Sep 12

One Ironic Goose Step At A Time; or Two Geeks, One Show: “Straight White Men”

Photo by Andy Brilliant/Brilliant Pictures. The cast in a moment of superficial contemplation.

Presented by New Rep Theatre
Written by Young Jean Lee
Directed by Elaine Vaan Hogue

Sept. 7 – 30, 2018
Mosesian Center for the Arts
Mainstage Theater
321 Arsenal St
Watertown, MA
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Representation matters. Straight White Men is written by an Asian playwright. Noelani Kamelamela was asked to write a review in addition to the critique written by Kitty Drexel. Both are posted below.

Review by Noelani Kamelamela

(Watertown, MA) The synopsis of Straight White Men seems like it would be a Men’s Rights Activist’s nearest and dearest dream brought to life.  I imagine a white man in a polo shirt and khakis sitting down by the light of a tiki torch to read what would be a thoroughly delightful description: after all, the main action only involves four white men.  Yup. Four white men. No women. No people of color. This hypothetical straight white man would see the name Young Jean Lee and maybe remember sweet ole Robert E. Lee. Perhaps it hearkens him back to time before, when America was great.  “What a fine night of theatre!” this man in a barcalounger would remark aloud as he reached for his credit card and purchased a ticket to New Rep Theatre’s production which runs at the Mosesian Center for the Arts in Watertown through September 30th. Continue reading

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Oct 21

An Incomplete Sentence: RACE

Photo Credit: New Repertory Theatre; the cast

by David Mamet
Directed by Robert Walsh

presented by the New Repertory Theatre
Arsenal Center for the Arts
Watertown, MA
October 14th – November 4th, 2012

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Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Watertown) It’s become trickier to discuss racism in the post-2008 election era than it was before. We have elected a black president, many hope to say, and that is enough.

Leave it to troublemaking playwright David Mamet to clear his throat amid the quiet in 2009 with his biting and succinct dramatic comedy, Race, now being performed by the New Repertory Theatre in Watertown. His play refuses to rest on recent racial gains, instead showing the trouble beneath the surface, the kind
that otherwise is obscured unless a police officer arrests a Harvard professor or a neighborhood watchman shoots an unarmed teen. Mamet’s script sparks necessary dialogue about an uncomfortable subject, but the flawed storyline of the play, combined with uneven execution by New Rep’s cast, misses the opportunity to create deeper understanding of inherent social inequality. Continue reading

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Mar 04

Not Buying It: BAKERSFIELD MIST

Photo Credit: Andrew Brilliant / Brilliant Pictures

Bakersfield Mist by Stephen Sachs, New Repertory Theatre, Arsenal Center for the Arts, 2/26/12-3/18/12, http://newrep.org/bakersfield_mist.php.

Reviewed by Craig Idlebrook

(Watertown, MA) 

Audiences, like art critics, want to believe, but the New Repertory Theatre production of Bakersfield Mist doesn’t give theatergoers a chance.  Instead, the audience must suspend disbelief the moment we spot a central character’s obviously-fake tattoo.  For a play intent on debating what is real, Bakersfield Mist provides a poor facsimile of real life.

The play centers on a plausible and chewy scenario:  A trailer-park loser, Maude (Paula Langton), has summoned a renowned art critic, Lionel (Ken Cheeseman), to authenticate a Jackson Pollack painting bought at a thrift shop.  Some $50 million to $100 million is riding on Lionel’s opinion.  The answer, the play suggests, is much messier than checking “yes” or “no”, and both Maude and Lionel must wrestle with their pasts and their notions of art to view the painting. Continue reading

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