd with their raunch won’t get this show. Edith’s antics read like a peculiar Only Fans site for gawkers with very particular kinks. Edith references her dead husband Winston, chats with her taxidermied cat Clementine, and reenacts her favorite scenes from the thee-atre. 

Edith treats you, her guest, to several photo montages. She pitches her app idea, quotes Anaïs Nin’s erotica, and segues to her reality TV show. That’s what I remember from before I blacked-out from the silliness. 

Edith VS. Quarantine is not high art. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, either. It is a character sketch that depicts one woman going as far as she can go because the rules no longer apply. These are unprecedented times, and Edith is no longer at the mercy of society’s rules. If that isn’t inspirational, I don’t know what is.  

My sincere apologies to Miller re: review tardiness. The pandemic kills productivity like a mother.

Next performance of Edith VS. Quarantine: 89 & One Tough Cookie: Friday 7/24 at 7:30pm

FestivalPVD runs July 19 – August 1, 2020
Information about the 2020 festival HERE
FringePVD on Facebook

Jul 23

Faster than Eight Tiny Reindeer on Uppers : “Get Thee Behind Me, Santa”

Get Thee Behind Me, Santa: An Inexcusably Filthy Children’s Time-Travel Farce for Adults Only
Presented by Maximum Verbosity
Produced by FringePVD
Written and performed by phillip andrew bennett low

Performed on July 20, 2020 at 9PM
Website: Maximum Verbosity
Maximum Verbosity on Facebook 
Venmo
PayPal

Critique by Kitty Drexel

My sincere apologies to low re: review tardiness. The pandemic kills productivity like a mother.

ZOOM — Maximum Verbosity presents a holiday allegory to beat that tired one told every single Christmas. Get Thee Behind Me, Santa features cursing, sexuality, blasphemy and other microaggressions. 

Get Thee Behind Me, Santa is an exceedingly fast-paced holiday allegory with an occasional rhyme scheme that pulls no punches. Jesus of Nazareth, Saint Nick, two angels with a greater appreciation for the physical form and a cast of other characters are determined to live in a better timeline, a timeline without a Santa cult.

It makes fun of the Da Vinci Code but it’s more similar to the popular 2003 mystery novel than it isn’t. GTBM,S jumbles together art, religion, science fiction, film noir, and other seemingly incongruent references into one tale. Therein lies the intended humor. 

In humorous narratives of this ilk, the jumble of references is the point. Lists are par for the course. Except, GTBM,S is  told at such breakneck speed that we aren’t able to absorb all of phillip andrew bennett low’s puns and scenes. They aren’t funny if we can’t savor them. The image of elves with super soakers is funny but, with low’s telling, blink and you’ll miss it. The same goes with many of the other clever bits concerning the Bible, popular soft drinks, and the Mayan civilization. 

The funniest moments of GTBM,S are when low pauses after a character’s one-liner. Jesus said, “Howdy-do?” Low gave us time to react, so I did; I laughed.

Someone said (I couldn’t catch the character’s name), “I am amazed at how useless I find your vowels.” Low paused again; I laughed again. 

I was able to respond in real-time to low’s work. It felt amazing. Audiences of artists want to respond to an artist. Please let us. 

Theatre shouldn’t be a race to the finish… Unless it is.  If the point of GTBM,S was to impress the audience with how quickly and how much low can spit a monologue, low succeeds. But, we couldn’t tell that this was his goal. He needs to indicate this to us. 

Some of this can be excused by the medium of Zoom. A one-person show without an audience is torture for an artist. We create with the presumption that an audience will share the room when we perform. Without the audience, we fly by the seat of our pants. It’s anyone’s guess how things will turn out. We can only hope for the best.

Based on the GTBM,S trailer from the 2019 Minnesota Fringe, I’m going to make an educated guess that low’s speed is intentional. If low’s intent truly was to tell a convoluted story overflowing with references across modern and archaic world history while ripping Christianity a new one, he needs to slow down so the audience can receive the story.

Storytelling can be as alinear as the space time continuum but, if it’s for an audience, it also has to be available to that audience. Artists need to perform at the same speed that an audience listens. Anything else is masturbatory.   

