Jun 25

The Emperor Has No Clothes: ‘Masquerade’ Was a Smug, Misogynistic Mess


Presented by Cherry Orchard Festival
Produced by Vakhtangov State Academic Theatre of Russia
Based on the ‘verse drama’ by Mikhail Lermontov
Directed by Rimas Tuminas
Set Design by Adomas Yatsovskis
Costumes by Maxim Obrezkov
English Subtitles by Ivan Samokhin

June 18—19, 2019
Emerson Cutler Majestic Theatre
Boston, MA 02116
Cherry Orchard Festival on Facebook

Critique by Diana Lu

(Boston, Mass.) My program calls Masquerade a “verse drama.” That’s about the most pretentious thing I’ve ever seen. Even Shakespeare just wrote “plays.” Other reviewers keep comparing this 19thcentury Russian romantic play to Shakespeare’s Othello. I’m sure writer Mikhail Lermontov filched his basic plot points from The Bard, but the similarities end there. Continue reading

Share with Your Audience
Jun 18

Darkness Eats Unwanted Souls, or The Homeless are Human: “King of Shadows”

Trinidad Ramkissoon and Laura Chowenhill in “King of Shadows.” Photo via Flat Earth’s Facebook page.

Presented by Flat Earth Theatre
By Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
Directed by Michael Hisamoto
Puppetry by Amy Lehrmitt
Intimacy direction by Betsy S. Goldman

June 7 – 22, 2019
Mosesian Center for the Arts
Watertown, MA
Flat Earth on Facebook

Critique by Kitty Drexel

Disclaimer: I auditioned for this production, and was not cast. It is my opinion that only a jackass would allow rejection, a natural process of auditioning, to taint their review.

Trigger warnings: mentioned sexual abuse, mentioned sex work (which is real work)

(Watertown, MA) There is a lot of ambiguity in Aguirre-Sacasa’s King of Shadows. He doesn’t communicate a clear message to his audience.  Specifically, he doesn’t clarify what it is he’s trying to say. At no fault of Flat Earth, Hisamoto or the cast, Aguirre-Sacasa implies in only uncertain terms that teen homelessness is bad, rich grad students with savior complexes are ineffective, and fairytales are fun. The details are a mishmash of complications. Flat Earth does a good job with the script, but Aguirre-Sacasa isn’t doing them any favors. Continue reading

Share with Your Audience
Jun 17

Close Your Eyes and Think of England: “Cloud 9”

Cast of “Cloud 9”
Photo: Nile Scott Studios

Presented by the Nora Theatre Company
By Caryl Churchill
Directed by Lee Mikeska Gardner
Voice and Music direction by Caitlin Gjerdrum
Dramaturgy by Sophie Gore
Text and dialect coaching by Allison Olivia Choat

June 6 – 30, 2019
Central Square Theater
Cambridge, MA
CST on Facebook

Critique by Kitty Drexel

Warning: this post contains spoilers. The spoilers are necessary to the conversation.

Trigger warnings: child abuse, mentions of domestic violence, racism, sexism, creepy dolls

Satire: (noun) sat·​ire | \ ˈsa-ˌtī(-ə)r
Definition of satire

1 : a literary work holding up human vices and follies to ridicule or scorn
2 : trenchant wit, irony, or sarcasm used to expose and discredit vice or folly – Per the Merriam-Webster online dictionary

(Cambridge, MA) Satire doesn’t have to be funny. Most satire is funny, but it isn’t a hard and fast rule. Much of comedy is found funny because of its treatment of serious topics. For example, jokes about the Boston Str8 Pride Parade* will get a laugh in some situations. In other situations, the jokes don’t land because this parade represents unadulterated hate towards the LGBTQ+ community. We understand why your jokes are “funny,” but it’s our lives those neo-nazis are protesting. The protest might be funny if it were satire – But it isn’t. It’s real. We’re real too. 

