Oct 01

The Unfinished Work of a More Perfect Union: NATIVE GARDENS

Gabriel Marin (Pablo De Valle), Vivia Font (Tania Del Valle), Joel Colodner (Frank Butley)
Photo by Meghan Moore

Presented by Merrimack Repertory Theatre
Directed by Giovanna Sardelli
By Karen Zacarías

September 12 – October 7, 2018
50 East Merrimack Street
Lowell, MA
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Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Lowell, MA) Writers must walk a fine line with audiences when it comes to parables. For a parable to be effective, the story must signal its intentions early and clearly. If done well, it gives the story license with the audience to present an incomplete worldview to prove a point. The devil, however, is in the details – as in what details to give the audience and what details to leave out – to create a world that gets enough buy-in from the audience to think about the issue. Continue reading

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Dec 12

A Ted Williams After-School Special: “Going to See the Kid”

Joel Colodner, Veronika Duerr, John Gregorio. Going to See the Kid. Photo by Meghan Moore.

Joel Colodner, Veronika Duerr, John Gregorio. “Going to See the Kid.” Photo by Meghan Moore.

Presented by Merrimack Repertory Theatre
By Steven Drukman
Directed by Alexander Greenfield

November 30th – December 24th, 2016
50 East Merrimack Street
Lowell, MA
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Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Lowell, MA) Sometimes, you get the sense in the opening minutes that a play is going to be so bad that you steal yourself to feel sorry for the actors. It is a testament to the professionalism of director Alexander Greenfield and the cast of Going to See the Kid that I didn’t cringe much for them onstage as they crisply worked with the material they had, but the script was just as cringe-worthy as I had feared. Continue reading

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Dec 05

Kissing Ass and Dropping Names: “The Tale of The Allergist’s Wife”

Photo credit: Mark S. Howard

Photo credit: Mark S. Howard. Their mortgage must be astronomical!

Presented by the Lyric Stage Company of Boston
By Charles Busch
Directed by Larry Cohen

Nov. 21 – Dec. 20, 2014
Boston, MA
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Review by Kitty Drexel

Trigger warnings: nontraditional sexy times, liberal politics, poop jokes

(Boston, MA) Just as Busch’s other works, The Tale of The Allergist’s Wife features a diva resplendent in her advancing glamour, highly stylized hilarity, and juxtaposes low brow against high brow comedy. There is an overwhelming amount of name dropping (philosophers, celebrities, book titles, places, historical events) but this is de rigeur for Busch’s work. Allergist’s Wife wastes no time explaining anything but the emotional realities of its characters (which are diverse and complicated). It’s the product one would get if you bleached the crap out of How Stella Got Her Groove Back and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, tossed in a quartet of rich Manhattan intelligentsia, and sauteed in a heaping spoonful of scatological humor. Allergist’s Wife is a highly enjoyable production if you can settle your stomach and keep up.   Continue reading

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Jan 13

Questions That Shouldn’t Be Answered: IMAGINING MADOFF

Joel Colodner as Solomon Galkin and Jeremiah Kissel as Bernard Madoff in IMAGINING MADOFF by Deborah Margolin. Photos by Andrew Brilliant / Brilliant Pictures

Joel Colodner as Solomon Galkin and Jeremiah Kissel as Bernard Madoff in IMAGINING MADOFF by Deborah Margolin. Photos by Andrew Brilliant / Brilliant Pictures.

Presented by New Repertory Theatre
by Deborah Margolin
Directed by Elaine Vaan Hogue

Arsenal Center for the Arts
Watertown, MA
January 4th – 26th, 2014
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Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Watertown) It is in our genetic makeup to try and understand what we cannot comprehend, no more so than when we are confronted with evil that makes a mockery of human decency. We want to know what makes the mass murderer different from us so badly that we desperately try to project understanding when there is none to be had.

Unfortunately, this tends to make us seek black and white answers to complex and disturbing questions. Growing up in a Roman Catholic household, I kept asking my mother who was in Hell besides Hitler. She would pause and respond, “Mussolini.” That was always the end of the conversation. Continue reading

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Nov 03

Trapped by the Words: THE CHOSEN

Photo by Timothy Dunn

Adapted by Aaron Posner & Chaim Potok
Directed by Daniel Gidron

presented by The Lyric Stage Company
140 Clarendon Street
Boston, MA
October 19th – November 17th, 2012

Lyric Stage Company Facebook Page

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Boston) Adapting a novel to the stage can be a wrenching exercise. Pages upon pages of description, of scene, of setting, of theme must be boiled down to dialogue and action that can stand alone. By all accounts, Chaim Potok’s novel The Chosen is considered a richly-layered and well-written story about the tension between Jewish communities, as told through the friendship of two young men who find themselves caught between the secular and religious communities at the dawn of Zionism. Unfortunately, he and co-writer Aaron Posner fail to adapt the novel to a script form, leaving in a narrator who breaks up the scenes and explains away the heartfelt tension between the characters, leaving us with a broken dialogue that tells an incomplete tale about the weight one must bear when one is called to carry the load of doing good. Continue reading

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Mar 24

Lovely Confusion: MRS. WHITNEY

Deirdre Madigan, Photo by Meghan Moore

Mrs. Whitney by John Kolvenbach, Merrimack Repertory Theatre, 3/15/12-4/8/12, http://www.merrimackrep.org/season/show.aspx?sid=107.

Reviewed by Kate Lonberg-Lew

(Lowell, MA) Unless you are lucky enough to have met your soulmate at fifteen and lived happily ever after (and if you have, please take a moment to pinch yourself and make sure you’re real) then you will relate to the feelings of loneliness, love and the existence of your own romantic Achilles heel in this superb production of Mrs. Whitney at the Merrimack Repertory Theater in Lowell. Continue reading

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Nov 30

Three Viewings: Humor and Human Folly at the Graveside

Adrianne Krstansky as Virginia in Three Viewings. Photo by Andrew Brilliant/ Brilliant Pictures.

Three Viewings by Jeffrey Hatcher, New Repertory Theatre, Arsenal Center for the Arts, 11/27/11-12/18/11, http://newrep.org/three_viewings.php.

Reviewed by Gillian Daniels

(Watertown, MA) Three Viewings is the kind of theatrical outing that I cannot recommend highly enough, a play where writer Jeffrey Hatcher deftly and comically attempts to capture the variation and nuance of human nature. Continue reading

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