Apr 25

Guns Are Implicitly Made for Killing: “Trigger Warning”

L to R: Steve Auger, Lilly Brenneman, Liz Adams; Photo courtesy of Zeitgeist Stage Company

Presented by Zeitgeist Stage Company
By Jacques Lamarre
Directed by David J. Miller

April 12 – May 4, 2019
Plaza Black Box Theater
Boston Center for the Arts
Boston, MA
Zeitgeist on Facebook

Critique by Kitty Drexel

Trigger warnings: gunshot sound effect, screaming, domestic violence, mentions of suicide, historically accurate newsreel depicting survivors fleeing danger, cop violence  

(Boston, MA) This month marks the 20 year anniversary of the Columbine High School massacre. I remember watching it on TV with my brothers before, realizing there was nothing I could do, going to work out. I just knew that my thoughts and prayers would bolster the victims through those hard times.

I was 18 and naively trusted our government to prevent this tragedy from ever repeating. Unfortunately, as the students of Parkland, Virginia Tech, Sandyhook and others attest, the US Govt. has failed its citizens. It can’t even pass moderate gun control measures. Theatre such as Zeitgeist’s Trigger Warning will continue to be necessary until our money-grubbing politicians can wean themselves of the NRA’s violence-hemorrhaging teets. Continue reading

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Apr 22

A Bone to Pick with “Sylvia”

Photo by David Costa; L/R: Allan Mayo (Greg) and Shana Dirik (Sylvia)

Presented by Theater UnCorked
Directed by Michelle M. Aguillon
Written by A.R. Gurney

April 18-21, 2019
Calderwood Pavilion
539 Tremont Street
Boston, MA 02116
Theater UnCorked on Facebook

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Boston, MA) You need to know that I really love dogs. I watch videos on YouTube of dogs playing, ashamed of chewing through things, and mindlessly devoted to various owners as they try to follow them to work. But in watching Sylvia, I couldn’t make space in my heart for it the way I have done for pitbulls, goldens, and mutts. The story is just that the dog’s played by a lady (Shana Dirk) and the man who adopts her, Greg (Allan Mayo, who has a gentle, nervous presence), adores her while the put-upon, uptight wife, Kate (the formidable Kim McClure), is jealous. Repeat joke until end of play. Curtain. And folks who want just that out of their theater experience will be satisfied. Continue reading

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Apr 22

Sometimes God Eats People: “Caroline or Change”


L to R: Pier Lamia Porter* as “The Washing Machine”, Davron S. Monroe* as “The Dryer” and Yewande Odetoyinbo* as “Caroline Thibodeaux” ; Photograph: Sharman Altshuler

Presented by Moonbox Productions
Book and lyrics by Tony Kushner
Score by Jeanine Tesori
Directed by Allison Olivia Choat
Music directed by Dan Rodriguez
Choreography by Yewande Odetoyinbo

April 20 – May 11, 2019
The Stanford Calderwood Pavilion
Boston Center for the Arts
Boston, MA
Moonbox on Facebook

Critique by Kitty Drexel

(Boston, MA) It isn’t true that money can’t buy happiness. Science, as dressed in commercially digestible articles from Time or Entrepreneur, told us in 2017 that happiness begins at an income that covers payment of non-negotiable needs such as food, rent, and other expenses. That amount was approximated between $50,000 – $75,000. Anything less or more than fiscal solvency lowers our quality of life. Minimum wage is still $7.25. And the 1% wonder why the 99% are angry all the time.   

Caroline or Change is about a poor, Black woman raising four kids on her own in 1963 at the peak of the Civil Rights movement in Louisiana. She’s a maid in the Gellman household where she makes $30 a week (roughly $250/week in 2019) and it’s not enough. Caroline Thibodeaux (Yewande Odetoyinbo) isn’t paid enough to deal with any of the nonsense like throws at her but she does it anyway.  Continue reading

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Apr 19

Constant Good Affections: “The Clearing”

Presented by Hub Theatre Company of Boston
By Helen Edmundson
Directed by Daniel Bourque
Assistant direction and dramaturgy by Isabel Dollar
Dialect coaching by Meredith Gosselin
Fight direction by Samantha Richert

April 5 – 20, 2019
First Church in Boston
66 Marlborough St
Boston, MA
Hub on Facebook

Critique by Kitty Drexel

(Boston, MA) The Clearing is about white on white ethnic cleansing. It is 1652 and Cromwell is rabid for Catholic land and English Royalist lives. His Parliament passed the Act for the Settlement of Ireland and sentenced them to lives in Connaught, deportation to Barbados, or to death. It wasn’t very pleasant for anyone except Cromwell’s cronies. Hub Theatre’s production isn’t a hopeful production (the colonizers win) but it tells a necessary story.  
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Apr 18