I mention this because the themes that Caryl Churchill attacks in Cloud 9 are real too. Heteros still think that the LGBTQ+ community is asking for extra protections. People of Color (POC) are being massacred in the US for their audacity to take up space. These things aren’t funny but jokes about them can be if told properly. Cloud 9’s themes are still relevant. Continue reading

Share with Your Audience
Jun 14

Like A Bird Made of Light: “Yerma”

Nadine Malouf (Yerma). Photo Credit: T Charles Ericksonn© 

Presented by the Huntington Theatre Company
Adapted and translated by Melinda Lopez
Based on the play by Ferderico Garcia Lorca
Directed by Melia Bensussen
Original music by Mark Bennett
Choreography by Misha Shields
Fight direction and intimacy direction by Claire Warden & Ted Hewlett

May 31 – June 30, 2019
Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA
Boston, MA
Huntington on Facebook

Critique by Kitty Drexel

Trigger warnings: sexual acts, hallucinations & mental illness

(Boston, MA) It is 2019 and the United States government is at war with its people. Laws that aim to control anyone with a uterus are rushing through courthouses at an unprecedented rate. They aren’t protecting life; they are punishing women for having sex. Cadavers have more agency than women. Meanwhile, the foster care services in these same states are overwhelmed with children that desperately need good homes. Saying that the Huntington’s production of Yerma is topical is an understatement. Yerma approaches childbirth not from an opposite standpoint but an adjacent one. The right to choose also means choosing to have a child. Continue reading

Share with Your Audience
May 22

An Alternate Tyranny and Timeline in Handel’s “Silla”


Presented by The Cambridge Chamber Ensemble
Music by G.F. Handel
Libretto by Giacomo Rossi
Music Directed by Juliet Cunningham
Stage Directed by Ingrid Oslund
Produced/Executive Direction/Translation by Martha Birnbaum
Rossana Chung, violin
Rob Bethel, violincello
Lisa Putukian, oboe
Juliet Cunningham, harpsichord
May 17 – May 19, 2019
Warehouse IX
Somerville, MA
The Cambridge Chamber Ensemble on Facebook

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Somerville, MA) Roselin Osser as Silla has the wild eyes, swagger, and exquisite cheekbones of a villain as he dominates the stage. In this alternate version of 2019, the Roman Republic is alive and well and Silla, after a successful military campaign, announces that he plans to rule as Perpetual Dictator of Rome. The reporters are horrified. Silla’s wife, Metella (the hilarious Theresa Egan) grits her teeth and stands by her man. As Silla begins to openly lust after other women and jail his political enemies, however, Melania–I mean, Metella, yes, begins to wonder just how much her loyalty to a tyrant husband is worth. Continue reading

Share with Your Audience
May 07

“black odyssey boston”: Greek Myth Meshes Beautifully with African Diaspora

Brandon G. Green & Johnny Lee Davenport. Photo: Nile Scott Studios.

Presented by by The Front Porch Arts Collective & Underground Railway Theater
Written by Marcus Gardley
Directed by Benny Sato Ambush
Choreographed by Melissa Alexis
Music Directed by Alyssa Jones

April 25 – May 19, 2019
Central Square Theatre
450 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139
black odyssey boston on Facebook

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Cambridge, MA) Brandon G. Green is Ulysses Malcolm Lincoln, a soldier who’s unmoored. Not just unmoored on the sea, but unmoored in time, place, and personhood. We follow him on a journey as episodic as The Odyssey with as much raw, mythic power. The classic epic has been broken down and rebuilt with a mosaic of African diaspora culture. black odyssey boston is truly an epic in that it is three hours of fantastical and strange adventures. It finds its way home, however, not when it tries to piece together every popular touchstone it can lay its hands on, but when it focuses on the human relationships of its characters. Continue reading

Share with Your Audience
May 03

“/peh-LO-tah/” a futbol framed freedom suite


Presented by ArtsEmerson
Created by Marc Bamuthi Joseph/The Living Word Project
Performed by The Living Word Project
Choreography by Stacey Printz
Composed by Tommy Shepherd
Directed by Michael John Garcés