Next performance of Get Thee Behind Me, Santa: Friday 7/24 at 9:00pm

FestivalPVD runs July 19 – August 1, 2020
Information about the 2020 festival HERE
FringePVD on Facebook

Jul 22

Klaatu Barada Nikto: “The Puritans”

Produced by Sparkhaven Theatre Company
Part of the Camp Strangewood Series
Written by Phaedra ​Michelle Scott
Directed by Hannah Pryfogle
Compositions by Alissa Voth

July 19, 2020 at 8PM
To watch with captions during the live broadcast, head to sparkhaventheatre.com/watch-strangewood.
Sparkhaven on Facebook

Critique by Kitty Drexel

YOUTUBE — The Sparkhaven Theatre Company’s anticipated series Camp Strangewood opened last Sunday, July 19 at 8PM. It’s fans gathered on YouTube to watch the first installation, The Puritans. Similar to Sparkhaven’s previous endeavors, it was spoopy, silly and uncannily relatable.  Continue reading

Jul 18

More Entitled than a Cis, White Man on the T at Rush Hour: “Incredibly Annoying Women”

Produced by HowlRound Theatre Commons
Presented by Asian American Theatre Artists of Boston (AATAB)
By Rosanna Yamagiwa Alfaro
Directed by Mallika Chandaria
Stage Managed by Karin Naono

Originally streamed on Wednesday, July 15 at 7 PM EDT
AATAB on Facebook
Featuring: Roxanne Y. Morse, Kendra Jain, Lisa Yuen, Vijaya Sundaram, Emily Kuroda

Critique by Kitty Drexel

ZOOM/HowlRound — The characters in Incredibly Annoying Women by Rosanna Yamagiwa Alfaro are unapologetic. These women take up space with their bodies and emotions like a cis man on the T at rush hour: legs sprawling to the left and right, arms resting on seat backs, backpack taking up a fourth seat. They aren’t inherently annoying but their unfounded entitlement is. Continue reading

Jul 15

“Waiting for Kim Lee” Doesn’t Do Asian American Women Justice

Presented by Asian American Theatre Artists of Boston
Written by Vivian Liu Somers
Directed by Alison Qu

Virtual Staged Reading, July 8, 2020, 7PM
HowlRound Theatre Commons
AATAB on Facebook

Critique by Diana Lu

ZOOM/HOWLROUND — Let’s be clear: Waiting For Kim Lee is not a play; it’s a rant, forced into a dialogue. I hate it when people screech from the steps of a soapbox and call it art (David Mamet* comes to mind). I also hate the superficial media representation-discussion that seems to be the only thing Asian American artists ever talk about.

That was fine in 2016, but right now, we’re dying of COVID-19 at higher rates than the national average and getting hate-crimed for America’s pathetic epidemic response. We’re struggling to keep our businesses afloat, and protesting for our right to exist, and for Black lives. Complaining about parents and how many auditions you’re getting right now seem like outdated and out of touch problems.

It would be one thing if Waiting for Kim Lee had anything especially insightful or new to say about it, but this play just recycles the same few talking points that have already been rehashed by every Buzzfeed article for the last five years. Not only are they stale, but they are also narrow-minded and miss the point. Continue reading

Jul 13

“Pride Marches On” is a Digital Showcase

Presented by Company One Theatre
Hosted by (and Featuring a Performance By) Neon Calypso
Poetry by Nico Pang
“Permission” Written by Kirsten Greenidge
Directed by Josh Glenn-Kayden
Performed by Tatiana Isabel Gil & Hayley Spivey
Technical Production by Mads Massey

Performance on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WOyjh79VsEo
Facebook link: https://www.facebook.com/companyone/

Review by Chloé Cunha

YOUTUBE — Pride – and just about everything else – may have been canceled this year, but leave it to the queer community to rally anyway and keep the show going. “Pride Marches On” is a digital showcase of a few different art forms, featuring poetry from Nico Pang, a play by Kirsten Greenidge, and a drag performance from Neon Calypso, who doubles as host for the show. It’s a short, fun and politically engaging piece of media for anyone who needs a break from their Netflix binge (be honest, you’re probably getting into some obscure territory by now anyway). Continue reading

Jul 10

What We Mean When We Say Black Lives Matter

Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA 10th Anniversary Ribbon Cutting: (L-R) BCA Chairman Philip W. Lovejoy, Huntington Trustees Gerald and Sherryl Cohen, Calderwood Charitable Foundation Trustee John Cornish, former Huntington chairman J. David Wimberly, (behind) Paul Grogan of The Boston Foundation, BCA Executive Director Veronique Le Melle, Huntington Chairman Carol G. Deane, (behind) former BRA member Harry Collings, former Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino, Bank of America Massachusetts State President Robert Gallery, Huntington Artistic Director Peter DuBois, (behind) former Huntington president William P. McQuillan, Huntington President Mitchell J. Roberts, Nancy Roberts, Huntington Managing Director Michael Maso, photo: Paul Marotta

