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

Dec 19

Light and Frothy Secular Fun: “Irving Berlin’s White Christmas”

IBWC National Tour Company. Jeremy Daniel Photography, 2017. *Includes Makayla Joy Connolly

Presented by Work Light Productions
Based on the 1954 film “White Christmas by Norman Krasna, Norman Panama, and Melvin Frank
Music and lyrics by Irving Berlin
Book by David Ives and Paul Blake
Directed and choreographed by Randy Skinner
Music directed by Michael Horsley

Boch Center Wang Theatre
270 Tremont St
Boston, MA
IBWC on Facebook

Critique by Kitty Drexel

(Boston, MA) Irving Berlin’s White Christmas is the secular, heteronormative Christmas musical I didn’t know I needed to see the season. I was in a grumpy mood when last night. I was feeling so grinchy that I could have abandoned my theatre plans to don a furry, green unitard and guide an empty sleigh drawn by a single, overworked pup into the Boston streets. My mood was foul when the curtain rose. But, by the time the curtain went down, I was chipper with the holiday spirit. The dancing and singing in Irving Berlin’s White Christmas is so infectiously charming that I had no choice but be swept into a better mood. Continue reading

Dec 01

Salty Peanuts: “A Charlie Brown Christmas Live On Stage”

Image found via Facebook

Presented by Boch Center Schubert Theatre
Story by Charles M. Schultz
Music by Vince Guaraldi
Adapted by Eric Schaeffer

Dec. 1-2, 2018
265 Tremont, Boston, MA 02116
CB on Facebook

Review by Diana Lu

(Boston, MA) The CBS television special A Charlie Brown Christmas, which premiered in 1965, has long been a holiday favorite of mine. Before I understood its sophisticate themes or even its dialogue, the adorable cartoons, slow jazz, and children’s voices were instinctively and irresistibly soothing. Decades later, Charlie Brown’s dark horse demeanor and romantic ideals still hold up as a paragon of optimism in a world that makes it so easy become disenchanted and give up our hopes and dreams.

Continue reading

May 12

Love Flusters Money: ANNIE

Presented by Troika Entertainment, LLC
Book by Thomas Meehan
Music by Charles Strause
Lyrics by Martin Charnin
Based on the “Little Orphan Annie,” a comic strip by Harold Gray which was based on the 1885 poem “Little Orphant Annie” by James Whitcomb Riley
Directed by Martin Charnin
Choreographed by Liza Gennaro
Music directed and conducted by Keith Levenson
Animals wrangled by William Berloni

May 9 – 21, 2017
The Wang Theatre operated by Boch Center
Boston, MA
Boch Center on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

(Boston, MAI’m a stoic deeply bruised by current events, but Annie at the Wang is such an uplifting show that I was able to smile and think of happier times. This production is a fast-paced, clean cut piece of theatre. Escapism isn’t always productive, but this particular dose isn’t doing anyone any harm.   Continue reading

Dec 08

The Dude Does Not Abide: “Return of the Winemaker”

Print

Presented by Tir Na Productions
Written by Bernard McMullan
Directed by Carmel O’Reilly

Dec. 2 – 20, 2015
Davis Square Theater
Somerville, MA
Tir Na Theatre on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

Return of the Winemaker: An Irish Christmas Comedy  takes the piss out of two beloved institutions: Ireland and Christmas. It is not for the artistically insistent or the prudishly religious. In it, God sends his only begotten son to Ireland, of all places, to try again. Continue reading

Dec 04

Sharing the Joyful Word: BLACK NATIVITY

bnHeader_1130x284

Banner image borrowed from https://paramountboston.org/

Langston Hughes’ Black Nativity Dec. 2, 2015
Presented by Emerson College and National Center of Afro-American Artists
Book by Langston Hughes
Music & Lyrics chosen by Langston Hughes
Based on text from the Gospel of St. Luke
Executive Producer and Director: Voncille Ross
Assistant to the Director for Music: Stephen Hunter, Sr.
Choral Director for Children: Marilyn Andry
Choral Director for Adults: Milton L. Wright
Ballet Mistress: Desiree Springer

Dec. 4 – 20, 2015
ASL interpreted performances: Dec. 4, 6, 12, 13, 19, & 20, 2015
The Paramount Theater
Boston, MA
Paramount Theater on Facebook
Black Nativity Boston on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

Performances are open to the public beginning on Friday, Dec. 4. I was invited to a dress rehearsal. This review will be based on the wonderful performance the NCAAA so graciously allowed me to attend on Dec. 2, 2015.

