Jan 20

Lithgow Survives a Train-wreck: THE MAGISTRATE

John Lithgow (Aeneas Posket) and Dandies. Photo by Johan Persson

John Lithgow (Aeneas Posket) and Dandies. Photo by Johan Persson

Simulcast at the Coolidge Corner Theatre
Presented by the National Theatre in London

by Arthur Wing Pinero
directed by Timothy Sheader
lyrics by Richard Stilgoe
music by Richard Sisson
choreography by Liam Steel

Brookline, MA
January 17th and February 3rd, 2013

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Brookline) I defy you to dislike John Lithgow on stage or film. The veteran actor has had one of the most vibrant careers in film, staring in everything from the campy 80’s classic the Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension to the bloody television show Dexter. While Lithgow has amazing acting chops, much of his allure is that he appears to thoroughly enjoy himself in every role, showing the same joy as a child might upon getting his first role in a school production. His joy for acting can sometimes get in the way of his more miserable roles, but it’s impossible not to enjoy watching; his character may be dying of Alzheimer’s in Rise of the Planet of the Apes, but Lithgow still seems to be having the time of his life doing so.

It is Lithgow’s ability to have fun while acting that is the only fun thing worth watching in the Simulcast production of The Magistrate, beamed from the National Theatre in London. This unfunny comedy is a testament that a play can be terrible even though it’s English and based on an antique script. John Lithgow is Posket, the judge in question, an honest man who marries into a family that harbors one little secret that will upend their sense of decency. His wife, Agatha (Nancy Carroll), lied about her age when they first met, and her lie shaved five years off the age of her son from a previous marriage, as well. Everyone thinks the youth, Cis (Joshua McGuire), is a precocious 14-year old, including himself, but he actually is a normal and randy young adult. Hilarity is supposed to ensue as this secret is in danger of being revealed, but hilarity doesn’t. Continue reading

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Jan 20

Wistful Grief: SHAKESPEARE’S WILL

 

Seana McKenna as Anne Hathaway. Photo by Meghan Moore

Seana McKenna as Anne Hathaway. Photo by Meghan Moore

by Vern Thiessen
Directed by Miles Potter
Composed by Marc Desormeaux

presented by Merrimack Repertory Theatre

50 E. Merrimack Street
Lowell, Massachusetts 01852
January 10th – February 3rd, 2012
Merrimack Repertory Theatre Facebook Page

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Lowell) William Shakespeare may have done more than any writer of his time to examine both internal and external human drama, but he ducked the fight when it came to his own family; so goes the premise of Shakespeare’s Will, the taut and layered production now playing at the Merrimack Repertory Theatre. The Bard may get the headlines in the play’s title, but it is his absence that is the singular event that shapes the life of his wife, Anne Hathaway, who is the only character in this beautifully lonely one-woman play. Through the brave performance of Seanna McKenna, we are reminded that even in the shadow of greatness the drama of everyday is enough to create volumes of literature. Continue reading

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Jan 16

“Other Desert Cities”: Facades Collide With Reality

Photo caption: Anne Gottlieb and Christopher M. Smith in a scene from SpeakEasy Stage's production of Other DesertCities, running January 11 through February 9 at the Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts. Tickets at speakeasystage.com or 617.933.8600. Photo by Craig Bailey/Perspective Photo

Photo caption: Anne Gottlieb and Christopher M. Smith, Photo by Craig Bailey/Perspective Photo

By Jon Robin Baitz
Directed by Scott Edmiston

Presented by Speakeasy Stage Company
January 11 – February 9
Wimberly Theatre at the Boston Center for the Arts
Boston, MA
Speakeasy Stage Co Facebook Page

Review by Becca Kidwell

(Boston) At a time when nostalgia for the eighties is heightening (neon, rubber bracelets, leg warmers,
cut off tees), Jon Robin Baitz reminds us that our recent past was neither as lavish or simple
as we would like to contain it. As the last of the Reaganite politicians cling desperately to
the “grand old party,” gen-xers (like myself) try to find meaning out of a part of seeming trivial
history. Baitz sends a thermobaric weapon to the Wyeth household in the form of Brooke Wyeth, played by Anne Gottlieb. Continue reading

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Jan 15

“Vinegar Tom”: A Deceptively Timely Play

Photo credit: Whistler in the Dark; This show contains material that may trigger PTSD  - please try to see it anyway.

Photo credit: Whistler in the Dark; This show contains material that may trigger PTSD – please try to see it anyway.

presented by Whistler in the Dark Theatre
Vinegar Tom is presented by special arrangement with Samuel French, Inc.

by Caryl Churchill

directed by Mac Young
songs composed by Molly Allis, Juliet Olivier & Veronica Barron
music Composed and Performed by: Veronica Barron & Tony Leva
lyrics by Caryl Churchill

January 11th-February 2nd
The Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA
539 Tremont Street, Boston, MA 02116
Whistler in the Dark Theatre Facebook Page

Review by Gillian Daniels

TRIGGER WARNING

(Boston) Historical fiction is often said to reflect the era in which it’s written rather than the era it’s written about.  Caryl Churchill’s Vinegar Tom, originally performed in 1976, mirrors the growing awareness of feminism.  In 1600’s England, a group of women deal with being unmarried, unrepresented, and unwanted. The result is a play that’s appropriately bleak.