May 1 – 5, 2019
Emerson Paramount Center
Boston, MA
ArtsEmerson on Facebook

Review by Noe Kamelamela

(Boston, MA) Arts Emerson is presenting what could be the last five performances of /peh-LO-tah/ in its current incarnation this week.  After years of performances, the exploration of futbol and America which fuses dance, spoken word, song, and projected video into a semi-cohesive whole ends its tour.  A Black American Man tells his life story through his love affairs with the game. His expanding awareness of the world fills the space as he tells his tale. Soccer fans may also engage with spoken word and musical interludes featuring other ensemble members. Continue reading

Share with Your Audience
Apr 29

“American Moor”: The Black Man And The Play

Presented by ArtsEmerson
Written and Performed by Keith Hamilton Cobb
Directed by Kim Weild
Lighting Design by Alan C. Edwards

April 10 – 21, 2019
Emerson Paramount Theatre
Boston, MA
ArtsEmerson on Facebook

Critique by Diana Lu

(Boston, MA) American Moor is a masterpiece of a one-man show. Written and performed by accomplished actor Keith Hamilton Cobb, the 90 minute monologue portrays the interior narrative of an overqualified black actor as he goes through yet another disheartening audition to play Shakespeare’s Othello for yet another clueless white Director (Josh Tyson). The descriptive prowess of Cobb’s blow-by-blow detail plays out like The Old Man and the Sea. His impressive acting chops create some of the most intense, emotionally raw, and true to life moments I’ve ever seen on any stage, including The Globe Theater in London.
Continue reading

Share with Your Audience
Apr 25

Guns Are Implicitly Made for Killing: “Trigger Warning”

L to R: Steve Auger, Lilly Brenneman, Liz Adams; Photo courtesy of Zeitgeist Stage Company

Presented by Zeitgeist Stage Company
By Jacques Lamarre
Directed by David J. Miller

April 12 – May 4, 2019
Plaza Black Box Theater
Boston Center for the Arts
Boston, MA
Zeitgeist on Facebook

Critique by Kitty Drexel

Trigger warnings: gunshot sound effect, screaming, domestic violence, mentions of suicide, historically accurate newsreel depicting survivors fleeing danger, cop violence  

(Boston, MA) This month marks the 20 year anniversary of the Columbine High School massacre. I remember watching it on TV with my brothers before, realizing there was nothing I could do, going to work out. I just knew that my thoughts and prayers would bolster the victims through those hard times.

I was 18 and naively trusted our government to prevent this tragedy from ever repeating. Unfortunately, as the students of Parkland, Virginia Tech, Sandyhook and others attest, the US Govt. has failed its citizens. It can’t even pass moderate gun control measures. Theatre such as Zeitgeist’s Trigger Warning will continue to be necessary until our money-grubbing politicians can wean themselves of the NRA’s violence-hemorrhaging teets. Continue reading

Share with Your Audience
Apr 22

A Bone to Pick with “Sylvia”

Photo by David Costa; L/R: Allan Mayo (Greg) and Shana Dirik (Sylvia)

Presented by Theater UnCorked
Directed by Michelle M. Aguillon
Written by A.R. Gurney

April 18-21, 2019
Calderwood Pavilion
539 Tremont Street
Boston, MA 02116
Theater UnCorked on Facebook

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Boston, MA) You need to know that I really love dogs. I watch videos on YouTube of dogs playing, ashamed of chewing through things, and mindlessly devoted to various owners as they try to follow them to work. But in watching Sylvia, I couldn’t make space in my heart for it the way I have done for pitbulls, goldens, and mutts. The story is just that the dog’s played by a lady (Shana Dirk) and the man who adopts her, Greg (Allan Mayo, who has a gentle, nervous presence), adores her while the put-upon, uptight wife, Kate (the formidable Kim McClure), is jealous. Repeat joke until end of play. Curtain. And folks who want just that out of their theater experience will be satisfied. Continue reading

Share with Your Audience