Feb 14

Election Day: A Light, Non-Political Escape

Election Day by Josh Tobiessen, Happy Medium Theatre, The Factory Theatre, 2/9/12-2/18/12, http://www.happymediumtheatre.com/.

Reviewed by Gillian Daniels

(Boston, MA) In the tradition of screwball comedies, a relatable everyman is the victim of seemingly normal circumstances that escalate until someone’s handcuffed to a bed and there are Molotov cocktails in the freezer.  Well, maybe that’s not most screwball comedies, but the trajectory of Election Day is certainly familiar. Continue reading

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Feb 12

Shouting and Spittle: MONSTER

Monster by Neal Bell, Boston Center for American Performance/Boston University Theatre, Lane Comley Studio 210, 2/9/12-2/25/12, http://www.bu.edu/cfa/bcap/monster.html.

Reviewed by Craig Idlebrook

(Boston, MA) A play rarely works when the actors have to emotionally sprint throughout all acts.  A cast needs to pick its moments to ratchet up the tension and raise the stakes, or risk numbing the audience with melodrama.  Unfortunately, the Boston University production Monster begins at a precipice of volume and angst and never can climb down to connect with theatregoers.  Instead of communion, the production comes closer to an assault.

Monster is an ambitious staging of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.  At its best, the tale can be a window into the theme of the messy pain of creation and abandonment from God and/or our parents.  Continue reading

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Feb 02

The Real Thing: An Infidelity Play in Capable Hands

Joseph O'Meara, Mark O'Donald and Sarah Carlin (© 2012 Jon Sachs)

The Real Thing by Tom Stoppard, Salem Theatre Company, 1/28/12-2/18/12, http://salemtheatre.com/on_stage.htm.

Reviewed by Gillian Daniels

(Salem, MA) Much ink has been devoted to the subject of infidelity and romantic betrayal.  Whether in songs, books, or plays, it’s a well-worn trope.  Tom Stoppard recognizes this early on in The Real Thing, establishes that it’s a literary convention in the first scene, and spends the rest of the play dissecting what it really means to the characters. Continue reading

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Jan 30

A Well-Done Introduction to a Classic: THE WIZARD OF OZ

Katherine Leigh Doherty as Dorothy and ensemble in the Wheelock Family Theatre production of The Wizard of Oz. photo by Tony Paradiso.

The Wizard of Oz, By L. Frank Baum, music and lyrics by E. Y. Harburg, adapted by John Kane for the Royal Shakespeare Company, based upon the Classic Motion Picture owned by Turner Entertainment Co. and disbuted in all media by Warner Bros, Wheelock Family Theatre, 1/27/12-2/26/12, http://www.wheelockfamilytheatre.org/feature-performance.aspx.

Reviewed by Craig Idlebrook

(Boston, MA) If I hear one more mediocre stage actress imitate Judy Garland’s tortured delivery of Dorothy Gale from the movie version of The Wizard of Oz, I will buy the Wicked Witch of the West a poncho.  Inadequate productions of L. Frank Baum’s bizarre story often parrot the rampant overacting of the movie, with disastrous results.

Luckily, Wheelock Family Theatre director James P. Byrne and actress Katherine Leigh Doherty (Dorothy) set a fresh and nuanced tone to their production of The Wizard of Oz, rallying most of the cast to create characters that are both vibrant and familiar.  Continue reading

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Jan 25

FEN: In Between Living and Breathing

Fen by Caryl Churchill, Whistler in the Dark, The Factory Theatre, 1/20/12-2/4/12, (in repertory with A Number by Caryl Churchill),  http://www.whistlerinthedark.com/productions/wantedsomething.html.

Reviewed by Becca Kidwell

(Boston, MA) A lone girl sits amongst the dirt and potatoes of this agrarian society trying to chase away birds until she can try no more.  Striving for more than mere existence in a world controlled by tradition and an inflexible economy often seems futile in the Fenland.  Whistler In The Dark compels the audience to exist and hope with the characters for something more.

As the women in the play sing various choruses to songs, one is struck by the pure beauty in these women in this desolate place.  One also struggles with the evisceration of these women as they give their lives and their souls to the land.  With the assistance of Danny Bryck and an enormous amount of concentration, the actors speak with the flawless dialect of the British countryside.  Each cast member plays multiple characters in this dark landscape.  The main plot revolves around Val (Aimee Rose Ranger) who is trapped between her obligation to take care of her children and a desire for a better life in London with her lover.  She takes no solace in the vices of the other local folk such as valium, religion, dreams, or masochism as she is constantly pulled in both directions.  The one direction that she would want to go in, to London and a new life seems millions of miles away.