Vinegar Tom begins with Alice, portrayed by the excellent but often subtle Becca A. Lewis.  Lewis playfully drives the show as a young woman with a feather-light conscience despite having an infant son out of wedlock.  Her performance is credible not as a woman anachronistically independent or “ahead of her time,” but as someone who wants to marry and live on her own terms.  She is aided by her mother, Joan (Karin Webb), who is largely dismissed and derided by their town as an old hag. Continue reading

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Mar 18

An Imperfect Study of Grief : LOVE ALONE

Trinity Rep resident company member Anne Scurria as Helen and Brown/Trinity Rep MFA actor Leah Anderson as Clementine (foreground) in Love Alone by Deborah Salem Smith. Directed by Tyler Dobrowsky and Deborah Salem Smith, this world premiere drama is now playing at Trinity Repertory Company as part of the Three by Three in Rep. Sets by Michael McGarty, Costumes by William Lane, Lighting by Dan Scully. Photo by Mark Turek.

Love Alone by Deborah Salem Smith, Trinity Repertory Company, 2/28/12-5/27/12, http://www.trinityrep.com/on_stage/current_season/st.php,

Reviewed by Kate Lonberg-Lew

(Providence, RI)  

When someone you love dies unexpectedly, you struggle with grief. And so does the cast of Love Alone at the Trinity Repertory Company. Unfortunately, they also struggle to portray the nuance and rawness of the emotions that course through a person and a family at times such as these. Continue reading

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Mar 03

Monsters: A Midlife Musical Meltdown

Photo Credit: Mak Kramer Photography

Monsters! A Midlife Musical Meltdown; The Regent Theatre, GP Productions, and Image Theater, 2/25/12-3/10/12, http://www.regenttheatre.com/details/monsters_the_musical.

Reviewed by Becca Kidwell

(Arlington, MA) We’ve all been there (well, at least anyone 25 or older).  Years pass; we have successes and failures.  And then it hits us–where did all those years go?  Remember the wide-eyed 18 year old who thought he/she had everything figured out?  Monsters! A Midlife Musical looks at what happens when all of the insecurities, all of the doubts, and all of the concessions that have been made in Samantha’s life confront her on her 40th birthday. Continue reading

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Feb 23

Photograph 51: A Slighted Discovery

Becky Webber as Rosalind Franklin and Nick Sulfaro as Ray Gosling in Photograph 51 performing through March 18 at Central Square Theater, 450 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA. Presented by The Nora Theatre Company. Photo: A.R. Sinclair Photography

Photograph 51 by Anna Ziegler, The Nora Theatre Company, Central Square Theater, 2/9/12-3/18/12, http://www.centralsquaretheater.org/season/11-12/photograph-51.html.

Reviewed by Becca Kidwell

(Cambridge, MA) Photograph 51 chronicles Rosalind Franklin’s work, which leads to the discovery of the double helix structure of DNA.  Surrounded by men, Franklin does not have a chance for her voice to be heard amongst her male colleagues.  Nora Theatre Company’s production presents a truthful historical presentation of the discovery. Continue reading

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Feb 19

Daddy Long Legs: Musical Humor and Charm

Robert Adelman Hancock & Megan McGinnis, photo by Meghan Moore

Daddy Long Legs, Music and Lyrics by Paul Gordon, Book by John Caird, Based on the novel by Jean Webster, Merrimack Repertory Theatre, 2/9/12-3/4/12

Reviewed by Anthony Geehan

(Lowell, MA) The concept of love at first sight is something that has been around in theater and literature since the times of ancient mythology. There is another and more complicated hook for a love story however, in which two people fall in love without ever seeing each other. Such pieces as Mask, Sleepless in Seattle, and Parfumerie have taken on the concept that love can spark purely on personality and intrigue without any physical attributes taken into account. So it is with the musical Daddy Long Legs, a new performance being hosted by The Merrimack Repertory Theatre based off the book by John Caird. Continue reading

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Feb 18

The Merchant of Venice Pounds for Justice

(L to R) Trinity Rep resident company members Stephen Thorne, Rachael Warren and Brown/Trinity Rep MFA actor Mary C. Davis in The Merchant of Venice at Trinity Rep. A bold new setting brings to light the timelessness of Shakespeare’s controversial play. Directed by Artistic Director Curt Columbus, the show runs through March 11 in the Chace Theater. Set Design by Eugene Lee, Costume Design by Olivera Gajic, Lighting Design by Keith Parham. Photo by: Mark Turek.

The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare, Trinity Repertory Company, 2/3/12-3/4/12, http://www.trinityrep.com/on_stage/current_season/TN.php.

Reviewed by Becca Kidwell

(Providence, RI) . The Merchant of Venice is one of Shakespeare’s most difficult plays but also one of his most satisfying. Shakespeare’s play examines the intricacies of love, loyalty, and ethics among the citizens of Venice. Trinity Rep’s current production provides a clear straightforward rendition of the tale.
Continue reading

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Feb 16

Medea: Special Victims Unit – Corinth

Medea with Chorus, L to R: Sarah Newhouse*, Obehi Janice, Jennie Israel* & McCaela Donovan © 2012 Stratton McCrady Photography

Medea by Euripides, Actors’ Shakespeare Project, Cambridge Multicultural Arts Center, 2/8/12-3/4/12,  http://www.actorsshakespeareproject.org/whats-new/medea.  Mature content.  Not recommended for children under 13.

Reviewed by Becca Kidwell

(Cambridge, MA) No one who watches Court TV or Law and Order can deny the pull of a good crime drama.  Even those who pretend to be indifferent or opposed to crime drama cannot help being drawn in (and for those who are still pretending that they don’t care, wasn’t that you who tweeted about the Casey Anthony trial all of those times?).  What may surprise audiences of Medea is that society hasn’t changed much in 4000 years.  Actors’ Shakespeare Project brings to life a Greek drama that examines the dark impulses and desires that haunt not only the “cultured” audiences from Greece’s Golden Age, but also the dark realities of our own society.

Before the play even starts, the audience is surrounded by an air of mystery and foreboding.   Continue reading

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