Aug 04

“Translations” and Tribulations

Credit: Paul Cantillon, Lidecphoto.com

Presented by Bad Habit Productions
by Brian Friel
directed by M. Bevin O’Gara

August 2-17, 2014
Boston Center for the Arts
Calderwood Pavilion
Boston, MA
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Review by Gillian Daniels

Cultural erasure and the silencing power of colonialism—Translations is not a play that minces words. It’s a tragedy of linguistics. During the 19th century, the English army seeks to map out the Irish countryside, specifically the town of Baile Beag. In order to have unified names for the maps they draw, the soldiers end up Anglicizing the Gaelic names of rivers, roads, and mountain ridges. Staged by Bad Habit Productions, this play rages at the disappearance of local tradition in the name of Imperialism. Continue reading

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May 06

Laughter, Landmines, and an Historical Sitcom Fit for the Stage

Presented by Theatre on Fire
By Richard Curtis and Ben Elton
Directed by Darren Evans

April 26 – May 11, 2014
Charlestown Working Theater
Charlestown, MA
Theatre on Fire Facebook Page

Review by Gillian Daniels

Back in 1989, Blackadder Goes Forth aired on the BBC as a spectacular, grim comedy that lampooned World War I. The creators, Richard Curtis and Ben Elton, also worked on previous installments in the series, including the Elizabethan Blackadder II and the Regency-centric Blackadder the Third. Each new storyline used the same actors, particularly Rowan Atkinson, Tony Robinson, and Hugh Laurie, and pitted them against historical figures (Queen Elizabeth! Prince George!) and fart jokes. With director Darren Evans at the helm, Theatre on Fire works tirelessly to bring television to stage. For the most part, the humor translates beautifully. Continue reading

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Mar 03

Character-Building: EQUALLY DIVIDED

Photo by Meghan Moore. Pictured: Jill Tanner, Felicity La Fortune, Will Lyman and Anthony Newfield.

Photo by Meghan Moore. Pictured: Jill Tanner, Felicity La Fortune, Will Lyman and Anthony Newfield.

Presented by Merrimack Repertory Theatre
by Ronald Harwood
Directed by Charles Towers

February 13th – March 9th, 2014
Lowell, MA
MRT on Facebook

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Lowell) Professional baseball player Ichiro Suzuki once got into hot water for saying that when his team is losing year after year he focuses instead on playing for his own individual accomplishments.  To some, it showed selfishness, but to me it showed professionalism. Continue reading

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Dec 02

Charm Conquers All: CAMELOT

Photo credit: Andrew Brilliant/Brilliant Pictures

Photo credit: Andrew Brilliant/Brilliant Pictures

Presented by New Repertory Theatre
Books and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner
Music by Frederick Lowe
Original production directed and staged by Moss Heart
Based on “The Once and Future King” by TH White
Directed and choreographed by Russell Garrett
Musical direction by David McGrory
Dance Captain – Maurice Emmanuel Parent
Fight Captain – Michael J Borges

Nov. 23 – Dec. 22, 2013
Charles Mosesian Theater
Arsenal Center for the Arts
Watertown, MA
New Rep on Facebook

(Watertown) The Director’s Notes by Russell Garrett are excellent. An audience member desiring nostalgic information correlating Camelot to the anniversary of JFK’s assassination will be well pleased. For this purpose, I will not dwell on the JFK’s Camelot as Mr. Garrett has already done an excellent job of doing so in the programme. If you’d like to know more, see the show.

Considering the weight that the Kennedy Family carries in the US, one might expect Camelot to be a more serious show. Lerner and Lowe’s fluffy hit does examine some heavy issues but the majority of the script and lyrics are intended to entertain rather than educate. The sugary sweet production by New Rep does not fail in its mission to cheer Baby Boomers and to indoctrinate younger generations in classic musical theatre. Continue reading

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Jan 21

Good, Right, True: “Legend of Sleepy Hollow: An American Pantomime”

Imaginary Beasts 2013

Imaginary Beasts 2013; no horses were used in this production. They gave full consent.

presented by Imaginary Beasts: Winter Panto 2013
Part of the Emerging Theatre Company program

Conceived and written by Matthew Woods and the Ensemble

Directed by Matthew Woods
Choreography by Joey Pelletier and Kiki Samko

January 11 – February 2, 2013
Plaza Black Box Theatre
Boston Center for the Arts
Boston, MA
Imaginary Beasts Facebook Page

Review by Kitty Drexel

(Boston) The pantomime (panto) began its troubled youth as British entertainment based on the Elizabethan masque. It touched on classical subjects, included music and often borrowed from the Commedia dell’Arte style. These days, if one travels to jolly olde England during the Christmas and New Year’s season, one is confronted with vaudeville debauchery, bedazzled drag queens, slapstick and heaps of audience participation. It’s amazing that the US hasn’t already adopted the Panto and claimed it as our own invention. Enter Legend of Sleepy Hollow: An American Pantomime.

The form has been simplified and adapted for the small stage by Imaginary Beasts and contains the same wacky charm as its British cousin and more of the brash sassiness expected from the fringe theatre scene. We’re treated to country line dancing, Rocky references, and an extra hairy Fairy Godfather (Mikey DiLoreto) who speaks in rhyme and verse but not to a multimedia spectacular. The charm is in the ensemble’s work and it is served with campy flair. Continue reading

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Dec 06

A Decadent 18th Century Treat: “The Way of the World”

Photo credit: The Boston Conservatory

Written by William Congreve
Directed by Christopher Webb
December 4 – 7, 2012

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Boston) For a tragically short engagement, The Boston Conservatory has decided to showcase the adultery comedy of manners, The Way of the World.  The theatrical effort revives the Restoration-era play by William Congreve (1670 – 1729) for the contemporary stage.  With everyone in powdered wigs and dimpled with fake moles, Mirabell (Marchant Davis) plots to marry the clever Mrs. Millamant (Emily Shankman) by outwitting her wealthy, mean-spirited aunt, Lady Wishfort (the delightful Jacqueline Harding, playing her role with zeal). Continue reading

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Nov 16

Music to Rock a Revolution: “Rock ‘n’ Roll”

Photo credit: The Longwood Players; the cast does not headbang in this production.

 

Presented by The Longwood Players
By Tom Stoppard
Directed by Kaitlyn Chantry

Cambridge YMCA Theater
820 Mass. Ave.
Central Square, Cambridge MA
November 9 – 17
Longwood Players Facebook Page

Review by Kitty Drexel

(Cambridge) If you enjoy rock legends such as The Doors, The Velvet Underground, or Pink Floyd (Sid Barrett) with a dollop of political science philosophy, Rock ‘n’ Roll is for you. If not, I suggest skipping this heady production by The Longwood Players. There is a lot to value here but the cerebral participation necessary to enjoy Tom Stoppard’s work may overwhelm the audience goer expecting a lighter devotional to Rock. Continue reading

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Aug 17

Arcadia: The Paradise of Pursuit

Arcadia, by Tom Stoppard, Bad Habit Productions, Virginia Wimberley Theatre at the Boston Center for the Arts, 8/11/11-8/28/11.
http://www.badhabitproductions.org/shows/season/arcadia.html.

Reviewed by Becca Kidwell

Bad Habit Productions avoids pretension as it follows the serpentine path of thought from enlightenment to romance.  The witty exchanges bounce from the actors’ tongues to all four walls of the theatre.  The characters learn that the journey is more important than the definition of terms.  The production dances with little hesitation through the rhythmical patterns of Stoppard’s language. Continue reading

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