Article by Kitty Drexel

BOSTON — The July 9 press release said, “Huntington Theatre Company announces the election of 4 new board members and the promotion of two Huntington Advisors to Trustee level. The election took place during the Huntington’s year-end meeting of the Board of Trustees and Advisors on June 8, 2020.”

The headliner of the press release, Tony, Emmy, and Grammy Award winner, director of Huntington productions, and historically relevant badass Billy Porter is a new trustee of the Huntington. Porter and global businessman Professor George Yip are the only two people of color added to the Huntington’s snowflake white board leadership. Three of the six promotions are white women. The other is, of course, a rich, cis, white male.

While we congratulate all of the new board and trustee members, we can’t help but notice the Huntington’s hypocrisy. The theatre penned and posted a Black Lives Matter solidarity statement on its website. The election of four white people flies in the face of that solidarity statement. Continue reading

Jul 07

Socially Isolated with “Macbeth”

Presented by Liars & Believers
Directed by Jason Slavick
Original Music and Sound Design by Jay Mobley
Additional Video by Sam Powell

June 18, 2020 – Present (Weekly)
https://www.liarsandbelievers.com/show/pandemicplay/

Review by Gillian Daniels

ZOOM — Liars & Believers slices off bite sized pieces of the Scottish Play for serialized consumption! In a world that demands us to simultaneously be far apart while empathizing with each other’s difficulties, we revisit a cautionary tale of a man whose name has become synonymous with backstabbing cruelty. In serializing Macbeth, we watch a show that absorbs the changes and horrors of our contemporary headlines and sense of unease each passing week. Continue reading

Jul 05

“Grindr” (An Operatic Ode to Absent Queer Community During Pandemic)


Grindr (And Other Concerns) Act 1: An Annotated Singthru

A Comedic Chamber Opera
Fundraiser for Marsha P. Johnson Institute

Directed by Ingrid Oslund
Music by Marc Hoffeditz
Libretto by MJ Halberstadt
Featuring performers Brad Baron, Jonathan Harris, Wes Hunter, Adrian Jones, Craig Juricka, Sara Kerr, and James Lesu’i

June 26 – 27, 2020

Content warning: adult themes and sexual references

Review by Gillian Daniels

ZOOM — “Queerness is about so much more than who you’re sleeping with. It’s also about a sensibility, a sense of camp,” says director Ingrid Oslund.

This could easily serve as the thesis for the zoom presentation of selected pieces from the comic opera-in-progress, Grindr (And Other Concerns). The show follows queer men Brandon, Riley, and Riley’s long-term, timid partner, Eugene, as they use and debate the merits of the titular hook-up app. Their odyssey includes such contemporary pratfalls as mysterious acronyms such as DDF (drug and disease free), sexually transmitted infections, and excitable adults obsessed with Disney. Continue reading

Jul 05

New Frontiers for Community Opera: “The ZOOMpresario”

Presented by Opera Del West
Based on The Impresario, A Comic Opera in one Act 
Music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
German text by Gottlieb Stephanie, Jr.
Additional English text and lyrics by Dan Shore
Video, stage direction by Brenda Huggins
Music direction by Eve K Budnick
Video engineering by Larry Budnick

Debuted to the internet on July 3, 2020
Available now on Youtube at https://youtu.be/4oEc6a8ORhs
Opera Del West on Facebook

Critique by Kitty Drexel

ZOOM — Based purely on the self-deprecating tones of Music Director Eve Budnick and Lyricist Dan Shore during the performance’s live pre-show, I was expecting The ZOOMpresario to be of poor quality and unenjoyable. I was happy to be wrong. 

Both Budnick and Shore discussed the abundance with great confidence about their inexperience with virtual software and video. This is the antithesis of how artists are taught to present themselves. They could have been impressing us with their performers’ adaptability in the times of quarantine. They could have been discussing how they molded Mozart’s one-act opera to modern times. Instead, we were lead to believe that The ZOOMpresario’s creators weren’t suited to their task by their own words.  Continue reading