Nov 05

Unfunny and Racist: “FRIENDS: THE MUSICAL PARODY”

PLEASE NOTE: Not every actor in this photo was part of the show on October 26th. No updated press photos were available.

Produced by Right Angle Entertainment
Lowell Auditorium
Book and Lyrics – Bob & Tobly McSmith
Music & Music Arrangements – Assaf Gleizner
Director – Tim Drucker
Choreographer – Billy Griffin
Music Director – Tegan Miller
Geneneral Management – Jim Lanahan, Right Angle Entertainment

Viewed on October 26th, 2018

Review by Craig Idlebrook

(Lowell, MA) Look, I could write a couple of paragraphs to discuss the many shortcomings and few bright points about this musical parody of an insanely popular 90’s sitcom, but none of that matters. The production I saw of this play should be condemned for allowing one of the most racist moments I’ve seen on stage in decades.

Early in the play, the character of Ross is on a paleontology trip to China. To illustrate this with a minimal set change, they have him wear an Asian conical hat. We next see some kind of an assistant behind Ross also wearing an Asian conical hat. That assistant smiles broadly, folds his hands into his sleeves, and walks backwards in a quick shuffle, all while bowing slightly. It is a perfect example of a racist depiction of an Asian underling, the kind of grotesque caricature you expect from a mid-20th century Bugs Bunny cartoon, not a 21st century theatrical production.

I walked out at intermission. Maybe the play got better in the second act, but it certainly couldn’t have done anything to redeem itself.

Queen’s Note: The New England Theatre Geek supports Mr. Idlebrook’s decision to leave during the intermission of Friends: The Musical Parody. It is 2018. A majority white cast and creative crew should know and do better than to spread casual messages of hate and racism through yellowface. The New England Theatre Geek has pledged to promote tolerance and to shun hate. By walking out of this performance, Mr. Idlebrook was participating in this pledge.

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Oct 30

“Cirque of the Dead” Review 2018: Damned Good Time


Presented by Boston Circus Guild
Directed by Joseph C. Walsh

October 19 – October 31, 2017
The Oberon
2 Arrow Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
Cirque of the Dead on Facebook

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Cambridge, MA) A possessed contortionist, a painting that springs to life to ensnare its painter, a clan of vampires, and a burlesque zombie who strangely (and seductively?) tears off and eats their own skin during their aerial act. Yes, it is Halloween for the Boston Circus Guild. This year, they successfully walk the line between disturbing and beguiling. The show is fragmented into circus acts, yes, but the pieces cohere into a complete (if possessed) picture. Continue reading

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Oct 29

Songs of Ice and Fire: “Brother Nat”

Presented by The Boston Foundation
Book and Lyrics by Jabari Asim and Liana Asim
Music by Allyssa Jones
Music Director Damien Sneed

October 25, 2018
Emerson Paramount Center
Robert J. Orange Stage
559 Washington Street
Boston, MA  02111
Brother Nat on Facebook

Critique by Diana Lu

(Boston, MA) American history is black history, is slave history. It is a history that demonstrates the deepest stoicism and power of humanity. Beaten and chained, stripped of everything, Black American slaves formed communities tighter than blood, turned lifetimes of suffering into exquisite song, and used song to rise above, revolt against injustice, and redeem all humanity. Nat Turner’s Rebellion was a point of inflection in our nation’s story, which swung the course of history toward freedom and salvation. A grand opera is needed to deliver this epic. No other medium could do justice.  Continue reading

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Oct 24

The Prison System is Legalized Slavery: “The Peculiar Patriot”


Presented by ArtsEmerson
Produced by National Black Theater & Hi-ARTS
Created and Performed by Liza Jessie Peterson
Directed by Talvin Wilks

October 17-28, 2018
Emerson Paramount Center
Boston, MA
ArtsEmerson on Facebook

Review by Noelani Kamelamela

(Boston, MA) For relatively local folks who missed the remount of The Peculiar Patriot at the National Black Theatre in Manhattan this summer, grab tickets and head over to the Paramount Center. If you can’t catch The Peculiar Patriot over the rest of it’s Boston run, but if you know a theatre and a community who needs this show, bug the heck out of them to pay these artists and get this to as many audiences as possible.   Continue reading

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Oct 23

50 Shades of Complicity: “We Will Not Be Silent”

L to R – Conor Proft and Sarah Oakes Muirhead; Photo by Andy Brilliant/Brilliant Pictures.