Drinking with Aristotle in “Ipsa Dixit”

Presented by Original Gravity Concert Series
Music & Libretto by Kate Soper
Performed by Equilibrium
Soprano: Stephanie Lamprea,
Violin & Acting Music Director: Nicole Parks
Flute: Orlando Cela
Percussion: Mike Williams

April 12th at 7:30pm
Inner Space
17 Station Street
Brookline, MA, 02445
Original Gravity on Facebook

Review by Gillian Daniels

(Brookline, MA) Ipsa Dixit is Art with a capital, “AH,” an often playful and highly erudite experiment with language and music chiefly meant for people who are already into That Kind of Thing. As a whole, it doesn’t have a clear entrypoint for laymen. This is, at least partially, about the meaning of words vs. the intent of the isolated mind that created them, ie. the vast chasm between expressing something verbally and the isolated brain meat where that verbiage was formed. So yes, it certainly falls into the category of My Thing, with its mosaic of words excerpted from the works of Aristotle, Sophocles, Freud, and Lydia Davis, among others. The music layered on top of these various texts construct an impressionistic portrait of what that language feels like. If you have ever found yourself hungry for a tense drama about a diagrammed sentence, this show is for you. During its two intermissions, there were people who bounced so solidly off the text, they ended up bouncing themselves. Otherwise, others stuck it out for the impressive oddity of Soper’s work as well as the free drinks provided by participating breweries. Continue reading

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Apr 04

Mass Cultural Council Presents Communication Access in Plymouth, April 9, 2019

Join the Mass Cultural Council for a Community Conversation on the use of captions in theatre and performance!

Access to Theatre: Captions and Communications
Plymouth Library:  Tuesday April 9; 5:30-7:30pm
Please RSVP

massculturalcouncil.org
Facebook
Twitter

(Plymouth, MA) Access is more than ramps and bathrooms.  Communication access is an obligation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  If you are a patron of the arts, have you simply stopped going to events? If you are a producer of theater, what do you know about captioning? This community conversation is for all of us on both sides of the experience.

Captioning can engage new audiences as well as re-engage old audiences.  Our discussion will address institutional obligations, effective messaging, captioning software, and funding resources; as well as the BIG aspirational principles of “access” when striving for robust audience engagement.

Join us for a Community Conversation on effective accessible communication practices in theatre and live performance!

The Plymouth Public Library is located at 132 South Street in Plymouth MA 02360. 1-508-830-4250. RSVP or Sandy Spekman at sspekman@gmail.com

This event is sponsored by the Hearing Loss Association of America, Plymouth Chapter (HLAA), and the Mass Cultural Council’s Universal Participation (UP) Initiative. This event will be captioned in Real Time (CART). The library is physically accessible.

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Apr 01

He’s Asking For It: “Extremities”

Photo credit: Ashley Yung; Alissa Cordeiro (Marjorie)

Presented by Also Known As Theatre
In partnership with Boston Area Rape Crisis Center (barcc)
By William Matrosimone
Directed by Alexandra Smith
Fight choreography by Jessica Scout Malone

March 28 – April 13, 2019
First Church Cambridge
11 Garden St.,
Cambridge, MA 02138

Critique by Kitty Drexel

Trigger warning: assault, sexual assault, gas lighting, victim blaming

(Cambridge, MA) It’s a cruel and unusual punishment to be found at guilty of assault when protecting oneself from attacker. Cyntoia Brown served 15 years in prison for murdering a man who bought her for sex so she could flee. At 16 years old, she was tried her as an adult and sentenced to 51 years in prison without parole. She has only recently received clemency for her unreasonably harsh and unjust sentencing. Also Known As Theatre’s production of Extremities puts into stark relief just how easy it is for the US legal system to turn on women for not performing victimhood to exacting standards. Brown is receiving a modicum of justice but how many women will not? Continue reading

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Mar 31

More Than A Political Trinket: “Evita”

The cast rockin’ it in costumes by Paula Peasley-Ninestein. Photo found on TCT Facebook page.

Presented by The Company Theatre
Lyrics by Tim Rice
Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber
Directed by Zoe Bradford and Jordie Saucerman
Musical direction by Bethany Aiken
Staging and choreography by Sally Ashton Forrest
Conducted by David Healey

March 15-31, 2019
30 Accord Park Dr.
Norwell, MA 02061
Company Theatre on Facebook

Critique by Kitty Drexel

(Norwell, MA) Evita is a strange rock operetta. It sounds a great deal like Jesus Christ Superstar and is narrated by a political figure that did more work in Mexico and Cuba than he ever did in Argentina. Additionally, Webber and Rice posit the musical against Eva Peron. She’s treated as a mere political trinket during a time when she symbolized the heart of the Peronist movement. Evita is a problematic piece but the Company Theatre does a fine job producing it.    Continue reading

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Mar 26

“Not Medea”: Scorned Woman Gets Her Say

Photo by Jake Scaltreto. Who is their right mind double-crosses a half goddess, dark sorceress capable of patricide on a whim? That idiot, Jason.

