Apr 19

Bedroom Games and War Crimes in Terrifying “Threesome”


Presented by Apollinaire Theatre Company
by Yussef El Guindi
Directed by Danielle Fauteux Jacques

April 8-May 7, 2016
Chelsea Theatre Works
189 Winnisimmet St., Chelsea.
Apollinaire on Facebook

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Chelsea, MA) Leila (Alison Meirowitz McCarthy) and Rashid (Mauro Canepa) are introduced to the audience in their pajamas as self-styled intellectuals, struggling to be distant from their emotions. They’re Egyptian-Americans who open the play conversing like an editorial on gender politics, feminism, and cultural differences. Then comes in Doug (Geoff Van Wyck), the photographer they have invited into their bedroom for a sexual adventure. He’s blunt, cheerful, and thoroughly naked. He is the chaotic element that opens them up to the insecurities that run deep through their relationship. His attitudes don’t represent some enlightened, Western view as a cure-all to their squeamishness, however. No, Doug has his own insecurities he’s bringing in, too. What begins as an adult comic drama ends as a dark exploration of the political and personal. Continue reading

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Apr 19

Britten’s Opera is a “Dream”

Queen Tytania (Maya Kherani) and Bottom (Joseph Hubbard), Photo provided by BU School of Music

Queen Tytania (Maya Kherani) and Bottom (Joseph Hubbard), Photo provided by BU School of Music

Presented Boston University College of Fine Arts
Benjamin Britten, composer & Peter Pears, librettist
Based on the play by William Shakespeare
William Lumpkin, conductor
Tara Faircloth, stage director

April 14–17th, 2016
Boston University Theatre
264 Huntington Avenue, Boston
BU Arts on Facebook

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Boston, MA) I enjoy myself most with adaptations of Shakespeare’s comedies when their sense of fun and lightness remain intact. The direction in Boston University Theatre’s production of Benjamin Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream didn’t fail me. This vision is every bit the dream of the title. Fairies wear blue wigs and polka dot suits, columns of giant, white flowers are moved across the stage, Puck (Elizabeth Valenti) brings Queen Tytania (Maya Kherani) her morning tea, and King Oberon (Wee-Kiat Chia) smugly points out his wife slept with an enchanted donkey-man (Joseph Hubbard) the night before. One scene flows into the next elegantly. For the most part, it’s a perfectly realized vision. Continue reading

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Mar 03

“Richard II”: Spoiled Man-Boy King Destroys Himself in Simple Production

ASP Richard II (l to r) Northumberland (Marya Lowry), King Richard II (Doug Lockwood), Bishop of Carlisle (Malcolm Ingram), Bolingbroke (Michael Forden Walker), and Henry Percy (Lewis D. Wheeler). Photo by Stratton McCrady

ASP Richard II (l to r) Northumberland (Marya Lowry), King Richard II (Doug Lockwood), Bishop of Carlisle (Malcolm Ingram), Bolingbroke (Michael Forden Walker), and Henry Percy (Lewis D. Wheeler). Photo by Stratton McCrady

Presented by Actors’ Shakespeare Project
Written by William Shakespeare
Directed by Allyn Burrows

Feb. 17-March 13, 2016
Cambridge YMCA
Cambridge, MA
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Review by Gillian Daniels

(Cambridge, MA) Richard II is not about a Danish prince languishing over a ghost’s warnings or an elderly king like Lear, mad with grief due to age and family strife. No, this is a story about the abuses of power and a complex man who both understands why he must give up his throne but is honest enough to admit to himself that he just really, really doesn’t want to. Continue reading

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Feb 08

“Milk Like Sugar” Shuns Broad Strokes in Favor of Difficult Nuance

Presented by Huntington Theatre Company
Written by Kirsten Greenidge
Directed by M. Bevin O’Gara

Through Feb. 27, 2016
Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA
Boston, MA
Huntington on Facebook

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Boston, MA) All the individual ingredients of a melodrama are here. Annie (Jasmine Carmichael) and her sassy, “bad girl” teenage friends Talisha (Shazi Raja) and Margie (Carolina Sanchez), flirt with boys based on their brand of cell phone, drink, get tattoos, and have recently made a pact to all get pregnant within a week so they can raise their children together. I was nervous Milk Like Sugar would be a morality play, a story of “teen girl must do x or else she’ll fall under the sway of y!” I should have known better. Playwright Kirsten Greenidge already blew me away with Luck of the Irish and her hand here is similarly deft. Continue reading

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Nov 04

“Spektrel” Spectacular

Photo: Caitlin O'Brien

Photo: Caitlin O’Brien

Presented by The Luminarium Dance Company
Choreographed by Merli V. Guerra and Kimberleigh A. Holman

OCTOBER 27 -31, 2015 @ 8PM
Multicultural Arts Center
41 Second St, Cambridge MA
Luminarium on Facebook

Review by Gillian Daniels

Spektrel is four stories sewn together, a series of modern dances united by themes of self-realization and independence. More broadly, it’s about millennials that have figured out what they want. Each modern dance piece slides into place beautifully, from the playful re connect to the harrowing Phoenixial Cycle. The Luminarium Dance Company knows what it’s about and directors Merli V. Guerra and Kimberleigh A. Holman put together a show that shines. Continue reading

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Sep 28

For Better or Worse, “The Thing on the Doorstep” is a Shambling Beast

Artwork by Dan DeRosato

Artwork by Dan DeRosato

Presented by Salem Theatre Company
Adapted from the H.P. Lovecraft story
Directed & Adapted by Isaiah Plovnick

