Apr 19

Constant Good Affections: “The Clearing”

Presented by Hub Theatre Company of Boston
By Helen Edmundson
Directed by Daniel Bourque
Assistant direction and dramaturgy by Isabel Dollar
Dialect coaching by Meredith Gosselin
Fight direction by Samantha Richert

April 5 – 20, 2019
First Church in Boston
66 Marlborough St
Boston, MA
Hub on Facebook

Critique by Kitty Drexel

(Boston, MA) The Clearing is about white on white ethnic cleansing. It is 1652 and Cromwell is rabid for Catholic land and English Royalist lives. His Parliament passed the Act for the Settlement of Ireland and sentenced them to lives in Connaught, deportation to Barbados, or to death. It wasn’t very pleasant for anyone except Cromwell’s cronies. Hub Theatre’s production isn’t a hopeful production (the colonizers win) but it tells a necessary story.  
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Apr 16

“Cardboard Piano”: Good Intentions, Poorly Executed

Photo by Andrew Brilliant/Brilliant Pictures; L-R: Rachel Cognata and Marge Dunn.

Presented by New Repertory Theatre
Written by Hansol Jung
Directed by Benny Sato Ambush

March 23 —April 14, 2019
The Dorothy and Charles Mosesian Center for the Arts
321 Arsenal St
Watertown, MA 02472
New Rep on Facebook

Critique by Diana Lu

(Watertown, MA) Cardboard Piano is a two-part sociopolitical drama. The first act portrays a young love affair between Chris, a missionary’s daughter (Marge Dunn), and Adiel (Rachel Cognata), a Ugandan teenager, and how it was torn apart by senseless homophobia and war violence. The second act sees the daughter return to Uganda 15 years later to find the man who killed her lover (Michael Ofori/Marc Pierre) reviving her father’s church and continuing to oppress his young, queer congregants. Continue reading

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Apr 09

The Knocking is Coming from Inside the Cabin: “Macbeth”

Presented by the Underlings Theatre Company
By William Shakespeare
Directed by Daniel Thomas Blackwell
Fight direction by Lauren Squier
Dramaturgy by Isabel Dollar

April 5 – 13, 2019
Mosesian Center for the Arts Blackbox Theater
321 Arsenal St
Watertown, MA
Underlings on Facebook

Critique by Kitty Drexel

(Watertown, MA) There is much to learn from the Underlings production of Macbeth currently open at the Mosesian Center for the Arts in Watertown. The cast and crew took some risks: some of them paid off, others did not. What is most important to glean from this production is that the Underlings boldly proceed towards their artistic goals for Macbeth. Risk taking theatre is by far more laudable than theatre that plays it safe no matter the outcome. Not everyone will agree with the risks that the Underlings took but, at the very least, the Underlings can boast that they performed their version.   Continue reading

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Apr 04

Mass Cultural Council Presents Communication Access in Plymouth, April 9, 2019

Join the Mass Cultural Council for a Community Conversation on the use of captions in theatre and performance!

Access to Theatre: Captions and Communications
Plymouth Library:  Tuesday April 9; 5:30-7:30pm
Please RSVP

massculturalcouncil.org
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(Plymouth, MA) Access is more than ramps and bathrooms.  Communication access is an obligation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  If you are a patron of the arts, have you simply stopped going to events? If you are a producer of theater, what do you know about captioning? This community conversation is for all of us on both sides of the experience.

Captioning can engage new audiences as well as re-engage old audiences.  Our discussion will address institutional obligations, effective messaging, captioning software, and funding resources; as well as the BIG aspirational principles of “access” when striving for robust audience engagement.

Join us for a Community Conversation on effective accessible communication practices in theatre and live performance!

The Plymouth Public Library is located at 132 South Street in Plymouth MA 02360. 1-508-830-4250. RSVP or Sandy Spekman at sspekman@gmail.com

This event is sponsored by the Hearing Loss Association of America, Plymouth Chapter (HLAA), and the Mass Cultural Council’s Universal Participation (UP) Initiative. This event will be captioned in Real Time (CART). The library is physically accessible.

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Apr 01

He’s Asking For It: “Extremities”

Photo credit: Ashley Yung; Alissa Cordeiro (Marjorie)

Presented by Also Known As Theatre
In partnership with Boston Area Rape Crisis Center (barcc)
By William Matrosimone
Directed by Alexandra Smith
Fight choreography by Jessica Scout Malone

March 28 – April 13, 2019
First Church Cambridge
11 Garden St.,
Cambridge, MA 02138

Critique by Kitty Drexel

Trigger warning: assault, sexual assault, gas lighting, victim blaming

(Cambridge, MA) It’s a cruel and unusual punishment to be found at guilty of assault when protecting oneself from attacker. Cyntoia Brown served 15 years in prison for murdering a man who bought her for sex so she could flee. At 16 years old, she was tried her as an adult and sentenced to 51 years in prison without parole. She has only recently received clemency for her unreasonably harsh and unjust sentencing. Also Known As Theatre’s production of Extremities puts into stark relief just how easy it is for the US legal system to turn on women for not performing victimhood to exacting standards. Brown is receiving a modicum of justice but how many women will not? Continue reading

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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.


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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

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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

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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

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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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