Presented by Flat Earth Theatre
Written by Allison Gregory
Directed by Elizabeth Yvette Ramirez

March 15 – 30, 2019
The Mosesian Center for the Arts
321 Arsenal Street
Watertown, MA
Flat Earth Theatre on Facebook

Critique by Gillian Daniels

(Watertown, MA)  The myth of Medea is a story of betrayal and fury, where Jason of the Argonauts takes a sorceress wife for material gain and is deeply surprised when she takes her vengeance out on him and their children. Here, the myth of a child-killing witch fits roughly over a more contemporary story of an overworked nurse in pediatric oncology as she takes a night for herself to recount a bitter divorce with humor and then with searing rage. In mainstream culture, the Classical myth of Medea has become known as the story of a mother so cartoonishly evil, it’s difficult to feel the full impact of the horror her narrative contains without exploring each bloody layer. Luckily, the audience of Not Medea has been blessed with both the intimacy of a stripped-down theater experience and the raw passion of actress Juliet Bowler as the titular-woman-who-is-not-Medea-though-she-also-plays-Medea.

Not Medea appears to be a combination of genres, a one-woman show fused with a Classical play, complete with Chorus (Cassandra Meyer). There’s a late reveal that further opens the story into discomfort and parental Hell, but the melodrama keeps the bones of a Greek tragedy by centering a character’s terrible trauma and the wisdom she gains from it. Bowler as the Woman and director Elizabeth Yvette Ramirez make remarkable choices in humanizing a character who’s not a clear-cut heroine.

Bowler, as always, brings grit to her role, and, here, sympathy. She plays Medea and the Woman with the same tumult of anger, lust, and hurt, even if their actions aren’t quite identical. We get the sense of this stressed, tough as nails nurse seeing this play and hating how much she sees herself in it. Certainly, as an audience, we are asked to judge each character presented in the show, like Gene Dante as the heroic Jason with a selfish surfer dude’s dimwitted edge, but we are never made to regard them with the inhumanity and scorn that so many versions of Medea heap on these characters.

I like how brave the play is in addressing the fallibility of mothers. It’s something I’ve been delighted to see in few other shows where women who have children are not portrayed as goddesses or people always able to see the best in their kids, but fallible individuals with their own sources of pain. Yes, facing the imperfection of mothers can be a tough sit, but the way this show explores all the troubles and regrets of motherhood is deeply refreshing.

Even the Chorus seems to have some internal struggles regarding her relationship to the story. Meyer repeatedly nears the end of the stage with fear, unable to leave. She also, memorably, seems furious with the Woman for addressing the audience directly–obviously the Chorus’s job, and a delicious meta moment in the narrative.

Not everything works for me. Playwright Allison Gregory’s makes some distracting choices. The sections of the play that more strictly adhere to the source material often become repetitive, jarring with the contemporary ebb and flow of Not Medea’s other, less Classical scenes. I think there are story elements in the show that would have packed a firmer punch with some careful editing. Also, I found Gregory’s choice in names for the Woman’s offspring just a little too on-the-nose.

Ultimately, the play succeeds in what it seems to set out to do: exploring the layers of a Classical myth with understanding and thought. Like the queen goddess Hera angry at her husband for his many dalliances or the punishment Aphrodite earns for not being loyal to a husband she was made to marry in the first place, popular Greco-Roman mythology has been filtered through a lens that dismisses female anger. Not Medea leans into that fury and, like many Greek tragedies, comes out the other side wiser for it.


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Mar 22

On A Dime: “Dragon Lady”

Presented by by A.R.T. Breakout, part-one of the Dragon Cycle
Created and performed by Sara Porklob
Original music by Peter Irving
Band: Hot Damn Scandal
Directed by Andrew Russell

March 20 – April 6
Club Oberon
2 Arrow Street
Cambridge MA, 02138
A.R.T. on Facebook

Critique by Kitty Drexel

(Cambridge, MADragon Lady is the courageous story of how potty-mouthed, gangsta grandma Maria Porkalob traveled from the Philippines to the US as told by her granddaughter Sara Porkalob.  This one woman show/dramatic cabaret is intensely passionate. The events of Maria’s stories might not be exactly true. What is true is the emotional veracity with which it is told.

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