Jan 26

Caregiver Vents and Mourns in “Mala”

Presented by Huntington Theatre Company and ArtsEmerson
Written and performed by Melinda Lopez
Directed by David Dower

Jan. 6 – Feb. 4, 2018
Calderwood Pavilion
Boston Center for the Arts
Boston, MA

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Boston, MA) “Dying doesn’t make you wise,” says Melinda Lopez, describing the death of her tough, stubborn mother. “Dying doesn’t make you generous.” The words could serve as the thesis of Mala, a story of a loyal daughter processing guilt and bitterness over the death of her elderly parents. Baked into the subject matter is a grim but gentle humor, one that picks at the coat of polish usually applied to recollections of the grieving process. Lopez’s pain, here, is visceral and true, not some softly lit movie set. Continue reading

Dec 24

A Mobile, Spectacle-Driven Adaptation of “Sense and Sensibility”

Presented by Bedlam
Written by Kate Hamill
Based on the novel by Jane Austen
Directed by Eric Tucker

December 10, 2017 – January 14, 2018
The American Repertory Theater (A.R.T.)
ART on Facebook

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Cambridge, MA) Communicating the swift wit of a Jane Austen story is sometimes lost in an adaptation of her work. What better metaphor for the pace and quick gossip of polite society than a stage where all the furniture has wheels and actors move across it with the precision of a ballet? Bedlam, in its own words, “creates works of theatre that reinvigorate traditional forms in a flexible, raw space.” This adaptation is as kinetic and flexible as described, but it works best when its uses its techniques to highlight Austen’s source material, not when they try to rely on special effects. Continue reading

Nov 07

We Want More of “OUT’hood FEST!”

Presented by The Theater Offensive
Performers: Eddie Maisonet, Erin Ebony, Danny Harris Sr., Cheyenne Harvey, and J.D. Stokely

October 30, 2017
Hibernian Hall
184 Dudley Street, Boston, MA 02119
Roxbury, Massachusetts

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Roxbury, MA) OUT’hood FEST is a festival designed to by and for the voices and works of local LGBTQ POC. The night I attended was specifically a “taster” of this talent, the culmination of The Theater Offensive’s pilot program, the OUT’hood Residency. This program supports the creation of artwork by, for, and/or about LGBTQ people of color who are local to Boston. If what I saw this year was any indication, this festival will invigorate some of the most versatile artists of the Boston community. Storytellers Eddie Maisonet, Erin Ebony, Danny Harris Sr., Cheyenne Harvey, and J.D. Stokely certainly shined, and I look forward to finding more of their work. Continue reading

Oct 30

“Robyn is Happy” Deals in Devastating Discomfort

The Hub Theatre Company of Boston presents “Robyn is Happy” through Nov. 11 at the First Church Boston. PHOTO COURTESY HUB THEATRE OF BOSTON

Presented by Hub Theatre Company of Boston
Written by Michael Elyanow
Directed by Kelly Smith

October 27 – November 11th
First Church Boston
Boston, MA
Hub Theatre Company of Boston on Facebook

Review by Gillian Daniels

 (Boston, MA) Robyn (the confident, hilarious Amie Lytle) has been acting unpredictably since her divorce, alienating her friends of twenty-seven years, the neurotic Trudy (warmly portrayed by Lauren Elias) and sensible Hannah (Christine Dickinson, who delivers a powerful performance). Their friendship is tested as each character redraws their personal boundaries. The actresses hand in fantastic performances, but Robyn is Happy shifts from human melodrama to whacky unreality without pumping the breaks. My problem is largely with finding in what level reality the story is set. Continue reading

Oct 30

Moby Dick, Disassembled in [or, the whale]

Photo courtesy of imaginary beasts’ Facebook page.

Presented by imaginary beasts
Written by Juli Crocket
Directed by Matthew Woods
Musical Composition by Kangaroo Rat Music (Anna Bell & Tim Desrosiers)
Movement Coaching by Molly Kimmerling and Amy Meyer

October 14-November 4, 2017
Charlestown Working Theater
Charlestown, Massachusetts
[or, the whale] on Facebook

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Boston, MA) “No one remembers an Ahab with two legs,” SHE (Raya Malcolm) tells the third member of the Ahab chorus, Danny Mourino, before sweeping him through a door that exudes a blue, haunting light. This disassembled retelling of Moby Dick is similarly haunting, stylish, and similarly full of light, specifically light slapstick, cheerful music, and a cast of tumblers on a colorful, creepy set complete with giant whale ribs. It’s delightful and strange, and I would expect nothing less from imaginary beasts. Continue reading

Oct 24

Malicious Intent to Thrill: CIRQUE OF THE DEAD

Presented by Boston Circus Guild
Directed by Creature aka Karin Webb

October 26 – October 31, 2017
The Oberon
2 Arrow Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
Cirque of the Dead on Facebook

Review by Gillian Daniels

CONTENT WARNING: Gory, sexy, bloody, violent, and meant to thrill.