Presented by New Repertory Theatre
By David Meyers
Directed by Jim Petosa

October 13—November 4, 2018
The Dorothy and Charles Mosesian Center for the Arts
321 Arsenal St
Watertown, MA 02472
New Rep on Facebook

Review by Diana Lu

(Watertown, MA) We Will Not Be Silent revisits the true story of Sophie (Sarah Oakes Muirhead) and Hans (Conor Proft) Scholl, German student dissidents in Nazi Germany executed for attempting to mount a nonviolent resistance movement in 1942. Post-WWII, Germany vindicated the Scholl siblings and lionized their sacrifice as a symbol of great stoicism and bravery. Continue reading

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Oct 19

Casseroles of Ashes: “The Tragic Ecstasy of Girlhood”

Danielle Palmer, Amanda Figueroa, Stephanie Castillo (foreground, clockwise from left), Tatiana Chavez (background). Photograph By Kalman Zabarsky

Presented by Boston Playwrights’ Theatre
By Kira Rockwell
Directed by Leila Ghaemi

Oct. 11 – 21, 2018
BPT
949 Commonwealth Ave
Boston, MA
BPT on Facebook

Critique by Kitty Drexel

(Boston, MA) Any social worker can tell you that the foster system is broken. Wards of the State are just as vulnerable as foster kids, but at the very least they get to socialize with each other in a relatively consistent environment. The Tragic Ecstasy of Girlhood takes a look at family dynamics within State government enforced boundaries and the impossible odds girls face as they grow into womanhood. It’s a miracle any of us come into adulthood with our sanity intact. Continue reading

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Oct 15

Ratched Isn’t Bossy; She’s the Boss: “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest”

Nurse Ratched and McMurphy spar. Mary Dennis Photography.

Presented by Theatre Uncorked
By Dale Wasserman
Based on the novel by Ken Kesey
Directed by Bobbie Steinbach

Oct. 13, 2018
3:30pm and 7:30pm
Martin Jewett Hall
First Church Cambridge
11 Garden St
Cambridge, MA
Theatre Uncorked on Facebook

Critique by Kitty Drexel

(Cambridge, MA) One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest the play is a different beast from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest the novel. The novel is directly influenced by author Ken Kesey’s experiences as an orderly at a mental health facility in California. The novel was written amidst the Civil Rights movement and is a direct response to the deinstitutionalization movement. It is imperative that and audience understand the stark differences between care expectations between the 60’s and today. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest the novel is a heavy read. The play as staged by Theatre Uncorked could be viewed by nearly anyone. Continue reading

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Oct 15

Cirque of the Dead Preview: The Nightmare Continues

Presented by Boston Circus Guild
Directed by Joseph C. Walsh
October 19 – October 31, 2017

The Oberon
2 Arrow Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
Cirque of the Dead on Facebook

Preview by Gillian Daniels

(Cambridge, MA) Last year, in 2017, Cirque of the Dead delighted me with Jumanji-esque antics and host Wes Hazzard’s charisma.

This year, in another callback to one’s youth for an adults-only murder show, the theme is Choose Your Own Adventure. The 2018 show promises new acts, acrobats, aerialists, butts, cannibalism, monsters, sex, and a bar full of specialty cocktails.

Joseph C. Walsh will be directing and says, “This exciting event combines breathtaking circus skills, startling theatricality and classic horror to offer its audience a unique and immersive experience. The incredible performers have stretched me artistically and inspired me with their astounding abilities and passion for pushing the boundaries of the modern circus genre.”

Music will be provided by Minusworld, a nerd-themed, “high-energy Synthrock” band.

