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
New Rep on Facebook

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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Aug 27

The Monkey is Omniscient: “Timbuktu, USA”

Top row (l-r): Karos, McMaster, Kaiss, Astudillo
Bottom row (l-r): Wiseman, Hillyer, Baltay; photo credit to David Marshall

Presented by Sleeping Weazel
Written and directed by Kenneth Prestininzi
Assistant direction from Teresa Cruz
Fight choreography by Drew Frayre

Aug. 25 – Sept. 1, 2018
Boston Playwrights’ Theatre
Boston, MA
Sleeping Weazel on Facebook
Review by Kitty Drexel

Trigger warning: references to bestiality, incestuous kissing

(Boston, MA) Sleeping Wezel’s Timbuktu, USA is an absurd political satire made digestible via the mechanics of a bedroom farce. There is opportunity a plenty to be delightfully offended by the comings and goings of Prestininzi’s chaotic neutral politicians. The buffoonery so closely resembles the US current political boondoggle that audience members may leave confused. Fear not, Timbuktu, USA is a diversion well worth any disorientation. Continue reading

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Aug 06

A State of Virginal Ecstasy; Or, Needs More Snakes in Bowls: “Dark Room”

Ensemble | Photo Credit, Andrew Brilliant

Presented by Bridge Repertory Theater
Written by George Brant
Inspired by the life, death, and photography of Francesca Woodman
Directed by Olivia D’Ambrosio
Associate director and dramaturgy by Alexander Platt
Choreography by Doppelgänger Dance Collective

July 27 – August 16, 2018
In residence at the Multicultural Arts Center
Cambridge, MA
Bridge Rep on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

Disclaimer: I auditioned for this production, and was not cast. It is my opinion that only a jackass would allow rejection, a natural process of auditioning, to taint their review.

(Cambridge, MA) Producer and director, D’Ambrosio gives an important, informative speech before Dark Room to guide audience expectations. She suggests we allow the performance to wash over us. Should we become puzzled by the actions onstage, rather than self-interpret what we see, we should allow the performance to explain itself through continued observance. I’d further posit that audience members do proper research before attending. The chiaroscuro style of Francesca Woodman is emphatically stirring. To fully absorb the performance, it behooves an audience to google Woodman’s art. Continue reading

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Jul 13

The Link Between Cause and Effect: “AddictShunned”

The cast. Photo: Avenue Stage

Presented by Avenue Stage
By Judith Austin
Directed by Michael O’Halloran

Boston Playwrights’ Theatre
949 Commonwealth Ave.
Boston, MA 02215
Avenue Stage on Facebook

AddictShunned was originally titled Spiro Spero, which roughly translates to “While I Breathe, I Hope.”

Review by Kitty Drexel

“Addiction is defined as a chronic, relapsing brain disease that is characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences. It is considered a brain disease because drugs change the brain; they change its structure and how it works. These brain changes can be long lasting and can lead to many harmful, often self-destructive, behaviors.”
— NIDA website, “The Science of Drug Abuse and Addiction: The Basics” https://www.drugabuse.gov/

(Boston, MA) Addiction is as much of a disease as Diabetes. Yet, while we don’t demand diabetics to will themselves healthy, we do demand this of addicts. Addicts need and deserve compassion, understanding, and resources to break the cycles of abuse. Avenue Stage’s AddictShunned compassionately reframes the stories of addicts. The audience is made to find commonality with characters it would prefer to remain anonymous.   Continue reading

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Jun 14

Don’t Expect the Movie: “Dirty Dancing: The Classic Story On Stage”

Craven and Courts. Photo by Jeremy Daniel.

Presented by Boch Center
By Eleanor Bergstein
Music supervising and orchestrations by Conrad Helfrich
Choreography by Michele Lynch
Original choreography by Kate Champion
Directed by Sarna Lapine

June 13 – 17, 2018
Shubert Theatre
Boston, MA
Dirty Dancing tour on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

(Boston, MA) Dirty Dancing: The Classic Story On Stage is a great production for professional-dance enthusiasts who enjoyed Dirty Dancing the movie but have no particular emotional connection to it. Diehard movie fans may feel put out by Eleanor Bergstein’s script upgrades. Musical aficionados may snark at the “acting” going on onstage. Anybody ready for some good time media nostalgia will enjoy themselves. Continue reading

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Jun 11

#Gamergate, Too: “The Nether”