(Boston, MA) Jesus was a Jewish man from Israel. Israel shares a border with Egypt which is in Africa. His birthplace, Bethlehem, is approximately six miles from Jerusalem. It takes about five hours to get to Be’er Sheva from Bethlehem if you catch the right bus (thank you Googlemaps). From there, you could get within the borders of Africa if you really wanted to but the journey would be pointlessly rough. I mention this to prove a point: given the physical location of Nazareth, Bethlehem and Jerusalem on a map, it is highly unlikely that Jesus was the blonde haired, blue eyed, white man that Christians enjoy depicting today. You’d have to travel on foot through Lebanon, then Syria and finally Turkey, or voyage across the Mediterranean Sea to Greece or Italy before hitting any majority of white people… And that’s in 7-2 BCE. Good luck finding an agent willing to sell you travel insurance. Continue reading

Nov 23

Festive and Fun: “A Civil War Christmas: an American Musical Celebration”

Photo image courtesy of the Facebook Page.

Photo image courtesy of the Facebook Page.

Presented by Wellesley College Theatre
Written by Paula Vogel
Music by Daryl Waters
Directed by Nora Hussey

November 18 – 22
Ruth Nagel Jones Theatre
Wellesly, MA
WCT on Facebook

Review by Danielle Rosvally

Christmas theatre is a very specific genre that requires a very particular mix to make effective (or even palatable).  The recipe starts with good old-fashioned holiday cheer; add a dash of nostalgia, a hint of history, a generous helping of family values, and (of course) finish with a generous sprinkling of festive music.  Paula Vogel’s A Civil War Christmas: An American Musical Celebration has all the necessary ingredients for the Christmas genre, but actually performing it requires a special touch.  The piece’s simplistic dialogue which features such tropes as characters telling you who they are before they begin to speak (“In the West Wing of the White House, President Lincoln’s maid was cleaning the floor…. Hi, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the show tonight?”) that have the danger to edge this play towards the realm of children’s theatre cheesiness, or satirical campiness. Continue reading

Oct 17

One Out of Three Ain’t Good: “A Number”

Photo by Andrew Brilliant / Brilliant Pictures

Photo by Andrew Brilliant / Brilliant Pictures

Presented by New Rep Theatre
Written by Caryl Churchill
Directed by Clay Hopper

Oct. 10 – Nov. 1, 2015
Arsenal Center for the Arts
Watertown, MA
New Rep on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

Apologies to the cast, crew and staff of A Number. Mrs. Drexel caught the sniffle plague and was unable to write intelligibly.

(Watertown, MA) Churchill throws us into the middle of the conflict: Salter (Dale Place) and son are violently discussing the son’s birth origins. Regardless of the half-truths Salter weaves, it is made clear that the Bernards (Nael Nacer) is one of any number of clones. The Bernards hate each other. Salter must come to terms with his rash decision to play God. In her pithy way, Churchill approaches identity, the morality of cloning by way of personal property, and the timeless conflict between nature and nurture. Continue reading

Dec 27

The ImprovBoston Holiday Spectacular

IB spectacular

Photo credit: Scott Istvan; About half of the cast: they have a lot of joy to cram down your pie hole.

Presented by ImprovBoston
Improv director: John Serpico
Writers: Jamie Loftus, Dave Grinstead, Andy Hughes, Allen McRae, Ramy Abdelghani, Scott Kremer, Steve Sarro
Original score by Steve Sarro
The Cast: Ryan Burrill, Dave Grinstead, Ashley Voltz, Alex Tennant, Dennis Hurley, Shiyan Bee, Amanda Sousa, Andy Short,Matt Fear, Ian Dyer, Lydia Jane Graeff, Danny Balel

Nov. 28 – Dec. 27, 2014
40 Prospect St
Cambridge, MA
IB on Facebook
Holiday Spectacular on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

Trigger warning: Shock humor alluding to blood and feces, child abandonment, Regis Philbin

(Cambridge, MA) December is a magical time of year. It’s alive with childlike wonder, joy and deep-seated loathing for the holiday obligation to spend every waking moment with your family who all are either sick or getting over something in a tiny house and the promise of no social boundaries. Everyone needs an excuse to get out of the house to let off some steam, so why not head over to ImprovBoston to check out their Holiday Spectacular show this week to beat the desperation before it hits? While not exactly spectacular, it is very fun. Continue reading

Dec 19

Sex, Lies & Antlers: “The Eight: Reindeer Monologues”

Presented by Happy Medium Theatre Company
By Jeff Goode
Directed by Mikey DiLoreto and Lizette M. Morris

December 17-22, 2013
­­­
The Factory Theatre
791 Tremont St. Boston, MA
Happy Medium Theatre on Facebook

Review by Danielle Rosvally

(Boston) Difficult issues are difficult to tackle. It seems simplistic to put things this way, but of the theatre I’ve seen which attempts to handle “BIG PROBLEMS”, the vast majority is markedly ineffective.

This comes from a variety of factors: it’s easy to devolve into bad writing habits when you’ve got a hot-button issue on your hands. I wish I could tell you how many times I’ve been bludgeoned with the two-by-four of justice or honestly by a well-meaning playwright who was simply trying to engage with society’s greater schema. Unfortunately, those instances have been so traumatic that I’ve managed to wipe most of them from my memory and replaced them with visions of dancing sugarplums. Continue reading