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Jan 24

Life is a cabaret, old chum

You and I, The Cabaret Series, Central Square Theatre, 2/13/12,

http://www.facebook.com/events/165355680235635/.

Interview by Becca Kidwell

(Cambridge, MA) On December 12, 2011, while many people were decking the halls and looking for luminescent reindeer, a group of people gathered for a warm evening of song with friends and family.  Much laughter and a few tears were shared as the five singers, the pianist, cellist, and drummer poured their hearts into an entertaining set of songs.  The December audience will have a new evening of heart-filled melodies on February 13th.  For those who did not make the December show, they will get to see what everyone was talking about as The Cabaret Series takes on love in all of its forms.

De’Lon Grant answered some questions about the inception of The Cabaret Series and the group’s approach to the shows: Continue reading

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Jan 23

Green Eyes: A Room With A View

Alan Brincks and Erin Markey Photo: Travis Chamberlain

Green Eyes  by Tennessee Williams, Company One in collaboration with Chris Keegan and The Kindness, The Ames Hotel, 1/18/12-2/26/12, http://www.companyone.org/Season13/Green_Eyes/info.shtml.  Contains nudity.

Reviewed by Anthony Geehan

(Boston, MA) “Welcome to my honeymoon,” the manic looking blond in the short white dress says “I do expect an invitation to yours.” She snaps a picture of the audience on an out of date Polaroid and then has one of its members unzip her dress as she strips down and gets into bed. This is the first part of the voyeuristic experience that is Green Eyes, a lost Tennessee Williams play currently being put on by a Company One and The Kindness at the Ames Hotel in Boston. Continue reading

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Jan 19

ART: A Matter of Perspective

l. to r. Robert Pemberton as Marc and Robert Walsh as Serge in 'ART'. Photo by Andrew Brilliant/ Brilliant Pictures.

Art by Yasmina Reza, New Repertory TheatreArsenal Center for the Arts, 1/15/12-2/5/12, http://newrep.org/art.php.

Reviewed by Becca Kidwell

(Watertown, MA) Art is…well, about art–the styles, philosophies, the impact on the individual.  When a person creates a work of art, using quality tools always helps in creating a quality piece (although that’s not to say that there aren’t some interesting works of art made from found objects).  Antonio Ocampo-Guzman starts with some of the finest:  a brilliant script and a trio of Boston talent.  Without any deeper analysis, those are two reasons to see the show.  The problem with art, as the play postulates, is that art is subjective and will not necessarily be seen the same through the same lens by each person. Continue reading

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Jan 16

A Mainly Nutritious Treat: Superior Donuts

Will LeBow, Omar Robinson. Photo by Mark S. Howard

Superior Donuts by Tracy Letts, Lyric Stage, 1/6/12-2/4/12, https://lyricstage.com/main_stage/superior_donuts/.

Reviewed by Craig Idlebrook

(Boston, MA) Allow me to digress right from the get-go and say that it’s worth the price of admission of Superior Donuts to watch Lyric Stage Producing Artistic Director Spiro Veloudos give his send-up of the standard fire-exits-and-cell-phones spiel before this play begins. A theater that sets loose a dry wit like Veloudos on the crowd before the play begins is bound to produce something worthwhile.

And Superior Donuts doesn’t disappoint.  Continue reading

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Jan 14

GOD OF CARNAGE: All Hail The Glorious Executioners!

Johanna Day, Brooks Ashmanskas, Stephen Bogardus, and Christy Pusz in Yasmina Reza’s GOD OF CARNAGE. January 5 – February 6 at the BU Theatre. huntingtontheatre.org. Photo: T. Charles Erickson

God of Carnage by Yasmina Reza, Huntington Theatre Company, 1/6/12-2/5/12, http://www.huntingtontheatre.org/season/production.aspx?id=10226&src=t.

Reviewed by Becca Kidwell

(Boston, MA) Yasmina Reza grabs the audience by the jugular and does not let go for an hour and a half.   The evening at the Novak’s house in God of Carnage could easily have a voice-over that says “when people stop being polite… and start getting real.”  However, unlike The Real World, Yasmina Reza brings a much more believable situation to its drama than any tv reality show.  By taking a situation that anyone can relate to and heightening it to the absurd degree, God of Carnage holds a mirror up to our inner demons and leaves us laughing through the pain.  Under the direction of Daniel Goldstein, with a talented cast, and a cleverly constructed set, Huntington Theatre Company’s production of God of Carnage is a “must-see” show of the season.

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