Mar 17

We Have Mental Illness: NEXT TO NORMAL

A woman (Kerry A. Dowling) fantasizes about her psychopharmacologist (Chris Caron) in a scene from the SpeakEasy Stage Company production of Next to Normal, running now thru April 15th at the Stanford Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts, 527 Tremont Street, in Boston’s South End. Tix/Info: 617-933-8600/www.SpeakEasyStage.com. Photo: Craig Bailey/Perspective Photo.

Next to Normal; Music by Tom Kitt, Book and Lyrics by Brian Yorkey, SpeakEasy Stage Company, Boston Center for the Arts Roberts Studio Theatre, 3/9/12-   4/15/12,   EXTENDED THROUGH 4/22/12 (Second and Final Extension)!!! http://www.speakeasystage.com/doc.php?section=showpage&page=normal.

Read Rebecca’s interview with Kerry Dowling here.

Reviewed by Craig Idlebrook

(Boston, MA) Break a toe and you might end up with a sore back.  Twist an ankle and your knee might have trouble compensating.  A family is like that.  It is a group of humans that moves in concert and is much more adaptable than a body, for better or worse.  When a part of the social organism is injured, the other parts imperfectly try to take up the load.  What else can you do, amputate?

Speakeasy’s production of Next to Normal provides a clear window into the holistic impact the mental illness of one member of the family has on the family-body.  It realistically and powerfully illustrates how we all soldier on when there are pieces of us missing.  But this isn’t an “Eat-Your-Vegetables-and-Learn-About-Mental-Illness” production.  Next to Normal provides pitch-perfect comedic timing, layered action, great music and a stunning set.  Life flows through this play; though it is heartbreaking, it is not a requiem.  Tissues are a must, however. Continue reading

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Mar 16

Crave & Beyond The Light: Emotional Explosion

Daniel J. Raps, Erin Rae Zalaski, Jesse Wood, and Christina Malanga in Beyond the light — at Calderwood Pavilion; photo credit Heart and Dagger Productions

Abigail Matzeder, Michael Underhill, and Terrence Patrick Haddad in CRAVE — at Calderwood Pavilion, Photo Credit: Heart and Dagger Productions

Crave by Sarah Kane and Beyond the Light by Joey C. Pelletier, Heart & Dagger Productions, Boston Center for the Arts Rehearsal Hall A, 3/9/12-3/17/12, http://www.heartanddagger.org/.Partial nudity and mature themes

Reviewed by Becca Kidwell

(Boston, MA) Many have tried to dramatize depression to mixed results. The problem tends to be that depression by it’s very nature is a passive thing-the person doesn’t want to do anything. Heart & Dagger escapes the trap of a dry, clinical look at depression by presenting two one acts that cut to the visceral core of despair and the fight to survive.

Continue reading

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Mar 15

The Play About The Baby – Or Is It?

Lynn R. Guerra (Girl), Janelle Mills (Woman), Bob Mussett (Man), Zachary Eisenstat (Boy). Photo Credit: Alison Naturale

The Play About The Baby by Edward Albee, Exquisite Corps Theatre, Boston Center for the Arts Black Box Theatre, 3/7/12-3/31/12, http://www.exquisitecorps.org/.  Contains nudity.

(Boston, MA) Innocence and responsibility intertwine with reality and absurdity in Exquisite Corps Theatre’s production of The Play About The Baby.  A young couple, known only as boy and girl, explore their relationship as they bring new life into the world.  Through wicked twists and turns the couple spend their time trying to be intimate while they are constantly interrupted, first by the baby and then by a man and woman who act as a cross between social anthropologists and time-share sales people (although no time-shares were sold in the making of this play). Continue reading

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Mar 13

“Just Another Day” for Kerry Dowling

Foreground: Chris Caron and Kerry A. Dowling. Rear from Left: Michael Tacconi, Christopher Chew, Sarah Drake, and Michael Levesque in a scene from the SpeakEasy Stage Company production of Next to Normal, running now thru April 15th at the Stanford Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts, 527 Tremont Street, in Boston’s South End. Tix/Info: 617-933-8600/www.SpeakEasyStage.com. Photo: Craig Bailey/Perspective Photo.

Interview by Becca Kidwell

Continuing its electrifying season, SpeakEasy Stage Company is presenting now thru April 15th the 2010 Pulitzer Prize-winning musical Next to Normal.  The overwhelming demand for tickets prompted SpeakEasy to extend the run one additional week before the show even opened – an unprecedented move in the company’s 20-year history.    http://www.speakeasystage.com/doc.php?section=showpage&page=normal Continue reading

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Mar 11

Making a Point with a 2 x 4: RECENT TRAGIC EVENTS

Recent Tragic Events by Craig Wright, Whistler in the Dark, The Factory Theatre, 3/9/12-3/24/12, http://www.whistlerinthedark.com/productions/recenttragicevents.html.