Boston Circus Guild (BCG) describes itself as “a collaboration of over fifty musicians, artists, circus performers, dancers, and event producers from the Boston area. BCG members regularly perform at prestigious events and venues throughout New England including the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Pfizer, Cirque du Soleil, and The Boston Bruins Foundation.” I had to scrape my jaw off the floor after witnessing last year’s acrobatics. I expect nothing less than spectacular.

Last year, I also wrote,  “The visuals are deeply compelling and wonderfully gross. […] The sense of escapism Cirque of the Dead represents, gory and grim as it may be, is invaluable and beautifully articulated with supreme commitment to physical flights of fancy.”

And I can’t wait for the next chapter.

Performances:
Friday, October 19: 7:00PM & 10:30PM
Saturday, October 20: 6:30PM
Thursday, October 25: 7:30PM
Friday, October 26: 7:00PM & 10:30PM
Saturday, October 27: 6:30PM
Wednesday, October 31: 7:00PM & 10:30PM

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Oct 11

Frankenstein was the Monster: “Frankenstein”

Produced by The Nora Theatre Company & Underground Railway Theater; A Catalyst Collaborative@MIT Production; Design by Bird Graphics.

Presented by Central Square Theater
Produced by The Nora Theatre Company & Underground Railway Theater
By Nick Dear
From the novel by Mary Shelley
Directed by David R. Gammons
Dramaturgy by Hilary Rappaport
Ensemble: Remo Airaldi, Omar Robinson, John Kuntz, Ashley Risteen, David Keohane, Debra Wise

Oct. 4 – Nov. 4, 2018
Central Square Theater
Cambridge, MA
CST on Facebook

Trigger warning: rape, violence, body horror, strobe effects, spoilers

Critique by Kitty Drexel

(Cambridge, MA) Prometheus stole fire from Mount Olympus and gave it to mankind. For his indiscretion, Zeus condemned the Titan to an eternity of epic liver failure (a complication of eagle hunger). Shelley’s novel Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus warns a relatively modern audience not to play with fire lest one get burned. It plays out similarly in contemporary Halloween favorites such as The Rocky Horror Show and Prometheus that frustrating movie by Ridley Scott. It takes new form as Central Square Theater’s current production. As long as there is science, there will be humans poking around where they shouldn’t be poking. Continue reading

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Oct 09

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Uranium: “Delicate Particle Logic”

Photos by Jake Scaltreto; Christine Power as Lise Meitner, Barbara Douglass as Edith Hahn. Blanket babies are the easiest babies.

Presented by Flat Earth Theatre Company
By Jennifer Blackmer
Directed by Betsy S. Goldman
Dramaturgy by Regine Vital  
Violence choreography by Cassie Chapados  
Dance choreography by Meghan Hornblower  
Language consultation by Allison Olivia Choat  
Artistic ASL direction by Elbert Joseph

September 28th – October 13th, 2018
ASL-Interpreted Performance: October 13th at 8pm
The Mosesian Center for the Arts
321 Arsenal Street
Watertown, MA
Flat Earth on Facebook

Trigger warning: One character is willingly committed to an asylum, misandry

Critique by Kitty Drexel

“Science and art both relentlessly pursue truth and meaning. In the past, scientific and medical procedures were performed in front of witnesses, audiences, if you will, who were able to verify the truth of what took place. For me, science and art were never at odds, and part of my overall goal as an artist is to get audiences to understand that. We still think of science and art as two separate cultures, but they’re more alike than most people realize.”

  • Flat Earth Theatre interview with Jennifer Blackmer

(Watertown, MA) Jennifer Blackmer crams a lot into two hours of theatre. Delicate Particle Logic (DPL) tells the story of how Otto Hahn stole nuclear fission from Lise Meitner. He committed war crimes for the Nazis in the name of “chemistry,” and claimed the Nobel Prize in 1944… Wait, I’m getting ahead of myself. DPL is about Otto Hahn’s work-wife, Meitner, his home-wife, Edith Junghans Hahn, and their imaginary friendship. Edith and Meitner’s performance of emotional and physical labor on behalf of a man holding more respect for his work than for his partners. Between the science and the toxic masculinity, there is art: glorious, painful, epiphanic art. Continue reading

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