(Cambridge, MA) Local comedian and artist Wes Hazzard is the MC and game master for an evening of aerial stunts and scantily clad performances. In between explicit clips from horror films and faux murders, Hazzard charms the audience with jokes and 1990’s references. He, and the ska-rythums of the fantastic Emperor Norton’s Stationary Marching Band, grounds the twisted, dark menagerie in charisma. Continue reading

Oct 10

“The Ghost Sonata” is a Vivid Nightmare

​Presented by Fort Point Theatre Channel
Written by August Strindberg
Directed by Christine Noah

October 6 – October 14, 2017
Fort Point Theatre Channel
Cambridge YMCA Theater
820 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, Massachusetts
Fort Point on Facebook

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Cambridge, MAThe Ghost Sonata is a fever dream wrapped in layers of turmoil and funny, disturbing absurdity. It’s staged to juxtapose the philosophical musings of a 1907 play on the material evils of the world with the current, oppressive toxicity of the contemporary political climate which social media does a great job of worsening. It’s a beautifully-executed nightmare. Continue reading

Sep 11

Too Much of a Good Thing is Just Wonderful: Why Have One Thing “Or,” the Other When You Can Have It All?

Photo by Chelsea Ruscio.

Presented by Maiden Phoenix and Simple Machine
By Liz Duffy Adams
Directed by Adrienne Boris
September 8 – September 23, 2017

Chelsea Theatre Works
189 Winnismmet Street
Chelsea, MA 02150
OR the play on Facebook

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Chelsea, MA) I sometimes think going to a play is a bit like going to a party where you know nobody at all, save for the person you bring with you. Sometimes, the party can leave you feeling adrift and awkward in your own skin. Other times, you meet some funny, clever people you never expected to meet. They are delighted to include you, for an hour or so (or an eighty minute run time without intermission), in the intimate secrets of their lives and draw you close with the honesty only complete strangers would dare to share with you. The sweet, hilarious, and deliciously bawdy “Or,” is such a party. I recommend attending as soon as possible in order to enjoy the yarn spun between Kaylyn Bancroft (Nell Gwynne/Lady Davenant/Maria/A Jailer), Michael Poignand (as slimily charming King Charles II and charmingly slimy William Scott, divided by a common language with different annunciation) and Anna Waldron (Aphra Behn). Continue reading

Aug 08

“Chess”: When the World is Not Your Oyster

Photo credit: Julie Henion

Presented by The MIT Gilbert and Sullivan Players
Book by Richard Nelson
Music by Benny Andersson and Bjӧrn Ulvaeus
Lyrics by Tim Rice
Directed by Emma Brown
Music Direction by Elena Sokoloski

August 4 – August 13, 2017
Kresge Little Theater
48 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge MA 02139
Chess Facebook Event

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Cambridge, MA) Chess is a grim Cold War fable told around an international obsession with the titular board game. Director Emma Brown and the MIT Gilbert and Sullivan Players bring to life the ‘80’s show with a heavy dose of whimsy, suffusing the production with neon-colored nostalgia. Despite some song reshuffling, lyric changes, and obvious fun had by the cast, there’s little they can do to fix a rushed romance and peculiar pacing, creating a hurky-jerky but intriguing roller coaster of a musical. Continue reading

Jun 05

Odyssey Opera’s “Patience” is Pitch Perfect

Photo by Kathy Wittman

Odyssey Opera
Music by Arthur Sullivan
Libretto by W.S. Gilbert
Conductor: Gil Rose
Stage Director: Frank Kelley
Choreographer: Larry Sousa

June 2&3, 2017 at 7:30pm
Huntington Avenue Theatre
Boston, MA
Facebook Event

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Boston, MA) After seeing the most recent Gilbert and Sullivan to delight Boston last night, I’ve decided to become an aesthete. One need only find an English poet with opaque poetry to adore, dress in long, flowing garments, talk about the wonders of Aestheticism, lay around, and sigh. But while Patience mocks the women who fawn over pale, tragic poet Reginald Bunthorne (the remarkably funny Aaron Engebreth), it also mocks the Dragoons who are their forgotten fiancees, the vain rival poet Archibald Grosvenor (an airily confident Paul Max Tipton), and the humble, befuddled milk maid, the titular Patience (Sara Heaton), who’s too innocent to understand what the concept of love even is. In short, this is a Gilbert and Sullivan show at its most Gilbert and Sullivan: staunchly lighthearted. Continue reading