Reviewed by Craig Idlebrook

(Boston, MA) The subject of free will vs. determinism is a fun one to debate, a question that has been the bane of my ex-father-in-law’s existence for decades.  It also has been well-covered in theatre and movies, including in the play Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead.  As this multi-leveled play proves, a play that argues a point must balance storytelling with its agenda to be successful.

Unfortunately, the fine storytelling and performances of Whistler in the Dark’s Recent Tragic Events is marred by gimmicks to drive home the idea that our lives are predestined.  The gimmickry, from a sock puppet stand-in for Joyce Carol Oates to some shenanigans that mess with the borders of the play, would be doubly frustrating if it weren’t for the delivery of one of the best acting performances of the year by lead actor Aimee Rose Ranger. Continue reading

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Mar 10

Impressive, Uneven and Important: REFLECTIONS OF A ROCK LOBSTER

Felix Teich as ‘Paul Guilbert’ and Ian Shain as ‘Aaron Fricke’, Photo by Saglio Photography, Inc.

Reflections of a Rock Lobster by Burgess Clark, based on the true story of Aaron Fricke, Boston Children’s Theatre, Wimberley Theatre at Boston Center for the Arts, 3/3/12-3/11/12, http://bostonchildrenstheatre.org/season/rocklobster/.

Reviewed by Craig Idlebrook

(Boston, MA) To be a gay teen often has meant living every moment in hostile territory, where everything you do is wrong because of who you are.  Too often, it has meant years of enforced isolation and violence.

This is what the Boston Children’s Theatre production of Reflections of a Rock Lobster does best, creating the claustrophobia of a gay teen’s world where everything feels hostile, including one’s own feelings.  The play, put on by the Boston Children’s Theatre with a few grown-ups thrown in the mix, chronicles the true story of a pair of trailblazing gay teens who in 1980 challenged their school’s ban on same-sex couples at the prom and made the world a little bit less hostile.  Continue reading

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Mar 04

Acting Natural While Cramming it In: SAINT JOHN THE DIVINE IN IOWA

Photo Credit: Another Country Productions

Saint John the Divine in Iowa by Lyralen Kaye, Another Country Productions, Boston Playwrights’ Theatre, 3/2/12-3/18/12, http://www.anothercountry.org/productions.html.

Reviewed by Craig Idlebrook

(Boston, MA) There is a fine line to walk when it comes to groundbreaking plays.  It’s difficult to keep a thought-provoking issue from swallowing the play.  The result can be a diatribe at worst, or an afterschool special at best.  The only way to keep a play that handles heavy-hitting social issues on track is to populate it with characters who are drawn razor-sharp and true to life. Continue reading

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Mar 03

Monsters: A Midlife Musical Meltdown

Photo Credit: Mak Kramer Photography

Monsters! A Midlife Musical Meltdown; The Regent Theatre, GP Productions, and Image Theater, 2/25/12-3/10/12, http://www.regenttheatre.com/details/monsters_the_musical.

Reviewed by Becca Kidwell

(Arlington, MA) We’ve all been there (well, at least anyone 25 or older).  Years pass; we have successes and failures.  And then it hits us–where did all those years go?  Remember the wide-eyed 18 year old who thought he/she had everything figured out?  Monsters! A Midlife Musical looks at what happens when all of the insecurities, all of the doubts, and all of the concessions that have been made in Samantha’s life confront her on her 40th birthday. Continue reading

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Feb 23

Photograph 51: A Slighted Discovery

Becky Webber as Rosalind Franklin and Nick Sulfaro as Ray Gosling in Photograph 51 performing through March 18 at Central Square Theater, 450 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA. Presented by The Nora Theatre Company. Photo: A.R. Sinclair Photography

Photograph 51 by Anna Ziegler, The Nora Theatre Company, Central Square Theater, 2/9/12-3/18/12, http://www.centralsquaretheater.org/season/11-12/photograph-51.html.

Reviewed by Becca Kidwell

(Cambridge, MA) Photograph 51 chronicles Rosalind Franklin’s work, which leads to the discovery of the double helix structure of DNA.  Surrounded by men, Franklin does not have a chance for her voice to be heard amongst her male colleagues.  Nora Theatre Company’s production presents a truthful historical presentation of the discovery. Continue reading

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Feb 19

Daddy Long Legs: Musical Humor and Charm

Robert Adelman Hancock & Megan McGinnis, photo by Meghan Moore

Daddy Long Legs, Music and Lyrics by Paul Gordon, Book by John Caird, Based on the novel by Jean Webster, Merrimack Repertory Theatre, 2/9/12-3/4/12

Reviewed by Anthony Geehan

(Lowell, MA) The concept of love at first sight is something that has been around in theater and literature since the times of ancient mythology. There is another and more complicated hook for a love story however, in which two people fall in love without ever seeing each other. Such pieces as Mask, Sleepless in Seattle, and Parfumerie have taken on the concept that love can spark purely on personality and intrigue without any physical attributes taken into account. So it is with the musical Daddy Long Legs, a new performance being hosted by The Merrimack Repertory Theatre based off the book by John Caird. Continue reading

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