September 17 – October 4, 2015
Salem Theatre
90 Lafayette Street
Salem, MA, 01970
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Review by Gillian Daniels

(Salem, MA) Devoted H.P. Lovecraft fans should prepare themselves for a sojourn to Salem before the end of this week. The Thing on the Doorstep has been lovingly adapted to stage, giving voice to one of the most foundational science fiction writers of the early twentieth century. What’s synthesized from the material is a creeping, gothic narrative, one that fights to stay true to the spirit of the original and hew closely to the author’s voice. The move from page to stage is a fraught one, though, and Lovecraft’s style (retro by the standards of the years he wrote in with a great deal of colonialist issues throughout) is ultimately clunky. Continue reading

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Sep 10

“Radium Girls” Radiates Pain and Triumph

Photo by Jake Scaltreto

Photo by Jake Scaltreto

Presented by Flat Earth Theatre
Written by D. W. Gregory
Directed by Lindsay Eagle

September 4th – 19th, 2015
Charlestown Working Theater
Charlestown, MA
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Review by Gillian Daniels

(Charlestown, MA) There is a poem by Julianna Baggott, “Marie Curie Gives Advice to her Daughter Irene Before her Wedding.” This is how it ends:
“My hope, daughter, is that
what you love doesn’t come to kill you,
eye by eye, ear by ear, bone by radiant bone.”

The friend with whom I went to see “Radium Girls” mentioned it to me after the show was over. It’s easy to see why. This is a play about not just losing one’s life to radium, but losing everything. Grace Fryer (the magnificent Erin Eva Butcher) loses both her fear and trust while Arthur Roeder (Bridgette Hayes) loses faith in the United States Radium factory and in himself. What you love–what you trust to take care of you, what you trust to be there for you–might indeed ultimately kill you. Continue reading

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Aug 28

Genre-Flexible “Winter’s Tale” Becomes a Summer Fantasia in Nathan Tufts Park

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Presented by Maiden Phoenix Theatre Company
By William Shakespeare
Directed by Sarah Gazdowicz

August 14-30, 2015
Nathan Tufts Park (aka Powderhouse Park) in Somerville, MA
BRING A BLANKET and/or LAWN CHAIRS
Maiden Phoenix on Facebook

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Somerville, MA) Maiden Phoenix gamely takes on one of the strangest of Shakespeare’s late period work. In the style of King Lear, Leontes (Juliet Bowler) comes to distrust his loved ones to the horror of his court. His queen, Hermione (Cassandra Meyer), is accused of adultery, their son, Mamillius (a hilariously bro-y Caroline Rose Markham), is separated from his mother, and a baby is abandoned on a hillside to be devoured by the wild. Then, suddenly, when a man “exits” the stage pursued by bears, the story transforms. The Winter’s Tale leaves aside its devastating tragedy and the king’s “too hot, too hot” anger in favor of a pastoral comedy. From this point on, the story flows together like a series of dreams. This peculiar shift suits not only more optimistic fare but the theatre group’s choice of setting, a green, fairy tale-like staging in Nathan Tufts Park. Continue reading

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Apr 16

“The Big One” Has Big Heart But Feels Under-Done

11107735_10206307386668624_3810527196770342390_nPresented by Lesley University
Written by Liv Cummins, Sandy McKnight
Directed by Liv Cummins
Music direction by Elena Blyskal

April 9-12, 2015
Lesley University
Marran Theater
34 Mellen Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
The Big One on Facebook

Review by Gillian Daniels

Lesley University’s pop/rock musical is, at best, is benign and rather sweet. A number of struggling Los Angeles songwriters gather in the basement of a dilapidated building at the guidance of Paul (Ryan Bevard) to workshop their music. The goal of each workshop participant is to hit it big with their work, to be featured in a commercial, movie, or by a well-known artist. Meanwhile, California itself prepares for a “big hit” from the end result of a series of earthquakes. There’s a lot of charm to its plot and character arcs, but Liv Cummins and Sandy McKnight’s show doesn’t quite come together. Continue reading

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Apr 13

Daniil Kharms Continues to Charm in imaginary beasts’ Betty Bam!

Photo credit: Roger Metcalf

Photo credit: Roger Metcalf

Presented by imaginary beasts
Directed by Matthew Woods, Joey C. Pelletier, and Michael Underhill
Written by Daniil Kharms
Translation by Zoya Derman
Adapted by The Ensemble

April 10 – May 2, 2015
At the Plaza Black Box Theatre
at the Boston Center for the Arts
539 Tremont Street, Boston MA
imaginary beasts on Facebook

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Boston, MA) The innovative and evocative imaginary beasts continue with their year-long exploration of Stalinist-era author, Daniil Kharms, with Betty Bam! Their last attack on his material, KNOCK!, was a condensed affair, a multi-character and multi-story primer on Kharms’ bleak humor and deeply unsettling monologues. The actors took pratfalls and grafted the absurdist theater onto a sort of vaudeville act. In Betty Bam!, the visual nods remain in the early-twentieth century, but the aesthetic switches to black and white film, page-boy cuts, and a set styled into a cartoon explosion. The five actresses who depict Betty Bam’s fractured identity (Beth Pearson, Amy Meyer, Molly Kimmerling, Sarah Gazdowicz, and Kiki Samko) are each a live action Betty Boop caught in an explosion of a different sort, one that takes the guise of an interruption into their life: the police, Ivan (Cameron Cronin) and Pytor (William Schuller). As with KNOCK!, the police are an oppressive force, one here to take Betty to an unknown fate. The action of taking her away makes up the entirety of the plot. Continue reading

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