Photo by Jake Scaltreto

Presented by Flat Earth Theatre
By Jennifer Haley
Directed by Sarah Gazdowicz

June 8 – 23, 2018
The Mosesian Center for the Arts
321 Arsenal Street, Watertown, MA, 02472
Flat Earth on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

Trigger warnings: pedophilia, sexual abuse, implied physical violence, predatory grooming

(Watertown, MA) Flat Earth’s production is expectedly excellent but it isn’t enjoyable. Well actually, The Nether is about ethics in gaming journalism. It’s a political metaphor for gamer identity protection. Just kidding: It’s about abusive communities on the internet and the people who dwell in them. Identity protection and “ethics” are smoke screens for heinous behavior in the name of free speech and implausible deniability. #yesallwomen Continue reading

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Jun 08

Saving Boston One Turtle at a Time: “Martha’s (b)Rainstorm”

Photo by Paul Fox

Presented by Fresh Ink Theatre
Written by John J King
Directed by Stephanie LeBolt
In collaboration with the Boston Public Library Playwright-in-Residence program and part of the Push Project Residency at Boston Center for the Arts

June 7 – 15, 2018
Boston Center for the Arts
Boston, MA
Fresh Ink on Facebook

Review by Kitty Drexel

Warning: Parts of this play require audience interaction. If that isn’t your thing, sit in the back.

(Boston, MA) Martha’s (b)Rainstorm: A Boston Fairytale pays homage to our fair city through Native myth, pop culture references, and pseudoscience. It tackles the very real threat of climate change on our Massachusetts shores through democratic process. Fresh Ink’s production is still in its nascent stage but it a beautiful show bursting with possibility.

Continue reading

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May 31

Disabled Children Are No More a ‘Life Sentence’ Than Any Other Child: “Fall”

Joanne Kelly, Josh Stamberg, Nolan James Tierce, Joanna Glushak, and John Hikock  ©Photo: T. Charles Erickson

Presented by Huntington Theatre Company
By Bernard Weinraub
Directed by Peter DuBois

May 18 – June 16, 2018
South End/Calderwood Pavilion
Boston Center for the Arts
Boston, MA
Huntington on Facebook

Trigger warnings: Ablism, historically-accurate slurs, misogyny

Review by Kitty Drexel

Tokenism
noun/to·ken·ism/ˈtōkəˌnizəm/
The practice of making only a perfunctory or symbolic effort to do a particular thing, especially by recruiting a small number of people from underrepresented groups in order to give the appearance of sexual or racial equality within a workforce.

(Boston, MA) Bernard Weinraub tried so hard to be respectful of the Down Syndrome community. Fall would be a good play about Arthur Miller and Inge Morath if it didn’t fail so hard at including Daniel Miller. Unfortunately, it misses the mark. A lot. Continue reading

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May 22

Geeks Read Books: TCG Play Reviews

(Somerville, MA/NYC) Occasionally the New England Theatre Geek is invited to review plays. Theatre Communications Group (TCG) provides gratis paperback copies to NETG in exchange for objective reviews. The opinions stated here are not shared by TCG and are the author’s own. Continue reading

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May 16

Play It Again Sam: “Trouble in Tahiti and Arias & Barcarolles”

Sam and Dinah (Marcus DeLoach and Heather Johnson) robotically repeat their morning routine. Photo: Liza Voll

Presented by Boston Lyric Opera
Music & Libretto by Leonard Bernstein
Stage directed by David Schweizer
Music direction by David Angus
Dramaturgy by John Conklin

May 11-20, 2018
DCR Steriti Memorial Rink
561 Commercial Street, Boston, MA
BLO on Facebook
Review by Kitty Drexel

After Bernstein’s performance at the White House in 1960, President Eisenhower remarked, “You know, I liked that last piece you played: it’s got a theme. I like music with a theme, not all them arias and barcarolles.” quote taken from leonardbernstein.com. Eisenhower was a bit imperceptive.

(Boston, MA) Trouble in Tahiti and Arias & Barcarolles are presented by the BLO in one continuous operetta subtitled, “Sam and Dinah Say Goodnight (Scenes From A Marriage).” It is a “new reimagining” of Bernstein’s works which abbreviates Tahiti and merges the reduced scoring directly into Arias & Barcarolles. They are not performed individually as suggested by BLO’s marketing materials. The performance runs about 90 minutes. Continue reading

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